Grant Ferguson - The Rhythm Room - 11/16/2013
I was introduced to guitar virtuoso Grant Ferguson's music a couple of years ago and have been a fan of his instrumental work ever since. His shows seem to work best in small, intimate venues, as he brings up guest vocalists and interacts with the crowd quite often.
So his early Saturday night show was at the perfect place: the Rhythm Room.
Upon my arrival around 6 p.m., the dim lighting washed over a crowd that was already seated at the small tables and the bar, waiting eagerly. It was crowded but not uncomfortably so, and there were only a handful of people under 35.
Grant Ferguson combines melodic classic rock blended with elements of jazz, blues and soul, and his show was almost completely instrumental save for two guest vocalists, Alice Tatum and Rob MacMullan, that came on stage for a handful of songs.
"Thank you so much for coming out!" he said enthusiastically, surveying the crowd, before launching into "Toward the Light" and "April Song" from his 2011 debut album, Decay and Devotion.
Ferguson's influences include such musicians as Jeff Beck, The Edge, Joe Satriani, and Gary Moore, and it shows in his technique. Earlier this year Ferguson put out his second album, Toward the Light, which garnered a lot of great reviews and displays the broad spectrum of his talent.
"I like singing and have respect for singers, but I use the guitar as my singing not my voice," he explained. "But I love working with singers who can add a lot to the band. So I'd like to welcome to the stage Alice Tatum."
Tatum's sultry voice contributed a lot of warmth and seduction to such tracks as "Treat Me Right" and "Love Sneakin' Up." She has been a fixture in the Phoenix music scene for more than 30 years, with projects that range from jazz to pop-inspired dance songs.
Before "No Regrets," she about her five kids and introduced the song. "Oh, I do have a few regrets, but we won't talk about those," she joked.
As Tatum stepped off the stage, Ferguson worked slowly into "Dark Soul," a jam with a wonderful guitar lead-in that oozes soul.