Joe BonamassaOfficial Site
As Joe Bonamassa grows his reputation as one of the world’s greatest guitar players, he is also evolving into a charismatic blues-rock star and singer-songwriter of stylistic depth and emotional resonance. His ability to connect with live concert audiences is transformational, and his new album, Dust Bowl, brings that energy to his recorded music more powerfully than ever before. Dust Bowl is Bonamassa’s ninth studio release on his own J&R Adventures label, which he created with his entrepreneurial partner and longtime manager, Roy Weisman. It was produced by Kevin “Caveman” Shirley (Black Crowes, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin) making it their sixth collaboration in five years. Shirley most recently produced Bonamassa’s 2010 release Black Rock, along with the 2010 debut album from Black Country Communion, Bonamassa’s English-American rock band with Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin, Foreigner) and Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Billy Idol) and its follow-up, BCC’s sophomore album simply titled 2, released June 14, 2011.
Dust Bowl debuted at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart and #37 on Billboard’s Top 200 Chart, making it Bonamassa’s highest-selling and chart-ranking US debut to date and quickly received an abundance of glowing critical acclaim. Premier Guitar called it “A blues-rock achievement… his best record to date,” and gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars. The Dallas Morning News described it as “thematic and expansive… a blues-rocking tour-de-force from an artist who knows no other way of making music.” USA Today said, “What sets this album apart is the superior songwriting and the ability to seamlessly inject sounds from other genres into the mix.” And The Orange County Register said Joe is “unquestionably among our greatest living guitarists, destined to be counted among the greatest of all-time.”
Dust Bowl was recorded in sessions at Black Rock Studios in Santorini, Greece, Ben’s Studio in Nashville, TN, The Cave in Malibu, CA and The Village in Los Angeles, CA. It combines the gritty, blues-based tones of Bonamassa’s first albums with the fluid, genre-defying sounds he’s mastered in the years since and adds a dash of country from Joe’s collaborations with the best of Nashville including legends Vince Gill and John Hiatt.
“Dust Bowl,” Shirley explains, “is very firmly rooted in the Blues, but definitely explores the outer reaches of the genre and showcases Joe’s amazing virtuosity as he digs deep into his psyche in some lengthy and blistering guitar solos.”
In addition to the Bonamassa originals, the album features songs like the John Hiatt/John Porter-penned “Tennessee Plates,” on which Hiatt duets with Bonamassa and Vince Gill lends his signature guitar stylings. Gill also plays on “Sweet Rowena,” a song he composed with frequent writing partner Pete Wasner. Arlan Scheirbaum, Beth Hart and Blondie Chaplin play on the Michael Kamen/Tim Curry track “No Love On The Street,” and Glenn Hughes sings on the Paul Rodgers-penned “Heartbreaker.”
Bonamassa has been steadily building his career with each year being better than the last and 2010 was his best to date. He was named Billboard’s #1 Blues Artist based on the charting success of Black Rock, the #2 Billboard Blues Album of 2010, and 2009’s Ballad of John Henry, which was #9. He was called “The Blues Rock Titan” by Guitar World and was honored twice in Guitar Player Magazine's 2010 Readers' Choice Awards winning "Best Overall Guitarist" for the first time and "Best Blues Guitarist" for the fourth consecutive year. In June, he played the main stage at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago and in October he released Joe Bonamassa: Live At The Royal Albert Hall - a live CD of his epic performance in 2009 at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Bonamassa’s side project Black Country Communion released their debut self-titled album in Sept. 2010, entering the Billboard Top 200 Chart at #53 and receiving rave reviews. MOJO gave the album four stars and Goldmine said it's "Possibly the best hard rock album of 2010." And on June 14, 2011, just nine months later, the band released their sophomore album, 2. The Sunday Mercury said of the album: “This is classic rock goes large, an album that lives up to its heritage. It may not be bettered this year.”
A child prodigy, Bonamassa was finessing Stevie Ray Vaughan licks when he was seven and by the time he was ten, had caught B.B. King’s ear. After first 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.” By age 12, Bonamassa was opening shows for the blues icon and went on to tour with venerable acts including Buddy Guy, Foreigner, Robert Cray, Stephen Stills, Joe Cocker and Gregg Allman.
Bonamassa’s recording career began in the early ’90s with Bloodline, a hard-charging rock-blues group also featuring Robby Krieger’s son Waylon and Miles Davis’ son Erin. His 2000 solo debut, A New Day Yesterday, was produced by the legendary Tom Dowd; Bonamassa’s rendering of the title track, originally a Jethro Tull hit, was called, “a jaw-dropping performance” by AllMusic.com.
Most recently, 2010’s Black Rock debuted at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart and cracked the U.S. Top 40 – at that time a first in Bonamassa’s career – coming in at #38. The album added an enlivening dose of ‘world’ vibes to Bonamassa’s virtuoso mix of ‘60s-era British blues-rock (à la Beck and Clapton) and roots-influenced Delta sounds. The album was recorded at Black Rock Studios in Santorini, Greece. “With this album, we wanted to explore a ‘world’ feeling, and this was the inspiration behind going to record in Greece and using some of the best Greek musicians to add a little flavor to a couple of the tracks. But it’s by no means a ‘world’ album. We wanted Joe’s usual youthful and energetic tones to play alongside the worldly vibes of the Greek bouzouki and clarino,” said Shirley. Bonamassa adds, “It was the kind of record Kevin and I wanted to make. We needed to rock again a bit like on my first album. It’s youthful, like going back to your childhood.”
2009 coincided with Bonamassa’s twentieth year as a professional musician, an extraordinary timeline for a young artist just into his ’30s. His album The Ballad Of John Henry – with no shortage of its own jaw-dropping moments – debuted at #1 on the Billboard blues chart and stayed there for six months. The album marked a more confessional approach to songcraft than he’d previously employed. “Making the first half of the album,” Bonamassa says, “I was in the happiest place I’d ever been in my life. The second half found me in completely the opposite state. I’ve come to the conclusion that experience makes for better art. I had more to say, and it’s the first time I’ve personally opened up the book on my life.”
In May ’09, he played to a sold out crowd at London’s Royal Albert Hall, arguably the most prestigious concert venue in the world. During the show, Bonamassa’s hero, Eric Clapton, joined him on stage for a joint-performance of Clapton’s hit “Further On Up The Road.” London’s The Independent said about the show, “The man has arrived, and there’s no turning back.” Shortly after, Bonamassa released a 2-DVD live set – Joe Bonamassa – Live From The Royal Albert Hall – which captures the night in full. Guitar Edge gave it five stars and said, “It is the wallop of his emotional expression, fueled by the rocking energy he derives from that trans-Atlantic connection and driven by his devastating technical ability, that elevates him about his peers and makes him a certifiable blues guitar hero and the face of his blues generation.”
Ending 2009 with a bang, he was awarded the Breakthrough Artist of the Year Award at the U.K.’s prestigious Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards. Classic Rock magazine said, “They’re calling him the future of blues, but they’re wrong – Joe Bonamassa is the present; so fresh and of his time that he almost defines it.”
Previous studio sets include 2007’s Sloe Gin, which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s blues chart and received a 2008 nod for Album Of The Year from the Classic Rock Roll Of Honour Awards. Sloe Gin careens between heavy electric blues-rockers and acoustic, folk-etched cuts in a flow that Bonamassa says was partly inspired by Rod Stewart’s classic 1969 solo debut LP. The Boston Phoenix called it, “an elegant and brawny guitar-hero album.”
Bonamassa circles the globe playing an average of 200 shows a year, and his mind-blowing guitar wizardry and electrifying stage presence are selling out progressively larger venues all the time. Ben Wener from The Orange County Register said, “I haven’t seen anything so dazzling since Steve Ray Vaughan at the Wiltern in ’86.” The Columbus Dispatch hailed a recent show as “a night of wailing, energy-drenched solos that never ceased to impress” while the Reading Eagle called it a “tour de force performance steeped in blues.” The Grand Rapids Press said Joe is “in a league of his own as the best blues man of his era.”
Ongoing journeyman touring is a given, and looking beyond Dust Bowl, Bonamassa will continue his recording collaboration with producer Kevin Shirley, who says, “It’s great working with Joe and seeing him enjoy the discovery of all these places he can go. He’s an artist who can play anything, there are so many facets to him.” Bonamassa adds, “Kevin comes up with fantastic ideas outside the box. He appreciates the blues, but pushes me, the only person besides Tom Dowd who’s done that.”
On top of touring, recording and overseeing the independent label J&R Adventures, Bonamassa is a spokesperson for the Blues Foundation’s respected Blues In The Schools program, volunteering his time during tours to speak with groups of high school students about the heritage of blues music – the first pure American music form. Recently, he was chosen by Channel One, the largest in-school news network, to host an ongoing segment called “Know Your Roots with Joe Bonamassa” in which he traces the musical roots of Channel One’s weekly “Hear It Now” featured artist.
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