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Show Review: John Butler Trio at The Independent

Want to see some really sick guitar playing?

So did I. That’s why I hauled it over to The Independent in San Francisco last night to see the killer performance of the John Butler Trio.

With selections ranging from trippy reggae-tinged sing-alongs to lovely harmony-laden ballads and straight out rock tunes, the set was not only varied, it was enthralling.

The trio as a whole were incredibly tight, with Byron Luiters on bass and new drummer Grant Gerathy joining the fold.

Butler not only showed his varied guitar talents, he created a masterful tone palette utilizing a variety of pedals, a Marshall half-stack, and more with his instruments, which included 6-string and 12-string acoustics, banjo, resonator guitar and a couple of electrics. I’m talking some truly innovative and inventive stuff that was going on here!

Top selections for the night included “Only One” from his latest album, Flesh and Blood. Other cuts from the album that satisfied were “Spring to Come,” “How You Sleep at Night” and a rousing closer of “Living in the City.” “Devil Woman” was just plain frolicking fun.

But it was his live solo performance of “Ocean” that pretty much blew everyone’s mind ten times over. The virtuosic guitar technique coupled with the waves of intensity pulled back into soul-satisfying resolution were truly moving and jaw-dropping. Holy moly.

Here’s the studio version, but I am telling you, nothing can compare to this live!

The sold out crowd was a mass of bouncing, swaying bodies and each one of them loved every minute. Oh, and kudos to the sound man. The mix was perfection.

If you haven’t checked out the latest from John Butler, I strongly recommend you do. This is truly one of the best shows I have seen in the past 12 months and, just wow.

There are more dates on the tour. Run!!
Tour dates here:

Laura B. Whitmore is the editor of Guitar World's Acoustic Nation. A singer/songwriter based in the San Francisco bay area, she's also a veteran music industry marketer, and has spent over two decades doing marketing, PR and artist relations for several guitar-related brands including Marshall and VOX. Her company, Mad Sun Marketing, represents Dean Markley, Peavey Electronics, SIR Entertainment Services, Music First, Guitar World and many more. Laura is the founder of the Women's International Music Network at, producer of the She Rocks Awards and the Women's Music Summit and co-hosts regular songwriter nights for the West Coast Songwriters Association. More at

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Laura B. Whitmore is a music industry marketing veteran, music journalist and editor, writing for (opens in new tab), Guitar World, and others. She has interviewed hundreds of musicians and hosts the She Rocks Podcast. As the founder of the Women’s International Music Network (opens in new tab), she advocates for women in the music industry and produces the annual She Rocks Awards. She is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Positive Grid, making the world safe for guitar exploration everywhere! A guitarist and singer/songwriter, Laura is currently co-writing an album of pop songs that empower and energize girls.