Award-winning guitar slinger, deeply soulful vocalist, and gifted songwriter Joe Louis Walker has been releasing groundbreaking music since 1986, but his career goes all the way back to the mid-1960s. 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 and Jimi Hendrix to Thelonious Monk. 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 these styles never existed in the first place. The New York Times raves, "Walker is a singer with a Cadillac of a voice. He delivers no-nonsense, gutsy blues. His guitar solos are fast, wiry, and incisive, moaning with bluesy despair." According to Living Blues, he is "one of today's modern musical masters." Rolling Stone simply calls him "ferocious."
On the heels of his musical education at The Matrix, Walker met guitarist Michael Bloomfield in 1968. Bloomfield helped push Walker's blues in a more rock-fueled direction and became the single biggest influence on his sound. From 1975 to 1985, Walker performed nothing but gospel music, before returning to the blues in 1985. He soon signed to Hightone Records, which released his debut album, Cold is the Night (1986). Firmly rooted in blues, gospel, R&B, and rock, the album caught the attention of music fans around the country.
Since then, Walker has released 23 more albums and two DVDs and has toured worldwide. He's won four Blues Music Awards, including the 2010 Album of the Year Award for Between a Rock and a Hard Place (2009) and has been nominated for 43 more. He's also recorded as a guest with some of the blues world's best-known artists, including appearances on Grammy-winning records by B.B. King and James Cotton. With each subsequent release, Walker's music, audience, and touring schedule continue to grow. Nowhere is this growth more apparent than on Walker's Alligator Records debut and latest recording Hellfire, released earlier this year. Burning with rock energy and intense blues feeling, the disc is what Walker describes as the most deeply soulful album of his career.
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