The blues has always run deep in the veins of guitar lovers. From the old Delta to the British invasion then into classic rock and even heavy metal, the soul of the blues has had a grip on our scene stronger than anything else in memory. It's easy to be sucked into the world of Jimi Hendrix, or Eric Clapton and to bow down to the opinions of the children of the 60s and 70s who grew up having their minds altered by the guitar wizardry of these icons. In this humble authors opinion however, there's a new face on the scene who will command the same degree of respect as those who came before, someone who will go down in history as one of the blues greats, the incredible Joe Bonamassa.
Joe has gone from strength to strength in recent years after releasing his debut album, A New Day Yesterday, in 2000. Though his history on the blues scene stretches back much further as almost 10 years prior to releasing his debut he was hitting the stage with his mentor Danny Gatton and even opened for BB King at the age of 12. By the age of 16 he was appearing at top events such as the 1993 Leo Fender special where he would play alongside blues masters like Robben Ford.
You might find yourself asking the question, what is it that made Joe stand out from the pack? Why was he just that little bit better than every other kid his age? It could be said that he just had a gift, but I like to think that it was his exposure to music from a young age and an obvious passion and dedication which gave him that extra leg up. Joe has told in the past of vivid memories sat listening to Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, Jethro Tull and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with his parents aged 7. The result is an in built understanding of tone, dynamics, phrasing and subtle nuance which are often missing in the playing of someone who learnt Jimi Hendrix songs from a tab book.
From this point Joe found a deep love for the blues of the time from players like Eric Clapton, on the classic John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers (beano) album along with his playing on Goodbye by Cream, The Irish flair of Rory Gallagher on Irish Tour '74, and Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas Flood. Aside from these open influences, it's easy to hear other guitar icons like BB King, Albert Collins, Albert King, Eric Johnson, Danny Gatton and countless more buried deep in his unique playing style.
When it comes to guitars, Joe has been seen with everything classic and his fair share of modern alternatives. Back in the day he could be seen playing Stratocasters much like his heroes Rory Gallagher, Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan, though over time he has leaned towards the Gibson Les Paul, having his own signature Goldtop available from both Gibson and Epiphone. Aside from this, Joe has a collection of some more left field axes, Ernie Ball Musicman Petrucci, A Gibson "Bona-Bird" and some stunning Gigliotti mahogany and brass guitars.
Since 2000, Joe has released over 15 incredible albums as a solo artist and alongside some serious names like his band mates Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian in supergroup Black Country Communion, with Beth Hart and his latest collaboration in Rock Candy Funk Party. There are just too many albums to realistically expect you to go out and get right now, but consider the solo albums Sloe Gin, The Ballad Of John Henry or 2012s Driving Towards The Daylight, or check him out on film on Beacon Theatre: Live From New York to see him at his best. It's also worth checking him out in Black Country Communion, and any one of their 3 studio albums or live album will satisfy any fan of classic rock.