Joe Bonamassa at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside, CA

If it wasn’t for the blues, rock & roll would never exist. Following in the footsteps of great rock guitarists heavily influenced by the blues like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck, Joe Bonamassa is part of today’s generation of guitar greats carrying on the Blues. At the young of age of 11, Bonamassa was mentored by the late Danny Gatton and was opening for B.B. King. Bonamassa was destined to carry the torch of the blues greats like B.B., Freddie, and Albert King, Paul Rodgers which he paid homage to on his Three Kings tour several years ago. In fact, Bonamassa has his own non-profit named Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation.

By the time Bonamassa released his debut album in 2000 at the age of 23, he was working with legendary producer Tom Dowd just two years before his passing and Gregg Allman guested on it. Now 41, Bonamassa has released 13 studio albums and 16 live albums in 18 years, and just between 2002 and 2006 had three #1 studio albums and has shared the stage with the likes of Clapton, Stephen Stills, Steve Winwood, and Buddy Guy. Overall 20 albums made it number 1 on the Billboard Blues Chart. Bonamassa also has one of the biggest vintage guitar collections some of his instruments are on display at the Sunset Marquis hotel.

On Nov. 21 Bonamassa performed at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside, CA. Bonamassa’s band includes drummer Anton Fig (Paul Shaffer Orchestra), Stevie Ray Vaughan keyboardist Reese Wynans, Nashville session bassists Michael Rhodes (Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson), Jay Leno band member Lee Thornburg (trumpet) and Saxophonist Paulie Cerra (Stevie Wonder, Little Milton, Billy Preston). Being a Los Angeles local Bonamassa talked about how much traffic there was to Riverside and joked that it was quicker to come from Tucson, AZ the night before then himself driving from home to the theater. Bonamassa had the audience laughing when he said “F*ck the 60, piece of sh*t road.” For me personally, it took almost 3 hours to get to this show.

I’ve seen Bonamassa over five times and am always amazed by not only his guitar skills but his voice as well. Bonamassa is more of an album-oriented artist and not one who just wants to put out hit singles. With that being said, one doesn’t come to a Bonamassa show just to hear a hit song, they come for an experience of great songs all night, but all Bonamassa fans have a favorite song. For Bonamassa having released his debut album 18 years ago, it’s interesting to see he always pulls in an older crowd that you would see at shows of artists that have been around twice as long.

Bonamassa opened with “King Bee Shakedown,” and played a 15 song set including “Slow Train,” “Last Kiss” and “Mountain Time,” which was the closing song. Bonamassa also covered B.B. King, Albert King, Led Zeppelin, John Mayall, and Delaney and Bonnie. The title “Hardest Working Man In Show Business,” was given to James Brown a number of years ago. For me I would consider Joe the hardest working musician today between releasing a new album every 1-2 years, touring on each album, and releasing live concerts and DVDs in between. Bonamassa always puts on a great show and is the type of artist worth seeing every time they come around.

The next tour starts Feb. 15 in Ft Lauderdale, FL and consists of East Coast and Midwest dates.


King Bee Shakedown
Evil Mama
Just Cause You Can
Self Inflicted Wounds
I Get Evil
Little Girl- John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers
No Good Place for the Lonely
How Deep This River Runs
Breaking Up Someone’s Home- Albert King
Slow Train
Nobody Loves Me But My Mother- B.B. King
Boogie With Stu- Led Zeppelin
Last Kiss- Delaney & Bonnie

14. Well Well
15. Mountain time