The Buffalo Niagara Guitar
Festival kicked off on Thursday June 14 for an incredible show in Lafayette
Square. A crowd of 15,000 to 20,000 enjoyed the hot sun, the cold beer
and the beautiful women for this Thursday ritual.
Starting the show were the awesome
talents of The Tommy Z Blues Power Trio. Led by the always smiling
and youthful exuberance of Tommy Z, the band showed just how much music
can be made by three people and no gimmicks. The rhythm section, Ray
Hagen (drums) and the incomparable and Buffalo Music Hall Of Famer, Nick
Veltri (bass), kept a solid bottom going so Tommy Z. could show his dexterity
on the frets. Playing the Blues straight out of the Austin school of Stevie
Ray Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, he showed how to take other
artists songs and turn them into your own. His muscular body behooves the
way he plays, as he tore off straight runs up and down the neck of the
guitar or played behind his back or with his teeth. The band's 90-minute
set was sprinkled with cuts from such luminaries as Freddie King and The
Meters among others and proved a great way to start The Guitar Festival.
Let’s pass the torch to Tommy Z. and a whole new generation of blues players.
Headlining the show was Toronto native
Healey. Blind since birth, he has formulated his own way of playing
the guitar to make up for his disability. Sitting down with the guitar
in his lap, his style is
more a keyboard approach in the way he hammers and forms his chords. His
70-minute set was superb. However, radio interference in the monitors and
a blown amp did make Mr. Healey somewhat surly at times. He appeared to
channel that anger into scorching versions of “See The Light” and “Roadhouse
Blues.” He also performed some of his more familiar material including
“Confidence Man” and “Angel Eyes.”
Another fine job from the Buffalo
Place staff in bringing these shows to downtown Buffalo and for showcasing
our fine homegrown talent like Tommy Z. And The Blues Power Trio.
Tommy Z. can be seen Thursdays
after The Square throughout the summer at The Reservoir on Chippewa Street.