How Blues Rock Guitar Legend Joe Bonamassa Is Keeping The Blues Alive

Joe Bonamassa playing guitar in concert on a stage

via Kit Wood, courtesy of Joe Bonamassa. With Permission

When Joe Bonamassa was 12-years-old, he started his career in blues-rock by opening for the legendary B.B. King. Sure, there had been countless days shredding away at the guitar in his parents’ music shop in upstate New York. But this was the culmination of his hard work as a child. It was huge.

But that was then. To hell with reflection! We want to talk about the now. What’s next. And we get into it all on the most recent episode of The Load Out Music Podcast.

During our conversation, we steer away from questions about being a child prodigy or focusing on the past. Why? Because there’s so much to cover in the now—things only seem to get better as he moves forward. Bonamassa has become one of the truly legendary blues guitar masters over the past 25 years—mentioned alongside King, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and others.

“The world’s busiest bluesman’s singing is better than ever,” noted Classic Rock Magazine’s Louder Sound. “And he still turns in a foot-stomping blues riff better than most. He is, in short, a modern-day king of the blues.”

Indeed, he’s that good which is why Bonamassa has been nominated for three Grammy Awards and held the number one position on the Billboard Blues Chart 26 times.

Bonamassa is also a preservationist and wants to elevate the blues as an art form through efforts like his philanthropy—the Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation—through which he’s working to chart a path and raise millions for children in music. At the same time, he’s also helping guide and manage rising artists through his record and touring venture J&R Adventures, his record label, Journeyman Records, and an annual blues cruise called Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea.

In short, he’s a guy with a lot of irons in the fire.

But don’t think Bonamassa has forgotten about his music. He recently dropped Tales Of Time, a fantastic live concert film and album shot at Red Rocks in Colorado, while also celebrating the 20-year-annivesary of his groundbreaking independent album, Blues Deluxe, with the announcement of the forthcoming Blues Deluxe Vol. 2, slated for release on October 6. The album finds Bonamassa returning to his roots and giving new life to a selection of classic tracks that informed his own work.

“If you had told me 20 years ago my career would last long enough to see the 20th anniversary of this little record called ‘Blues Deluxe,’ I’m sure I would have laughed,” he said. “Blues Deluxe was my last shot after being dropped by two major record labels and my booking agent. It was then that my manager, Roy Weisman, had his first ‘all in’ moment. We would go back into the studio and record. A record that would hopefully define the direction of whatever future career I might have.”

This all brings us to a terrific conversation with Bonamassa as he visits the Load Out music podcast. Enjoy!

Aaron Perlut is a writer, host of the Load Out Music Podcast, the front man for country-rock band Atomic Junkshot, and the founder of creative agency Elasticity.