Blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa credits a lot of his success in the music business to his relationship with B.B. King. - Jensen Communications

The pedigree of the blues

What is it about the blues that makes guitar players love it so much?
"Guitar blues is a simple form of music, and it's all based on your interpretation of the events in your life," says Joe Bonamassa, who was voted Best Blues Guitarist in Guitar Player Magazine's 2007 Readers' Choice Awards.

"It allows more of your personality to come through the music than if you are playing a more structured style like classical," he says during a phone interview from a café in Sonora, Calif., where he and his band performed last Wednesday night at the Sonora Opera House.

Bonamassa and his band will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, at the Rogue Theatre, 143 S.E. H St., Grant Pass.

His group will include Bogie Bowles drums, Carmine Rojas on bass and Rick Melick on keyboards.

Bonamassa's new album, "Sloe Gin," was released in mid-August and has stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Chart for a month, he says. "Sloe Gin" is Bonamassa's seventh album, and a review from Modern Guitars Magazine claims that "it has the makings of a classic that could set a new standard for blues and blues-rock ... it's an album of convincing music on which Bonamassa uses his guitar to serve the songs."

Bonamassa is, or was, one of the musical prodigies that could play a guitar before he could walk.

"I'm 30 now, so I'm not counted as a prodigy any longer," he says. "I'm somewhere between a blues guitar player and dirty old man."

His big break came at the age of 12 when a promoter set him up to perform with B.B. King.

"I have to say that I wouldn't be where I am now if it hadn't been for King," Bonamassa says. "That gained me a lot of attention from the media."

He's continued to work with King for almost 19 years. He'll appear at King's club in New York City on Oct. 25.

Bonamassa also is the youngest member of the Memphis-based Blues Foundation's board of directors and is the spokesperson for its Blues in the Schools programs.

"I talk to kids about musicians like Cream, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin," he says. "I want to show the students that the music could be something that they really like.

"We visit private schools, inner-city schools and high schools just like the one that I went to," he says.

Crosby Loggins and The Light will open the show for The Joe Bonamassa Band at the Rogue Theatre. Singer, songwriter and guitarist Loggins is the eldest son of Grammy Award-winning Kenny Loggins.

"We All Go Home," Crosby Loggins' debut album, features a collection of songs penned by the younger Loggins. Drummer Jared Pope, bassist Forest Williams and keyboard player Dennis Hamm fill The Light's lineup.

Loggins will tour the U.S. and Europe with Bonamassa through early 2008.

Tickets to the show at the Rogue Theatre cost $20 in advance; $25 at the door. See roguetheatre.com or call 471-1316.

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