Joe Louis Walker
with Jake Andrews
THU · APRIL 26, 2018
Doors: 9:00 pm / Show: 9:30 pm
Joe Louis Walker is a true powerhouse guitar virtuoso, unique singer and prolific songwriter. Walker, a Blues Hall of Fame inductee and four-time Blues Music Award winner, has toured extensively throughout his career, performing at the world’s most renowned music festivals, and earned a legion of dedicated fans. His latest, highly-acclaimed album Everybody Wants A Piece, from Mascot/Provogue, cements his legacy as a prolific torch bearer for the blues. Looking back on his rich history, Walker shares, “I’d like to be known for the credibility of a lifetime of being true to my music and the blues. Sometimes I feel I’ve learned more from my failures, than from my successes, but that’s made me stronger and more adventurous, and helped me create my own style. I’d like to think that when someone puts on one of my records they would know from the first notes, ‘That’s Joe Louis Walker.'”
Born in San Francisco on Christmas Day his parents were both from the South and they brought their love of blues with them when they headed west. Joe’s dad played blues piano, and his mom played B.B. King records. Walker picked up the guitar as a child, and by the time he was 16 was regularly backing touring blues artists rolling through town. San Francisco’s music scene was quickly becoming a melting pot of blues, jazz and psychedelic rock, and Walker was right in the center of it. As a 16-year-old, Walker was the house guitarist at San Francisco’s famed musical playground, The Matrix, where he played with or opened shows for everyone from Lightnin’ Hopkins to Jimi Hendrix to Thelonious Monk. He was also a regular at The Fillmore West. The blues legends Walker accompanied shared not only musical knowledge but also their personal wisdom with the teenage up-and-comer. Fred McDowell, Ike Turner, Albert King, Freddy King, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Lightnin’ Hopkins and many others taught, fed, and chastised the youngster.
Inspired by what he learned, Walker developed his own fiery, melodic, and always unpredictable guitar attack. Walker met guitarist Michael Bloomfield in 1968 and the two became fast friends. Bloomfield helped push Walker’s blues in a more rock-fueled direction, and he became the single biggest influence on Walker’s sound. The two shared an apartment for years and remained close friends until Bloomfield’s death in 1981. From 1975 to 1985, prior to joining Alligator Records in 2012, Walker released 23 albums and toured the world virtually non-stop. He has garnered four Blues Music Awards and has been nominated a whopping 52 times. He holds an international reputation as one of the blues’ most prolific and talented stars. He’s also recorded as a guest with some of the blues world’s best-known artists, including appearances on Grammy-winning records by B.B. King and James Cotton.
In 2013 The Blues Foundation inducted Walker into The Blues Hall of Fame. “I am honored to be in the company of the great artists already inducted,” Walker said at the time. “I hope to live up to the honor.” Joining the ranks of previous inductees, including B.B. King, Hound Dog Taylor, Koko Taylor, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Howlin’ Wolf and other blues greats, while still at the peak of his musical powers is, according to Walker, “a dream come true.”
With each subsequent release Walker’s audience continues to grow as his touring schedule expands. He’s played all over the U.S. and Canada, major European festivals including The North Sea Jazz Festival, Glastonbury, Notodden and Montreux, as well as festivals in Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Ireland, Turkey and Brazil. Now, with Hornet’s Nest, Walker is excited about bringing even more people to his music. “Blues is a big tent,” he says, “morphing into a bigger tent. Young folks like good blues when they hear it, and I’m here to make sure they want to listen.”
NPR Music has called Walker “a legendary boundary-pushing icon of modern blues,” and he is already being referred to within the blues world as a living legend. However, at this stage of his life, Walker profoundly shares, “I’d really like to inspire younger musicians to carry on the legacy of blues/roots music – but play and do it your way – don’t be afraid to mix it up. There’s no right or wrong way, just the way you wanna express yourself. And above all, ENJOY YOURSELF.”
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Andrews began playing guitar at age 5, taught by his father, John Andrews of the 60's Roots Band Mother Earth. Since the age of 8 he has been trading licks with and opening for such masters as Albert King, B.B. King, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and Jimmie Vaughan, starting at his hometown's legendary club Antone's. By his early teens he was wowing audiences and fellow musicians at such premier blues venues as B.B. King's in Memphis and Los Angeles and Slim's in San Francisco. He has performed at major festivals such as the San Francisco Blues Festival and Madison Blues Festival with Ray Charles. Andrews has been featured on CBS, Austin City Limits, Guitar Player, Texas Monthly and Vintage Guitar among numerous other publications.
By the age of 17, Andrews was signed with Jericho Records, a Warner Brothers/Sire subsidiary, and began working on his debut album in Los Angeles. In 1999, he released 'Time to Burn" with producer John Porter (Los Lonely Boys, BB King). Billboard Magazine stated, «Time to Burn's mix of guitar pyrotechnics, fiery vocals and powerful new songs confirms that Jake Andrews is already blazing new paths with the torch he's been passed.» The first title single scored a Top Ten Rock Radio hit. Andrews earned the award of «Breakout Rock Group» in 1999 by R&R (Radio and Records). The record was supported with a national tour with artists including the Allman Brothers, The Doobie Brothers, Susan Tedeschi, Boz Scaggs and George Thorogood.
Livin' in the Grave, released in 2011, is the new recording and fourth solo release by Andrews. It is a mix of high intensity rock instrumentals, heavy guitar-driven riffs and powerful, soulful vocals. Songs include the hard-hitting title track anthem Livin' in the Grave, the droning epic Solid featuring seven-time Grammy-winning guitar legend Eric Johnson, the melodic ballad Easy to Come By, a high octane instrumental High Flyin' and the Zeppelin-inspired riffs of Love in Me. All of the songs are originals and were recorded in Austin, TX.
Solid is an instrumental track that Johnson first heard when he and Andrews played a show together at the House of Blues in Houston. When Andrews asked Johnson to make a guest appearance on his album, Johnson suggested he play on that track. The 8+ minute song is a hypnotic mix of Jake's driving riffs with Eric's incredible layering of rhythm and lead work on top.
Kelly Donnelly, Johnson's engineer at Saucer, recorded Solid as well as all of Jake's overdubs. He mixed the entire record at his studio, Studio Plush. Donnelly also engineered Eric's latest record Up Close on Capitol Records/EMI and mixed by the legendary engineer and producer Andy Johns (Led Zeppelin, Free, Rolling Stones).
The rhythm section on Livin' in the Grave includes bassist Chris Maresh (bassist with Johnson in his Alien Love Child project), drummer Bryan Austin (Santana, Monica) and keyboardists David Boyle (Bob Schneider, Alejandro Escoveda) and Arlan Oscar. Vocalist Brian Andrew Lee layered background vocals.
Andrews is featured on guitar on the solo album by Paul Jones released 2009. Paul Jones is known to many as the singer of the British Invasion band Manfred Mann. The Jones album also features the legendary Eric Clapton on guitar on two tracks. One reviewer says, «Andrews is going to awe guitar freaks....his mastery of tone is impressive and he easily slides between hard, roadhouse blues to classic funk...to soul». He is also featured on the upcoming follow-up Paul Jones solo release recorded early 2012. Be sure to look for it soon!
In 2006, Andrews joined Guitar Shorty on his Alligator Release «We the People» accompanying the legendary bluesman, and former brother-in-law to Jimi Hendrix, on the album. The album won «Album of the Year» at the WC Handy awards in May 2007. Andrews hit the road with Guitar Shorty in the summer and fall of 2006 for a full US and European tour.
In 2002 Andrews released his second self-titled solo album on the Texas Music Group label produced by Carla Olson (Joe Louis Walker, Otis Rush, Mick Taylor) and recorded at Willie Nelson's Perdernales Studio. In 2008 Andrews released a third solo album «Feelin' Good Again» full of original material and produced by Andrews and bassist Mike Sconce. Andrews enlisted drummer Alvino Bennett (Stevie Wonder, Bryan Ferry, Dave Mason) and Michael Ramos (John Mellencamp, Los Lonely Boys) on keys.