by Andrew Calvio
The Steve Miller Band made a return trip to Austin on 07/27/23 bringing Christone “Kingfish” Ingram with them to Germania Amphitheater. The tour marks the 50th anniversary of Miller’s biggest hit that we all know as “The Joker.” He held true to the lyrics showing the crowd that he was still a “picker, a grinner, a lover, and a sinner” while “playing the music in the sun”.The evening air was sweltering as the crowd of baby boomers filed in to find their seats in anticipation of a night of classic hits and nostalgia.
Getting the evening rolling, was gentle giant Christone “Kingfish” Ingram. Standing with the sun in his face, Kingfish set the stage ablaze. Only 24 years old, this young man has the soul of a seasoned blues veteran and the voice of experience. The sweet sounds that Ingram coaxed out of his guitar brought to mind memories of Austin’s own legendary blues hero Stevie Ray Vaughan. There is no doubt that Kingfish is currently building his own legacy and will be a name that will deeply impact the blues world. There was no hesitation when the songs needed the soulful wizardry of this guitar master to help punctuate the feelings being relayed through the music. Kingfish is a gifted musician and is a must see!
As the sun set and the night air began to cool ever so slightly, the Steve Miller Band took the stage to begin their headlining set. The backdrop was draped in a black curtain printed with a giant image of the classic Steve Miller Pegasus that was first introduced in the seventies. With a smile on his face, Miller cued up the psychedelic yacht rock and started right in with “Swingtown.” The crowd agreed with the song choice and jumped in singing the familiar “ooo ooohhs” -only briefly pausing to welcome the crowd to the show, the band kept moving.
The swinging rhythm of “The Stake” filled the air and got people swaying to the beat. A few songs in, Miller spoke of creating magic for the crowd which only meant one thing. “Abracadabra” started with the opening line “I heat up, I can’t cool down”. It’s as if Miller knew he would be playing in the hot stale air on this 100 plus degree July night in Austin when he wrote the song 40 plus years ago. Steve Miller was in great form singing with fervor and not missing a beat. The band was tight and as polished as one would expect.
A quarter of the way into the set Miller brought Kingfish back to the stage and a very special guest, Jimmie Vaughan -who was welcomed to this hometown crowd. The trio of guitar virtuosos played three classic blues songs as they would have played in a dingy hole in the wall club on 6th street. Putting on a master class, they traded off jamming to the tunes “Caress Me Baby,” “Blues With a Feeling” and “Tore Down.” Channeling the deepest emotions through their instruments, they took cues off each other and meshed seamlessly in the purest display of talent.
Putting on a master class, they traded off jamming and channeling the deepest emotions through their instruments. It truly was a moment of awe and appreciation to be in that venue at that moment.
When the guests left the stage and the spotlight was once again focused on the Steve Miller Band, the hits continued to roll. “Fly Like An Eagle” started off the next portion of the show. Appropriately, the smell of mind-altering substances wafted through the air. The music played, the crowd sang, good times were had. As an audience member near me noted, “he’s having so much fun.” It was apparent Miller was having a great time. He had a constant smile on his face and kept the friendly banter going occasionally pointing out a faithful fan that knew the music well. He said “I might need a little help on this one, it’s called “Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma” pointing to her and following with “and you can definitely shake a tailfeather to this one, so I’ll be watching very carefully.”
A highlight of the night was when Miller grabbed his acoustic guitar and played a toned down solo version of “Jet Airliner”. It was a quiet moment that showed the vulnerability of being onstage and having all eyes in one spot. More classics were played and more fun was had making a solid block in the back half of the concert ending the set with “Jungle Love” and “Take The Money And Run.”
Unbeknownst to my wife and I, we had the pleasure of sitting next to a pleasant young man named Jesse. My wife being the social butterfly that she is, engaged him in conversation and came to find out that he was the son of drummer Ron Wikso. That was a fun unexpected bonus, what a sweet kid!
Finishing as strong as they started, the band closed out the night with a two song encore of “The Joker” and “Rock ‘n Me.” The Space Cowboy came out to Austin and delivered a stellar set on a hot summer night. To see a musician giving his all after more than 50 years in the business was an impressive sight to see. The joy that was displayed on his face for the entire night was a testimony to how this just could possibly be the best job in the world.
Check out all the concert photos from the night on Austin 101 Magazine.
True Fine Love
Caress Me Baby (With Jimmie Vaughan and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram)
Blues With a Feeling (With Jimmie Vaughan and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram)
I’m Tore Down (With Jimmie Vaughan and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram)
Fly Like an Eagle
Wild Mountain Honey
Dance, Dance, Dance
Living In the USA
Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma
Take The Money and Run