Golden-throated songstress Beth Hart played to an enthusiastic crowd last Thursday at Akron’s The Goodyear Theater.

Bursting onto the LA music scene in the mid-1990s (and a winner on TV’s Star Search in 1993), Hart’s star started to rise in the mid ’90s with her music becoming popular in many overseas markets. She went on to perform and record with Joe Bonamassa; a subsequent Grammy nomination came for their collaboration in the Grammys’ Blues category.

Taking to the stage after an incredible opening set by Blues guitarist extraordinaire Eric Gales, the 46-year old chanteuse captivated her audience from the first note. Her vocals, a combo of Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) yearning mashed up with a Janis fervor, made for an impressive amount of sound from such a diminutive figure. She deftly moved from lyrics suited to arena anthems into more intimate ditties expressing loss and sorrow. Most notably a Blues singer, she really sold that notion to Thursday’s crowd. At times, standing, sitting, and even kneeling, Hart belted out most of her ninety-minute set list.

Starting precisely at eight o’clock, Eric Gales put on a virtuoso blues guitar performance. Backed by a three-piece band (including his wife), Gales took us through his thirty-plus year career. The southpaw Memphis-born and bred prodigy, starting guitar at the age of four, held the crowd firmly in his grasp. Displaying a preternatural style of playing, Gales could do a gig like this in his sleep.