by Carol Michaud
The Blues Internet
Las Vegas Jazz n' Blues
Las Vegas Blues Site
The closest I even came to seeing Bernard Allison live was when I was in New Orleans for Jazz Fest in 1999. He was slated to take the stage at Tipitina's at 3AM. Only a bad case of tonsilitis kept me from that show.
Three and a half years later, Bernard made his first appearance in Las Vegas at the Railhead in Boulder Station, and what a show it was. Displaying a wide range of guitar influences, Allison showed he could do it all.
Opening with "THE BLUES GONNA MAKE IT FEEL ALRIGHT", he slipped into a little "PURPLE HAZE" right from the get go. He covered "JUST CAME BACK TO SAY GOODBYE" before launching into the song his father was perhaps best known for, "BAD LOVE". This was followed by about a 15 minute tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan. He finished up the first set with a little of the "talking guitar" technique his father made famous, only kicking it up a notch by playing guitar with his tongue. The crowd ate it up.
The band kicked off the second set with Allison taking a walk around the Raihead while playing an instrumental, somewhat of a tradition in blues concerts. Returning to the stage, he played a little slide in a New Orleansy sounding number before titillating the crowd with some songs from his new CD STORMS OF LIFE, including "FISTFUL OF DIRT", Leon Russell's "HELP ME THROUGH THE DAY", "SNAKE BIT AGAIN", and Mark Knopfler's "I THINK I LOVE YOU TOO MUCH". "DUST MY BROOM" ended the set.
The encore was all Hendrix, starting with "VOODOO CHILE" and wrapping up with "THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER".
Even though Bernard Allison performs a variety of styles when you see him live, it's obvious who taught him how to play, and thank God he did. With Luther's death in 1997, I'm glad to know there's someone right behind him that will be able to take over some day. We're very lucky to have Bernard.
Allison's bandmates are Michael Vlahakis keyboards (who was also in Luther's band), Jassen Wilber bass, and Ron Sutton drums.
Photography by R.J. Bianchino copyright ©2002 Moondog Productions
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