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Joe Bonamassa: Guitar Hero, The Next Generation

The guitar hero superman started with Jimi Hendrix and continues today. There is a long list of great ones: Rory Gallagher, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Leslie West, Gary Moore, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and on and on. They could and can play, look cool, have tremendous instruments and tons of amplification.

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Joe Bonamassa and Robert Randolph (Photo: Alex G.)

Joe Bonamassa is a current guitar hero — and a savant. He is 40 years old—and opened for B.B. King 28 years Bonamassa also is productive. Wikipedia says that he has released 15 albums in the last 13 years – and 11 of those have reached number one on the Billboard Blues chart.

Bonamassa was born in upstate New York. His dad was a fan of British rock, so he heard plenty of Clapton, Jeff Beck and others. He was tutored by Danny Gatton, who was billed as “the world’s greatest unknown guitarist.” He toured the upstate New York/Pennsylvania area as a school boy. The B.B. King pairing wasn’t a trick or a sideshow: He opened for the King at 20 shows.

ago.The bio says that Bonamassa cites three albums as his greatest influences: “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton” (which also is called “The Beano Album”), “Irish Tour” by Rory Gallagher and “Goodbye Cream.” He also names early Jethro Tull and Vaughan’s “Texas Flood” as influences, according to the profile.

This review, from Alan Cox at Sonic Perspectives, does a good job of describing what Joe Bonamassa’s latest studio album is: “Fortunately with Redemption, Joe’s 13th studio release, he and producer Kevin Shirley conspire to use every single crayon within the blue color box to deliver one of his best studio releases to date. Bonamassa has never sought to hide his affinity for guitar based 70s classic rock, and his Black Country Communion project (which includes the son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, as well as Deep Purple alumni Glenn Hughes), gave him plenty of room to conjure up the ghost of Jimmy Page.” Check it out by clicking here or on the image at Amazon or here for iTunes. 
The AllMusic profile, written by MacKenzie Wilson, has him opening for King at age eight. Wilson writes that one of his first bands was Bloodline, which featured the sons of famous musicians: Waylon Krieger (the son of Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger), Erin Davis (Miles’ son) and Berry Oakley, Jr.

The bios provide all the information on who Bonamassa has played with – it obviously is a long and star-studded list – and other details. The end of the Wikipedia piece has the important evidence that Bonamassa wants to be more than a guitar hero: Last year, he went on an acoustic tour that included two nights at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It featured Chinese cellist Tina Guo (who also plays the erhu, a two-string bowed instrument) and Hossam Ramzy, an Egyptian percussionist and composer.

Above is “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” and below is “Mountain Climbing.” For what it’s worth, Bonamassa — or, more likely his team — have taken great care to put together a collection of extremely high quality and well produced videos.

Sonic Perspectives was cited in the blue box.

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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