Joe Bonamassa is a contemporary blues guitar hero. What I like most about him is that he is not a Stevie Ray Vaughan clone like Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Although I love Kenny Wayne Shepherd, his style is rooted squarely in the SRV school of guitar playing. He’ll never be truly original to me.
Bonamassa, on the other hand, hasn’t been swept up in the SRV clone wars and has been able to make some interesting music as a result. I couldn’t imagine a song like “Quarryman’s Lament” appearing on a Kenny Wayne Shepherd album. It’s just too damn original. Take a listen.
The instrumentation is interesting, the recording is fantastic and, above all else, the guitar playing is top-notch. Bonamassa’s lead guitar playing, at times, reminds me of Eric Johnson. He uses the same pentuplet runs and a very similar tone as Johnson’s. Interestingly, Eric Johnson plays a Fender Strat and Joe Bonamassa plays a Gibson Les Paul. Two very different guitars can make roughly the same tone in an over-driven, high-gain environment.
As an independent artist, Bonamassa’s music is completely under his control. That means his music is fresh – no corporate preservatives. So if you’re looking for fresh blues-rock, look no further. Joe Bonamassa is what you’re looking for. And if his album gets stale, don’t worry. He releases a fresh album about once a year.
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As always, great post. As you probably know I have a Bonamassa channel on Pandora, and of course you gifted me that CD. I agree that Bonamassa has a certain Eric Johnson feel to it, but I’ll add to that this track in particular’s background instrumentation brings to mind “Farm on the Freeway” (Tull). Funny how certain tracks lead you in different directions. While you are absolutely right that Kenny Wayne Shephard is like a SRV clone, once I viewed the video “10 Days Out”, the graveyard footage, in particular, I like the way Kenny kinda pays homage to the old blues players. I really think that he’s a player who loves the blues from the bottom of his heart, even though he’ll never be an authentic blues player. That music is unique, in that it’s underpinnings are rooted in pain, longing and a bit of suffering. I don’t think that Kenny will ever experience that sort of despair, hence, his playing of the blues will always be from the outside, looking in….
Likewise, great comments. I disagree with your last point and it inspired me to write a blog about the debate. Check it out here.
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