Ronan McCullagh ex­am­ines the play­ing of an un­der­sung but bril­liant blues-rock gui­tarist, Frank Marino of Ma­hogany Rush.

Delve into the vir­tu­osic world of Bona­massa with Ronan McCullagh as he ex­am­ines the New Yorker’s pow­er­fully ver­sa­tile style.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Blues-rock gui­tarist ex­traor­di­naire Joe Bona­massa was born in New York in 1977, and he be­gan by pick­ing the strings of a short-scale gui­tar at the age of four. His fa­ther, a gui­tar player and dealer, showed him a thing or two but more im­por­tantly shared his great record col­lec­tion with the young­ster. One record in par­tic­u­lar grabbed Joe’s ear: John May­all’s Blues­break­ers Fea­tur­ing Eric Clapton. This is still ev­i­dent in his play­ing and choice of ‘main’ gui­tar to­day: the 1959 Gib­son Les Paul.

Danny Gat­ton played a big role in Joe’s mu­si­cal up­bring­ing as a tu­tor, men­tor and friend. BB King was an­other gi­ant of the gui­tar to come along and dis­cover the young Joe, who was be­ing driven up and down the coun­try to small and fre­quently un­der­at­tended bar gigs. Of­ten wel­com­ing him to his own stage, King of­fered 18-year-old the open­ing slot on his 80th birth­day cel­e­bra­tion tour. That as­so­ci­a­tion and the na­tional TV cov­er­age it en­gen­dered, meant Joe’s par­ents were in­un­dated with phone calls from man­agers and record com­pa­nies.

Joe’s taken on BB King’s ad­vice of in­vest­ing back in the lis­tener as his shows never get stale; he is of­ten chang­ing ma­te­rial, ensem­ble sizes and themes. Next time he’s in the UK it’ll be a spec­tac­u­lar, new and en­ter­tain­ing show, so be sure to get your tick­ets when he comes to your area. Not to men­tion you get to hear and see a real 1959 Les Paul (and other great gui­tars) try­ing to de­stroy a vin­tage tweed Fen­der amp, with a true blues mas­ter in the driv­ing seat.

Joe’s style is dif­fi­cult to de­scribe as he em­bod­ies so many dif­fer­ent mu­si­cians that have moulded the lan­guage of blues. If it were to be summed up in two words it would be ‘pow­er­fully ver­sa­tile’. It’s ob­vi­ous to any fan of the blues that Joe has spent con­sid­er­able time re­search­ing Clapton, Gary Moore, Rory Gal­lagher, Ste­vie Ray and Jim­mie Vaughan, the three Kings, and so many more. How­ever, he has an­other edge with vo­cab from the likes of Danny Gat­ton, Robben Ford and Eric John­son which is why Joe is such a well­rounded player. This knowl­edge that he has gained from hours of tran­scrib­ing is the foun­da­tion of Joe’s play­ing – a big re­minder to us all of the im­por­tance of un­der­stand­ing the lan­guage. It doesn’t stop there with his play­ing as Joe has a way of mix­ing all this iconic vo­cab to­gether, de­liv­er­ing it with a per­sonal touch, hon­esty and con­vic­tion. He re­ally has a wide pal­ette to play with, from lower dy­namic phrases with lots of space right up to re­lent­less ma­chine gun-like lines that are treated with grade A pre­ci­sion.

Bona­massa Is young, he’s got great Ideas. one of a kInd. the kInd that wIll Be a leg­end Be­fore he’s 25 BB King

Joe Bona­massa: play­ing a ’64 style Gib­son Fire­bird I

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