Only a decade ago, Bay Area bluesman Joe Louis Walker was one of the idiom's best kept secrets despite clearly possessing prodigious talent. His crisp, concise guitar work - whether on conventional single string lead or employing a crashing slide - slices like a machete; his gospel-influenced vocal delivery grabs hold of a lyric and simply refuses to let go, and his songwriting skills are incisive and prolific. In short, he is the total package. Yet for years he was known only to a loyal following of hip aficionados. Those days are over. Today Joe Louis Walker reigns as one of the hottest and most respected names in blues.
I just saw JLW at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn, IL last night (5-23-07). I am at a loss to describe how great a show he put on. I am not a big blues fan, I am a great guitarist fan and Joe Louis Walker merits being included on any list of great guitarists. I am a novice guitarist and seeing him play showed me how far a person can develop their musicianship. If I can become half as good I would be proud. The band was tight tempo-wise but loose as far as atmosphere. The road manager even came and sat at my front table seat with my wife and I to chat with us during the show. The keyboardist deserved to be a headliner in his own right. Each of his solos was equal to JLW's outstanding guitar work. I bought 2 CD's before I left and will add more to my collection in the future. Most of all I will keep my eyes peeled for advertisements of any future appearances of Mr. Walker in the Chicago area.