Sight Unsound: Bonamassa’s Sloe time, going Fourth, Touch stones

Thursday, Nov. 22
Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., Tony Touch glommed onto the hip hop of yesteryear, idolizing DJs such as Red Alert and the late Jam Master Jay of Run DMC. Spinning on his own, he says, “was the last thing I picked up on.”

Now, everyone’s picking up on him. Touch, aka Tony Toca, globe-trots to Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Japan and points in between, seducing crowds wherever, and whenever, he can. “Most people associate me as being a hip-hop DJ, but I pretty much play it all,” he says. He dabbles in reggae and house, Latin and rap. “At the end of the day, it’s whatever moves the crowd. I go with what the crowd reacts off of.”

Touch says the DJ movement catches fire with club-goers because anything goes. “You get a lot more with a DJ, being that he is capable of taking a crowd in any direction …” Touchdown happens Thanksgiving night at Headliners Music Hall (1386 Lexington Road, 584-8088). Code Red, DJ Dwight Johnson and MC Deuce Leader join in.

Friday, Nov. 23
Blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa is chipping away at a notion that blues, while fun to play, isn’t fun to watch.
Bonamassa has been gliding over fretboards since age 4; today he fuses a bit of Muddy Waters’ and Robert Johnson’s Delta blues with the electric British version, updated for contemporary audiences. This is string alchemy.

“The English blues hit me hard,” he tells LEO. “It was a little heavier, and based on riffs. I thought the guitar sounds were better.”

This is apparent on “Ball Peen Hammer,” which leads off his sixth solo album, Sloe Gin. Anchored by an acoustic riff reminiscent of the work on Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, “Hammer” rolls along backed by a Bonham-esque thunderclap. “One of These Days” is a lovestruck ode doused in a downtrodden, chain-gang rhythm that later lifts the mood with an epic, piano-led coda.

Gin’s eight-minute, 14-second title track shines the brightest, wherein Bonamassa accents his throaty verses with shards of malicious, delayed wah-wah devoid of any chord progression, then mutates into a thrilling solo that calls to mind David Gilmour and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Now three months into a fourth-month tour, Bonamassa sounds comfortable and in control of his own destiny. He produces his own show, “Daily Cup of Joe,” on Sirius satellite radio, writes a monthly column in Guitar World magazine, and runs a management company, J&R Adventures, which he co-owns with longtime manager Roy Weisman.

“We just got tired of our destiny being in somebody else’s hands,” he says. “If our A&R guy gets fired, we’re out of a job. We finally got tired of going, ‘We’re doing well here, but we’re not doing well.’ We really needed to do it independently. It’s a different business model.”

Bonamassa performs at the Bomhard Theater at the Kentucky Center (501 W. Main St., 584-7777) at 8 p.m. Friday. Crosby Loggins, Mr. Danger Zone’s oldest son, opens the show. Tickets range from $23-$35.

Friday, Nov. 23

The first few installments of Fourth Street Live’s Louisville Homegrown Concert Series, which began Nov. 2, have drawn hundreds of people, says series creator and FSL marketing manager Ashley Dunn. Not bad for a quickly conceived and arranged series meant to showcase Louisville bands that write original material.

The response has been favorable, and Dunn is already planning another series for spring. “It’s funny: The people who have attended have never been to Fourth Street Live before, and they’ve had a blast and stayed longer than the show,” she says. “It’s nice to see people out of their normal setting.”

Dunn says the outdoor bar, the only one owned entirely by Fourth Street Live, has done more business on recent Fridays than it has for a while.

Some shows have been moved indoors to Angel’s Rock Bar on the second floor, but that’s not permanent; it all depends on the weather. This week’s show features Cabin, Arnett Hollow and Paper Airplane in the outside atrium.

Dan Kelleher, of the Downtown Management Association, thinks the series could help rebut the notion that Fourth Street Live is too corporate. “Among some quarters in Louisville, there has been an unfair characterization of 4SL, and downtown in general, of being nothing but national chain restaurants and national music acts … and that’s really not true,” he says. “I hope the local music community will accept that gesture in the spirit in which I believe that that’s been intended.” The shows are free, and each one kicks off at 7 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 24
While we’re in a year chock full of reunions, add one more to the list: Sweet F.A. is appearing at Phoenix Hill Tavern (644 Baxter Ave., 589-4957). Show starts at 8 p.m. Saturday, and tickets are $15. Two Pump Chump opens.

Sweet F.A. had one major label release, 1989’s Stick To Your Guns, but disappointing sales prompted MCA to cut bait. The group put out two more records, 1990’s Quiggins and 1991’s Temptation.
The reunion came about when guitarist J.T. Thorpe, who is from Indianapolis, began transferring old demos to the digital format. He put up a MySpace page to promote The Lost Tapes, and fans practically demanded a reunion show.

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