Don't be surprised if Jon Butcher becomes a star. It may not happen soon, and it may not happen at all. But the Alaska-born singer-guitarist is enormously gifted, and he's starting to hit his stride, judging by his latest album, "Wishes," and his show Sunday at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.
Early in his recording career, it was easy to overlook Butcher and even easier to dismiss him. The black rock guitarist projected (or, one suspects, was projected into ) the image of would-be successor to Jimi Hendrix. His music then tended toward unexceptional hard rock, and his opening slots for tours by metal squads Def Leppard and Scorpions completed the impression that Butcher was just another head-banging hack with a Hendrix complex.
But that impression started to unravel last year when he received a Grammy nomination for best rock instrumental. (Jeff Beck won the award, which is fitting because he's obviously been one of the major influences on Butcher.)
Then early this year came "Wishes," a stylish, varied work bursting with solid songwriting and inventive, fluid guitar playing.
Not surprisingly, the "Wishes" material provided the high points Sunday--and blew across the stage like a blast of fresh air. With his sharp, tasteful trio building spicy support, the guitarist's soulful crooning and lyrical fret work turned the new "Goodbye Saving Grace" into an exquisite tour de force .