Behind the inspired music of Joe Bonamassa is a talented musician, level-headed businessman, and down to earth soul, all of which I discovered when I sat down with this month's featured artist and Blogcritics' Managing Editor, Joan Hunt, a few hours before the August 10 show at The Railhead in Las Vegas' Boulder Station Casino.
There is no doubt the basis of Blues music boils down to the song. With its roots planted deeply in American history, it is, by definition, about the stories, and the songs evolve and change with each and every live performance, developing a life of their own. So it was no surprise to hear a lot of thought goes into what songs will comprise a typical set. Joe confided, "I choose songs simply based on how they will flow, what's best for the show, and my physical abilities."
He also readily admitted "Asking Around For You" was his favorite among the songs he has written, and when he later kicked off the encore with the song it became more than evident why. Steeped in traditional sounds and executed with a moaning guitar, he delivers a song that will bring the likes of Ray Charles to mind. The song is from his current release, You and Me.
Though his songs seem to come from a deep and inspired place, he quickly agreed sometimes fans try to read too much into them. He took it a step further saying, "People tend to read too much into everything." The implication is his lyrics are matter-of-fact and direct and when asked why his poignant lyrics never appear on the liner notes of his albums, he insisted the songs are simply what they are.
"I'm not Bob Dylan," he said with a slight laugh. I think the die-hard fans in attendance at the Railhead who were singing along to their favorites such as "Mountain Time," "Bridge to Better Days," and the aforementioned "Asking Around For You" would disagree.
Some of those touching lyrics are part of a song he didn't sing live but is part of his Blues Deluxe CD, "I Don't Live Anywhere." The song is a heartfelt lament about trials and tribulations of life on the road. Though Bonamassa admits he sometimes wishes life could be more normal, he also knows how lucky he is to be successful at something he loves. "I don't regret missing my prom," he says, appreciative of what he's achieved but not ignorant of the hardships either. When asked if the road had any impact on his relationships, he suggested his girlfriend might be the one to better answer that question.
Not afraid of hard work to make a lasting name for himself, Bonamassa is also leery of the quick fix or the easy road, insisting that radio and marketability are the furthest things from his mind when he writes. "I won't homogenize my music to have a radio hit," he says, understanding that one chart topping song doesn't necessarily translate to a stable and long career.
That long career is something always in the forefront of his mind as he excused himself several times during the interview to handle details for the upcoming show. Be it a technical problem with an amp or making sure the merchandise was where it needed to be when it needed to be there, nothing seems to happen without Bonamassa's care and attention. That driving force coupled with his talent is what will make his goal of a long career a reality.
Later this month, Joe Bonomassa will embark on a European tour, spending the better part of three months bringing his live show encompassing the spirit of the Blues in every incarnation to Germany, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to name just a few, before returning back to the states to round out the year. More information and articles about Joe Bonomassa can be found at the Featured Artist Page.