Blues Master Dave Fields Rocks the Midwest

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Dave Fields is a blues guitarist, pianist, songwriter, and music educator. In 2012, he was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame. Last Friday, he played two rocking sets in Rockford, IL. The performance was sponsored by the Crossroads Blues Society (CBS), an organization dedicated to promoting the Midwest blues scene. Prior to the show, Dave spent the day with members of the CBS, introducing kids to music through the Blues In The Schools (BITS) program. (Local blues guitarist Wheatbread Johnson is a frequent BITS volunteer also.) After a day with school kids, Dave still managed to have enough energy to put on a great show!

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Click Dave’s picture to visit his website:

Image credit: Dave Fields

Dave Fields: Not Just a Blues Musician

Dave’s power trio opened the show with the instrumental Anticipating You, which served as a talent overture of sorts, giving each band member a chance to show the crowd what we were in for that evening. The song was laced with hints of prog rock and improv jazz, demonstrating that all forms of American music are rooted in the blues. Fields exhibited his prowess on guitar as well as keyboards, as the band brought the audience to life right away. He seemed to enjoy challenging the rhythm section to keep up with his improvising, which they did quite skillfully.

Anticipating You

Fields followed the opener with Force of Will, the title track from his upcoming album. Then he introduced some “New York City blues,” as he called it, with the funky Let’s Go Downtown, followed by another new cut, Why Can’t You Ever Treat Me Right?, a traditional 12/8 song with a Stormy Monday feeling.

Fields Was Born Under a Good Sign

Dave is the son of composer, arranger, and producer Sammy “Forever” Fields, and he spent much of his youth in his father’s recording studio where he met big-name performers from a variety of musical backgrounds. He told us about asking his dad for a guitar, to which the elder Fields replied, “Gotta learn piano first.” So he did; the first song he learned was the Jerry Lee Lewis classic Whole Lotta Shakin’, which he performed for us.

A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

Dave’s Gotcha Covered

The evening progressed with a blend of original songs and more covers, including Hard to Handle, Going Down, Mustang Sally, and Johnny B. Goode, and he invited Crossroads Blues Society President Steve Jones on stage to do his Mick Jagger impersonation on Honky Tonk Women. The most unusual cover was Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog, which Fields played in a funky 12-bar blues style. “Led Zeppelin stole from Willy Dixon, so I’m stealing from them,” he joked. This is one of several times he came out and mingled with the crowd while playing.

Getting the “Led” out with a funky version of Black Dog

Dave Fields Originals

Among the songs that he penned, Fields played a passionate Pocket Full of Dust, a rockabilly-inspired Let’s Get Shakin’, and a Deep Purple-esque Child of the World, into which he inserted a few bars of Billy Preston’s Will It Go ‘Round in Circles? We got another taste of his latest album with a driving rendition of Big Block, and Fields showed off his shredding skills with his original Train to My Heart, a song that was later recorded by John Mayall. (You may be cool, but are you “John Mayall covered one of my songs” cool?)

As the second set wound down, Dave closed the show with the familiar Hey Joe and channeled his guitar hero by ending with an instrumental verse of America the Beautiful, a la Hendrix’s version of The Star Spangled Banner. Sorry I missed that last part in the video – I thought he ended the song. I guess you’ll have to go see him!

Fields Takes It Somewhere New

Dave’s early exposure to music through his father’s recording studio, plus his time as a student in the Berklee College of Music, endowed him with a very eclectic musical style. His solos were original, but he occasionally threw in some licks reminiscent of Chuck Berry, Ritchie Blackmore, B.B. King, Eddie Van Halen, Steve Howe, and Jimi Hendrix. Throughout the show we heard shades of hard rock, jazz, rockabilly, and even some classical – that last one might come in handy if he ever has to compete with the devil’s personal guitarist. (Movie reference – who gets it? Hint: the movie title is a word that appears more than once in this article. It’s also the name of a famous blues song.) Here you can see him go from shredding to slide to keyboards and back to shredding again:

A Multi-Skilled Musician

If you’re a blues purist, you might not appreciate Fields’ delving into other genres, but I’m always happy to hear musicians breaking the mold and borrowing from different styles. Great artists take the music somewhere it’s never been before, and Dave Fields demonstrates that on stage and in his recordings.

Video courtesy of Dave Fields

Dave is coming back to the Midwest for the Monroe Balloon and Blues Festival, and we’ll be there! Click here to see if he’s playing in your neck of the woods.

Like seeing shows in small venues? So do we! Check out our review of Anders Osborne at SPACE in Evanston, IL.

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