Great evening in Dallas last night; first time I’ve seen bluesman Joe Bonamassa and it was well worth the drive.
For two and a half hours the 33-year-old New Yorker prowled the stage playing a dizzying array of what has to be called his own genre of blues.
Being relatively new to his music, I could be relatively objective about the marathon set in which he never left the stage, except for two minutes before returning for an encore.
From my 2006 piece… The blues ain’t just colors
“The blues don’t speak to you until you’ve buried somebody, unless a woman has ripped your heart out, until after you’ve been hungry.
“That’s because before all that… life has to happen, and if it hasn’t the whole point of the blues would be wasted on you. It’s the main reason pop music exists… to mark time for slow learners.”
Bonamassa’s blinding, fiery leads, sometimes jarring (and pleasing) changes of tempo and style, delicate, flamenco-like guitar interludes come unrelenting; his virtuosity soars… and for those of us who like our music turned up to 11… it’s also pure jackhammer and heavy percussion.
He’s unlike any other bluesman I’ve ever heard, though his influences are many. To my ear there is far more traditional Delta blues here than say, Stevie Ray, but there is a lot more rock and roll than Vaughn; yet Joe could never be assigned neo-old school status.
My friend, blues harpist Gunny Tibbetts summed it up well when I recently asked his opinion long long ago..
“Joe B is one of the most gifted, talented guitarists out there today, in my humble opinion. He’s a combination of the great masters from our era – Clapton, Beck, Page – who takes us into the 21st Century.”
Even higher praise comes from the dean of living bluesmen, the legendary B. B. King for whom Joe opened at the ripe old age of at 12.
After hearing him play, King said, “This kid’s potential is unbelievable. He hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface. He’s one of a kind.”