1 (edited by Greenose 2008-09-30 11:15:41)

Topic: The next step for Joe...

I’ve been giving some thought about what the next stage is for Joe and his career and I thought I’d share my thoughts will you and hopefully Joe too if he is reads this. It is just my personal opinion and you are free to agree or disagree with it etc. My intention is not to offend or criticise. I write it with the future success of Joe in my thoughts.

It has been established without doubt that Joe is one of, if not the best, guitarist of his generation. He has also demonstrated that he has become a fine vocalist.  Joe has established a great band together and has formed a very strong and positive relationship with his producer. Over the period of his career he has produced some very good (including several excellent) studio albums and finally has made the live album he had been looking to make and which forms an excellent product, representative of his career to date

Hopefully we all agree to everything I have said so far. What I believe Joe needs to do to take himself to the next stage is to prove himself as both a talented and prolific songwriter.

Of course Joe has written some great songs over his career so far. These include Dirt In My Pocket, Bridge To Better Days, Mountain Time, The River, Woke Up Dreaming, Tore Down, Asking Around for You, Around The Bend, Colour and Shape, Taking A Hit and Miss You Hate You. Joe’s song writing was particularly apparent on his first two albums, but since Blues Deluxe the number of songs Joe has written have dropped off. Three of the songs I listed are currently in the set list.

Sloe Gin is a great album in many ways, and was a very mature step for Joe, however there were only four songs on the album written by Joe. Of these one was a re-recorded version of Around the Bend, and India was an instrumental.  My hope for the new album is that Joe can address this.

One of Joe’s great abilities without a doubt is his ability to record a great cover version. That was one of the features of his albums that initially drew me to Joe.  It is pretty common for artists to record several cover versions on their early albums (as per the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin for example). However normally the number of cover versions reduce as the artist develops over the years. Look for example at artists of the same genre, ie Walter Trout, Albert Cummings, Sean Costello, Aynsley Lister. Their early albums featured several cover versions, but their later releases featured far fewer. My feeling though is that Joe, whom I rate as better than these other artists, should also now be at this stage.

Does it matter?

Well I think it does. If you look at any great music artist of the past you are generally able to name songs the artist wrote and recorded. I’m not sure if Joe yet has enough classic songs of his own for this to be the case. Commercially only Miss You Hate You is known. For Joe to take the next step and have the success we believe he deserves I think he does need more dynamic and original songs of his own.

The other benefit I can see of this is the possibility of a greater fan base. My biggest concern for Joe is that so many of his fans are male and of an older generation. You may think age does not matter, but it does. Is a 55 year old fan still going to be going to see Joe live in 10 years? How about 15 years?  Cover versions of bands such as Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and Yes do nothing to reduce this age group.  I think Joe should consider carefully whether he should record any further cover versions of artists from the 1960s and 1970s, unless the song is really spectacular. There are other places to hear these songs.

Ideally Joe should be looking for a fan base of approximately his own age, and I believe that strong original songs would be the best way to achieve this. Tracks like Bridge to Better Days have suggested that Joe could follow a blues-funk fusion direction should he wish, but there are many other avenues he could follow. John Mayer and the Black Keys play very different versions of blues rock from each other, and both have a younger fan base than Joe so there is a market out there.

I am not completely against Joe recording cover versions.  I believe there will always be space on his albums for a classic blues cover version or two. I love the recording of songs such as So Many Roads and High Water Everywhere. I am as excited about Spike Driver Blues as anyone else on this forum The benefit of these songs is that they are generally unknown and therefore Joe has the opportunity to make these his own.  However what I suggest is that rather than 3 new Joe originals on an album, there are around 3 cover versions.

Joe, I really hope you can address the balance and leave a legacy where you are remembered as both a fantastic musician and a great song writer. Does anyone agree?

"The recently formed Edinburgh Blues Club has identified an appetite for the personal communication between musicians and audience that the blues long ago perfected." The Herald Newspaper (Scotland)

2 (edited by Jane H. 2008-09-30 12:07:12)

Re: The next step for Joe...

well i mentioned in the blues purist thread some of my opinions about covers so i won't go into that one aspect. i agree i would love to hear more Joe-riginals. you included some but not all of the best in your list. it is for me what sets him apart the most.
as far as worrying about Joe's carreer and future sucesses, I'm not worried.
similar arguments and concerns have been brought up many times and i think his fan base is more varied than the middle age guy thing i have been hearing about. we  are hearing more young people here, i think thats a good indicator. its not alwasy easy for young people to get to the shows but as the word spreads far and wide more people will get the opportunity to hear about him. we can and are making a difference, aliong with the different ways Joe is uniquely making himself known.
just because something like a famous soda pop in a blue can and a famous soda pop in a red can have a huge hold on the market and they taste alot the same there is nothing stopping us from changing that hold on the market and getting the word out is the only way basically to get the other flavors tasted so to speak. encouraging others to ask their stores to stock the other soda pops or their radio stations to play a righteous variety. because we decide with what we buy most of the time. and when people have more great choices, they usually will chose them! the reason they don't alot is because of access. we can help change that. in fact it is more up to us than not....and i think it is just as much a matter of availability of Joe rather than what content Joe is putting out specifically. most of the time if its by Joe is great quality and will sell itself if given the chance

i think Joe doing what he wants to do is going to work just fine. i don't see him as necessarily being in the same genre as Water Trout, and the others you listed. sure he's a bluesman and he rocks but there really is not anything like him out there to compare like that.
as far as the originals, parts of me also hope that maybe he's saving some of that for the next level so that they actually get the due they deserve. like i know some will disagree but with each new release that spreads farther and wider i always wonder what would have happened if Pain and Sorrow or some other choice songs would have been on the cd that reached so many more people because of Joe's level of sucess at the time it was released, and of course how that would affect what he did next might very well change things.

also i look forward to the next release hoping for it to be blues as Joe loves but nothing tooo damn depressing like Sloe Gin. What an amazing song but i have tons of young people i would like to give the latest (Sloe Gin and LFNIP both such great discs!)from Joe to but that song and those sorts of feelings i think some people aren't mature enough to handle safely. not that i'd censor it but i have hesitated and decided not to give it to them because i know that might sound over the top but i can't picture certain young people i love singing along to 'i feel like i am gonna die' because well thats a topic for another place but anyway thats about my biggest hope for any future releases. i'm hoping they'll rock but not worried if they don't.

i don't see any 'should bes' in regards to Joe's carreer or future but i don't hesitate to let him know my preferences, and if i have them , concerns.

i feel the JB thing getting ready to explode. its because of things not easily measured but mostly because its Joe IMO. and the band is really unstoppable right now, wow.
not worried.....now more than ever.

now i do worry about planning my own life right but please don't you guys worry about it wink

Re: The next step for Joe...

Jane H. wrote:

you included some but not all of the best in your list. it is for me what sets him apart the most.

Yes there are other good songs, but as he doesn't play them live and they are not on his recent releases they cannot possibly set him apart going forward. They are considered by Joe as part of his past.
They do however give hope that he can also produce more good originals in the future. smile

"The recently formed Edinburgh Blues Club has identified an appetite for the personal communication between musicians and audience that the blues long ago perfected." The Herald Newspaper (Scotland)

Re: The next step for Joe...

True that

Re: The next step for Joe...

In a way I agree with the idea of Joe making more original music. But, if you look at some of the biggest names in blues based music like SRV or Eric Clapton, they pay extreme homage to there influences on almost every album they have done.  Even the young bands are having great success doing covers these days. How many times have you heard a kid singing a song done by somebody like the Jonas Bros. and you instantly recognize it because it was a big hit by someone else way back in the day. (And then not know who originally wrote the song.)
     Joes' success will probably depend more on the Blues gaining popularity again. Which is due to come back around soon. Look at most all types of music from the past comes back around in some form or another.  It's more timing than anything else.  Either way, I love whatever he puts out. It's one thing to do a cover but, it's another to change it and make it your own. Joe does that better than almost any artist I have ever heard.

Interesting topic, very interesting!


just 'cus half my friends are imaginary doesn't mean I'm less popular

Re: The next step for Joe...

I don't think Joe's future success is dependent on Blues gaining popularity again. He is making his success with years of hard work and relentless touring.

His popularity is only dependent upon people seeing and hearing him for the first time; Joe can take it from there.

I agree with alot of what I read here, some I don't.

It's almost as if Tom Dowd's guiding hand was on the first few albums (even though he only produced ANDY, influence was still present longer) and now Kevin Shirley is the influence. You can distinctly tell the difference in the sound of the songs being recorded and the live show.

There are songs in Joe's past that I wish he'd embrace and play to this day. I'd be a big proponent of him taking a larger group of songs and picking some for the set list each night -- if you're going to pay homage, you might as well pay homage to the hundreds of shows he's done himself.....maybe homage to the earlier work, then bring it forward to the present.

I also think it would do Joe a lot of good to spend time with and collaborate with another successful artist, maybe even someone from a different genre. Someone that is as talented as Joe that could challenge him and move him forward.

Another thing I think would do Joe some good -- a vacation. A completely non-working, get out of town and relax vacation. Those things always clear my head and recharge my batteries.

Jane -- I think the next CD is going to be "Sloe Gin-ish"....I base that opinion off of the fact that is where it seems Joe and Kevin Shirley go together.

As far as "the next step". I don't think there will be a "next step", but a series of hundreds and thousands of little steps that continue moving Joe forward.

Whatever it is, rest assured it will be whatever Joe wants it to be.

PS -- even though the more recent songs are a little slower, darker, etc.....in the most recent shows we've seen, Joe was taking those songs and kicking them into higher gear. That makes the live show spectacular.

“A friend is someone that will help you move............a TRUE friend will help you move the bodies." -- anon

Re: The next step for Joe...

thanks. to try to be a little more clear, what i said about Sloe Gin is about the song not the disc. don't get me wrong, i love the song, it blows me away, i just don't share that disc with as many young people as i want because of experiences of mine and those i know. i can be pretty darn down now and feel better after listening to that song but i know young people and how what seems like a real small thing to an adult can feel like a life dependent thing. its not a huge thing for most but anyway ....I hope the next release is Sloe Ginish! minus the words i feel like i'm gonna die wink

Re: The next step for Joe...

Joe will continue to evolve. He stayed in the Power Rock Trio phase for quite some time. Longer than Eric with Cream combined if you add the reunions too.

When I first saw Joe at the end of the ANDY era and SILT was in production. The second time I saw him he was working in material from the new album. I hated SILT It wasn't what I expected. Didn't want him to change from the ANDY set. I came along kicking and squealing. SILT is just another favorite now.

I miss songs from that era but we have it on DVD. I have moved on. Joe is one of the few artists that hasn't lost me along the way. So many have a difficult time with consitancy.

Joe is heading the direction he wants. Kevin is certainly influential but he is not driving the bus. He is however I feel the navigator. The guy that can look at the map and pick the best route. While Joe has his eyes on the road.

Joe writes a mean song. He has written them and he will. He just has to make the time. When you are conquering the world you don't always have time to write a poem about it.

The new album has originals on it. Not sure how many. I know a conciuos effort was made to prepare originals for it.

If we want Dark Side of the Moon or Abbey Road out of Joe we might have to do with out him on the road for awhile. Can't afford to do that at the point in his career.

I have spent time with him recently. Nobody has any idea what his days are like. He is lucky to find time to eat much less write. As his career progresses and he feels he can reign in his schedule a bit there will be time to write. We all know he can do it. To some he just hasn't proved it enough.

Re: The next step for Joe...

Very interesting topic Duncan , Firstly you got to track back to where Joe has come from to see progress , by that i mean from his early days songwriting to performances live and album releases to where he is now as in terms of output ( Live , Studio , and CD's )
Now His choices of album feel , the stage show , the people he's working with and management , are all career forming , but most important of all is how he feels himself , his mind his direction , it can be both pre-meditated and spontaneous , only his choices can determine his career , be they right or not
Like many people thought "Sloe Gin" was a bit soft , but it was a huge selling album with Absolute Killer Tracks ( Sloe Gin & One of These Days )
to name just two , the right time for a release of that nature , Phil i think the next album will hit a lot ( lot ) harder than SG , Joe looks and feels like he's about to blast the blues scene into orbit and become a leader in getting that genre on peoples lips and ears , but i do wholeheartedly agree with you Phil that Joe and the boys sucess of late is down to hard graft and touring , just getting out there and letting audiences worldwide hear live raw music from the heart and not from the bank ,
Joe is Lucky in the sense that he has such a Strong Strong back catologue of material which he knows he can call on anytime and mix up for any killer live show of his wishes , and Bogie Carmine & Rick will just make any of those classics even more Potent ,

So the likes of A La
"Pain and Sorrow" , "Reconsider Baby" , " The River " Could be brought back at any time with EPIC ARRANGEMENTS by the boys , and musically speaking with Joe Bonamassa you don't know what you're gonna get next , and that's the beauty of a natural musician , live or studio it's gonna be fresh , never stagnant , always looking to improve and that's what a listener wants to hear , Diversity , Joe's singing in French "Cool" , and i just hope this that he gets Dirty with The Blues Again and Really Roughs It Up , but i guess we'll have to just wait and see  , and that's why were all hear on this forum , supporting him knowing that when we first heard his music there was something very special you were hearing and that's why the audiences get bigger because you just cannot keep Genius Down ( BB King , Hendrix , Stevie Ray Vaughan ) the word will spread in the end , So as Jane Said " There is no need to worry "   I Remember seeing Joe for the first time live in a Pub in North London in 2005  , and i enjoyed that as much then as i did my last show ( David A ; ) both 100% VFM

The Blues Purist debate is really nonsensicle , because it's all about choice and and if they choose to ignore Joe as a Blues Musician it's their choice ( and loss ) just pity them and their blindfolded values and they need to open their eyes and ears , cos there are many great artists young and old trying to further the Blues and what they stand for and where they've come from , so to shut them out and say , nope that ain't The Blues Man is naive and ignorant to the growth and sharing of Blues Music

Joe is on course and done it his way , captaining his Destiny in the rough seas of the music industry , There is an inbuilt desire for music in his soul

..................................... Michael

Just another personal opinion in a great topic

Joe Bonamassa .......  His Greatest 3 Videos ... IMMHO   After Much Deliberation
3rd ...... Mountain Time / Rockpalast       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h01xa6NMsJo
2nd ...... Sloe Gin       /  Vienna            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRASS8O8ZnE           
1st ....... Blues Deluxe / The Borderline    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnl3E_KLxYg

Re: The next step for Joe...

Thanks for all your contributions. I was concerned that my topic may be seen as critical and therefore shot down. I'm glad it has been found interesting. It my belief is that the next album Joe releases could be the one that makes him really big, and I just hope he gets the balance right material wise, including the ratio of originals v covers.

I value all your opinions. Jim, Phil - you guys know Joe, so I follow what you say about Joe working very hard and having little time for himself.  Maybe I should have featured that more into my considerations. The bottom line is I'm sure I'm going to love the new album regardless.  smile

"The recently formed Edinburgh Blues Club has identified an appetite for the personal communication between musicians and audience that the blues long ago perfected." The Herald Newspaper (Scotland)

Re: The next step for Joe...

This has been my view for quite a while. I really like what Joe has to say when he writes a song (The River comes to mind). He has that in him to be a genius songwriter. That, I think, is the last step, in my opinion. Will that ruin the next album if it has a bunch of covers? Heck no. Just something I would like to see.

"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make"

My ReverbNation page for Dees & Friends - check us out!


Re: The next step for Joe...

jim m wrote:

When I first saw Joe at the end of the ANDY era and SILT was in production. The second time I saw him he was working in material from the new album. I hated SILT It wasn't what I expected. Didn't want him to change from the ANDY set. I came along kicking and squealing. SILT is just another favorite now.

I had kind of the same reaction last year when Joe played downtown Pittsburgh, Jim.  I saw a keyboard on stage before the show, and I thought to myself "WTF, Joe.....if it ain't broke, don't fix it..."  Later, I realized that I was a fool.....

Over and above all the talent he has, is an inate ability to see the career ladder in front of him, and what it takes to go up that ladder.  And I think adding Rick was pure genius.....

Great thread, Dunc.  I, too, love Joe's original stuff and wanna hear more.  But I don't really personally think, and this is just my opinion, that he does covers for the same reasons that other bands do covers.  Yes, I suppose that part of it is to put songs out that people are familiar with and getting their attention.  But I see it more as him being humble to those that have come before him; bits and pieces of thangs that shaped him into the performer he is today.   

And the fact that he does it as good, or better than the original doesn't hurt either!

They're at home still runnin' for bells
Better San Juan
Than that blue collar hell

Re: The next step for Joe...

Somewhere along the way a workaholic will slowly pull away from doing what's urgent to concentrate on what's important.  Life on the road is brutal, insane and highly addictive. 

However it is still trading hours for dollars, no matter the rate.  I'm certain that doing shows is the means to an end (sell more product...generate more passive income).

The time will come when shows will be picked more carefully to maximize the total benefit.  For weeks I've brainstormed, fenagled and sweat blood to rebuild a coupla things in my bidness.  I see many parallels here.

Soon I will disappear again.  Work to do.  Then I'll be back.  product sales are a wunnerful thing, but ROYALTY CHECKS!!??  Now that's what I'm talking bout.  Yeah one must write.  All in good time I reckon.

Duncan, when I started reading your thread I said to meself "now what?" but I became more interested straight away.  The only thing I question is the age of audience equation.

Market research will determine that much better than guesswork.  You might have a point.  If you are right...don't tell me lol

Joe get some rest.  You're wearing me out.  I sure am spoiled sleeping in the same bed better than 300 nights of the year instead of visa-versa. 

yeah, again big_smile

OH AND PS:  a great song is a great song is a great song ad infinitum

Rock On & Keep the FAITH
             It is
Blues From the Bottoms