"I was born in Chicago," were the first words out of Stephen Stills' mouth, and although he's actually from Dallas, they spoke volumes about what his agenda Tuesday night at Carnegie Library Music Hall.
Stills rolled in with The Rides, a new band with Kenny Wayne Shepherd and keyboardist Barry Goldberg that shelves his beloved folk-rock in favor of fiery electric blues. They set the stage on "Born in Chicago," squaring off on a call-and-response jam that heated up an already sweltering night.
On several occasions they would meet in that spot to synchronize their solos and shoot off from there. The veteran plays with hard-earned grit and, at 35, KWS is still a young gun with a killer tone.
Backed by drummer Chris Layton and bassist Kevin McCormick, they focused on songs from their new debut album, including the originals "Roadhouse" and "Don't Want Lies," covers of classics "Talk to Me Baby" and "Honey Bee" and, odd but fun, The Stooges' punk-rock song "Search and Destroy." Stills dipped into his catalog for "Love the One You're With" and "Treetop Flyer," and Shepherd for "Blue on Black."
It didn't come as a surprise that the guitars trumped the vocals. Shepherd isn't known for his vocal prowess, and the Stills growl, though seasoned, has been rough and getting rougher.
It's great that he met the young gunslinger. He should get more acquainted with Beth Hart, who, in the opening slot, displayed one of the strongest voices I've ever heard. If you want to see for yourself, search YouTube for her version of "I'd Rather Go Blind," which was the standout moment of Tuesday's show, even better than the Rides' finale of "Rockin' in the Free World."
It's amazing that she has flown under the radar all these years (she debuted in 1993) and a shame that The Rides didn't bring her up to tear the roof off the old place.
The Rides Set List
Born in Chicago
That's a Pretty Good Love
Don't Want Lies
Search and Destroy
Can't Get Enough of Loving You
I've Got to Use My Imagination
Sail On/Honey Bee
Tree Top Flyer
Love The One You're With
Blue On Black
Only Teardrops Fall
Talk to Me Baby
Encore: Rockin' in the Free World
Scott Mervis: email@example.com or 412-263-2576.