One Hell Of A Show
With their new CEO James “JC” Curleigh leading the charge, the jam-filled night featured performances from legends like Peter Frampton, Robby Krieger of The Doors, Nancy Wilson of Heart, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and many more.
The night kicked off at the City National Grove of Anaheim with a short speech by Curleigh led by a simple quote, “For Gibson, the times they are a’ changing.” Acknowledging the brand’s shortcomings over the past few years, the new CEO expressed his sights being focused on the future and doing everything he can to get Gibson back on top. With business out of the way, it was nothing but jams and fun for the next 3 hours.
The house band consisted of Daryl Jones (The Rolling Stones) on his new Les Paul Double cut bass, Kenny Aronoff (John Fogerty, John Mellencamp) on Preview (opens in a new window)drums, Jeff Young (Jackson Browne, Steely Dan) on keys and Jimmy Vivino (Late Show with Conan) on his 3 pickup ES335 Custom. A killer lineup in itself as the evening introduced more and more talented musicians to the stage featuring a variety of players from the vets to the up-and-comers.
First out was 13-year-old UK blues guitarist Toby Lee along with fellow blues-rock guitarist Jared James Nichols. Lee on his Explorer and Nichols with his signature pickless play-style on his single-pickup Epiphone Les Paul Custom named Old Glory. The two tore the house down alongside the band and everyone in the crowd immediately knew they’d be in for a treat.
Following Lee and Nichols was Cam, a country singer-songwriter who performed a ballad on her Natural ES335 which she had co-written alongside Sam Smith.
After that Emily Wolfe came out on her Epiphone Sheraton II turning it up a notch with some heavy riffs and high energy as she ripped through her 2016 single “Atta Blues”
In the wake of the high energy Wolfe performance came the hard rock duo out of Austin Texas, Black Pistol Grip. Guns blazing guitarist Kevin McKeown was all over the stage with his ES330 with Bigsby and later switching to a Firebird with P90s, while Eric Owen made his presence known on the drums.
Shortly thereafter the heavy hitters started to come out as Gibson reminded everyone just how much star power they truly wield. Robby Krieger of the Doors hit the stage with his original 1968 Gibson SG and guest vocalist Lauren Ruth Ward came out for an awesome performance of “Love Me Two Times.” Followed by a 10 minute “Roadhouse Blues” featuring another up and comer Ray Goren on his Les Paul Junior Double Cut who had the pleasure of guitar dueling with Krieger.
Nancy Wilson of Heart graced the stage with a lovely rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Let Me Roll It” on her J45 acoustic and then teamed up with Nichols for one more song switching to her Gibson Nighthawk.
After that, Peter Frampton and his 3-Pickup Les Paul came out to an uproar of applause as he shocked the crowd by playing Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”, talk box and all, as he delivered a performance that would be hard to forget. He then switched to his Original Frampton Comes Alive Les Paul also with 3 pickups (presumed lost for 30 years before he was reunited with it recently) for the infamous “Do You Feel Like We Do” as he had the crowd laughing and smiling along with him the whole time.
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top ended the night on his SG with Vibrola with the band’s classic “La Grange” and later went into a full-blown jam as nearly all the artists of the night joined on stage for Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.”
The night was truly one to remember and perfectly portrayed the power of music as it brought together the young and old, industry leaders, and anyone else who was fortunate enough to be in attendance. It was a magical night in Anaheim and was a pleasure to have Gibson back at the show.