Berks Jazz Fest 2013: Brian Hughes

It is that special time of the year again: The Boscov's Berks Jazz Festival 2013 is taking place now, it was unofficially kicked off Thursday night with guitarist Brian Hughes at the Neag Planetarium at the Reading Public Museum, a suitable venue for such a concert with an additional catering area that was welcome as well. I had just flown in from Europe that afternoon, checked in with my hosts Michael & Beverly - who generously let me live at their place during the festival each year - grabbed some food and headed to the venue, where I was greeted by several friends and warmly welcomed, so I was in the festival mood right away. Despite having all of his CDs and having followed his career since day one, I had never seen Brian Hughes before, so this opportunity was really welcome. This concert was in part privately sponsored by Brentwood Industries, a music fan who learned about this artist one day by chatting with Brian's wife while sitting next to her on a plane, which I found remarkable. Brian was accompanied by a killer band, among them Ron Powell on percussion and Tom Brechtlein on drums, he played several songs from his current CD Fast Train To A Quiet Place, beginning with "Fast Train", followed by the latin groover "Would You Like Fries with That My Dear?" that kept Ron Powell busy. Another nice one was "Blanket Of Stars", a song which was made to be played at a planetarium like Brian jokingly remarked, featuring acoustic guitar. During the evening, he alternated on guitars, mostly playing his hollow body electric guitar, but also acoustic and other electric guitars. His guitar playing is clearly influenced by Wes Montgomery and Pat Metheny, and his songs all feature catchy melodies and head-bopping grooves. His concert was broken up into two sets, it was well received, thus providing a great start to this year's Berks Jazz Fest. Watch this space for more concert reviews!