Guitarist Robben Ford to bring blues

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If you go...

WHO: Robben Ford
WHAT: Five-time Grammy nominee, guitarist.
WHEN: 8 p.m., Sunday, May 4.
WHERE: Newton Theatre, 234 Spring Street, Newton, N.J.
HOW MUCH: $39 premium, $34 orchestra and $29 balcony.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: thenewtontheatre.com or 973-383-3700.

Guitar virtuoso Robben Ford will perform at the Newton Theatre on Sunday, May 4.

A five-time Grammy nominee, Robben Ford is known for his blues playing. He has played with artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Jimmy Witherspoon, Miles Davis, George Harrison, Phil Lesh, Bonnie Raitt, Claus Ogerman, Michael McDonald, Bob Dylan, John Mayall, Greg Allman and others.

Ford, who Musician magazine called one of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century," developed his reputation in the jazz and pop world of the 1970s and ’80s as a solo artist, a member of the ground-breaking fusion group L.A. Express and a sideman with Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis and others. He had emerged from northern California in the ’60s as part of the Charles Ford Blues Band. In that group — formed with his brothers and named after their father — he supported blues legends Jimmy Witherspoon and Charlie Musselwhite, getting a hands-on education in the style.

He feels the time he spent with Joni Mitchell were the most formative of his musical life.

“Joni’s harmonic sensibility and creativity had a big impact on me, and so did the level of musicianship that the other guys in the L.A. Express had,” says Ford. “That was an important period for my growth. I really pushed myself to broaden my palette of chords and tones, and to set really high expectations for myself.”

In subsequent years Ford performed with Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, David Sanborn, Phil Lesh and a host of others. By the time he joined Miles Davis’ group a decade later, he’d developed a signature approach based on an axis of blues and jazz mastery. When Ford left Davis’ employ after six months of touring, Davis acknowledged the guitarist’s skills by offering him an open door. Instead, Ford continued to carve his own path.

His most recent work "Bringing It Back Home" is a study in soul, style and virtuosity that cuts to the heart with its emotion-laden musicianship. The disc also brings the Ford back to his earliest roots as a performer, playing blues.

His resume includes eight other solo albums, four live recordings, three discs with his group the Blue Line, nine albums with the Ford Brothers and a rock collaboration with fellow guitar kingpin Michael Landau, former Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip,and Drummer Gary Novak called Renegade Creation for two CDs.

Ford also continues to collaborate with his wife, Anne, on various musical projects including her CD “Weill" which he produced on their own Illyria label.

Tickets for Robben Ford are $39 for premium, $34 for orchestra and $29 for balcony. Purchase tickets by visiting www.thenewtontheatre.com or contact the box office at 973-383-3700.

The historic Newton Theatre is located at 234 Spring Street in Newton, N.J.

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