Joe Bonamassa Talks 'SeeSaw,' His New Album with Beth Hart, and His Ongoing Love Affair with Gibson's Les Paul "Burst"

by Corbin Reiff
Posted Jun 21, 2013 at 11:37am

This is an excerpt from the August 2013 issue of Guitar World magazine. For the rest of this story, plus a Jeff Hanneman tribute and poster and features on Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins, Iggy and the Stooges, Steve Morse of Deep Purple, Eric Clapton's 2013 Crossroads Guitar Festival, the 25 Best Guitar & Music Apps and more, check out the August 2013 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.

On the heels of his London retrospective shows, the indefatigable Joe Bonamassa talks about his busy career, his new album with singer Beth Hart and his ongoing love affair with the ultimate blues electric guitar: the Gibson Les Paul “Burst.”

It’s six o’clock on April 12, just two hours before show time, and Joe Bonamassa is sitting in his dressing room at Seattle’s famed Paramount Theatre absent-mindedly flipping through pictures of vintage guitars on his iPad. “Check this out,” he says to his tech while holding up the tablet.

“The Black Dan Armstrong Collection, bass and guitar, just $1,500 each.” The tech, who is seated on the couch next to Bonamassa, is gently playing the guitarist’s newest acquisition, a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard that he purchased from a seller in South Africa. He looks up to the screen and nods approvingly while setting the instrument back in its case. The two men engage in a brief conversation about the necessity of using Gorilla Glue on a piece of equipment before the tech excuses himself from the room.

Tonight will be Bonamassa’s second show on his spring 2013 North American tour, and although he’s battling a nasty flu that he contracted a short time ago in Europe, he seems to be in good spirits. “That first show a couple days ago in Vancouver was great,” he says. “I was on fire, great crowd, band played good. It was awesome.”

His enthusiasm is commendable given not only his health but the pace of his life recently. This past March, Bonamassa released the double-CD An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House, recorded last July during a two-week unplugged tour. Around the same time that the CD was issued, he performed four shows in London that chronicled his rise from small, intimate clubs to historic venues like the Hammersmith Apollo and the Royal Albert Hall. He also recorded SeeSaw, his second album with vocalist Beth Hart.

The quartet of London shows served as the climax for his European tour and were duly filmed and recorded for eventual release.

Together, they served as a retrospective of Bonamassa’s now 13-year professional career. “They worked, but I’ll never do that again,” declares the guitarist. “I don’t think anyone has ever attempted anything like that. Now I know why. It was almost like Evel Knievel jumping the fountain [at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas]: it doesn’t make it a good f---ing idea.”

Perhaps it was the still-lingering effects of the illness, but when he speaks about the shows, there is a twinge of weariness in his voice. “It was a great career retrospective and it was great for the fans, more so than it was for me,” he notes. “I’m sure that I will watch the films later and go, ‘I enjoyed myself a lot more than I realized at the time.’ But the pressure of shooting four separate films was just massive.”

That’s not to say Bonamassa isn’t proud of what he accomplished, especially at the penultimate show at the Royal Albert Hall, a venue that holds a special place in his heart. “You know, there are some nights that you just feel it when you get down there,” he says.

“That initial roar of the crowd tells me everything I need to know about what I’m in for. If it’s tepid, that means I’m going to have to work tonight. If it’s electric, it’s just more inviting. It’s the kind of thing you want to bottle and always have. You can’t achieve it every night, but what you can do is certainly strive for it, and if I had to choose one of the venues for it to happen in, I graciously accept it happening at the Albert Hall. It’s a great sound at the Albert Hall, and the first time we played it, we missed the mark and played too loud. It’s a big room, but it’s tricky in that you can overpower it. So this time we had the sound right, the crowd was in it from the minute we stepped out, and it was just a great night.”

Photo: Jeremy Danger

For the rest of this story, plus a Jeff Hanneman tribute and poster and features on Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins, Iggy and the Stooges, Steve Morse of Deep Purple, Eric Clapton's 2013 Crossroads Guitar Festival, the 25 Best Guitar & Music Apps and more, check out the August 2013 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.

August2013_0.jpg


Add a Comment
0 Comments

Similar Guitar News

Gibson unveils Joe Bonamassa "Skinnerburst" 1959 Les Paul (4/17/2014)
Read more about Gibson unveils Joe Bonamassa "Skinnerburst" 1959 Les Paul at MusicRadar.com Gibson has unveiled the Joe Bonamassa "Skinnerburst" 1959 Les Paul.The latest signature to bear the Bonamassa name is a replica of his favoured '59 Les P...
Gibson to auction Guthrie guitars (4/17/2014)
Read more about Gibson to auction Guthrie guitars at MusicRadar.com Gibson is to auction off eight guitars built from timbers taken from Woody Guthrie's childhood home.The eight instruments were handbuilt by Gibson utilising woods from London Ho...
Former Korn touring guitarist Shane Gibson dies aged 35 (4/15/2014)
Read more about Former Korn touring guitarist Shane Gibson dies aged 35 at MusicRadar.com Shane Gibson, who from 2007 to 2010 was a touring guitarist with Korn, died today from complications due to a blood clotting disorder. He was 35 years old....
Perform at the Sundance London with Gibson (4/11/2014)
Read more about Perform at the Sundance London with Gibson at MusicRadar.com We've teamed up with Gibson and the Sundance London film and music festival to give you and your band the chance to play at the prestigious event. Taking place at The O...
More Than a Feeling: Gibson's Tom Scholz Replica Les Paul Looks, Sounds and Feels Like the Real Deal (4/2/2014)
Among historic Gibsons, Tom Scholz’s 1968 Les Paul “Goldtop”—the first of two that he purchased in the Seventies—certainly ranks high. It’s the guitar heard on every massive Boston hit and all six of the group’s albums to date. As such, it was ...
Dear Guitar Hero: Johnny Winter Talks Gibson Firebirds, Muddy Waters, "Highway 61 Revisited" and More (4/2/2014)
He’s an albino blues guitarist who’s jammed with Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix and Duane Allman. But what Guitar World readers really want to know is … How old were you when you started playing blues? — Gene E. Levi I was probably around 12 years o...
Win Dave Davies tickets and a Gibson BFG (3/26/2014)
Read more about Win Dave Davies tickets and a Gibson BFG at MusicRadar.com To celebrate legendary Kinks founding member and guitarist Dave Davies' first UK concert in over 13 years, we've got an incredible Gibson BFG Les Paul guitar and a pair o...
Zakk Wylde's Pelham Blue Bullseye Gibson Les Paul Custom Guitar Stolen from Tour Bus (3/17/2014)
This past Friday night, a custom-made, $10,000 Pelham Blue Bullseye Gibson Les Paul Custom guitar was stolen from Zakk Wylde's tour bus outside the Chicago Theatre. Wylde, the Black Label Society frontman, was in town as part of the ongoing Expe...
Zakk Wylde's Gibson Les Paul Bullseye stolen (3/15/2014)
Read more about Zakk Wylde's Gibson Les Paul Bullseye stolen at MusicRadar.com Zakk Wylde's famous Gibson Les Paul in Pelham Blue Bullseye
Gibson Introduces Limited-Edition 1965 Donovan J-45 Guitar (3/12/2014)
Gibson has introduced its new limited-edition 1965 Donovan model J-45 acoustic guitar. The guitar is based on the Gibson J-45 Donovan bought on Sunset Boulevard in the mid-Sixties. "I wrote every song on it from late 1965 into ’70, when it was ...
In pictures: Gibson's 2014 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Les Paul Custom (3/6/2014)
Read more about In pictures: Gibson's 2014 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Les Paul Custom at MusicRadar.com Check out the gallery above to take a closer look at Gibson's 2014 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Les Paul Custom. As the name suggests, the inst...
Review: Epiphone Limited Edition Custom Shop Matt Heafy Signature Les Paul Custom-7 Guitar (3/4/2014)
This video is bonus content related to the April 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the full range of interviews, features, tabs and more, pick up the new issue on newsstands now or at our online store. When Epiphone approached Trivium guitarist Ma...
Joe Bonamassa talks touring, vintage guitars, Beth Hart and new studio album (2/27/2014)
Read more about Joe Bonamassa talks touring, vintage guitars, Beth Hart and new studio album at MusicRadar.com
Gibson unveils The Donovan Model (2/19/2014)
Read more about Gibson unveils The Donovan Model at MusicRadar.com Gibson has unveiled a new signature guitar, the 1965 J-45 The Donovan Model.Renowned for his work in the '60s, singer-songwriter Donovan has worked with Gibson to create the guit...
Gibson launches Billy F Gibbons Goldtop (2/18/2014)
Read more about Gibson launches Billy F Gibbons Goldtop at MusicRadar.com ZZ Top's Billy F Gibbons has teamed up with Gibson to build the spectacular Billy F Gibbons Goldtop. Gibson are calling it a 'ground-up revision' of the Les Paul, as Gibbs...
Gibson unveils two new 2014 acoustics (2/12/2014)
Read more about Gibson unveils two new 2014 acoustics at MusicRadar.com Gibson has unveiled two new pre-war style acoustics for 2014, the 1932 L-00 Vintage Value and the 1928 L-1 Blues Tribute. First up is the 1928 L-1 Blues Tribute, which joins...