Guitar master and singer Joe Bonamassa is presenting a virtual benefit concert for touring musicians unable to make a living due to the ongoing pandemic. The concert will be available on demand as it's broadcast from the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville this Sunday September 20th at 4pm in the east. You'll be able to watch on any device including your phone, tablet, computer, or TV. Joe Bonamassa is a true road dog - he's always out there, but this year is like none other. The only way for the musician to present his new studio album is by streaming live to the world.
Joe Bonamassa called WZLX's Carter Alan to talk about his event and forthcoming Royal Tea album. "We have a brand new recording we did pre-pandemic at Abbey Road Studios in January. That's why there's no masks or social-distancing in the video! I wrote it in London with Pete Brown, who wrote the lyrics for "White Room," "Sunshine of Your Love, and other Cream classics;" [also] Benny Marsden from Whitesnake, so it sounds very British. What we're going to do [in the pay-per-view] is play the entire record from start to finish, in order, at the Ryman September 20th. Then we'll go back and revisit some of the old songs. Can you believe I have a 20th Anniversary re-issue [ out]? I'm not that old!"
Joe is talking about his first album A New Day Yesterday which was released on October 24, 2000 and has been re-issued in an anniversary edition that is remixed, remastered, and re-sung with new vocal tracks from Bonamassa. There's also three bonus tracks from a 1997 demo of songs written with E Street guitarist Little Steven.
In the twenty years since his debut, Bonamassa has worked with the frenzy of the 'Tazmanian Devil' himself, producing 13 studio albums and even more live records. According to Joe, If one adds in the collaborations he released, like those with powerhouse singer Beth Hart, the upcoming Royal Tea will be his 45th album in two decades.
Joe Bonamassa hasn't just thought about writing new music in these past years, he's sponsored his Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation to bring the music to students in educational projects, grants, and providing instruments. Now as an outreach from that charity, the pay-per-view event on the 20th is earmarked for fellow touring musicians. "Part of this thing is a charitable contribution to help bands pay their bills. We're giving away $1000 checks and $500 gas cards so when they do get back on the road, the first 1000 miles is on me. I've been lucky in my career; I can ride [the pandemic] out, but there are some people who are really struggling who were banking on the fact that they'd be able to go back to work in the fall. Obviously that's not happening." Bonamassa added: "It's mission critical for a lot of folks who have dedicated their lives to music."
The guitarist's initiative has already raised over $220,000 and stands to gain much more as America and the world signs on to the historic pay-per- view event this Sunday. Go to jbonamassa.com for information and to sign up. There are viewing packages from $20 right up to $99, which includes a download of Royal Tea and more.
Playing the Ryman Auditorium, the home of the Grand Ole Opry is a bid deal for Bonamassa, who's also performed at world famous venues like Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, and the Greek in L.A. Is there anyplace he'd like to play once the pandemic is in our rear view mirrors? It takes him only a second to respond: "I'll go old school Yanni; I'd like to play the Acropolis." Hopefully Joe will get his wish soon, but when he does, he'd better turn the volume down. It would be in very bad form to make a return to live touring by collapsing an ancient Athenian citadel!