ARLINGTON -- Aerosmith bassist Tom Hamilton nailed it when he told the crowd, "It's just great to be in the company of serious musicians." Indeed, it was. Hamilton and Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer showed their Boston roots by joining an exciting blues jam with James Montgomery and Johnny A. that shook the sold-out Regent Theatre to its core.
Their three-song sonic-detonation job was the highlight of a nearly five-hour show to benefit the Middlesex Human Service Agency, whose clinical director, Bob Herne, is a counselor who traveled with Aerosmith during its "Get a Grip" tour. "He's been a friend to the band," Hamilton said backstage. "He helped us through a lot of tough stuff."
Friday's sterling, multiact bill represented the second year in a row that musicians have aided the MHSA, which runs two halfway houses, four family shelters, a day-care center, and a soup kitchen, Herne said. There was also a silent auction at the Regent featuring a signed drum donated by Godsmack.
Hamilton and Kramer joined the blues-powered Montgomery and guitarist Johnny A. for a whomping "Good Time Charlie" (which Montgomery learned from James Cotton), an intense "Stop Messin' Round" (a Peter Green song that Aerosmith covers on its upcoming blues CD, "Honkin' on Bobo," due out March 30), and an impromptu jam tune that the participants did in response to audience demands for an encore. Kramer started a drum riff and the others followed, with Montgomery making up some erotic lyrics. "That song was just called `We play, you sing,' " Kramer said later. And it all fell into place. "I let it be easy. I didn't get wigged out," added Hamilton.
A friendly camaraderie applied all night. Early highlights included the Peacheaters roaring through some Allman Brothers Band material, including "Whipping Post." Then Fred Lipsius, a Berklee College of Music professor who was an original sax player in Blood, Sweat & Tears, played some fusion-minded jazz tunes that cooked. And Tracie Hunter (daughter of Mott the Hoople's Ian Hunter) belted out some potent, arena-rock-style tunes that showed promise.
David Minehan, formerly of the Neighborhoods and now owner of the Woolly Mammoth Sound recording studio in the Fenway, played a rare gig with fellow 'Hood Lee Harrington. Still flashing a punk spirit, they dug out band faves "Hoodwinked" and "Tommy."
Charlie Farren delivered a well-received solo set keyed by the catchy "Nobody's Something," and Joey Molland (of Badfinger) brought out some ancient but still guilty-pleasure Badfinger classics.
Also, Montgomery played a short set before the Aerosmith fireworks, showcasing 14-year-old blues guitar ace Harry T. It was a terrific overall night of music for a good cause.