Eric Gales was unforgivably not on my radar until last year when I interviewed New Orleans jam, funk band, Earphunk. Towards the end of my phone call I asked Earphunk lead vocalist and guitarist, Mark Hempe, a notoriously stock question “If you could jam with anyone today who would it be?” He responded, “There’s this guy, Eric Gales, this guitarist right now that I’ve really been following lately. He’s just a monster so jamming with him would be really cool.”
After some quick YouTubing, it was evident Gales is a modern day Blues legend. He toured with the legendary Experience Hendrix in 2014, which is a large group of music legends keeping Jimi’s music alive. Gary Clark Jr and Zakk Wylde have been on his albums. Oh, and he’s played with Buddy Guy and Walter Trout. Enough said!
Eric Gales rolled into The Charleston Pour House this past Saturday night. I had this date circled on my calendar for months, yet an hour before he was to take the stage, there was maybe 20 people in the crowd. Say what? I learned later that both Clemson and the University of South Carolina had night, prime time games. In the South, football always trumps music and Gales was the unfortunate victim of that scenario. So, how would someone like a Blues shredder perform when so much of an act depends on crowd energy?
Gales took the stage and immediately addressed the 40+ fans. “Charleston! My tour manager told me there may not be a lot of people at the show tonight, but I’ll tell you this, whether there’s 20,000 or 20 I’ll be giving you my all. And because of that, you’ll go home and tell your friends and next time I come back here…and I will be coming back here…we’ll do it up.” He continued, “We were recently in Vegas and we saw on the news all the hurricane stuff that hit you…just know we were thinking and praying for you then and now and let’s let some music do some healing even it’s just for a short amount of time.”
Gales then continued with a touching story about how he’s almost died three times and has been sober for 14 months as he lifted his head up to keep his tears in. His wife Ladonna plays tambourine and an electric drum and it was clear their chemistry and love for each other is real. The highlights of the show for me:
- Gales’ cover of Freddie King’s “Boogie Man” that he recorded with Gary Clark Jr and is on his new album. The vocals, the solos….I didn’t want this song to end and it was already rocking for seven minutes.
- “The Swamp” – Gales teased this song, “Every time I play it, it takes 11 minutes for the crowd to calm down after.” During the incredible first few minutes of the riff, he yelled back to the crowd, “We haven’t even started yet!” Holy hell, the song went to another level with so much energy and back and forth with his band. He was spot on.
- Guitar solos on his back, over the head
- He covered Hendrix’s Voodoo Child then transitioned right into Beethoven’s Für Elise.
Right before Gales cranked up his last song, he spoke into the mic, “Charleston! As soon as this show ends I’m going to be calling my tour manager and telling him to book Charleston again right away! Hopefully you’ll tell your friends to come and we’ll do it again packed this time.” The crowd reciprocated his energy and into a Voodoo Child melody Gales went.
In true fan fashion, Gales walked right of the stage to his merch booth and shook hands and took photos with every single fan that wanted to. He was the last to leave the building. God bless this man and believe me, Eric, the Pour House will be packed next time you roll through town. I’ll make sure of that.
Stream his new album here: