Julian Frampton Band And Johnny Irion At Sunset Marquis, Friday June 1st 2018
The Sunset Marquis is a rock ‘n’ roll legendary place, the hotel has been the safe haven of many rock stars, and you become aware of this as soon as you enter the lobby and look at all these rock stars portraits decorating the walls… Joe Strummer stayed there and posed by the pool?
Located at the corner of Sunset boulevard and San Vicente, at a walking distance from the Sunset strip clubs such as the Whisky a Go Go the Roxy and not to far away from The Troubadour, it has been a home and a refuge to more rock stars than you can name: Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, The Clash, Bondie, The Runaways, the Ramones, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Guns ‘N Roses, Led Zeppelin, Green Day, Aerosmith, Chris Cornell, Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phil Collins, Sting, Julio Iglesias, Dave Grohl, Green Day, Usher, Kings of Leon …. Everyone in the music business has stayed there and there is even a recording studio in the basement, the Nightbird studio.
Aware of its impact on music and its significant role in providing musicians a safe oasis, the hotel has organized a series of summer acoustic concerts to pay homage to its roots. On Friday night, Julian Frampton band played there, although Julian Frampton started alone and was joined by two musicians a bit later during his short set. Julian is the son of the legendary, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Peter Frampton, and of course, like every famous musician’s son, he can’t prevent the unavoidable comparison. Julian, who doesn’t really look like his father, was nevertheless showing a lot of stage confidence and was addressing the crowd with a very jovial and down-to-earth tone.
Although he has contributed to his father’s work and co-wrote and provided vocals on the track ‘Road to the Sun’, from Frampton’s album ‘Thank You, Mr. Churchill’, although he has joined his father on stage throughout the years, is a regular opener for his father during the Frampton RAW: Acoustic tour and has sung with legends such as Dean DeLeo of The Stone Temple Pilots and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, Julain has his own singer-songwriter career and was giving us a taste of it last Friday
If it’s a challenge to make a name for yourself when you already have a famous name, Julian certainly proved he could sing with his dark deep and slightly smoky voice. He did interpret his own songs with passion, while situating himself in history right away with a Beatles’ cover ‘Hey Bulldog’ and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Landslide’, a song he played at his big sister’s wedding, during the father-and-daughter dance. He played his hooky song ‘Deadly Smile’ with a dark and melancholic tone, while he became more intense during ‘Ghosts’, with a breeze in the vocals and a large smile on his face.
His songs fleshed up even more when Ben Sheridan on keys and Guy Azoulay on drums joined him on stage, while he introduced the two men with funny stories: Ben was his barista at their local Starbucks and he met Guy on Venice Beach boardwalk when he was playing with a jazz-oriented band. Frampton’s songs had hooks, a great sense of classicism, and despite the acoustic setting, his performance was filled with dynamism and determination especially due to his great deep voice.
He was followed by folk rock artist Johnny Irion, another rock royalty, but in a different sense of the term: while his great uncle is famous author John Steinbeck, Irion is married to Sarah Lee Guthrie, respectively the daughter and granddaughter of folk legends Arlo Guthrie and Woody Guthrie! If he has often performed with his wife as an acoustic duo, combining folk, blues and even country rock, Irion performed his folk ballads alone, although he was joined by a guitarist for a few songs. Several songs were from his new solo album ‘Driving Friend’, which was produced by Tim Bluhm of The Mother Hips and which features performances by members of Dawes, Wilco, and other renowned musicians.
With high pitched vocals and a sort of Neil Young-esque soulful drawl, he sung his well-crafted folk songs which revealed a touch of country rock and bluesy guitars, even going into an almost boogie mode at time. An harmonica and a friend on guitar got in the mix after a few songs, and he did some slide guitar with a plastic bottle as the set entered into a more rootsy, folksy tone while keeping that same Southern country rock exploration.
At the top of this, Morrison Hotel Gallery, located inside the Sunset Marquis, was presenting a photo exhibit curated by Irion, showing portraits of artists who have been influential to his career, from BB King, to Ray Charles, Crosby Stills and Nash, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, the Ramones, Jimi Hendrix…
Being a rock ‘n’ roll offspring seems to be a blessing and a curse, Dhani Harrison, Sean Lennon, Harper Simon, James McCartney, Jakob Dylan probably know a lot about it, but there was no sign of the curse part. With such artistic lineage, both men don’t have the option to fail, and both performances demonstrated a great natural and genuine talent,… there’s nothing wrong with carrying the torch of your fathers and other relatives, it just takes more determination than usual to do it.
Julian Frampton’s Setlist
Hey Bulldog (Beatles)
Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
Had to Say Goodbye
Johnny Irion’s setlist (partial)
Flowers in the sun
Stranger in my house