Dan Auerbach is a musician that appreciates other musicians. That was clear on Monday night, April 2nd when Auerbach put on a musical carnival at the Riviera Theater in Chicago.
Auerbach gained fame with his stripped-down garage band, The Black Keys, which consisted of just a drummer and Auerbach on guitar. However, this time around, Auerbach brought a full band to back him. For the uninitiated, the band looked as though Auerbach invited his dad and his dad‘s friend to come up to play with him. But looks always deceive. The band, dubbed, the Easy Eye Sound, was full of heavy hitters who have played with a who’s who of stars.
Bobby Wood (keyboards) and Gene “Bubba” Chrisman (drums) both recorded with Elvis Presley.
Dave Roe (bass) has played with Johnny Cash
Russ Pahl (guitar) has backed-up Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton
These legends came together to form a band so powerful it could turn goat milk into gasoline.
With the band behind him, Auerbach’s songs sounded fuller and more meshed out. Songs like “Livin’ in Sin,” “King of a One Horse Town” and “Stand by my Girl” sounded less like ditties and more like full-scale anthems. Playing with these masterful performers clearly has taken Auerbach to the next level. The crowd showed their appreciation of the collection expert musicians by grooving together and singing along.
Auerbach also brought up two special guests to sing: Shannon Shaw, who’s band Shannon and the Clams opened the show, and 64-year-old R&B singer Robert Finley. Finley quickly inserted himself as the breakout performer of the night. The overlooked powerhouse vocalist was working as a carpenter just three years ago. When he started losing his sight, he began singing on the street, which is where he was plucked by Auerbach to record an album. Findley drenched the crowd with soul that sounded like a combination Isaac Hayes and Sam Cooke. Findley’s voice is definitely the real deal and something tells me you’ll be hearing more of it soon.
Aside from just his talent, Auerbach’s appreciation for music was on display Monday night. Not just guitar rock music, but a mix of Southern, Country, Rhythm & Blues and early Rock ‘n’ Roll. Auerbach is pushing himself forward by learning from the past. Having such accomplished musicians to show him the way helps. “That’s sort of what the whole tour is about: to surround it with a bunch of people doing their own thing,” Auerbach says. “It’s not any one style, necessarily.”
Auerbach ended the set with “Shine on Me.” Which is a lively, upbeat song that’s just plain fun. It’s the kind of song that sticks with you and makes you feel good for days. It is also the next step in the grand tradition of Rock ‘n’ Roll. It’s as if, by performing “Shine on Me”, Bobby Wood and Bubba Chrisman were passing the torch to Auerbach. Someday he will pass it to the next generation, but for now, it’s in good hands with Dan Auerbach.
Photos by K. Joseph Fotos. Full gallery here.