Joe Louis Walker was born in San Francisco on Christmas Day, 1949. He was raised and schooled in the famed and dangerous Fillmore District. His parents were both from the South and they brought their love of blues with them when they headed west. Walker'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 an in-demand musician on the local club scene, regularly backing touring blues artists rolling through town. As a 16-year-old, he 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. In addition to his work at The Matrix, he was a regular at Bill Graham's famed Fillmore West. 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. These ear-opening surroundings explain the ease with which Walker blends blues, rock, gospel, jazz and country, making it seem as if the walls between the genres never existed in the first place.
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, Freddie King, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Lightnin' Hopkins and many others taught, fed and chastised the youngster. Blues icon Willie Dixon told him to set his sights high. "What's your style? You need your own sound," Dixon preached. Walker took the advice to heart and developed his own fiery, melodic and always unpredictable guitar attack.
With each subsequent release, Walker's audience continues to grow, as his touring schedule continues to expand. 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."
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