The Musicians Behind ‘Live At Carnegie Hall’
This week, we continue talking about the great musicians who collaborated with Joe Bonamassa on his ‘Live At Carnegie Hall’ concert. A group of nine musicians from all walks of life and musical backgrounds came together a spectacular all-acoustic tour. The unique blend posed a challenge for everyone involved, but the results were beyond anyone’s expectations. The live DVD and CD of the Carnegie Hall performance released in June this year, is a must listen in Joe’s collection.
Anton Fig is a prolific musician has been around music for quite some time, and has performed in various settings, playing different forms of music. He was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1952. Music was always coursing through his veins and he began playing drums at the very young age of four! Fig began practicing and gigging with many rock groups and started making a name for himself. He even later earned the nickname “The Thunder from Down Under.” Wanting to pursue a career in music and learn more about his craft, Anton moved to Boston where he received a formal education at the New England Conservatory of music. He studied the basics of jazz and classical music which helped him to really understand fundamentals and allowed him to really dive deep into various elements. After graduating in 1975, it was on to New York City where he, and every other musician, was looking to spark his career as a freelance musician.
Fig did not have to wait long before his phone rang. He began recording and performing with various rock bands and musicians. One of his biggest claims to fame came in 1979 when he was invited to play drums on Detroit City Rockers KISS’s albums Dynasty and Unmasked. He was even the drummer in ex-Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley’s group “Frehley’s Comet” for 4 years. After this, Fig became a highly in demand session artist. He has recorded with Bob Dylan, B.B. King, Gary Moore, Joe Cocker, Joe Satriani, Paul Butterfield, Cyndi Lauper, Peter Frampton, Beth Hart, Madona, and many others.
He also joined forces with blues guitar titan Joe Bonamassa and has been recording and touring with him since 2007 and has appeared on seven studio albums. Anton is a powerful and tasty drummer and his background in rock music pairs seamlessly with Bonamassa’s blues tunes.
On top of all this, the insanely busy drummer was a key member in Paul Shaffer’s band on David Letterman’s night show. After replacing the previous drummer in “The Most Dangerous Band” in 1986, Fig remained until Letterman retired. With this band, Fig’s already impressive list of artists he has shared a stage with grows exponentially. A few include Miles Davis, James Brown, Steve Winwood, and Tony Bennett. The renamed CBS Orchestra also was the house band for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies from 1986 to 2015. Needless to say, Anton Fig is one busy guy and has been around the block a few times!
Eric Bazilian is a jack of all trades, and well a master at all of them too. He was born in 1953 in Philadelphia. Music was always around him when he was growing up and his mother was a classical pianist who urged him to take up the instrument when he was five. After learning guitar and watching the Beatles perform on television, Eric knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He strayed away from his classical roots to purse his love for rock music. He was in and out of a few bands before becoming a founding member of the rock group “The Hooters,” which is what he is primarily known for. The band had a rather significant following worldwide and their debut album sold over 2 million copies.
On top of being a great guitarist and vocalist, Eric’s talents span to a mind-blowing number of other instruments. He can go from the bass right to the mandolin, ukulele, piano, mandola, drums, melodica, and even the saxophone! The transitions are seamless for him and he plays each instrument with expert level talent. Even Joe Bonamassa was shocked by Bazilian’s effortless abilities while on the Carnegie stage.
His talents even stretch to song writing as well. He is most noted for writing “One of Us” which was made famous in 1995 by Joan Osborne. He also has written many, many other songs, some performed by famous acts. Some include, Ricky Martin, Scorpions, Bon Jovi, LeAnn Rimes, Journey, and many others.
Some of the musicians featured on the Carnegie Hall DVD have never played with Joe or even have played blues music in any capacity. The musician that was probably the furthest from his comfort zone was the Egyptian master percussionist Hossam Ramzy. He started playing percussion instruments at a very young age and learned traditional styles of various countries. He was very passionate and “dedicated his life to playing music.” He began to branch out from traditional Egyptian and Indian music by collaborating with jazz musicians, “earning him the nickname ‘Sultan of Swing.’” He is best known in the United States for performing with classic rock idols Jimmy Page and Robert plant of Led Zeppelin. Ramzy was a part of a large Egyptian ensemble that accompanied the Page and Plant on their Unledded live DVD.
Ramzy’s understanding and pure mastery of rhythms and percussion instruments is unbelievable. He incorporates instruments that are far from traditional in blues and blends them effortlessly with the rest of the band.