Johnny "Guitar" Watson

Live in Concert

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The main part of this home video is devoted to Johnny "Guitar" Watson's appearance at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1993. Despite his adopted middle name, Watson doesn't really play much guitar during the performance. Rather, he comes off as an energetic showman in the manner of James Brown. Leading an eight-piece band (three horns -- saxophone, trumpet, and trombone -- two keyboards, bass, drums, and percussion), he draws mostly from his repertoire of funk tunes during a one-hour, 18-minute set. He is all over the stage; that is, when he doesn't jump down to the camera pit and from there down again, right up against the fence that separates him from the enthusiastic audience. He even goes over the fence at one point, immersing himself in the crowd. Call it, then, James Brown with a little Bruce Springsteen thrown in. Now and then, Watson does throw a guitar strap over his shoulder and play a short blues run, but the guitar is really just a prop. Another hour-plus of extras on the DVD includes a few songs from the 1996 Blues Fest Leverkusen Concert of 1996; a filmed interview (most of which will be unintelligible to English speakers because there is a German translation voice-over); a radio interview from 1987; and some video footage dating back to 1980. This is not a comprehensive look at Watson's entire career, but it does give a good sense of what an entertainer he was in his late prime.