Blues Hall of Fame inductee and four-time Blues Music Award winner
Performing Saturday February 15, Blues Festival Main Event
“A Legendary Boundary-Pushing Icon Of Modern Blues” – NPR
Multiple Grammy & WC Handy Award winner Joe Louis Walker is one of the most heralded blues artists of our time. Walker has recorded with BB King, James Cotton, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Branford Marsalis, and Ike Turner. Walker has become an international ambassador for the blues overseas, having played at countless festivals throughout Europe, South America, Australia, the Middle East, and Asia. Joe Louis Walker is already being referred to within the blues world as a “living legend.” However, as Walker himself would say, “the best is yet to come!”
A true powerhouse guitar virtuoso, unique singer and prolific songwriter, he has toured extensively throughout his career, performed at the world’s most renowned music festivals, and earned a legion of dedicated fans. Walker’s 1986 debut album Cold Is the Night on High Tone announced his arrival in stunning fashion, and his subsequent output has only served to further establish Walker as one of the leading bluesmen on the scene.
Born on December 25, 1949 in San Francisco, at age 14, he took up the guitar. Just two years later, he was a known quantity on the Bay Area music scene, playing blues with an occasional foray into psychedelic rock. For a while, he roomed with Mike Bloomfield, who introduced him to Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead. Walker even made a brief pilgrimage to Chicago to check out the blues scene there. In 1975, burned out on blues, Walker turned to God, singing for the next decade with a gospel group, the Spiritual Corinthians. When the Corinthians played the 1985 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Walker was inspired to embrace his blues roots again. He assembled the Boss Talkers, and throughout the 1990s merged many of his gospel, jazz, soul, funk and rock influences with his trademark blues sensibilities on recordings released by Polydor/Polygram.
These albums feature Walker’s collaborations with a diverse group of first-rate artists including Branford Marsalis, James Cotton, Tower of Power, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Ike Turner and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Walker has steadily released recordings since the turn of the millennium, and recently signed to Provogue / Mascot Label Group.
Always an artist deeply expressive lyrically, Walker continues to write and sing about themes that are universal.
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.”