Joe Louis Walker has been a blues force since he was a 16-year-old kid playing guitar and backing the best of the best on the stages of his hometown, San Francisco.
JLW could spend hours sharing celebrity stories, having recorded or performed with stars such as B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Huey Lewis, Branford Marsalis and Ike Turner. Through his friendship with guitar great Mike Bloomfield of the Butterfield Blues Band, he also rubbed elbows with musicians including Jimi Hendrix, Steve Miller, Johnny Winter, members of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.
“Through Michael, I met everybody,” Walker said. “Michael was the first real guitar hero. Eric Clapton was heard but not known or seen. Michael was seen, known and heard. And not just the blues. He’s the guitarist on ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ by Bob Dylan. When Bob went electric, Michael was in the band he went electric with—way before The Band with Robbie Robertson.”
The house Walker shared with Bloomfield in Mill Valley was a regular stopping point for musicians such as Country Joe McDonald, former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor and bluesman John Mayall, who wanted to jam. “When everyone was in town, they’d come and pay homage to Michael”.
Though he will turn 65 this year, JLW shows no signs of slowing down, and this Spring there are dozens of shows and festivals on his tour schedule, with stops everywhere between the West Coast of the U.S. and Switzerland. He is well-regarded by his fans and peers, and has picked up Multi Blues Music Awards; he has appeared on Grammy-winning projects from B.B. King and James Cotton. Blues fans can count themselves lucky that he has recorded 25 of his own albums, including Hornet’s Nest, his most recent release from Chicago’s storied Alligator Records.
It is inspiring that after almost 50 years in the business, Joe Louis Walker is still writing, recording, and playing a gruelling tour schedule. But it is even more impressive that he has not gotten into a rut and that his music is still innovative and pushing the limits of modern blues.
Walker proves that there are still great barnstorming blues artists letting it loose in clubs and ducking into recording studios when they get the chance. Hornet’s Nest proves that he is still pulling all the stops out, and it would be well worth your time to check him out when he starts the longest tour of Australia he has ever done.
Joe Louis Walker plays the New Globe Theatre in Brisbane on Thursday 30 October.
Joe Louis Walker Tour dates
23 Oct – Joe Louis Walker @ Lizottes Newcastle NSW
24 Oct – Joe Louis Walker @ The Basement NSW
25 Oct – Joe Louis Walker @ Kidgeeridge Music Festival NSW
28 Oct – Joe Louis Walker @ The Glasshouse NSW
29 Oct – Joe Louis Walker @ Mullumbimby Civic Memorial Hall NSW
30 Oct – Joe Louis Walker @ New Globe Theatre, Brisbane QLD
31 Oct – Joe Louis Walker @ Wangaratta Festival Of Jazz VIC
1 Nov – Joe Louis Walker @ Wangaratta Festival Of Jazz VIC
2 Nov – Joe Louis Walker @ Way Out West Roots Music Club VIC
4 Nov – Joe Louis Walker @ The Gov SA
6 Nov – Joe Louis Walker @ Fly By Night Musicians Club WA
7 Nov – Joe Louis Walker @ Blues at Bridgetown WA
8 Nov – Joe Louis Walker @ Blues at Bridgetown WA