Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Born in Utica, New York in 1977, blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa has been groomed for and preparing for the successes he's earned from a very young age. From the time he first picked up the instrument at age 4, and then toured with reigning king of the blues B.B. King by age 12, the blues have been a music which has been ingrained in him from the very start. First coming to national prominence with the band Bloodline in 1994, with whom he recorded at the age of 17 a solitary self titled album, he quickly gained a reputation as a blues rock guitar prodigy.
Moving on after several years of touring with the band, and subsequently inking a deal with Epic Records, in 2000 he released his debut solo album 'A New Day Yesterday'. Produced by the legendary Tom Dowd, it set the template for the first several solo albums - that of muscular, guitar heavy blues influenced by late 60's, early 70's British bands such as Cream, the Jeff Beck Group, Rory Gallagher and Free, with the guitar hero like pyrotechnics associated with Jimi Hendrix and the fluidity and tone of Eric Johnson taking the genre to another level.
The next several studio albums, 2002's 'So, It's Like That,' 2003's 'Blues Deluxe,' and 2004's 'Had To Cry Today' served to build and solidify his standing as one of the finest guitarists to ever grace the blues rock genre, the natural successor to such legends as the aforementioned Clapton, Beck and Gallagher. Picking up rabid fans due to his legendary playing and live performances which have been compared to having a religious experience by the faithful, Bonamassa also picked up some impressive compliments along the way. Guitar One Magazine stated that he "might be the best guitarist of his generation," with similar accolades being thrown about throughout numerous reviews and articles in print and online media sources alike.
Not one to rest on his laurels, since hooking up with master producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith,The Black Crowes, Journey) for 2006's 'You & Me', Bonamassa has broadened and expanded his sound. His 2007's studio offering 'Sloe Gin' showcased a more organic, acoustic based feel with the emphasis shifting more towards the song as a whole rather than extended solos. A move which has confused a certain portion of his die hard rabid fan base, it has at the same time allowed him to broaden his base, also allowing him to venture into opportunities both commercially and artistically not normally reserved for a blues guitarist.
Bonamassa has just released the live double album documenting his triumphant 2007 tour, 'Live From Nowhere In Particular,' a stunning tour de force showcase of this extremely talented musician's abilities. He was recently voted 'Best Blues Guitarist' for the second year in a row in the annual poll by the readers of Guitar Player Magazine. The album also features former David Bowie bassist Carmine Rojas, ex Kenny Wayne Shepherd drummer Bogie Bowles and Australian keyboardist Rick Melick, and at this writing is residing at #1 on Billboard's Blues Album Charts, his 4th to do so. The album has debuted at #136 on Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart, and #69 on the UK Album Chart - the strongest placings thus far in his steadily rising career.
A self admitted workaholic, he also finds the time between playing over 250 shows a year worldwide to host a daily blues radio show 'Daily Cup Of Joe' on Sirius 74 and conduct guitar clinics and work with schoolchildren via the “Blues in the Schools" program sponsored by the Blues Foundation. With that sort of strong work ethic combined with immense talent, it appears the sky's the limit when speculating on the future of "The New King Of The Blues," as he was recently coined by the UK's Guitarist Magazine. It's a term Bonamassa is clearly uncomfortable with, but nonetheless it does illustrate in what high esteem he's held by his peers.
Recently I had the opportunity to catch up with Bonamassa to discuss the new album, what to expect from the upcoming 2009 studio release, how he's progressing as a guitarist and much more. Read on as we have an exclusive interview with Joe Bonamassa interview