Joe Louis Walker – rollin and tumblin
Joe Louis Walker, also known as JLW (born December 25, 1949) is an American musician, best known as an electric blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer. His knowledge of blues history is revealed by his use of older material and playing styles. NPR Music described him as “Powerful, soul-stirring, fierce and gritty…a legendary boundary-pushing icon of modern blues.
Blues Of The Month Club was released in 1995, and was the first of three Walker albums that were co-produced with Steve Cropper. This was followed up by the release of Great Guitars in 1997. Walker’s guest musicians on this release, included Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Otis Rush, Scotty Moore, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Steve Cropper, Tower Of Power, and Ike Turner.
Also in 1996, Walker played guitar on James Cotton’s, Deep in the Blues, a Grammy Award winner for “Best Traditional Blues Album”. In addition, Walker won his third Blues Music Award for Band of the Year (1996) which was preceded by two similar awards for “Contemporary Male Artist of the Year” (1988 and 1991). Walker also won the 1995 Bammy (Bay Area Music Award) for “Blues Musician of the Year”. He then released Preacher and the President in 1998 and Silvertone Blues in 1999 (his sixth album for Polygram). This sequence continued with In The Morning (Telarc 2002), Pasa Tiempo (Evidence 2002), Guitar Brothers (JSP 2002), She’s My Money Maker (JSP 2003), Ridin’ High (Hightone 2003), New Direction (Provogue 2004) and Playin’ Dirty (JSP 2006).
In 2002, he featured on the Bo Diddley tribute album, Hey Bo Diddley – A Tribute!, performing the song “Who Do You Love?”.
In March 2008, Walker signed to Stony Plain Records, and recorded his first album for the label in April (produced by Duke Robillard). This album featured guest appearances by Robillard and Todd Sharpville, and was released in September 2008. His second album for the label was released in September 2009 entitled, Between A Rock and The Blues. This album featured Kevin Eubanks as a special guest, best known for his work as the musical director for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. This album garnered five nominations in the 2010 Blues Music Awards.
In 2012, Walker signed with Chicago-based Alligator Records and released Hellfire, produced by Tom Hambridge. Billboard Magazine called it “One of the strongest albums in Walker’s canon. Hellfire blows all over the map…gutbucket blues, joyous gospel, Rolling Stones-style rock crunch, and aching R&B. Walker’s guitar playing is fine and fierce. Hellfire is a heavenly showcase for Walker’s virtues.” In 2014, Alligator released Hornet’s Nest, also produced by Hambridge. The Chicago Sun-Times said: “Hard rock to gospel, Hornet’s Nest is proudly modern, designed to rest comfortably alongside anything from the Black Keys or Jack White. Walker’s voice demands attention: scorching, imploring, always commanding, it leads this dynamic album along with his heavy guitar fills that lay the ground work for the horn-peppered soul, Memphis soul, gospel harmony, and a vortex of power chords and funk. He is living proof of the boundless potential of blues.”
In 2013, Walker was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame. In addition that year, Walker was nominated in four categories for a Blues Music Award.
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