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Joe Bonamassa’s new studio album – his first solo effort in two years and his first-ever collection of all-original material – is slotted for a September release. But the blues-rock guitar star is making sure that his fans have a little something to tide them over till the fall by issuing a pair of live packages.
Out this week is Rock Candy Funk Party Takes New York – Live At The Iridium, a DVD/Blu-ray set culled from Bonamassa’s part-time fusion band’s three-night stand last year at the legendary New York jazz club. And due out next month, on March 25th, is Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa: Live In Amsterdam, a two-DVD/Blu-ray/two-CD document of the Grammy-nominated duo’s 2013 concert at the Koninklijk Theater Carré.
Before heading to Germany, where he was about to begin a European tour (one which would flip back to the States in late March and continue throughout the spring), Bonamassa sat down with MusicRadar to talk about his new releases, why he decided to work with Nashville songwriters for the upcoming solo disc and a recent dinner that resulted in a primo guitar acquisition.
Last year, you started playing an acoustic set followed by an electric set. You’re doing that again?
“Yeah, we’re taking both bands with us, splitting the show up. We do one set with the acoustic band, take a 15-minute break, and then we come back out and I play with the electric band. We did it in America last time, and I was like, ‘Shit, why didn’t we do this before?’ It’s such a soup-to-nuts gig, two and a half hours. We do our whole catalogue – nothing repeats itself.”
“We’re committed up to the summer festival season. It doesn’t make sense to try to do this show at the outdoor festivals when you only get 75 minutes on stage and you’re sandwiched between Five Finger Death Punch and some other band. That just can’t work. I won’t bring any good guitars with me for those shows – people throw mud sometimes, you know?”
You perform pretty much all year. Does it ever become a grind, maybe during the last week of a tour?
“That becomes a grind, sure. I joke with my manager, Roy [Weisman], that every tour is great, the routing is terrific, but it’s a week too long. Last year was legitimately too long, and it was a grind. But you have to pick yourself up because you owe those people at the end just as much energy as you give the people at the beginning. Getting up there and putting on your game face takes effort. Once you do, your DNA of 25 years that’s been programmed to play kicks in and it all works out. It’s like anything – you burn out.”
You’re putting out the Rock Candy Funk Party live set –
“Yeah, and we just did Conan. When was the last time you fusion on national television?”
I can’t think of the last time. Let me ask you, how do you tap into that side of your playing? It’s kind of a funny mix of styles.
“Well, I’m a huge Larry Carlton fan, a huge Robben Ford fan – that’s where it starts for me. When we started to make the record, playing with Ronnie [DeJesus] so many times, he’s a Fender guy. He’s got that Wah-Wah Watson thing down, and he’s playing Strats and Teles, the more Herbie Hancock Head Hunters scene. We have that style covered, so there needs to be a foil, like Larry Carlton playing the front pickup circa Steely Dan. When we started to make the record, it became clear that was the way to go.
“Fusion gets such a bad rap. There’s the good fusion that we all grew up with, and there’s the bad fusion. Bad fusion is easy to do – just go to the NAMM show. [Laughs] Good fusion is much harder because you have to write some songs.”