By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
On the day I was born, the doctors and nurses gathered round, and told my parents that I was born bad to the bone! Okay, okay, maybe that part is not true, but there was one person that is definitely bad to the bone, and that is George Thorogood. He is a mad guitar scientist from Delaware who has traveling around the world, showing off his boogie blues rock swagger to the masses for over 45 years with his group, the Delaware Destroyers. During the summer, the OC Fair comes to town, and they announce a list of artists that will be performing at the Pacific Amphitheater during the extravaganza. When it was announced that George Thorogood and the Destroyers would be making an appearance during the fair’s last weekend, Rabit and I had to go. So, on Friday, August 9th, we journeyed to the overcrowded fairgrounds to get our dose of old school rock ‘n’ roll.
We made it to the amphitheater just in time to check out this blues rock artist I never heard of before, Walter Trout. He is a blues guitar player and vocalist who has been around the block in the music world for over 50 years. After so many years of playing, you would think that he would be slowing down at his age, but you would be wrong. Song after song, Trout was white hot on the guitar, shredding out blistering riffs and solos that gave the audience chills. A few years ago, he had a close brush with death when he was diagnosed with cirrhosis, which required a liver transplant. He told the audience that it was a slow and long recovery for him, where he also he had to learn to play guitar from scratch. During his recovery, it inspired him to write the album Battle Scars, where he performed “Fly Away,” which is about his out-of-body experience with the Angels of Heaven. He is a survivor, and though I had not seen him before that night, I could tell he was stronger than he was when he got sick. His band, which consists of bassist Johnny Griparic, drummer Michael Leasure, and organist Sammy Avila, were smoking hot with their classic blues rock riffs. When Trout played “We’re All In This Together,” his road manager came out and riffed the part that was played by blues legend Joe Bonamassa on the record. I am so glad we got there in time to see a special performance by a blues survivor.
Full Walter Trout gallery below:
After a brief set change, out came the Delaware madman himself, wearing a bandanna with some badass shades. George Thorogood and the Destroyers got things off to a rolling start with their party anthem from 2006, “Rock Party.” As I was watching George, I was amazed by the way he played the guitar, using a thumb pick and his fingers simultaneously. He makes it look so easy. This man is 69 years old and still plays like he is 18. The Delaware Destroyers, which features Jeff Simon on drums, Billy Blough on bass, Jim Suhler on rhythm guitar, and Buddy Leach on saxophone, gave the OC crowd an electric show that made us all get up from our seats and boogie to the beat, including Rabit and yours truly. George is a very funny person who loved engaging with the crowd, and he showed no signs of fatigue. Armed with his signature Gibson ES-125 guitars, including his own Epiphone White Fang original that was just released recently, George was a rocking machine with his originals as well as covers he made famous. From “Who Do You Love?” to “Shot Down,” “Night Time,” “I Drink Alone,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” and “Get a Haircut,” the audience lit up like a goddamn Christmas tree full of nostalgia. Once he went into his signature tune, “Bad to the Bone,” we all went ape shit. He went on to play 3 encore songs, which included “Twenty Dollar Gig,” “Move It on Over,” and “Born to Be Bad.”
Full George Thorogood gallery below:
It was a grand evening to see George Thorogood. As we were leaving, he was having fun with the fans by pulling a James Brown stunt where he would be hunched over, and a roadie would put a cape over him to escort the star off stage, only to shed away the cape to say bye again. For 45 years, this man and his group have been rocking the globe, and just having themselves a good time doing. After many years of touring, he is still bad to the bone. To George Thorogood and Walter Trout, I salute you. Horns up!!!