There’s a little saying “if you know, then you know” used to describe something that only insiders and/or die-hard fans or followers of a certain cause are aware of. And while Joe Bonamassa’s star continues its rise, there’s still a fair amount of people on the planet that don’t know who he is and just how incredible of a guitar player and musician he is. That said, he regularly sells out 2000-3000 seat venues across the globe and in some cities like Seattle, he’s selling out multiple dates.
A lot of people ask where have I been? I’ve been here. Where have they been?! I’ve been here! – Joe Bonamassa
His current run in the Emerald City is no exception with at least 2 out of the 3 nights at capacity and this night wasn’t was too damn far from hitting that mark either. And make no mistake about it, Joe is thankful to his faithful that have been on this journey with him, a journey that for a large part of this run has not had the “benefit” of magazines like Rolling Stone or Spin or commercial radio play. If you are a Bonamassa fan, you like it this way too. If you know, then you know.
Said Bonamassa a few years ago in American Blues Scene Magazine:
” My whole career has been based on underground support and a cult following and I’m fine with that, because that means we a have real solid foundation. I have nothing but foundation. All of my bricks are bricks, there are no compromising points. As long as you keep your eye on the ball, do a quality show, and put out a quality record, those things stay with you.”
Armed with an all-star backing band that includes recent Rock Hall of Fame inductee Reese Wynans(Stevie Ray Vaughan) on keyboards, this amazing musician set Seattle on fire on Thursday night with an absolutely flawless show. His set included ripping performances of songs that likely no one outside of his camp has ever heard, such as “Living on the Moon”, “So What Would I Do” and “Yonder’s Wall”. Dressed in his trademark light blue suit, he covered all parts of the stage equally, ensuring that the VIP’s on each side of the Paramount got to see his guitar wizardry up close and personal.
In between a few songs Bonamassa took the time to thank the crowd for showing up on this Thursday night, reminiscing about his days at the more intimate Jazz Alley, before graduating to the Moore which has now led to sold out shows at Paramount. With a stage that was bathed in blues, greens and reds, Joe reached up, readjusted his lightly tinted sunglasses and unleashed a kaleidoscope of audio mastery on the Paramount audience.
A definite highlight of the even for me was his epic ballad “Sloe Gin”. Little did I or anyone else know that during Joe’s blistering version of that stand-by of his, the king of the blues, the legendary B.B. King was taking his final breathes. B.B.’s time of death was 9:40pm and that would have put Joe somewhere in “Sloe Gin”. I’ve seen him play that song live before and on countless videos but I’d never seen it done with such a fire and a passion as he did on Thursday evening. Of course Joe was unaware of B.B.’s passing at the time but he seemed to be playing outside of himself.
B.B. of course was instrumental in Joe’s career, allowing a 12 year old Bonamassa to open up for him several times, as well as many other perks of knowing the leader of the blues world. Click HERE to read more about their connection.
That summer I played about 20 shows with BB. He’s the nicest person I’ve ever met in the music business. He is the blues, the blues is him. He’s still excited about being on the road. I’m not sure I’m going to be still playing The Ballad of John Henry aged 88. But I look at BB and that is exactly how I want to live my life. He’s the one who said, you want to watch your money; make sure you get paid right. He helped me write the playbook on what I’m doing now. – Joe Bonamassa
I’d be remiss in not mentioning how bittersweet the night was though. As incredible as Joe’s performance was, that feeling of absolute elation we feel after a great show turned into utter devastation as the word of King’s passing started to break about 45 minutes after Bonamassa left the stage.
If you ever get the opportunity to see Joe play live, do yourself a favor and do it, you will not regret it.