Blues guitar legend Robben Ford has posted pro-shot footage of his set on August 3 at Koko Jazz Club in Helsinki, Finland, and it is notable for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it’s awesome. Seeing Ford in a casual club environment, with no raised stage, playing before a sea of tables, makes for an unusually intimate look at the virtuoso in action, and the ease with which he and his all-Finnish backing band work through the set is inspiring, the Californian calling out the tunes as they go along – quite literally when they play “Go,” from his latest album, Pure.
Secondly, it finds Ford debuting his long-awaited PRS signature electric guitar, that was first introduced on his Instagram account around a year go.
Finished in all-black, with what looks like natural maple or cream binding, the double-cut model sounds incredible through what looks like a black-panel Fender Deluxe – certainly not the Dumble Overdrive Special (serial number: 002) that he has been associated with ever since he got the amp in 1983.
“How’s the guitar?” Ford asked the crowd. “Too loud? Not loud enough!? This is a brand new guitar for me. First time I’ve ever played it on gig, so I’m fulling around with it a little bit.”
Ford was joined on the night by Timo Hirvanen on bass, Jussi Lehtonen on drums, and Holgar Marjamaa on organ, with the band warming up to Marjamaa’s bravura organ-led progressive jazz exercise, “Bouncing with Holger.”
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Ford takes to the stage after seven and a half minutes, opens with “Bird’s Nest Bound”, the Big Joe Williams track from 2013’s Bringing It Back Home, and inaugurates a set of laid-back genius. Ford follows that with a cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky”, again from Bringing It Back Home.
“Truly a pleasure to be here and especially to be playing with these great musicians back here,” said Ford, introducing the band. “I do know them by first name but last name not so much.”
Other highlights from the night included “What I Haven’t Done”, a standout from 2018’s Purple House, written by Kyle Swan. The only disappointment is that there is no waiter service on YouTube, so you'll have to fix your own Martini and dim the lights for that jazz club vibe.
Ford returns to the States to play the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco on September 16, before heading to San Diego’s Music Box on September 18. See Robben Ford for more tour dates.
There has been no confirmation from PRS that there is a Robben Ford model incoming. Other features include a wrap-around bridge, dual humbuckers branded with Ford’s personal seal, a pickup-splitter mini-toggle, volume, tone, and a three-way pickup selector, and an oversized headstock.
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