demonstrated why he's considered a virtuoso on guitar. Big and burly, with the appearance of a latter-day Allen Ginsberg, a Greg Allman-esque voice, and Warren Haynes axe skills, Al-Saadi opened the show with the Band's "Up on Cripple Creek" and Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign." He and his band nailed both covers, but the third song, "Last Time You'll See Me Cry," one of his originals from his 2013 album Real, stood out.
Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Al-Saadi studied jazz guitar and bass at the U-M. His 2004 debut album, Long Time Coming, is very jazz-rock oriented. By his second album, In the Round, released four years later, he'd switched gears, and most of the songs were primarily blues- and rock-influenced. Both albums were recorded in Ann Arbor at Big Sky Recording. Real, his third album (technically a six-song EP with a pair of alternate-take bonus tracks), stays in the vein of In the Round but is a more rootsy and well-honed composition. Real was recorded at Hollywood's legendary Ocean Way Recording during a one-day, nine-hour session, in which the music went straight to two-track with no overdubs or edits. There, Al-Saadi was backed by a hand-selected group of famous studio musicians, including drummer Jim Keltner, bassist Lee Sklar, organist Larry Goldings, and saxophonist Tom Scott.