Music Review

Thorogood, Guy give Hot Stove some sizzle with their blues

George Thorogood (above) played a 90-minute set after legendary Buddy Guy performed on Sunday night. George Thorogood (above) played a 90-minute set after legendary Buddy Guy performed on Sunday night. (Bill Brett for The Boston Globe)
By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / August 19, 2008
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Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe.

The Hot Stove Cool Music series left Fenway Park and got the blues Sunday night.

The semi-annual fund-raising combination of hardball talk and amped-up rock moved across town to the Bank of America Pavilion and co-opted the current tour of George Thorogood and the Destroyers and Buddy Guy. (Given Sunday's lopsided Red Sox loss at the old ballyard, perhaps the blues were in order.)

Between sets - including a 30-minute opening rave by the Peter Gammons-led, Theo Epstein-sitting-in Hot Stove All Stars - WEEI's Michael Holley chatted up Gammons and Epstein.

Rough-and-tumble poster boy for the liquor lobby, Thorogood and his backing quartet played a bustling 90-minute set of their party-hearty blooze rock that lived up to the group's billing as a better-than-average bar band. (They say "greatest," we think it's closer to luckiest. Tomato, to-mah-to.)

Thorogood has a certain salty charm, but he doesn't exactly have a surplus of skills or discernible soul fire. "Bad to the Bone" lasted nearly 6 minutes, but didn't offer much in the way of dazzling guitar diversion, it just hustled along with high-energy efficiency with the band mostly vamping through the bump-and-grind rocker. Which, with the exception of a little sax blaring here and slide guitar sizzle there, was true of most of the performance.

Both band and leader showed off heart and well-oiled, stop-on-a-dime precision on tunes like "Move It on Over," "I Drink Alone," and "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" but never threatened virtuosity. Elvin Bishop was a welcome shot in the arm, bringing the high heat to his cameo on "Don't Let the Bossman Get You Down."

Something definitely feels askew in the universe when Buddy Guy serves as an opening act to Thorogood. But the blues legend generally made the most of his brief 65-minute middle slot. Several strong tunes from his new "Skin Deep" album got a blazing workout, including the hymn-like title track, a plea for tolerance that was equal parts simple wisdom, soul-stirring shouts, and scintillating solos. "Who's Gonna Fill Those Shoes" featured the head-spinning axe skills of 9-year-old New Bedford guitar prodigy Quinn Sullivan. During "Drownin' on Dry Land," the sprightly 72-year-old Guy took a stroll through the venue and much of the three-quarters-capacity crowd trailed behind, rapt in the wake of his smoking fretwork.

A portion of the proceeds from the show, and a silent auction of sports and music memorabilia, will benefit Epstein's nonprofit Foundation to Be Named Later.

Hot Stove Cool Music

With George Thorogood and the Destroyers, Buddy Guy, and the Hot Stove All Stars

At: Bank of America Pavilion, Sunday night

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