New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

Did you know NJ Stage offers FREE Event Listings? Nearly 100,000 listings were viewed in January. Be sure to add your events to our calendar and get your shows noticed!

50 Years of Cream Comes to
Count Basie Theatre

By Danny Coleman

originally published: 10/21/2018

50 Years of Cream Comes to Count Basie Theatre

"It's going over really well I think," says Will Johns of Cream. "We've got a really nice range of age groups coming to the shows and a lot of young guitar players as well; which is really great to see; every young guitar player that I know plays that riff from, "Sunshine of Your Love." 

Smack in the middle of a, "50th Anniversary Tour" celebrating the music of one of rock's first power trios, these three men not only bring the music of Cream back into focus but do so literally through their blood lines. 

Kofi Baker, the son of drummer Ginger Baker, Malcolm Bruce, the son of bassist Jack Bruce and guitarist Will Johns, nephew of Eric Clapton have combined to pay homage to the music of their fathers and uncle. 

Johns, an avid fisherman was working on fishing vessels in the English Channel when he got the call from his buddy Malcolm asking him to stop out at a show he and Baker were doing near his home town.  

The article continues after this ad


"A few years ago, I'd say 2013 just after I lost my dad, I was in a pretty sad place and the phone rang and it was Malcolm Bruce. He phoned to say that he was coming to England on tour with Kofi and a great guitarist that they were playing with at the time named Godfrey Townsend and they were going to be doing a show fairly near to where I live and he invited me to come sit in on one of the shows; at the time I was really flattered that he thought that I could do something like that. So, I went along to the show and had a jam with the guys and things progressed kind of slowly from that point. It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride; we had a tour of England but there were visa complications for Kofi so Malcolm and I ended up doing a couple of runs in the UK with another drummer. Then it all kind of came together last year with our new manager who put this particular project together and we toured Australia and New Zealand last year."

Being the nephew of Eric Clapton; does Johns feel any additional pressure in his presentation of the material and has he received any help from old, "Slow Hand" over the years?

"I started out hitting the drums downstairs at my Uncle Eric's house at stupid o'clock in the morning and I think I pissed him off a time or two and he'd come down at like six in the morning and say, "What the fuck are you doing? I'm trying to sleep; what are you learning and why don't you learn a proper instrument? (Laughs)" I don't think he meant the didgeridoo. Which by the way, all the time we were on tour in Australia I don't think I saw anyone playing a didgeridoo; I didn't see a kangaroo either." 

"He actually showed me the opening part of, "Crossroads" as a young guitarist and once I figured that out, I went back to him and said, OK I've got that bit, he nixed it and that was when he put me on the path of,"You've got to figure that bit out for yourself." A little tough love but I guess it went a long way because here we are," he said with a laugh as he recounted those earlier days. 

" I think I may have felt some pressure before but I've been doing it for quite a while now and seems I've come to terms with that aspect of it. It's a big pair of boots to fill but I don't think that we as a band are necessarily trying to emulate or copy what's been done before; it's just more of an honoring of it and tipping our hat to it while still retaining our own musicianship and sense of personality; if that makes sense. We're not wearing the clothes of the era or using big Marshall stacks of amps to recreate that sound; however Gibson Custom Shops have been very, very generous and sent me out a very beautiful cherry ES-355 to play on the tour and of course that's the guitar that Eric used at the farewell concert back in November of 1968. "

Unlike many other classic acts these days, this lineup gives those who come to the show more than their money's worth.

"You know, it's a little bit elasticated where we can stretch it out or pull it back, there's a lot of jams in the show but right now it's running about two and a half hours. Sometimes it depends on what the venue requires, sometimes we have a break and sometimes we just run all the way through. Sometimes it's a bit long to concentrate and be hit over the head with loud guitar, bass and drums," he explained with a hearty laugh. "What we're working on is a basic premise, Kofi is doing, "Toad"  which features a drum solo that can be anywhere from 12 minutes to 20 minutes depending on the night and to be honest, there hasn't been a night where after he plays his drum solo that he hasn't pretty much gotten a standing ovation. I have to say, hand on heart that he's probably one of the most phenomenal drummers in the world today. I think he has probably surpassed his father, so yeah." 

After two earlier shows at the Bergen and Mayo PACs, they will wrap up their New Jersey run with an October 23 show at Red Bank's famed Count Basie Theatre. Johns reiterated once again the band's pleasure with the diversity of the audiences.

"I think we've probably got one of the broadest age ranges of interest. Younger people are coming in, younger people with their grandparents and they're obviously young players just starting out wanting to see where the riffs have come from."

Even though they are technically not Cream, they are cut from the same cloth and Johns is very pleased with how they are being received and what they present every night on stage. 

 "The show is definitely a multi-media experience; we've got an incredible light show. Once again, it tips its hat to the lighting effects of time; the oil lamp and the psychedelia but then it also has modern contemporary aspects too. Included in that is footage and stories from our experiences and our upbringing with our respective parents and my uncle; combined with that we cover a lot of the Cream material and the well-known songs, so there's some set pieces and also a lot of jam and free form. Both Kofi and Malcom have what I might call a genetic bond musically; it's almost spiritual and bordering on telepathic and as a blues guitarist and somewhat of a simpleton, sometimes for me that can be a bit of a challenge (laughs). We turn it up and I'd like to think that we do our best to honor the music."

To obtain tickets or discover more about Cream and this current tour, please visit

For more by this author, click here

Tommy Castro & The Painkillers To Return To Lizzie Rose Music Room
​​​​​​​(TUCKERTON, NJ) -- Tommy Castro & the Painkillers return to the Lizzie Rose Music Room on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:30pm.  Whether he’s squeezing out the deepest blues or playing the funkiest soul grooves, legendary blues and soul giant Tommy Castro knows how to ignite a crowd. Tickets are $38.00 Advance and $45.00 day of show.
Experience Hendrix at NJPAC on March 29th
(NEWARK, NJ) --  Celebrate the music and legacy of Jimi Hendrix as Experience Hendrix comes to Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Centeron Friday, March 29 at 8:00pm. This critically acclaimed multi-artist tribute to Hendrix features performances by Billy Cox, Joe Satriani, Dave Mustaine, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Doug Pinnick, Chris Layton, Mato Nanji, Kenny Aronoff, The Slide Brothers, Henri Brown, Kevin McCormick and special guest Taj Mahal.
World Famous Bachata Artists To Take The Stage for Uforia Bachata Fest 2019 At Prudential Center on Saturday, March 16
(NEWARK, NJ) -- Uforia Bachata Fest 2019 at Prudential Center will bring together the world’s best Bachata artists including, Frank Reyes “The Prince of Bachata”, Hector Acosta “El Torito”, Zacarias Ferreira, Luis Vargas and Raulin Rodriguez "El Cacique”. Uforia Bachata Fest 2019, presented by Zamora Live, Euforia Radio (Univision) and Corona Extra, will be held on Saturday, March 16 at 8:00pm.  The contagious Caribbean rhythm known as "Bachata" will have its gala night, marking the first time in history these world-renowned artists will perform on the same stage. 
Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra To Perform at Princeton University January 27
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) continues its 40th Anniversary with a concert featuring the NJYS Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra on Sunday, January 27 at 4:00pm at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University located at 68 Nassau Street in Princeton. Youth Symphony will open the concert with Mahler Symphony No. 1 in D major followed by Youth Orchestra performing Dvořák Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88.
Rickie Lee Jones To Perform At Grunin Center
(TOMS RIVER, NJ) -- Two-time Grammy winner Rickie Lee Jones exploded onto the pop scene in 1978 and has made a career of fearlessly experimenting with her sound and persona on more than 15 critically acclaimed albums. She brings her show “An Intimate Evening with Rickie Lee Jones” to the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts on Friday, February 22 at 8:00pm.  

The Empire Strikes Back in Concert with the NJSO LIVE! at the State Theatre
Some of our favorite childhood memories growing up at the Jersey Shore involved going to our town’s grand old movie palace, The Community Theater, in Toms River. Built with colonial architecture and featuring large white columns in the front, paned glass windows in the lobby, a circular brick walk from the sidewalk to the box office, and a white picket fence which enclosed a lawn and a flower bed, this local gem presented the latest Hollywood films. For kids like us back in the 1960’s, that meant pictures like Mary Poppins, Cinderella, The Love Bug, and Flipper.
Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme
This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band.
"He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC
It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.
“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center
Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!
Mike Davis and The New Wonders
Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie. He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own. Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.

Event calendar
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019

Sorry, no events listed for today.
Here are some upcoming events.

Rechnitz Halls DiMattio Gallery, Monmouth University @ 10:00am
West Long Branch

Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University @ 7:30pm
West Long Branch

New Jersey Repertory Company @ 8:00pm
Long Branch


For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.