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Blues guitar virtuoso Billy Thompson, a former San Diegan who has since relocated to West Virginia, returned to play Jazz Live at City College, the excellent concert series sponsored by KSDS Jazz 88.

Thompson was supported in this endeavor by a crack SD back-up band, featuring Michael Leroy Peed on piano and keyboards, Dave Curtis on electric bass, and Danny Campbell on drums.

Thompson is a wild, fearsome guitar-slinger who specializes in slide-guitar about half of the time. His slide technique, which involves an ability to mix up the glass tube with standard fingerings is very impressive. He's also a serviceable singer — gritty, decent range, and good intonation.

Tuesday's concert was hampered by sound-issues. Like many guitar players — Thompson simply was too loud. The volunteer sound crew at Jazz Live was unable to mitigate the sonic inequality, and, as a result--much of the excellent keyboard work of Peed was hard to pick out, and the veteran Curtis on bass was inaudible the entire night. On the bright side, Campbell was easy to hear, and this guy can play the drums. His contributions were spot on.

Featuring mostly original material, Thompson and company roared through self-penned titles like "Noreen," which featured a lyrical Peed acoustic piano solo, "Johnny Is A Cloud," which had some nice , out-of-the-box changes, and "If My Memory Would," which was greasy and funky.

The highlight moments for me, however, were a couple of covers. Thompson had an inventive and technically assured arrangement of Van Morrison's "Into The Mystic," on hand, which was sweet from top to bottom, and his version of the Bill Withers classic, "Aint No Sunshine," brought the house down.

Also excellent was the concert-ending, "As If," which reached outside the blues convention with a golden set of original chord changes.

Photo by Thomas Westerlin

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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