Hello Everyone! On this page I'm going to add some pictures and share some of my experiences with some of the blues greats that I have had the pleasure and honor to meet in person. I'd also like just to share some of the cool pictures that I've taken at concerts and fest's that I've attended. If I can get a grip on this website building thing, I'll also try to add a page or an area for you all to add your comments and thoughts on anything blues, but please be patient. I'm much better at building amp's that I am at web pages. I think we'll all find the one perfect amp and the ultimate tone before I master website building.
I'm going to start off with one of my favorite artist's. He's from Utica, NY, about an hour from where I live in Syracuse. His name is Joe Bonamassa. Joe started playing guitar at the age of 5. He quickly decided that playing guitar was what he wanted to do. He's 32 now and he's one of the best guitar players in the world! Don't just take my word for it, check out what some of the world's best producer's and musician's are saying about Joe at his website www.jbonamassa.com.
I had the good fortune to see Joe play for the first time about 20 years ago in late 1989. My wife and I went to a club, not knowing who was playing there that night. We walked in and heard this blistering blues guitar that was just hair raising. I shoved my way to the stage to see who this was playing the guitar only to see this chubby little 12 year old kid, playing a guitar that was almost as tall as he was. It was unbelievable. That's about the only word that described it, unbelievable. My wife and I went up to the second floor to grab a table and get a good view of the stage. There was a girl sitting up there by herself watching intently next to us. After a while, she looked over at my wife and I. "Unbelievable" I said to her. She said, "yeah, that's my son Joey". I knew it right then and there that this kid was going to be bigtime, in time. That time is now!
Joey, as he was called then quickly aquired a following as he played the blues around central New York. My wife and I became friends with Joe's parents and I became Joe's "unofficial photographer" for about the first four years of his early career. Joe picked up the name "Smokin Joe" as he played around town because of the smokin riff's that he'd play while making some pretty intense facial expressions as many guitarist's do. Stevie Ray comes to mind when it comes to facial expressions. He's one of my favorite's too. Joe played with such expression as a kid that it was actually kind of funny to watch him play. It just didn't seem possible that a 12 year old kid could possibly have lived long enough to be playing the blues with such feeling. He wasn't just technically gifted, he played the blues as if he had been through divorce, deep depression, homeless and living out of a cardboard box. Joe played with so much soul that it was hard to comprehend that this guitar playing was coming from a 12 year old. To hear what he was playing, and then to look up and see this little kid just didn't even look right, but I can tell you this, Joe was born to play the blues, and he share's a birthday with Robert Johnson. Wierd, huh? We used to get a kick out of seeing everyone in the audience standing there with their mouth's open, jaw's hanging down to the ground in disbelief.
But before I go on about Joe, I want to tell everyone that at the age of 12, Joe was one of the nicest kid's that I had ever met. Very polite and respectfull, and very smart. He never had any kind of an ego thing happening and was very easy to talk to. He was actually a bit shy as a kid. His parents were alway's watching over him at his gig's (they had to, he was 12 and playing in clubs!) and were equally as nice. Joe has alway's had a great appreciation for his parent's and his fan's and was a very respectfull kid as I remember him. Very well educated in his music and the background of blues music. Just one of the nicest kid's you could ever meet. Joe attributes his success to BB King, who took a young Joe on tour with him back when Joe was 12. BB showed him the ropes, gave him advice, and kicked off Joe's career. He say's "If it weren't for BB, he wouldn't be where he is today". I've met BB King and I've sat at a table while he took questions from young aspiring musicians. I can tell you that BB King is one of the nicest guy's in the business. He and Joe have a lot in common when it comes to personality. Both very giving people who see playing the blues as a priviledge rather than a job.
Well, Joe's not a kid anymore, and I'm really happy to say that at the age of 32, he has just about reached "Guitar God" status, and still has the same humbleness that he did as a 12 year old. No ego trip goin on, and he's just as respectfull today as he was as a kid. He doesn't act like a guitar hero, and doesn't dress like a guitar hero either. Even today Joe is a respectful and polite guy who's easy to talk to, and he's quick to give anyone advise who ask's for it. Joe has such a good head on his shoulders, which is one of the reasons that I feel honered to say that I know him. Not because he's on the road to becoming as famous as Clapton or SRV, but because he truely is one of the most humble musicians that I have ever met, and I think it's important for everyone to know the kind of person he is. I've met too many musician's who think they're just too damn cool and have that "who are you to approach me" kind of attitude. It makes me sick because it's the fan's of these people who have made them what they are. I guess they just don't understand that. One guy who comes to mind who has that kind of attitude is an X founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, who was kicked out of the band for being a "dick" and a drug abuser who went back to his old band. I once saw him sit on his bus and watch out the bus window as a 12 year old girl waited with her dad for an autograph. He made them wait for an hour and a half. A band member told me he was joking with other guy's on the bus about how long it would take her and her father to come up and knock on the bus door as it was getting late. What a dick! Joe's the complete opposite.
To put it as simply as I can, Joe at the age of 12 could outplay most guy's that have been playing for 20 years. At the age of 15, his dad told me that Joe's guitar teacher couldn't teach him anything more. He had mastered all he could teach him. I don't know who it was, but I'm sure he was good. Joe's father owned a small guitar shop, so I'm sure they knew where to look for lesson's. So as my wife and I followed Joe around central New York for a few years, I have aquired a bag full of pictures, some of which I'd like to share with you.
Before I start adding pictures, I'd like to say to everyone who reads this: "If you get a chance to see Joe Bonamassa live, do yourself the favor and go to one of his shows, even if it means driving a hundred miles. I promise you, you will not be disappointed unless you go expecting to hear some killer harp. Joe doesn't have a harp player, at least not yet. Joe is without a doubt one of, if not the best guitar players alive today. Joe is going on 32 in May of 2009. He's got 7 studio albums, two live albums, and two DVD's to date (3-09), all of which are excelent. Joe has also been on the cover of Blues Review magazine, Guitarist magazine, Guitar World, Guitar One, Vintage Guitar, and in March of 09 will be on the cover of "Guitar Player" magazine, which is probably the most prestigious of all guitar magazines. Gibson guitar's has even come out with a "Joe Bonamassa" signature Les Paul guitar to honor his talent. Joe and his music have already won numerous awards such as Guitar Player's Reader's Choice Award's "blues album of the year" and "blues musician of the year" for the past two years (2007 & 08) as well as many others.
Do yourself another favor and get some of Joe's music. His music is a blend of Blues, Rock, Brittish Rock, Classical, Jazz and Pop all rolled into one, but he put's his own signature on it all and created an almost new twist on the blues that he can call his own. Inbetween Joe's own original's, he sometimes add's a favorite cover or two from artist's that have influenced him, but for the most part, Joe's album's are his original comopsitions.
Joe is a rare talent of the likes of which we see maybe once every 25 or 30 years. He is the blues of today, and through his generosity of donating his time to talk to and teach young budding musicians in school's and other places, he's shaping the blues artist's of tomorrow and helping to preserve blues music for future generation's. Joe is involved with a program called "Blues In The School's" which is a program that promotes blues to young people interested in music. Joe donates his time to "BITS" to help kid's to understand that just about all music get's it's roots from the blues. Joe is truely a role model to look up to, a rare talent and a great guy. We're lucky to have such a guy who is a true to the bone "blues musician" to keep the music we all love alive and well for generations to come!
Below is a link to Joe's latest CD which is titled, "The Ballad of John Henry" released on February 24'th 2009. Joe say's that it's his best writing and guitar work to date. Check it out, and check out some of Joe's other CD's which you can get directly through Joe's website which includes a triple live album on VINYL (or CD) for all you vinyl lovers, which is pressed on virgin vinyl which is a special softer kind of vinyl as I understand for better fidelity. Joe say's that he prefer's the warmth and uncompressed sound that you get from vinyl records, and I agree with him 100%. It seems that the digital age has taken some of the purity out of recorded music, but album or CD, you can't go wrong either way. It's an awesome set of live material that was recorded throughout 2007 and early 2008 at various locations, thus the name "Live From Nowhere In Particular". It includes some fantastic rockin blues as well as some traditional slow blues tunes. It's a great compilation of live music and the recording quality is excelent as well. Click on the banner below to get a copy of Joe's latest album "The Ballad Of John Henry", or, "Live From Nowhere In Particular". Some other CD's from Joe that I would recommend are "Blues Deluxe", and "A New Day Yesterday", both of which contain some rockin and slow blues tunes.
So, why so much about Joe Bonamassa?? Because Joe is the best blues guitarist alive in my opinion, and I love his music. Better yet he's from my neck of the woods and Joe is a friend of our's! I'm honered to be able to say, "I know Joe Bonamassa". Joe's not my best friend, but I have known Joe for 20 years now and I want to turn everyone I can on to his music. As I mentioned before, I haven't been this excited about a blues artist since SRV. I still remember the day that we lost him like it was yesterday. For me, that was "the day the music died". Now it's like we're being given a second chance in Joe. There will never be another SRV, but Joe is an artist that is equally as talented. If you've never heard or seen Joe play, you're definately missing out on some of the best guitar playing you'll ever hear. Go and see Joe play in concert if you ever get the chance. His live shows are just unbelievable and he surely knows how to work the crowd. If you do go to see Joe, bring your camera or video recorder. Joe actually ENCOURAGES his fan's to take pictures and record his show's unlike most bands who restrict recording and picture taking. So get some, or all of Joe's music, put it on and turn the volume way up, sit back, and be prepared to be blown away!
BY ORDERING FROM THIS WEBSITE, YOU'LL SAVE 14% OFF RETAIL AND YOU'LL RECEIVE FREE SHIPPING!!
I do have both of the CD's available through this link and here's my honest opinion of both. First, Joe's latest work, "The Ballad of John Henry". Although Joe classifys this as a blues album, I would be hard pressed to say that it will appeal to all hard core blues lovers. It's more of a mixed bag of Rock based Blues with a swampy beat, and some hard driving blues guitar wizardry. There are a couple slow blues tunes that will appeal to the hard core blues heads, but most of it is a showcase of Joe's unbelievable guitar work and his talents as a songwriter. There is also a slow acoustic tune done on Joe's 1931 National steel guitar that's a tribute to the Delta. The album's title track is a tribute to working class folklore, and according to Joe, is also a tribute to his recent past where he's been at his lowest of low's, to his highest of high's. A very interesting compilation of music that is extremely refined and well put together. It'll grow on you the more you listen to it, but you'll enjoy the new sounds of Joe's original's right off the bat. Some say this is his best work to date, but it seems to me that he's constantly getting better and better as a song writer, singer and musician. This recording will appeal to anyone who can appreciate good writing and guitar driven blues rock.
The second recording, "Live From Nowhere In Particular" is a fantastic collection of some of Joe's best music. This one is for sure a "blues album". A two CD set, or a three record set if you opt for the vinyl version which is offered as a hand signed version for hard core fan's of Joe's, or an unsigned version for a bit less money. Either way you get a great collection of Joe at his best. The album is full of blues, upbeat and slow blues that should appeal to any blues lover. If you're a guitar blues lover, this album is a "must have". From the slower blues songs to the upbeat driving blues, the album has captured Joe at his best. The album is best played LOUD. The recording quality of this all live album is fantastic. You can really crank this one up without being drowned out by lousy recording noise that has plagued many past live recordings. Joe's guitar work is best appreciated in his live show's, and this recording will bring Joe Bonamassa live into your living room. I highly recommend this album to anyone who loves the blues. This recording will make you a JB fan for life, and there's alot more coming in the future from Joe. Joe is just now at the beginning of his career as I see it, even though he's celebrating 20 years in the blues business this year. I haven't been this excited about an artist and "new blues music" since Stevie Ray Vaughan. Many people in the music industry are putting Joe in the same category as SRV, Jeff Beck, Clapton, BB King, Albert King and all the other guitar greats of past and present. In the words of Ted "the wildman" Nugent, "This kid deserves to be in the same class with Stevie Ray F*&king Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck." Check out Joe's website to see what other musician's and the media are saying about one of the greatest guitar players of our time!
In May of 2009, Joe played the biggest gig of his career at The Royal Albert Hall in London. His special guest was none other than guitar god #1, Eric Clapton. Eric came out and played a couple tunes exchanging licks back and forth with Joe. He was gracious and tried hard not to steal the spotlight from Joe, as he realized this was Joe's night, and a spectacular night it was. Joe played most of the tunes from his latest CD "The Balad of John Henry" as well as many other of his more popular songs and a few covers. Joe not only had two drummers for this show which were tighter than a Pamper on a sumo wrestler, he had a full horn section to round out the sound. I've seen the set list from that night and the upcoming DVD "Live From The Royal Albert Hall" which will be released in late September 2009 is sure to be an awesome concert video for all of his current and future fan's. If you love rockin blues you owe it to yourself to check this guy out. If you don't you will be losing out on some of the best guitar based blues, rock and swamp (I don't know what else to call it!) that you'll ever hear. Joe Bonamassa is truely one of if not the best guitar player's of the 20'th century. Hit the link from this website to receive a discounted price on many of Joe's CD's as well as advanced order's of his new DVD from The Royal Albert Hall. I've ordered mine and I can't wait to see it!
In my opinion, and I think I know music, especially good blues music, Joe Bonamassa's playing is like a very addicting drug. The more you hear it, the more you need to listen to it. Once you really listen to how intense his playing is, the more you need to hear it again and again. It's like crack, but this rock is the kind that makes you feel good without killing you!
Eventually I'll get all my concert pic's up here. I've got lot's of them of many of the blues greats. Just can't seem to find the time, but sooner or later they will all be on here. In the meantime, grab some of Joe's music and enjoy!
Here's Joe playing at the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, NY on February 28 2009. Hanging over his shoulder is his Gibson Gold Top "Joe Bonamassa" Signature guitar. Joe proudly tell's us that it is the first one made with the serial number 001. Joe had a rack full of guitar's backstage that included a 1931 National steel guitar, a Gibson flying V, a 1959 Gibson Historic (his workhorse), a Gigliotti GT Custom which he uses for the title track of his latest album, some Fender's, and a Yamaha 6 string acoustic that is stuffed with 2 large towel's because Joe plays it so hard that the pickup's need the extra damping! Joe also play's 12 string acoustic slide with amazing talent. Joe changed guitar's so many times that I lost track of how many he used. He say's he has over 200 guitar's in his collection that all have some significant story from his life!
I'll be adding a lot more pictures as I get them scanned and uploaded. Thanks for visiting!
MORE PICTURES COMING SOON!