Arts and Entertainment

Grammy-winning blues guitarist John Hammond to play Vashon Theatre

John Hammond’s performance will benefit Vashon’s sister city. - Courtesy photo
John Hammond’s performance will benefit Vashon’s sister city.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

John Hammond, a Grammy Award-winning blues guitarist and a long-time icon of the music industry, will play at a special benefit concert at the Vashon Theatre at 7:30 Thursday, July 31.

Hammond comes from a re-markable musical lineage. His

father, John H. Hammond, worked as a talent scout for years and, because of the many careers he helped to launch, is considered one of the most influential figures in 20th century popular music. Those he discovered or helped along the way include Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Pete Seeger, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Ray Vaughan. His discovery of Bob Dylan was known as “Hammond’s folly” at Columbia Records — until Dylan’s career exploded.

John Hammond Jr. “is one degree of separation from virtually every musician who influenced anyone ages 30 to 60 who listens to music,” said Island singer/songwriter Pete Droge, who recalled one Hammond album — “I Can Tell,” produced in 1967 — that he “couldn’t get enough of” when he was a kid.

“He did a cover of Willie Dixon’s ‘Shake for Me,’ which I listened to over and over again. Duane Allman (Allman Brothers) plays slide guitar on that cut, and it may have been his finest moment.”

Lest you think Hammond is a blast from the past, his most recent album, “Push Comes to Shove” (2007), was named international blues album of the year by Rhythms magazine and a top 10 selection in’s best music selections in the blues and folk category. It has received glowing reviews from The Washington Post, American Songwriter and many more.

The disc was produced by longtime Hammond fanatic G Love (Garret Dutton III) and features Stephen Hodges on drums, Marty Ballou on bass and Bruce Katz on piano and organ. Hammond wrote an unprecedented five original songs for the album, along with new renditions of tunes by Little Walter, Junior Wells, Tom Waits and more.

Carrying on a tradition of bringing world-class entertainment to

Islanders to raise money for im-portant causes, Vashon Youth & Family Services (VYFS) and the Vashon Rotary Foundation are bringing Hammond to the Island to raise money for their community efforts on Vashon and in the Island’s sister community — Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, which was badly hit by Hurricane Stan in 2005.

VYFS will use its proceeds to support its school-based programs on Vashon, while the Rotary will help to sponsor a community service trip to Guatemala by Vashon High School students in support of a grant it recently received to address health and sanitation issues in Santiago Atitlan.

— Sam Collins is the executive director of Vashon Youth & Family Services.

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