As befitting a man who came of age in San Francisco in the ‘60s, Joe Louis Walker is a bluesman with an eclectic musical pedigree.
As Willie Dixon once toid Walker (in a story related to Jim Fusilli of the Wall Street Journal in February), “Your style is all over the place. And that’s a good sound for you.”
On the downside, Walker told The Sheet in a phone interview this week, this cost him careerwise because “the record companies couldn’t pigeonhole me.”
On the positive side, however, it’s opened up a lot of other doors creatively. Walker is a member of the Thelonius Monk society and has played with fellow artists ranging from Herbie Hancock to Branford Marsalis to Bono.
On Sunday, Walker will perform cuts off his latest album, “Hellfire,” which, for lack of a better adjective, rips.
When asked if it had been a conscious decision to make such a rock-heavy record, Walker said Producer Tom Hambridge told him to “tap into where you come from.”
An interesting detour in Walker’s career was his foray into gospel music from 1975-1985, when he played and sang as a member of the Spiritual Corinthians. But in his Alligator Records bio, it doesn’t make mention of why his gospel period ended.
“I’m a restless soul,” explained Walker. “Musically, I go where it takes me.”
Sheet: Do you write better in a state of turmoil or serenity?
Walker: Turmoil provides more subject matter. Adversity can become a way to tap into things.
Sheet: What’s your current state of mind?
Walker: Well, I’m 62 years old, so I’m spending more time at the doctor than I’d like.
Walker, FYI, is not named after the Boxer Joe Louis, but rather, after his father Louis Joseph Walker, who played blues piano.
Joe Louis Walker will play at the 17th Annual Mammoth Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza at 2 p.m. at the Sunday Hangover Party.
For the full Bluesapalooza lineup, visit www.mammothbluesbrewsfest.com or check out the calendar section in this issue.