Joe Bonamassa Talks the Task of “Keeping the Blues Alive”

The Grammy-nominated and globally-celebrate guitarist takes the stage at the Macon City Auditorium on March 14th for a non-stop night of blues, rock, soul, and swagger.

Ask just about anybody with a finger on the pulse of all things blues music to name an artist bringing the vibe and swagger of the foundational genre to a new generation worldwide and, chances are, you’re gonna hear one name first and instantly.

That name would be Joe Bonamassa.

Joe Bonamassa

In the last 35 years, the New York native’s journey has gone from the title of prodigious guitar wunderkind to “one of the world’s most celebrated guitar players,” all before he even turned 45 years old. With that kind of gift, passion, and platform, there was just really one thing for Bonamassa to do to cement his status as a budding iconoclast in the blues history books: give back and teach a brand new generation of blues enthusiasts.

For the Grammy-nominee, keeping the blues alive is a mission not only achieved through his music education driven non-profit and record label of that very name, but through essentially everything his artistry encompasses. Over the course of his career, Bonamassa’s approach to the genre has varied. At times, he bends tradition ever so slightly. Other times, he turns it squarely on its ear, to the chagrin of purists with a different idea of what preservation looks like for a foundational genre.

Bonamassa is aware of the ire, but don’t think he lets it stop him from making records that feel authentic to him as a player.
“Not all the records that I make are blues records,” he confessed to The Creek’s Sam Stephens in a recent phone chat.

“I’d be the first to admit that. But again, some of the blues purists don’t even rate me, don’t even think I’m a blues player or a musician, and I’m like, ‘that’s fair enough.’ Because their definition of the blues is a very narrow one, and that’s fine. I hear blues. I hear blues everywhere.”

“I’m not the person that goes, ‘Oh, well, it’s [the blues] got to be this. It’s got to be that,” he explained. “Just look at the Allman Brothers. Look at ‘One Way Out.’ It’s a cover, but they made it their own and now it’s a rock and roll classic, their version of it. But everyone’s definition of blues music and all the classics between country, even classical, is different. It’s somewhat polarizing, but it’s also what makes the world go ’round.”

“Everybody’s got an opinion on something,” he admitted.

Which makes forging your own path and staying the course even more important, something Bonamassa has done exceeding well since his career first began when he was 12 year-old opening for blues icon B.B. King. That time-tested, carefully-crafted brand of the blues-rock he’s become known for is right at home here in Macon, Georgia, where some of his all-time favorite albums were made.

“I mean, some of my favorite records were made from Capricorn, you know what I mean? Such a rich history of Southern Rock. I mean, really, that was the Southern rock label,” Bonamassa continued.

The Macon connection doesn’t stop there. Bonamassa’s debut album A New Day Yesterday was produced by the legendary Tom Dowd and featured a cover of Warren Haynes’ “If Heartaches Were Nickels ” with organ and vocals on the track by none other than Gregg Allman.

“I’ve known Warren [Haynes] pretty much my entire musical life. I mean, he’s been a friend for over 35 years, and Tom [Dowd] produced my first solo album . . . . I know the guys at the Big House. I mean, Macon has a great musical legacy because of the music that those guys produced in that town. It was pretty extraordinary that all of that came out of there.”

And Bonamassa is ready to be back, his first time since 2021. This visit, he plans to really throw down and have a big time with fans, so get those tickets while you still can. They are available HERE.