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Bonnie gets by with a little help from her Friends
Bonnie gets by with a little help from her Friends

Friends of Bonnie

It has been a long, strange trip for Bonnie Bramlett. Ordinarily, one starts off a career as a nobody and then, after establishing oneself as a talented musician, gets to hook up with other able performers. This is how supergroups are started.

But Bramlett skipped all that other stuff and went straight into the supergroup: namely, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, the short-lived agglomeration featuring Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett as well as Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Dave Mason, among others. Success was fleeting, though. Some of the group, with Leon Russell in command, went off to back Joe Cocker on his famed Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour in 1970. Others hitched a ride on the Clapton bandwagon and became Derek and the Dominoes. And most of the group came together for Harrison's 1970 solo effort, All Things Must Pass. Delaney & Bonnie did a few more albums before splitting up. Bonnie did four solo albums in the 1970s, found Jesus in the 1980s (or at least turned to gospel music), and disappeared from the face of the Earth, apart from the occasional acting role.

Now, almost a quarter of a century since the release of her last album, Bramlett has returned. The perfectly named I'm Still the Same, released this past July, catches Bramlett in rare form, recalling her days as a backup singer for Ike and Tina Turner, though without the frenetic pace. In fact, a lot of the work on I'm Still the Same comes off as a sort of bluesy, throaty lounge act. Which makes Bonnie Bramlett & Friends (not, mind you, the same friends she had in Delaney & Bonnie & Friends) a perfect addition to the Bamboo Room, the venue the group has chosen to bring its soulful rendition of rock to South Florida.

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