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Review: Eric Johnson’s signature guitar sound defines ‘Classics: Present and Past’ night at Bing

Guitarist Eric Johnson performs at the Bing Crosby Theater on Wednesday night. (Johnathan Curley / SR)
Guitarist Eric Johnson performs at the Bing Crosby Theater on Wednesday night. (Johnathan Curley / SR)

Eric Johnson came armed with a new band, a new album and the same genre-defying virtuosity when his “Classics: Present and Past” tour stopped at the Bing Crosby Theater on Wednesday evening.

Touring in support of his upcoming album, “E.J. Vol. II,” the night marked the guitarist’s latest show in Spokane since 2018.

The evening began with the band slinking their way onstage followed by Johnson and the first stirrings of his signature guitar sound that would define the night.

The Austin, Texas -born Johnson and company then launched into a driving Latin jazz beat and only picked up the pace from there.

Across a blistering 2 ½ hours, the band cycled through a catalog of original blues, jazz and folk material while firing off covers that ranged from Jimi Hendrix’s “Drifting” to John Coltrane’s “Impressions.”

Later, Johnson took to the piano for new numbers “Waterwheel” and “Over the Moon,” which are set to appear on “E.J. Vol. II.”

Following an intermission, the second half of the show proved that Johnson is as much a folk aficionado as blues champion.

The folk musings of “Black Waterside” served as an acoustic counterweight to the electric articulation of “Desert Rose” and the Grammy Award-winning “Cliffs of Dover.”

The night finished with an encore blues jam that let the band’s musicianship shine, with Johnson, drummer Tom Brechtlein (Kenny Loggins), bassist Roscoe Beck (Leonard Cohen) and standout guitarist/pianist/percussionist Dave Scher all taking solos as the night came to a close.

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