Joe Bonamassa talks blues power

Bonamassa brings the blues to the people
Bonamassa brings the blues to the people

Joe Bonamassa must have lived a hardscrabble existence on the south side of Chicago in a past life. How else to explain the brilliance of this young blues-master who started playing at age seven and was sharing stages with the likes of BB King and Danny Gatton by the time he was 12?

"Since I can remember, my life was always about the blues," says Bonamassa, a guy so friendly and likable that it's hard to imagine him ever having a down day. "Other kids were into what they were into. Me? I was all about the guitar and learning how to be a bluesman. I found my passion early and never looked back."

After a brief spell with the band Bloodline (which included Berry Oakley Jr.; Miles Davis' son Erin and Robby Krieger's son Erin), Bonamassa struck out on his own and has released a string of widely acclaimed albums. His latest, Live From Nowhere In Particular, is a blistering set of originals and covers that was recorded...well, he won't say (hence the title).

But Joe Bonamassa doesn't just live the blues; he teaches it as well. He takes part in a program called Blues In The Schools in which he exposes young kids to "the music that they know from Led Zeppelin records, but I show them where it all came from." Moreover, his instructional videos for none other than MusicRadar are required viewing for anybody hoping to improve their chops (see Related Links).

And on the weekend of 7-9 November, he'll be drawing big crowds as he conducts a workshop and performs at Music Live 2008 at the Birmingham NEC, an event he's eagerly anticipating.

MusicRadar caught up with Bonamassa backstage after a sound check for a lively discussion about Music Live 2008, his new Gibson 'Inspired By' signature Les Paul Goldtop, and a whole lot more. And the young blues king was happy to answer your questions.

Part one - Joe talks about Music Live 2008, new blues players and teaching the music he loves in schools
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Part two - Joe answers your questions
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Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.