George Thorogood has perfected the art of storytelling. During a meet and greet with members of his fan club before Friday’s sold-out show at the IP Casino Resort, Thorogood held court as he recounted stories of meeting Chuck Berry, Joe DiMaggio, the Stones and The Beatles.
And he should be great at storytelling. This is a guy that was a roadie for Hound Dog Taylor and opened for the likes of West Point native Howlin’ Wolf and Clarksdale’s Muddy Waters.
Thorogood is the real deal and it would be tough to find anyone more charismatic as a performer.
When he hit the stage with his longtime sidemen The Destroyers, Thorogood was equal parts Wolf, Waters and James Brown. He also has the moves like Jagger in the most literal sense, not the ones that the pop band Maroon Five think they have. But he’s also 100 percent George Thorogood.
For some reason, the “critics” have never been too kind to Thorogood, but he is perfectly fine with that and so are his fans, especially the ones at Friday’s show in Biloxi.
The IP show was the first of his “Badder Than Ever” tour. In a recent interview, Thorogood told me he chose to start the tour in Biloxi because Mississippi’s slogan is “The birthplace of American music.”
"Well, there you go. That's where we want to start our tour -- where music begins,” he said.
He paid homage to early American music with nods to blues, 1950s rock and roll, rockabilly and even country music.
“This song is for a great American -- Johnny Cash,” Thorogood told the audience before launching into “Cocaine Blues,” a song Cash made popular in 1968. Friday just also happened to be the late Cash’s 84th birthday. This was a fitting tribute to the iconic Cash.
Thorogood ripped through Bo Diddley's “Who Do You Love,” Hank Williams’ “Move It On Over,” Wolf’s “Tail Dragger” and The Strangeloves’ “Night Time" and his own hit "Bad To The Bone" before the end of his near-two hour set.
But it was an extended version of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” that sent the crowd over the edge.
And then there’s his guitar playing. Thorogood is an absolute master at the guitar, from his tone to his slide-playing abilities. He is one of only a handful of living blues guitarist.
Because at the end of the day, Thorogood is and always will be a bluesman. He knows more about the blues than anyone, especially the critics. “All of these 'blues scholars' say that white guys can't play the blues, that I can't play the blues because I'm not black. Buddy (Guy) once told me, 'The guitar strings don't know what color your fingers are,’” he said.