Happy Birthday Robert Johnson & Joe Bonamassa
” If the blues has a truly mythic figure, one whose story hangs over the music the way a Charlie Parker does over jazz or a Hank Williams does over country, it’s Robert Johnson, certainly the most celebrated figure in the history of the blues. Of course, his legend is immensely fortified by the fact that Johnson also left behind a small legacy of recordings that are considered the emotional apex of the music itself. These recordings have not only entered the realm of blues standards (“Love in Vain,” “Crossroads,” “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Stop Breaking Down”), but were adapted by rock & roll artists as diverse as the Rolling Stones, Steve Miller, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton. While there are historical naysayers who would be more comfortable downplaying his skills and achievements (most of whom have never made a convincing case as where the source of his apocalyptic visions emanates from), Robert Johnson remains a potent force to be reckoned with. As a singer, a composer, and as a guitarist of considerable skills, he produced some of the genre’s best music and the ultimate blues legend to deal with. Doomed, haunted, driven by demons, a tormented genius dead at an early age, all of these add up to making him a character of mythology who — if he hadn’t actually existed — would have to be created by some biographer’s overactive romantic imagination.
The legend of his life — which by now, even folks who don’t know anything about the blues can cite to you chapter and verse — goes something like this: Robert Johnson was a young black man living on a plantation in rural Mississippi. Branded with a burning desire to become great blues musician, he was instructed to take his guitar to a crossroad near Dockery’s plantation at midnight. There he was met by a large black man (the Devil) who took the guitar from Johnson, tuned it, and handed it back to him. Within less than a year’s time, in exchange for his everlasting soul, Robert Johnson became the king of the Delta blues singers, able to play, sing, and create the greatest blues anyone had ever heard.” Continue reading
” Guitar mastermind Joe Bonamassa, a young player with the childhood dream of playing music similar to legends like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix, was 22 when he inked a deal with Epic. Hailing from Utica, New York, Bonamassa could play the blues before he could drive a car. He first heard Stevie Ray Vaughan at age four and was instantly taken by Vaughan‘s high-powered playing. At age eight, he opened for B.B. King, and at age 12, he was playing regularly around upstate New York. It was soon thereafter that Bonamassa hooked up with the band Bloodline, which featured other musicians’ sons: Waylon Krieger (Robby Krieger‘s son), Erin Davis (Miles Davis‘ drummer kid), and Berry Oakley, Jr. (son of the Allman Brothers bassist). Bloodline released a self-titled album, but Bonamassa wanted to move on. In summer 2000 he guested for Roger McGuinn on Jethro Tull‘s summer tour, later releasing his debut solo album, A New Day Yesterday. Produced by longtime fan Tom Dowd, the album marked a move toward a more organic and rock-sounding direction. He put together a power trio with drummer Kenny Kramme and bassist Eric Czar and hit the road to support the album.” Continue Reading