Sons, nephew recreate "The Music of Cream" Friday at the Garde

From left, Will Johns, Malcolm Bruce and Tofi Baker (David Geraghty)
From left, Will Johns, Malcolm Bruce and Tofi Baker (David Geraghty)

Of all the historic post-Beatles/Stones bands of the late '60s, only Cream seems to be sort of forgotten. Most people might say, "Hmm. Not sure why that is." Me? I say, "What the hell's wrong with you people?! This is CREAM!"

Hey, with bassist/vocalist Jack Bruce, guitarist/vocalist Eric Clapton and drummer/vocalist Ginger Baker, Cream was the prototypical power trio, architects of the jam-band blueprint, and also the world's first supergroup. Those are just facts. But there's so much more.

Based on and inspired by raucous American blues, Cream in performance was a soaring, spinning and adventurous exercise in musical exploration, often fueled by their acrimony towards each other. On record, their arrangements of tunes by the likes of Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf and Skip James became "the standard" for those songs. At the same time, Bruce (and lyricist Peter Brown) also gave Cream a sophisticated and melodic element as per "I Feel Free," "Deserted Cities of the Heart," "White Room," "Sunshine of Your Love," "Dance the Night Away," "Dreaming" and "We're Going Wrong." And throw in Clapton's "Badge," "Strange Brew" and "Tales of Brave Uylesses." Beyond stunning.

Though Bruce died in 2014, it's a treat to be able to experience "The Music of Cream — the 50th Anniversary Tour" on Friday at the Garde Arts Center. And this is not just a "tribute act." Oh, no. This is DNA.

Kofi Baker (son of Ginger), Malcolm Bruce (son of Jack) and Will Johns (nephew of Eric) — significantly great musicians, all — will perform a retrospective collection of Cream music from across their stylistic mural. Throw in anecdotes and personal recollections and a clever multimedia assault featuring actual onstage musical interplay with archival concert footage, and this should be an incredible way to remember one of the greatest rock acts of all time.

Music of Cream, 8 p.m. Friday, Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London; $30-$145; (860) 444-7373.

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