If you love the Derek & the Dominos’ Layla record as much as I do, then you may have made a big blunder by missing Bobby Whitlock’s recent show at the Nashville City Winery. Most are not aware that it was Memphis native Whitlock who encouraged Eric Clapton to move forward with the Dominos as his next career move. More remarkable is the forgotten fact that pair duet on lead vocals throughout the Layla record, and of its songs, six were Clapton-Whitlock co-writes and one was a song Bobby wrote and sang by himself.
Tonight was the second of ten shows on what was billed as the 2017 Sparkly Shoes Tour. However, rather than being named for Bobby’s flashy footwear, a more-aptly suited title would have referred to the show’s featuring of more than half of Layla. In addition, there was the bonus content of hearing Bobby spin terrific tales of his magnificent memories about working with Eric and the band on this record. It was another fine example of how many aging rockers are including rock and roll history lessons as a part of their show.
The musical accompaniment was sparse with Whitlock and his wife, CoCo Carmel, strumming acoustic guitars with local support from slinger and frequent guest actor on the Nashville TV show, Colin Linden. (A tour poster listed different guest guitarists in other cities.) Bobby did switch to the keys for a few songs, and CoCo even pulled out a sax for one number. She also provided lead vocals on “Keith Richards,” an ode to the famous Stone.
While I could have simply listened to Whitlock’s stories all night long, I equally enjoyed hearing his deep soulful voice. It’s remarkable how similar his singing style is to Clapton’s. It’s no wonder that they sounded so great together in their “Sam and Dave” mode as Whitlock likes to call it.
As for Whitlock’s recollections, I suspect that they can all be found in his 2010 book, Bobby Whitlock: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Autobiography. Written with music historian Marc Roberty and featuring a foreword by Eric Clapton, it is sadly out of print and gets a steep price at Amazon.
Having pegged the unmanned merch table for an after show visit, I was more than ready to pull out my wallet. However, from the stage, Bobby graciously treated me and the rest of the crowd to free CDs and posters as we left for the evening. This was just another reason why this show turned out to be one of my favorites so far this year. Watch for Bobby and CoCo to come to your town, since this is a show you don’t want to miss.
- Anyday (Derek & the Dominos song)
- Got to Get Better in a Little While (Derek & the Dominos song)
- I Looked Away (Derek & the Dominos song)
- Keep on Growing (Derek & the Dominos song)
- Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad (Derek & the Dominos song)
- Thorn Tree in the Garden (Derek & the Dominos song)
- Keith Richards (CoCo Carmel lead vocal)
- Nobody Knows
- The Captain’s Song
- Bell Bottom Blues (Derek & the Dominos song)
- Layla (Derek & the Dominos song)
Bobby Whitlock—lead vocals, acoustic guitar and keyboards
CoCo Carmel—backing vocals, acoustic guitar and saxophone
Colin Linden—acoustic guitar