If guitar virtuosos are your thing, this week provides a chance to catch back-to-back performances by two extraordinary talents whose dissimilar styles show off the instrument’s versatility. Memphis’ own Eric Gales makes an increasingly rare hometown appearance at Minglewood Hall on Friday, March 25th, while Raul Midon, a player who’s not easily pigeonholed in any identifiable genre, brings his act to the Bartlett Performing Arts & Conference Center on Saturday, March 26th.
Like so many child prodigies, Gales has had more than his share of troubles as an adult performer. Drug problems and subsequent legal problems dogged him throughout his 20s and 30s, and Gales’ 2010 arrest for cocaine possession only days after being released from a three-year prison sentence left many fans wondering if the man who’s been described as the second coming of Jimi Hendrix would ever get his act together. While that may be the headline-grabbing story, more interesting for music-lovers is Gales’ almost imperceptible evolution from a young shredder to a mature artist whose songs have the emotional intelligence and depth to balance all the flash and psychedelic sizzle. Relentless, his ninth CD and his third for Blues Bureau International, finds Gales riffing on his history as a “Bad Lawbreaker” and living up to the Hendrix comparisons with songs like “The Liar” and “On the Wings of Rock-and-Roll.”
Raul Midon’s nimble tenor and gift for melody earns comparisons to Stevie Wonder, but his guitar playing is seldom if ever compared to other artists because there aren’t any other players like him. Midon’s heavily percussive approach to the guitar brings Latin influences, sophisticated jazz harmonies, and smooth R&B to bear on richly detailed songs that reflect his personal struggles and boundless love of life. Blind from birth, Midon worked as a session singer and player for artists like Julio Iglesias, Shakira, and Jose Feliciano before launching a solo career.
Eric Gales is at Minglewood Hall, Friday, March 25th, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. Raul Midon is at the Bartlett Performing Arts & Conference Center on Saturday, March 26th, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. — Chris Davis