MerseyBeat Stars rock with James Burton 

reprinted with kind permission from TCB Band Fanclub website. To visit their website click the link.

Friday November 7th 2008 and it was still fireworks over on The Wirral (Merseyside) when James Burton made a special journey from his home in Shreveport, Louisiana, USA to make a guest appearance at The Pacific Road Arts Centre. He was joined by MerseyCats favourites Lee Curtis and The Undertakers

This was The 20th International Guitar Festival Of Great Britain running from the 4th - 28th November where guitarists are invited from round the world to over the road as honorary ambassadors for the festival, playing everything from jazz, classical, blues, pop and rock. James made that special journey for just one appearance taking us all on an even more exciting journey through his years with Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley and John Denver spanning much of his fifty year career.

The Undertakers

The show opened with The Undertakers, a 'Merseybeat' band formed way back in the 60's and well known for such hits as Early In The Morning, Do The Mashed Potatoe and Just A Little Bit . The band members Brian Jones (tenor sax), Geoff Nugent (rythmn guitar & vocals), Jackie Lomax (lead guitar and vocals), Billy Good (bass & vocals) and Jimmy O'Brien (drums) did a great job throughout  their set especially on numbers such as Do You Wanna Dance, My Baby Wrote Me A Letter and a couple of songs Elvis Presley put vocals to Just A Little Bit   and I Can't Stop Loving You. The sax player in this band was truly sensational and was the topic of conversation at the end of the first half. He completely stole the show with his playing on Just   A Little Bit   and I Can't Stop Loving You. During the interval people were able to purchase James Burton merchandise which was set up on a table at the side of the stage. The proceeds were going to The James Burton Foundation and yes James was going to be around at the end of the show for autographs!! The second part of the show was

Brian Jones

dedicated to James' years with Ricky Nelson and a touch of Dale Hawkins thrown in for good measure! Before the action started on stage we were treated to some screen footage of The Ozzie And Harriet T.V. Show. This show ran from 1952-63 with the entire Nelson family on board. James was to join the show at a later date and appeared for a number of years bopping alongside of Ricky during the closing segments. The rest of James' band for the remainder of the Ricky Nelson years were again all talented musicians from the 'Merseybeat' era and playing during the rise of The Beatles, Don Woods (vocals & guitar), Derek Green (bass) and Alan Schroeder (drums). However, tonight they were all alongside of James Burton and it couldn't be expressed enough by the same musicians what it meant

James with Don Woods

having James on stage with them and representing the event. The set list for this part of the show covered Ricky Nelsons classics from 1957- 63 from his love songs to his rockabilly and rocking greats. James played along with the rest of the band a straight seven numbers before a word was spoken to the audience. Then there was a lot to cover! Stood Up, Just A Little Too Much,Young World, Travellin' Man, I'm Walkin', I Believe  (one of the first Ricky Nelson numbers James ever played solo on) and Lonesome Town . He was sensational and played through each number as if he had just recorded them the day before.

James with his band

He melted the hearts of the audience with his soft smooth guitar licks during his solos on the ballads yet blew the audience with his bending and sliding through the cords during the rest of the numbers. The audience were in awe throughout. Don't forget some people in the audience were seeing James Burton perform for the first time tonight and others witnessing something new from him. It was time for a few words now and Don Woods spoke briefly about the part of the show focusing on James and Ricky Nelson, then introduced the band to the audience. Needless to say, on introducing James he received an applause that could be heard right across the River Mersey! Graciously received, James returned his welcome by informing everyone of his excitement being here and stressed how much of an honour it was to be invited to play at the event. 


James Burton

It was then announced James would be playing for the very first time ever, a few solos throughout the Ricky Nelson set, something he'd never done before. What a welcomed surprise this was. A chance to hear more of his distinctive legendary picking, sliding, bending and twisting guitar licks. James then led the way in to It's Late followed by the first of his solos. Time for that instrumental great swampy classic put together by James and later on lyrics added to it by Dale Hawkins. The result Suzi Q . That all too familiar signature riff from James complimented by the extended searing solo. It was amazing.

James chats with the audience

He led the entire way, posing with a 'don't mess with me' stance throughout. Wow. The audience gave him a well deserved applause before he started the 1958 hit Poor Little Fool. A gain he added a solo to this finishing with Don't Leave Me This Way and an amazing intro to Fools Rush In . He was playing these solos with the same passion as a great singer and having the same impact. A bit of 'serious' audience participation was next helping out with There'll Never Be Any One Else with every one clapping and singing along, silent only to listen to James' solo.

James with Lee Curtis

The journey through the Ricky Nelson years ended with Hello Mary Lou which was Ricky Nelsons biggest hit - then that was more than obvious from the smile on James' face and again his incredible solo. Oh yes, there was a nice little starter before the final half of the show began. What turned out to be what I can only describe as a bit of a fun flutter to sell one of James' t-shirts autographed, ended up turning in to an auction. It lasted about ten minutes creating a lot of excitement in the audience as well as on stage. James was waiting in the side lines to be welcomed to the stage and as a result of the advances getting higher he was told by the compare that he'd have to wait a bit longer as there was a serious auction going on for the t-shirt. It started at twenty pounds finishing at two hundred and eighty pounds to a guy by the name of Steve at the end of our row. So well done Steve. The money of course was for The James Burton Foundation and the wait was worth it in James' eye as he strolled on stage slowly and casually with a grin on his face, as if he was now keeping us waiting.

James and The Passionettes

After the tease he donned his guitar and played the intro to Walk A Mile In My Shoes followed by Suspicious Minds and Burning Love. The audience response at the end was amazing as this was James taking us to the Elvis years. By now Lee Curtis a MerseyBeat legend had taken over on lead vocals and Mike White (lead guitar) had joined James on stage. In James' corner of the stage were The Passionettes, two singers looking sassy and lively dressed in red sparkly outfits, along with the addition of Susan on keybords on the opposite end. After Lee had made his welcome to James to the UK Susan gave us a wonderful keyboard intro to Just Pretend with Lee adding good

James with Mike White

strong vocals along with the girls adding their bit. Then James gave us a solo with Heart Break Hotel . He was phenomenal and it sure was a hive of activity in that corner with the backing singers rocking away and the sound of James slipping and sliding on that telecaster. It brought the house down. The attention then went to the other side of the stage to the keyboard. Susan gave us her rendition of 2001:A   Space Odyssey. This girl was amazing on keyboards. It was hard to believe that she was blind. There we all were waiting for the crash of the drums leading in to C.C. Rider. Instead James led right in to Viva Las Vegas . He had that guitar all but talking to us. I have never heard him play this before and I hope I get to hear it again. Lee did a great job with the vocals and the audience went wild.  What was good about Susan's solo was the fact that

James with the cast of the show

James made his way over to her making sure the attention was away from him and on her. The pace then slowed down a bit to a great sounding There Goes My Everything . Great vocals again from Lee and another solo from James. The better late than never C.C. Rider   came next then Lee along with the backing singers exited the stage for a change of clothes. Hard to keep up with James' fast pace.. but glad they did as James was left to play the entire Mystery Train as a solo. He raised the roof of the building as he bent himself around that guitar as much as he bent the cords. What a night this was turning out to be for solos.

James Burton

They were flying everywhere like confetti! We were by now approaching the end of the show and the count down began with American Trilogy . Again more screen footage of stiil images of James with Elvis Presley, John Denver, Ricky Nelson and The TCB Band. I guess James made sure this patriotic number was performed to perfection during rehearsals as it sounded sensational on the night. Let It Be Me was next with another fine solo from James plus additional solos he shared with his co lead guitarist Mike White. Then it was right in to that great Pomus and Shuman bluesy number Mess Of Blues with a nifty keyboard intro from Susan. John Denver was remembered with his great hit Country Roads only this time the vocals were added by Susan. She sang it superbly and did it a great justice with James once again joining her at the keyboards along with Lee Curtis. Finally it was time to finish and James closed the show with his all time classic Johnny B Goode having a great time excersing his solo and by this time too the entire cast had joined him on stage partying the number to the end. The show was incredible from start to finish. Tonight some of the audience saw and heard James perform for the first time, others who just know of him through the Elvis Presley connection heard the other side of James and the rest of us who know of him and his contribution to the music industry and the legend that he is had a night we will never forget.



James takes a well earned bow

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