Buyer's Guide: Joe Bonamassa
Since lighting the fuse of the blues boom, the reluctant superstar has barely stopped. Here’s a guide to his blues deluxe.
If the turn of the millennium seemed like an unlikely flashpoint for a blues boom, then Joe Bonamassa initially seemed an odd man to lead it.
While the hipster media fell for the spidery cool of Jack White and his lo-fi clatter, Bonamassa set out his stall: an ego-free blues scholar from upstate New York, whose idea of a supermodel was a ’59 Les Paul. Though technically impeccable, this scruffy, bulky, 12-bar merchant was a hard sell. “I honestly didn’t think anyone with the surname Bonamassa was ever gonna be famous,” producer Kevin Shirley recalls of his first impressions. “I remember sending him an email saying: ‘Joe, you look like a fucking slob.’”
It was the start of a beautiful relationship. When Shirley came aboard for 2006’s You & Me he drew a line in the sand, encouraging the guitarist to fire his band, shine his shoes and, critically, ditch the dead-eyed showboating to find his voice as a songwriter. “I thought if he wanted to be something different he’d have to bend the rules.”