Blues legend coming to Collingwood

By JT McVeigh, The Enterprise-Bulletin

COLLINGWOOD – Local audiences are getting a chance to see one of the true blues legends when Joe Louis Walker comes to the Simcoe Street Theatre July 17.

To suggest that he has played with just about every modern age blues artist and played in every country in world would be an understatement.

Growing up in San Francisco when that music scene was first developing Walker met and played with likes of Hendrix, the Grateful Dead and Mike Bloomfield.

When he was younger he opened for Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf.

There is no denying his lineage.

Brought to town by Violet’s Venue this is a one night only performance.

Walker, now 67 years old and living a punishing tour schedule is grateful that he was able to experience what he did so many years ago back in California.

“I grew up on a lot of different varieties of music Blues is sort of my mother tongue, that’s what I grew up on and that’s what I am known for but I listened to many different things,” says Walker after his second trip to Brazil in two months. “I’m 67 and I was fortunate to grow up in an area where there was a lot of firsts.”

Circumstance and a free spirit paved the way for the lot of what we take for granted in entertainment.

“Some of the first FM radio was heard in San Francisco where I came from, the concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium, the first Jam Band like the Grateful Dead, so the first of a lot of stuff, “ says Walker. “That’s why I gravitate to include that in my music.”

The way music, not just the blues but all music has grown in a way Walker didn’t see coming.

“I consider myself to be fortunate, you know the variety at the time, nobody knew that a lot of these people I heard and played with were going to be icons, nobody knew that the music would have this kind of longevity and honestly nobody new that it was going to be this big, big, big, I can’t use that adjective enough, big business. Nobody was prepared for that,” says Walker.

A multiple winner at the Blues Music Awards, Walker was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2013.

Although never in this region, Walker has fond memories of Toronto.

“I played in Toronto, I used to live in Toronto I opened for Muddy Waters for two weeks at the old Riverboat, I know all the guys in Downchild, I know that Canada is gifted in the Blues. I would dare to say that Toronto has a rich Blues history after playing with Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf playing at the old Riverboat,” says Walker.

Although blues doesn’t get the airplay that it used to Walker still finds a warm reception wherever he goes.

“My experience in the last 40 days I have played in China, to Brazil, the States and back to Brazil. I’ll be in Poland before I am in Canada. I’ve been to Bangkok, Israel, Turkey all over Asia, I have never, never seen nothing but open arms for the blues. Maybe it’s not as big as the Breakfast Club or the Arctic Monkeys,” Walker says laughing. “Blues doesn’t get that kind of press, but when you hear the Rolling Stones doing Blue and Lonesome on the radio and it’s number one, I just think that when people hear the Blues they like it.”

Opening for Walker will be Canadian blues stalwart Rick Taylor. Based in London Rick Taylor is a guitar virtuoso, capable of thrilling the audience with his licks and riffs, and is a headliner unto his own right.

“When we get to Collingwood we are going to have a good time, and what I know is that there are two places in the world that love blues London and Toronto and I’m sure that won’t change,” says Walker. “Maybe it doesn’t get the airplay of Lady Gaga or Adele, and no disrespect to the art history,but the jury is out as to whether they will last as long a Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf. May they will sell 10 zillion records, let’s see if they last as long as Robert Johnson.”

Tickets are available for $65 via http://tickets.violetsvenue.com/events/view/137.





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