The blues harp has been Mayall's key to the highway for more than 40 years.
The blues harp has been Mayall's key to the highway for more than 40 years.
Neil Zlozower


Pity poor John Mayall. While the tireless 67-year-old Korean War vet is rightly credited with helping to spearhead the British blues boom of the early- to mid-'60s, any mention of his name inevitably centers on the amazing players who passed through his Bluesbreakers lineup: Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, Mick Taylor and John McVie, to name just a few. Now into his fifth decade of recording, the singer/songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist continues to plug away on the road with his current incarnation of the band and its polished sheen of workingman's blues.

While never a flashy player nor a vocal gymnast, Mayall is always dependable, like a favorite brand of beer. But this year the blues professor has called a class reunion -- at least on record -- and many former honor roll students (sans Clapton) have contributed to his latest project, Along for the Ride (Eagle Records). Credited to "John Mayall & Friends," the album also features a plethora of players who never graduated from Bluesbreakers U., including Billy Gibbons, Jonny Lang, Otis Rush, Steve Miller and more. Though not one of his strongest records, it does give the feel of a loose and friendly all-star jam session, with father Mayall benevolently overseeing the proceedings. Expect a deep dip into the catalog (and the classic "Room to Move") along with new tunes for this show. And with Clapton in town the next night at Compaq Center, who knows who might end up guesting on the other's stage?


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