It was a great surprise
Ron Thompson gets and gives a surprise.
Story and Photo’s by Mark Fredell
You may not know the name Ron Thompson but if you’re a fan of the blues of the past 30 years the odds are good you’ve heard him play. Based in the bay area of California since the mid 70’s Ron has played with, recorded with, and simply shared space with some pretty heavy hitters over the past 4 decades. He spent a few years in the early eighties touring and recording with John Lee Hooker, he’s also worked with Santana and Mark Hummel to name just two others, and was for a brief time in a (side project) band with Mick Fleetwood (yes that Mick Fleetwood). Well like so many others, I was (until August 5th ) one of the many that had read is name in the liner notes of countless recordings but had never seen him in person before this show.
And what a show it was. Originally slated as a double bill with another Bay area guitarist Ron Hacker; Hacker unfortunately was under the weather and couldn’t make the trip, but Thompson and his band the Resistors made up for it in spades. Starting off solo with his acoustic guitar (pick-up literally duct tapped in place) Ron and the guys performed with an inspired fervency. A passionate and energetic performer, Ron dances and moves with almost reckless abandon. Not only playing guitar, but piano and harmonica, at times all at once. He’s a good singer too. The music was a blend of straight blues with lot’s of slide ala Elmore James, J.B. Hutto and Robert Nighthawk to some solid roots rockers from the likes of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis to the Blasters and even a rendering of the Mink DeVille inspired ‘Cadillac Walk’. They played (mostly) fast and hard, slowing the tempo only a few times during their first 2 sets. Set one ran just over 90 minutes which anyone that frequents the clubs these days knows is a long one, then within about 15 minutes they were back at it hitting just as hard for set 2, rockin’ & rollin’ till about 5 minutes before midnight. At this point the majority of the audience figured it was over and headed out the door, which as it turned out was a BIG mistake, after a very brief 5 minute break Ron and the Resistors took the stage one more time. During the first song I had to, well lets say ‘take care of some business’ and while I was indisposed that first song ended and I could hear Ron talking to the people though I couldn’t make out what he was saying. So imagine my surprise as I came back into the show room to see not just Thompson and his band on stage but also Chris Isaak and half of his band as well. Lime green outfit, guitar in hand singin’ an old blues rocker. Chris and his guys who one by one hit the stage until you had both bands filling it sang and danced and played for a full half hour then like in a flash of light they were gone. Ron thanked everybody for coming out and the evening ended. What a great surprise. Ron Thompson and the Resistors were great. And to be treated to a star the magnitude of Isaak in such a setting made it a doubly good treat.