As if it were not enough to be the incredibly prolific, altruistic award-winning blues rock chart-topper, Joe Bonamassa now decides to put out one of the most iconic performances he’s ever done. We call it iconic not only because it was recorded at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN, but considering all that this act represented when it was recorded and now is going to be released. This album showcases the efforts to get over all the hurdles, not only those imposed by the Covid pandemic but also a broken ankle from the main drummer of the Bonamassa’s band, Anton Fig, just when the band was preparing to hit the road on tour. Another upside is that the event helped to raise over $500K for Bonamassa’s Fueling Musicians program, presented by his non-profit Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation (KTBA).
Despite the pandemic, Bonamassa didn’t slow down in 2020. Alongside Josh Smith, Bonamassa produced albums for Eric Gales and Joanna Connor. Connor’s album hit #1 on the Billboard Blues chart and Gales’ is expected to be released later this year. Now, in 2021, the duo is involved in the production of new album by Joanne Shaw Taylor, which should be another top-notch release.
Now Serving: Royal Teal Live From the Ryman was recorded even before the release of the JB’s 24th #1 record on the Billboard Blues chart, Royal Tea, in September 2020. For the Ryman performance, nine songs were selected from that unreleased album (at that time) and three songs from his 20th-anniversary album A New Day Now.
As we’ve said, the usual drummer Anton Fig missed the show, but the band composed by Reese Wynans (keyboards), Michael Rhodes (bass), Greg Morrow (drums), Rob McNelly (guitars), Jade MacRae (vocals), Danielle De Andrea (vocals) and Jimmy Hall (harp/vocals) delivered a flawless performance. Bonamassa is a true maestro, as well as his band members, performing the songs with extreme perfection that can even confuse an unwarned listener who doesn’t know that it was a live performance. Some highlights are “When One Door Opens”, “Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye” and “Beyond The Silence”. These songs are intricate, having different parts, mixing calm and heavy moments.
In spite of his well-known guitar/amp collection that he insists on using as much as he can in live performances, regarding the guitar tones heard on this new album we can say that Bonamassa preferred to keep it as uniform as he could. There were no abrupt changes in the guitar tone, except in some parts like the intro to “Walking In My Shadow” and the solo in Rory Gallagher’s “Cradle Rock”. But you can rest easy, the guitar tones remain huge and stunning, that fat and fulfilled guitar tone that Bonamassa is known for.
Bonamassa keeps his tradition of always innovating and bringing new formats to his releases. As we annually see in events like at KTBA Live At Sea, Now Serving: Royal Teal Live From the Ryman is a successful effort to do different things, standing out from the majority of the mainstream options and keeps the audience engaged. Bonamassa continues to be the model for the blues rock genre, not only for others blues rockers, but for the fans as well.
The Review: 9.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– When One Door Opens
– Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye
– A Conversation With Alice
– Beyond The Silence
– Walk In My Shadow
The Big Hit
– Walk In My Shadow
“Joe Bonamassa’s “Now Serving: Royal Tea Live From The Ryman” is
released on CD, Vinyl, DVD and Blu-ray by Provogue/Mascot Label
Group on June 11th. Pre-order the album in the UK and Europe from: