Local musicians Tony McMahon, Mark Miale and friends have put together a special tribute concert celebrating the music of two of the world’s greatest electric guitarists, Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale. This tribute plays at the “Free Fridays” Concert Series Friday, Oct. 6 from 8-10 p.m. at the Bo Diddley Plaza.
Eric Clapton, an English rock musician, has managed to stay fresh for more than 50 years, and has been successful in reinventing himself on many musical levels, from pure blues to experimental rock, to country rock and pop. Considered one of the greatest electric guitarists of all time, Clapton played with iconic bands such as The Yardbirds, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominos. He has won 18 Grammy Awards, and is the only three time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
J.J. Cale, who passed away in 2013, is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter who greatly influenced many other prominent musicians with his authentic lyrics, raspy voice and laid back guitar picking style. Neil Young said, “Of all the players I ever heard, it’s gotta be Hendrix and J.J. Cale who are the best electric guitar players.” He later said of Cale, “His touch is unspeakable. I am stunned by it.”
Clapton covered many of Cale’s songs, including the hits ‘After Midnight” and “Cocaine,” and called him “one of the most important artists in the history of rock.” Cale, whose songs were covered by many others, for the most part avoided the spotlight and lived a simple life preferring to focus on his songwriting. He and Clapton developed a close friendship that led to them winning a Grammy Award in 2008 for their collaboration album “The Road to Escondido.” After Cale’s death, Clapton put together a tribute album of Cale’s songs called “The Breeze: An Appreciation of J.J. Cale.” Many prominent musical artists joined Clapton in making the album including Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Don White and Derek Trucks. While recording this album, Clapton said of Cale, “He was a fantastic musician. And he was my hero.”
The tribute band features local musical all-stars Mark Miale (guitar/vocals), Tony McMahon (lead guitar/vocals), Jana Horton-Kowitz (vocals), Frank Varosi (bass guitar), Brad Bangstad (keyboards) and Bob Kelly (drums).
The Clapton and Cale tribute concert is one of the select “Free Fridays” classic rock concerts that are sponsored by classic rock radio station WIND-FM (92.5, 95.5, 107.9).