2015 London- JB- Marty Moffatt-pic.jpg

By Tom Craig

Joe Bonamassa will be bringing his guitar mastery to the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on August 6th.  We were able to chat with Joe about his music, what’s next and the state of the music industry.  TICKETS


SFL Music: Got it. Last year was a really busy year for you, you put out three albums and I think I figured out you did about 85 shoes or so.

Bonamassa: 108 shows, I think between Beth Hart and a few other things and my solo record and yeah, by the time it was all said and done it was surreal, so. It’s a lot, it’s a lot for anyby.


SFL Music: It is, what’s in store for you in 2019?

Bonamassa: We are going to make a new solo album, I don’t know if it will be out. We have 80 shows in the books, two cruises, two nights at Red Rocks. It’s gonna be a good year, it’s not going to be as taxing as last year and that’s by design, there are only so many pitches in the arm. This year is the tenth anniversary of our Royal Albert Hall show, that Eric Clapton came out so are gonna pay tribute to that a little bit and do some stuff off of that recording and that show and see if I can still sing in those keys, you know what I mean. 10 years later, 10 pounds heavier, that kinda shit. It’s about right.


SFL Music: How did your latest album Redemption come about?

Bonamassa: We did it in stages, three stages. We actually did some in Criteria in Miami and did some in Nashville, kinda recorded all over the place. It was a natural evolution of a record cycle. The thing has been on the billboard charts, number one on the blues charts for 15 weeks so it’s got a lot of legs, that one, I don’t know why but it does, has more than normal


SFL Music: would you say it’s probably your most diverse album to date?

Bonamassa: It is. I think it’s the most diverse by design it was. the new album is gonna be more back to basics, blues. We are gonna try that, we are gonna record at Abby Road. Its funny cause we did that record, Redemption, July 2017 and it still seems like a new record, and we are playing a lot off it at the shows live.


SFL Music: From your concept of that album, the very beginning, writing, thinking about it to when you put the final mix in the can, how long did it take?

Bonamassa: By the time Kevin Shirley got done with it, I would say it was a good 6 to 8 months, from the down beat to here are the mixes.


SFL Music: for the album, that seems like a short amount of time for me. I’ve listened to it many times and wow.

Bonamassa: Some of these things are done in six days, it just depends on the album really. And the songs.


SFL Music: This is your 3rd studio album in about 4 years, and all three with exception of the first album are all original material except for the Hendrix cover. What sparked the writing kick that you are on now?

Bonamassa: I wanted to do an all original, I wanted to do albums that, ya know, work on my own catalogs, I have so many albums out I wanted to work on my own catalog of songs. And I found some really great co-writers, and some really great tunes and kind of reinvigorate my love of writing again. And it’s just one of those things where that ebbs and flows, it totally ebbs and flows as you get older and just depends of which stage of life you are in. and that’s pretty much it, you know.


SFL Music: I really enjoy your song writing, I really think all three albums are really amazing in the respect so keep it up.

Bonamassa: Thanks.


SFL Music: I know you said earlier, and I read that you recorded in several different places, was this the first time you ever recorded at Criteria?

Bonamassa: It was, it is funny cause I did record with Tom Dowd and we never recorded at Criteria we recorded in New York, but it was the first time that I recorded at Criteria. I really love the studio, Its really nice. It’s such a legendary room. It was really fun to go into studio B, its where they did Derek and the Dominos, among other stuff. It was such a right of passage studio for so many great artists.


SFL Music: Oh absolutely and Tom was such a big part of that studio.

Bonamassa: He was the heart and soul of that scene, yeah.


SFL Music: You said you recorded with him, tell me a little about that.

Bonamassa: My first solo album was his last full album that he produced before he died. It was a kick, I am actually in the middle of re-singing that album. As a little Tom Dowd kinda tribute to him. That will be released next year on the 20th anniversary of it, believe it or not.


SFL Music: Wow. That’s awesome. Would you go back there if you could and record again?

Bonamassa: Criteria, yeah I liked it.


SFL Music: Tell me a little about who’s going to be in the band.

Bonamassa: Michael Rhodes on bass, Anton Fig on drums, Reese Wynans on keyboards, Paulie Cerra on saxophone, Lee Thornburg on trumpet, Juanita Tippens and Jade MacRae on backing vocals. So eight.


SFL Music: Going back to all the times you played in south Florida, do you have any interesting stories about and shows you have done or any funny stories that you would like to share?

Bonamassa: We’ve done so many gigs down there. You shot the one at Cheers I remember that I had to be 13 or 14 years old, it’s been a long time. I’ve been in this business a long time. It’s changed a lot, I’m not sure if I like the way it’s changed since then, but it’s the life we have chosen, I guess.


SFL Music: Seems like it has gotten harder.

Bonamassa: Yes and no. it’s gotten harder to figure out how to monetize creativity, when it is given away faster than you can say Free. But it has also given the opportunity for other people who would normally have been shunned by the music business to find their voice. Unfortunately, with what happened is, when you find an audience, it’s how do you keep an audience and most of the times it’s not predicated on any kind of radio play, its Instagram followers, everything now is viral, viral, viral. It has to go viral, it has to go this, its such bullshit, if you ask me. At the end of the day you see a generation of musicians playing music in a style that they hope they get 8 million views and then you go I got 8 million view but doesn’t mean that you got 8 million fans. It’s a weird paradigm, which we live in, where its instant gratification, everything’s done in a minute sound bite. Makes the Beetle singles look like concept records, everything has to be done in 2 minutes or less.


SFL Music: It’s got to be hard for new and upcoming musicians because back in the day you had people like Berry Gordy and you had labels that gave artists time to find their footing and they didn’t have to be a massive hit right out of the gate, they trained and they got schooled and you don’t see that anymore.

Bonamassa: No, and the price of admission was higher. You actually had to play and sing. And that’s the problem that you see now, is there are some really brilliant musicians and singers out there, don’t get me wrong, but the problem is you don’t have to be that, to be a quote unquote recording artist, you just have to know how to manipulate sound in a weird way or tune vocals or tune everything and play a computer verses playing an instrument, but that’s what people choose to listen to, so who am I to say. You sound like a cranky old man when you, then you go well, it’s not the kind of music that I would listen to but you know, my parent’s parents said that about the Beatles or Jimmy Hendrix, they thought that was the devil’s music, unfortunately you see a generational shift, it’s a paradigm, doesn’t mean who’s right or who’s wrong, it just is. The problem I have with the music business is they’re sold a bag of goods, in a sense where, like give it away, put it on Spotify, how many Spotify or streams you have, how many views do you have, how many this do you have, well it’s like, how many late notices have you have, how many times have you been evicted? There’s no money in it. It’s great to say we have done this that and the other thing. We sell adds on our YouTube channel, that’s not sustainable as a business model, and it has to be looked at as a business model because you have to pay for the recording, Criteria isn’t free, those engineers have to get paid, ya know. The coffee is not free, the lights are not free, unless you totally across the board made everything free, the bottom collapses.


SFL Music: I interviewed Steve Lukather a few months back and he basically talked about the same thing. Even talked about the fact that the session work that he used to do is no longer there.

Bonamassa: No longer there, yeah and that’s a reality, you know, and that used to be a viable option for people, their like oh yeah I have to stay home and I want to raise my kids and family, I’m good enough that I can do session dates. Now you can get a whole studio, you don’t need A level players and union dates anymore, it’s a different world just a totally different world. Any way I sound like a cranky old man.


SFL Music: Not at all its honest conversation. Sometimes I think we need a little more of. It is what it is.

Bonamassa: It is what it is and it’s not going to change, it’s never going to go back once you give it away you can’t charge people again.


SFL Music: I think the music industry has been their own worst enemy.

Bonamassa: I think it’s more than that, I think its whoever decides to give it away free first sets the bar for everyone else, oh I gave my album for free, oh I do this for free, here’s my movie for free, for two dollars a month you can stream 8 gazillion records well that’s great, it’s a great deal for the consumer but the problem is you hurt the people who are relying on royalties from records going, what do you mean someone listened to my album 2 million times and you are handing me a check for $17 and that’s the reality, I’m not even paraphrasing that, that’s reality. And you go, well it looks like that’s the end of me. It just doesn’t work like that, it’s a real drag.


SFL Music: and I think that’s why you see these older acts they are constantly on the road now.

Bonamassa: yeah that’s right cause the mail money dries up, but there’s still a demand for those songs, which tells you it’s not only a referendum to how good the songs are but a referendum of what’s lacking in the current climate on the pop charts, ya know. People want melody and something a little deeper than the sound of a computer, I sound like an old man but there’s a reason why people go to classic rock concerts just because they want to hear real songs and being played by real players in real time and not just going hit press play and fake everything and that’s the reality of it.


SFL Music: What can the fans expect from this show?

Bonamassa: Blues guitar and lots of it.

SFL Music: Are you excited about your new XM show?

Bonamassa: I am excited about that, it’s going to be great. It comes out next week.


SFL Music: Can you tell me about your foundation and its mission?

Bonamassa: Its mission is to give away as many instruments as we can to people who want them and are going to use them. And subsidize in any way we can full music programs that are desperate for dollars and equipment. And that’s pretty much our mission statement. Give a kid a guitar, I don’t care if you play blues on it or heavy metal or rap, I don’t care just go play and have fun that’s what it’s about.