After all these years in the business …
Joe Louis Walker is still having fun.
“I am having fun because a lot of guys who taught me – so many guys who invested in me as a musician with a kind word; like Muddy Waters allowing me to open for him in Toronto … I feel as I solidified so many people’s faith in me. It solidifies my Mom and Dad‘s faith in me. My kids and my Grand-kids … To be able to say i am still alive and be allowed to do what I do. By the grace of God, I am not laying on a slab like so many musicians.”
Walker’s crowning achievement – so far, is the same as one of his mentors; Buddy Guy. Guy’s most fulfilling moment? Playing at the White House for President Obama following a youthful experience of pickin’ cotton …
” Same thing man … same thing!” Says Walker.” I was gathering produce as a sixteen year old and was watching my parents pick produce as a kid! I played for George Bush at the White House and seeing how the Blues got me from there to there – I know exactly what Buddy is talking about.”
Walker’s oldest daughter is a singer. She sings with him frequently and plays the keyboards. She has not recorded anything on her own but Joe believes that is coming soon. Walker also has a Grandson. His birthday is the 28th of December, three days following Joe’s and ( according to Grandpa ) a great Christmas present (albeit a little late). Joe admits his Grandson is quite the harmonica player and would enjoy playing drums in the future. According to Joe; ‘He beats on everything’!
Walker’s kid and Grandchild are the only things, music-wise – that Joe listens to under the age of thirty. The only music he listens to – on a regular basis …
” I don’t like Pop music because it just repeats itself and I don’t have time to listen to the radio. Once in a while I will listen to a Blues station on Sirius or something but that’s about it …”
“I was with Ronnie ( Wood ) a couple of weeks ago, and he introduces me to these kids. To show you how unattached I am – I leave the room and people are saying wow you met those guys? They are the biggest group in the world! I say what …? One Direction … ? I thought Ronnie said New Direction! I was wondering ’cause New Direction is a Black group!”
Joe Louis believes that every musician must start at the bottom. He uses everyone in music history as a refrence to that. Anyone who is worth his weight in talent. Elvis, Muddy … they all got their experience through the school of hard knocks.
“When these guys started out – everyone who was groundbreaking; The Stones, Elvis, The Beatles, Jimi, B.B. … they all were vilified. Elvis got run through the wringer for playing ‘that kind of music’ played by ‘those kind of people’. People wouldn’t speak to him and wouldn’t let him in hotels. I love what Mick ( Jagger ) says – he says; ‘ We used to be the band that everyone hated, now – we are the band that everybody loves to love’. You have to have a sense of humor about it – that’s the key. These guys had guts. Imagine playing that ‘ kind ‘ of music back in the fifties and sixties? In America? In the South?”
Walker believes the world is better off now although he still encounters racism once in a while. He believes the world is more dangerous in many ways, yet the new generation is able to see various people in positions of power. Various people in positions to make decisions. The young adults are seeing that a lot of things they were told as kids are not true. According to Joe – the youth are realizing everybody has a brain, everybody’s blood beats red and the President of the United States is an African American but he also just happened to be – the smartest guy in the room.
” I think kids today are shedding a lot of baggage that was given by my generation and they do not buy into it.” Explains Walker.” They do have a large task in front of them but they are prepared for it. They know they have to work on the environment, they know they have to work on woman’s and kid’s rights. They are less for war and realize that communication is a better option.”
He continues .
“They see that other people are not holding them back and they see wars are holding them back. They see that everyone deserves an education, not just rich people, not just Democrats and not just Republicans. Young people see that because they are experiencing it. They know they have to save the environment – they are aware that so goes the honeybees, so goes us. So goes the ice caps – so goes us. Young people have figured out that Wall Street or whatever are the cause for many of the problems and that Wall Street is not a real purpose. A real purpose is to help people, a real purpose is not to have an agenda as a political party …”
Walker teaches master classes in places such as Spain and Turkey. He is surrounded by kids from all over the world and maintains a front row seat in his role as an observer of how kids’ brains work …
“They all say ‘we have to save the planet’ and ‘take care of ‘humanistic things’ – not ‘materialistic things’.” Says Joe. “They believe if they have a billion dollars, maybe they should educate people to reverse Global Warming. Older people don’t care, they see a bear on an iceberg floating around by himself and they say; that’s a bear!” He laughs.” No! That’s not just a bear … that’s an icecap melting! That’s why there is a Tsunami every week! That’s why there is flooding in New Jersey and Colorado…”
Walker believes these problems will be rectified by the new generation just like his generation from the sixties had to deal with issues such as Vietnam and racism. It was not easy.
” We did not buy into many things. We had to get rid of baggage but we had to march against it and fight. It wasn’t easy – people died for racism, people died for Vietnam and people are going to die now. People are going to die in Iraq, people are going to die in Afghanistan. If they get into Syria – they will die in Syria. You cannot go and colonize somewhere and live there. If you look through history -usually the colonizer always has to leave.”
One guy who ‘left’ too soon (according to Walker) – was Stevie Ray Vaughan. A friend, a fellow blues-man and the only guy ( in Joe’s mind ) who came close to playing guitar like Jimi Hendrix. A man who Joe believes was just getting ‘soul’ in his voice before he passed away. Soul to match the feeling emanating from Vaughan’s guitar.
Walker’s all time favorite Blues guitarist and the man responsible for modern day Blues – is B.B. King. His second choice …? Buddy Guy. Two players who respectively altered the way the Blues were played.
Joe Louis Walker’s recent album is titled ‘Hellfire’. A disc which is filled with fire and is reminiscent of the early seventies Stones’ sound. A dirty, gritty Blues album that combines classic riffs, feelings from the heart and a groove that won’t let feet rest …
In other words; a combination of B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Bo Diddley. In other words; a combination of every Blues player.
In other words; Joe Louis Walker …
Joe Louis Walker is at L’Astral in Montreal on Friday the 27th of September
- Joe Louis Walker Knows The Blues Part Two (keenemusic.wordpress.com)
- Joe Louis Walker Knows The Blues! Part One (keenemusic.wordpress.com)