David Fricke's Year in Rock 2017

Tom Petty's final tour, Phish's Bakers Dozen, the rebirth of the Dream Syndicate and other musical highlights from the year that was

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Steve Miller: The Blues Triangle
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Stephen J. Cohen/Getty Images10/12

Steve Miller: The Blues Triangle

Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City, December 1st

The Space Cowboy turned the focus in this show – the guitarist's third in an annual series of blues concerts for JALC – on the social and musical forces running between Memphis, Chicago and Texas. Miller was joined by his sparring partner from last year's presentation, Texas guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, and the Mississippi-born singer and harp player Charlie Musselwhite, who saw a lot of the miles in that triangle in his emigration to Memphis, then Chicago. The three veterans, fronting a sharp, tight crew of JALC regulars, rolled through the blues' mid–20th-century library – stopping at Lightnin' Hopkins, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker and Little Walter, among others – with refined chops and near-boyish joy, with Miller adding narrative context and personal reminiscences. My highlight: Miller's crackling-treble blast of K.C. Douglas' "Mercury Blues," a song I first heard when the original Steve Miller Band covered it on a 1968 hippie-flick-soundtrack LP, Revolution.

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