George Thorogood and The Destroyers

Boarding House Park
40 French Street
Lowell, MA Venue Information
Buy Tickets Saturday August 4, 2012 7:30 PM
$35 in advance / $45 day of concert

2120 South Michigan Avenue, home of Chicago's Chess Records, may be the most important address in the bloodline of the blues and rock 'n' roll. That address - immortalized in the Rolling Stones' like-named instrumental, recorded at an epochal session at Chess in June 1964 - serves as the title to George Thorogood's electrifying Capitol/EMI salute to the Chess label and its immortal artists.

Chess' studio spawned timeless '50s and '60s recordings by Waters, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Howlin' Wolf, which served as inspiration for the Stones and their blues-rocking brethren, and then lit a fire under their successors George Thorogood and the Destroyers.

Thorogood recalls, "I remember as a teenager reading about Mick Jagger meeting Keith Richards on a train. Jagger had a Chuck Berry record, and he said he wrote to Chess Records and got a catalog sent to him. Just out of curiosity, I took out one of my Chess records, got the address, and I wrote to Chess Records. And they sent me a catalog of the complete Chess library, and I started buying up these Chess records. I bought every single one of them I could possibly get.

"And I remember reading the backs of those Chess records and seeing the address, 2120 South Michigan Avenue, and I said, 'That's the same address as the Rolling Stones' instrumental!' And I started putting one and one together and coming up with a big two."

Over time, Chess' catalog and artists became the sources of Thorogood's higher education in music. "That was my school, the college that I had to learn my trade in," he says. "I had to figure out how these people did these things."

Blues guitarist George Thorogood first became interested in music when he saw John Paul Hammond performing in 1970. Three years later he formed the Destroyers in Delaware before moving them to Boston, where they backed visiting blues stars. Thorogood's first album, released in 1977, contained the classic, "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer." His second album, Move It On Over, released the next year, also featured Thorogood favorites "Who Do You Love?" and "Cocaine Blues" and "The Sky Is Crying."

Thorogood, a former semi-professional baseball player, took time away from music to play, but by 1981 was back in the fold as the band opened for the Rolling Stones at several of their American gigs. The venues were unfamiliar to Thorogood as he customarily shunned large arenas in favor of smaller clubs, even going to the extent of playing under false names to prevent the smaller venues becoming overcrowded.

"Bad to the Bone" was released in 1982 on the album of the same name. While it was not a major hit on initial release, its video made recurrent appearances on the nascent MTV, which was created a year before. Licensing for films, television, and commercials has since made "Bad to the Bone" a classic. In 1985, Thorogood and the Destroyers had another hit with "I Drink Alone" and appeared at Live Aid playing with blues legend Albert Collins.

His new album, 2120 South Michigan Ave. features the Rolling Stones instrumental plus classics "Spoonful," Seventh Son" and "Hi Heeled Sneakers." It celebrates the performers who shared stages with Thorogood and the Destroyers and encouraged them when they were just coming up on the East Coast blues scene. He says, "The people who helped me out were all the guys in Muddy Waters' band, all the guys in Howlin' Wolf's band. They were wonderful to me, and they wanted to help me. They saw what I was trying to do."

The historic music heard on 2120 South Michigan Avenue didn't merely change George Thorogood's life, as he himself notes. "It's not a musical phenomenon, it's a social phenomenon. The man who created rock 'n' roll was Chuck Berry, and he listened to Muddy Waters. Bo Diddley went to the same school and listened to the same people. Rock 'n' roll changed the whole world. That never would have happened if it hadn't been for Chess Records. It's the source of the whole thing."

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Opening Band: Kingsley Flood

Kingsley Flood is a six-piece band from Boston. Recently, it won New Artist of the Year honors at the 2010 Boston Music Awards, and won Best Roots Act in the 2011 and 2010 Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll. The band has been featured on NPR's Weekend Edition and Song of the Day, and its first video debuted on Paste Magazine's website.

  • "a modern brand of Americana" - New Yorker
  • "the best live band in Boston" - Boston Herald
  • "a potent mix of gypsy folk and roadhouse rock, a raucous affair both live and on record" - Twangville

    A band was never part of the plan; Kingsley Flood frontman Naseem Khuri never thought it should be. The son of hard working immigrants who realized their own American dream, he felt obligated to follow that path-good schools, stable job, big house on the hill.

    After a while, perspective shifted. Khuri soon realized the American dream his parents had sought was not about the right to material happiness. It was about the right to choose a path.

    Khuri made that choice. Two years and thousands of miles on the road later, Kingsley Flood's new EP Colder Still examines the quintessentially American pursuit of happiness. Is the house on the hill really the goal? At what cost? Is it lonely at the top?

    These questions evoke themes of privilege and class. The stubborn dreamer of "I Don't Wanna Go Home" takes for granted his comfortable but tame lifestyle to follow a perilous pipe dream. The entitled do-gooder of "Mannequin Man" may be doing good for the wrong reasons. The climber of "House on the Hill" laments his ascent and longs for the warm "common glow" below.

    Rather than retreating to the sleepy woods of Vermont as they did to record their debut album Dust Windows, the band opted for busy studios in Boston and New York. But it was during many months on the road that Kingsley Flood honed the gritty, urban sound reflected on Colder Still. The songs are urgent.

    Colder Still respects, but is not bound by, the Americana feel of the band's first record. Khuri's lyrics are supported by George Hall's stark electric guitar and a propulsive rhythm section led by bassist Nick Balkin and drummer Steven Lord. Jenee Morgan conjures an old-time aesthetic on her violin, but it's her frequent interplay with Chris Barrett's trumpet that creates an expansive orchestral feel. Add trash cans, euphoniums and accordions to the mix, and it's hard to attach this record to any genre.

    Kingsley Flood's live show is difficult to categorize as anything but electrifying. The dynamic seamlessly moves from the explosive intensity of a punk band to the rich four-part harmonies of a folk act.

    Audiences have responded. NPR named the EP's first track "I Don't Wanna Go Home" Song of the Day and said it has "a vintage radio feel and the momentum of a great live show." The band was named New Artist of the Year at the 2010 Boston Music Awards, and Best Roots Act in the 2010 and 2011 Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll. After a feature on NPR's Weekend Edition, Dust Windows was number one on the roots-rock chart for several weeks.

    The band is:
  • Naseem Khuri: vocals, guitar
  • Jenee Morgan: violin, saxophone, vocals
  • Chris Barrett: trumpet, keys, percussion, vocals
  • George Hall: guitar, vocals
  • Nick Balkin: bass, vocals


    Lowell Summer Music Series
    67 Kirk Stret
    Lowell, MA 01852

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