Slap Yourself for Missing Willis Earl Beal. Shame On You.

So when I said that you should hit up Barboza’s inaugural musical spectacle I meant it. Oh man, did you miss what has to be one of the most underrated shows of the year. There were a mere 50-60 people in attendance in the new venue below the well-known Neumos. Many seemed to have a fascination with the venue itself rather than the aural pleasures yet to be performed that night.

Though I was excited for Willis Earl Beal to perform, I actually wasn’t quite prepared for what took place. First things first, he read a poem out of a large volume by Bukowski. While attempting the first sentence three times (all three being interrupted by loud conversations in the back) he yells with commitment and power “Shut the fuck up!”  You could hear a pin drop… obviously the reaction he was hoping for. He was able to read the entirety of the passage with no further interruptions. Before moving onto his music, he apologized saying “I don’t mean to be a dick. I’m just a man and we all want to be heard”. Ain’t that the truth.

The night continued along that same strange yet entrancing path until he sang his last vibrato-ed note. That down and dirty Chicago blues I was looking for peeked its head out on more than a few occasions but so did sweet soul music, heart-felt ballads and an odd brand of rock. All of which convinced me by the end of the show that I had to buy his LP even though he said “go buy my album in the back, even though it doesn’t sound anything like what you just heard”.

If you missed this show, way to go… you now have something to regret for the rest of your life.

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