Archive for the Joe Louis WALKER Category

Joe Louis WALKER – New Direction (Live) 2004

Posted in BLUES, Joe Louis WALKER on November 18, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Joe Louis WALKER – New Direction (Live) 2004


Multiple Grammy & WC Handy Award winner Joe Louis Walker is one of the most heralded blues artists of our time. JLW is a true powerhouse guitar virtuoso, unique singer & prolific songwriter who has toured the world religiously throughout his career and earned himself a legion of dedicated fans around the globe. He has recorded with the likes of BB King, James Cotton, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Huey Lewis, Branford Marsalis, Steve Cropper, Shemekia Copeland & Ike Turner, with a discography that counts 18 solo albums, 2 live DVDs, and countless compilations and guest appearances. Still recording and touring with a vengeance, JLW is already being referred to within the blues world as a “living legend.” However, as Walker himself would say, “The best is yet to come!”

JLW was born in 1949 in San Francisco. He came from a musical family, amidst the early influences of T-Bone Walker, BB King, Meade Lux Lewis, Amos Milburn, and Pete Johnson. Joe first picked up the guitar at the age of 8 and became a known quantity within the Bay Area music scene by the age of 16. While gigging through his teens, he soaked up many more influences (especially vocalists like Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Bobby Womack & Otis Redding). Over these early years, Joe’s musical pupilage saw him playing with the likes of John Lee Hooker, JJ Malone, Buddy Miles, Otis Rush, Thelonius Monk, The Soul Stirrers, Willie Dixon, Charlie Musselwhite, Steve Miller, Nick Lowe, John Mayall, Earl Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Jimi Hendrix. By 1968, Joe had forged a close friendship with Mike Bloomfield (indeed, they were roommates for many years) which lasted up until Bloomfield’s sad & untimely demise.

This event was the catalyst that shook JLW into an immediate lifestyle change. He quit the blues and enrolled himself at San Francisco State University (where JLW achieved a degree in Music & English). Throughout this time, Joe was regularly performing with “The Spiritual Corinthians “gospel quartet”. After a 1985 performance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Joe was inspired to return to his blues roots whereupon he formed the “Bosstalkers” and signed to the Hightone label. Under the auspices of Bruce Bromberg & Dennis Walker, his debut album “Cold Is The Night” was released to huge worldwide critical acclaim in 1986. He began a relentless touring schedule that took him to all the corners of the globe, and tirelessly managed to deliver a further 4 releases in succession for Hightone Records (“The Gift” 1988, “Blue Soul” 1989, “Live At Slims Vol 1” 1991, “Live At Slims Volume 2” 1992).

After the long and fruitful partnership with Hightone, JLW was signed by Polygram to their Verve/Gitanes label. His first of many Polygram releases ensued with “Blues Survivor” in 1993. This marked the beginning of an eclectic JLW era that merged many of his gospel, jazz, soul, funk and rock influences with his trademark blues sensibilities. Indeed, it could easily be said that Walker & Taj Mahal combined, have historically furthered the entire blues genre throughout the latter half of the 20th Century by exposing the idiom to outside influences and infusing it with a healthy variety of cross-musical cultures. The success of both their legacies has thus enabled a plethora of writers & performers to follow suit, taking the blues well into the 21st Century. 1993 also saw the release of BB King’s Grammy Winning “Blues Summit” album, which featured a duet with JLW (a Walker original, “Everybody’s Had the Blues”). This was followed up by a live DVD release, featuring another duet with Joe (a classic rendition of “T-Bone Shuffle”).

“JLW” was released in 1994, featuring guests such as James Cotton, Branford Marsalis, and the Tower Of Power Horn-section.

During this period, Joe’s touring schedule had seen many reappearances at the world’s most renowned music festivals (North Sea Jazz, Peer, Montreaux, Glastonbury, The Super Dome, San Francisco Festival, Russian River Jazz, Monterey, Jazz & Heritage, Sapporo Japan, Pistoia Italy, Byron Bay Australia, Cognac France, Ospel, Notodden Norway, Lucerne Switzerland, Beacon Theatre New York, etc.). JLW also spent many years covering all the major western TV networks (Conan O’Brien, Imus, Jools Holland UK, Inauguration for George W Bush, inducting BB King for President Clinton & Hilary Rodham Clinton into the Kennedy Centre Honors, Ono Filter Germany, Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame) as well as numerous French, Dutch, Scandinavian, German, Irish, Spanish, Brazilian, Italian, Turkish, Japanese, Taiwanese, Australian and ex-Iron Curtain TV networks.

“Blues Of The Month Club” was released in 1995, and was the first of three JLW albums that were co-produced with legendary Stax-man, Steve Cropper (NB. this album also featured appearances from the likes of The Memphis Horns & The Spiritual Corinthians, as well as Steve Cropper himself). This was followed up by the seminal release of “Great Guitars” in 1997, which became known as one of the best selling blues albums of the decade. Joe assembled a collection of friends & luminaries on this release, creating a body of work that was to become a timeless representation of its era. This myriad of album guests included the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Otis Rush, Scotty Moore, Robert Lockwood Jr, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Steve Cropper, Little Charlie Baty, Tower Of Power Horns, Ike Turner and many others…

Also in 1996 JLW played guitar on James Cotton’s “Deep in the Blues” a Grammy winning “Best Traditional Blues Album”. In addition JLW won his third W.C. Handy Award for “Band of the Year” (1996) which was preceded by two W.C. Handy Awards for “Contemporary Male Artist of the Year” (1988 & 1991).  JLW also won the 1995 Bammy (Bay Area Music Award) for Blues Musician of the Year. Joe then released “Preacher & The President” in 1998 and “Silvertone Blues” in 1999 (his 6th album for Polygram). The relentless stream of classic albums continued with “In The Morning” (Telarc 2002), “Pasa Tiempo” (Evidence 2002), “Guitar Brothers” (JSP 2002), “She’s My Money Maker” (JSP 2003), “Ridin’ High” (Hightone 2003),***** “New Direction” (Provogue 2004),***** “Playin’ Dirty” (JSP 2006),”Witness To The Blues”(2008 SPCD), and “Between A Rock And The Blues” (2009 SPCD).

Despite JLW’s continued musical productivity at the turn of the new millenium, his personal life fell into crisis due to a difficult and traumatic divorce. This soon led to an alcohol and drug relapse after more than 20 years of sobriety & disciplined professionalism. JLW moved to France for 2 years and upon his return to the USA in December 2005 began a self-imposed regime of rehabilitation and recovery. Having successfully combated his addiction problems, Walker began touring again. Referring to this difficult period of his life, JLW attests to the old adage “what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger!” Needless to say, the best therapy for a road warrior is his art… JLW continues to invest his deepest emotions into his music, and the stark honesty of his performances continues to delight his fans.
Joe Louis Walker is quite the triple threat. Not only is he a superb blues guitarist, with remarkable fluency and imagination, he’s also an excellent singer (as you might expect from someone who came up through gospel groups), and an excellent writer with a strong penchant for soul music. For the most part, his blues isn’t the heart-wrenching type, but deals with mistrust and double-dealing (“Messed My Mind Up”) and good times (“Custom Cars, Gibson Guitars”). Throughout he blurs the line between blues and soul, which effectively makes this one of the best soul albums in a long time, as he shows on “Do You Love Me” and “You Don’t Love Me Girl.” With “Soldier for Jesus” his blues mixes with gospel, and some wonderful guitar work. With a small band — bass, drums keys — that truly swings, he keeps center stage, which is what he needs. Whether keeping rhythm guitar gliding behind his vocals, or shining as he does on “Mr. G’s Boogie,” his fretwork is fresh, wonderfully clean, and played with the kind of style and imagination all too often missing these days. Indeed, about the only misstep on the record is “Tempting Me,” which talks up how much he’s loved by the women when he’s on the stage. Maybe it’s tongue in cheek, but it also comes across as filler next to the other songs. And the closer, “Lena,” tails everything off with a lyrical joy. A superb record from someone who might just be the best contemporary bluesman.
By Chris Nickson, All Music Guide.
Joe Louis Walker- (vocals, Guitar);
Ellis Blacknell Jr.- (Keyboards);
Robert Watson- (Bass Guitar);
Carl Cutler- (Drums).
01. Do You Love Me
02. Custom Cars, Fast Guitars
03. Messed My Mind Up
04. New Direction
05. You Don’t Love Me Girl
06. Tempting Me
07. Soldier For Jesus
08. Mr. G’s Boogie
09. Ain’t That Cold
10. Lena

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