Home Live Review Live Review: Eric Gales w/ Artur Menezes @ The Hamilton Live — 2/20/24

Live Review: Eric Gales w/ Artur Menezes @ The Hamilton Live — 2/20/24

Live Review: Eric Gales w/ Artur Menezes @ The Hamilton Live — 2/20/24
Eric Gales (Photo courtesy See Tickets)

Late in his set at DC’s The Hamilton Live on Tuesday night, Eric Gales introduced the real star of the evening: Crown, his teacup poodle. “I got her for my wife last Valentine’s Day,” he said, as the crowd oohed and awed over the adorable dog.

Crown shares the name of Gales’s most recent album. Released in 2022, Crown earned Gales his first Grammy nomination, for Best Contemporary Blues Album. “I didn’t win,” he told the audience, “but I’ll be back.”

Highlighted by Crown’s appearance, this was a show full of heart and determination and displayed Gales’ resilience, as well as his growth as an artist. A native of Memphis, Gales broke into the music scene as a teenage guitar prodigy, releasing his first album, The Eric Gales Band, in 1991, when he was just 16 years old. His guitar playing has always been exceptional, but, over the course of his more than 30-year career, he’s matured into a fine songwriter. “A lot of you came to see what I was going to play,” he told the audience, “but I want you to hear what I have to say.”

Eric Gales has plenty of say, and a lot of life experience to draw on. Crown deals with Gales’s experiences of racism and his struggles with substance abuse and sobriety. (In 2010, Gales was sent to prison on drug charges and served 21 months.)  At The Hamilton Live on Feb. 20, this show featured his virtuosic guitar playing, but what made it truly special were the moments of tenderness and vulnerability.

Before he started playing, Gales told the audience his goal was to “make you forget all the crap” and “leave at least one person with inspiration.” He also expressed his love DC, saying, “I’m not too fond of the fucking traffic, but I love this place.” The show started out softly with Gales singing away from his mic on the B.B. King-like “I Pity The Fool,” then moving back to the mic as the band kicked up the intensity a notch.

Stream “I Pity the Fool” by Eric Gales on YouTube:

Having kicked up the intensity, Eric and his band followed “I Pity the Fool” with a dazzling instrumental. All Music lists Tedeschi Trucks Band as an artist similar to Gales, and, while he plays with a much smaller band — two guitars, base, and drums — there’s a connection there. Like Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gales’s songs, particularly in a live setting, stretch out with long instrumental sections, and his sets include fewer but longer songs than most.

“Let’s find out how many people in DC know the blues,” Eric said, launching into “You Don’t Know The Blues.” I think I’m pretty familiar with the blues; right now I’m in one of those orthopedic boots and I might need surgery on a tendon. And that’s just the beginning of my problems. (There’s a blues song in there.)

Between songs, Gales thanked the audience for “letting me play through some things,” then played “Layin’ Down Some Blues.” The next song, “My Own Best Friend,” he explained, “calls for you to look in the mirror and find out who’s your best friend.” The set rounded out with “Put It Back,” “Too Close To The Fire,” and “I Want My Crown,” which is about reclaiming his place in the blues-rock scene after the struggles that have sometimes hijacked his career.

Before Gales and his band took the stage, we got some international flavor in a 45-minute opening set with Brazilian blues-rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Artur Menezes, who was accompanied by a diverse band: his  female bass player comes from a very different part of Brazil, and his drummer is from the UK. There was a funny moment when someone shouted “Hola!” at Artur, and he snappily replied, “That’s Spanish, but I appreciate the effort.” Menezes’s songs included “Hurts Like Hell,” “She Cold,” “Time,” and “Change.”

Speaking of funny moments, after Gales and his band finished their last song, they left as the Pork Pig “That’s All Folks” music from Looney Tunes played, which was a great way of letting the audience know the show was over and demonstrated the artist’s unique personality and sense of humor. Eric Gales is a real one.


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