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“We Try to Swoop In and Help Where We Can”: Joe Bonamassa on Keeping the Blues Alive

Keeping the Blues Alive
(Image credit: KTBA)

Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping the Blues Alive label certainly lives up to its name. 

Not only has it brought neglected figures such as Larry McCray and Eric Gales back into the spotlight but it’s helped raise more than one million dollars to support struggling musicians and fund blues education programs.

The label’s previous releases include Dion’s 2020 all-star hook-up Blues With Friends (opens in new tab), as well as a pair of 2021 albums from Joanne Shaw Taylor (The Blues Album (opens in new tab)) and Joanna Connor (4801 South Indiana Avenue (opens in new tab)).

Bonamassa and his manager, Roy Weisman, founded the label with a mission to preserve arts education, with 10 percent of profits going toward donations of musical instruments and supplies to schools in need.

Their ultimate goal is to ensure blues culture and history are embraced and recognized for years to come.

Joe Bonamassa

(Image credit: J&R Adventures)

Bonamassa spoke with Guitar Player about his label’s purpose and ambitions…

When you sign an act, is it with a vision and a plan for a long-term career commitment or more to raise their profile and see how things pan out?

Each artist is different. For some, we have longer-term plans, while for others we’re just trying to give them a boost so that people recognize their incredible talent.

So far we have been able to secure a number one Billboard blues album for all of our acts. We are really proud of that. Plus, it gives the artists bragging rights.

So far we have been able to secure a number one Billboard blues album for all of our acts

Joe Bonamassa

It must feel satisfying when you see the artists get the respect they deserve.

Yes. I have felt so proud of Larry McCray’s new album [Blues Without You].

He’s one of a kind and one of the nicest people on this earth. I want to try and help the world rediscover how truly incredible he is.

There are so many amazing artists out there, and sometimes the industry leaves them in the dust. We try to swoop in and help where we can. Since we’re an independent label, we can’t help everybody, but if we help some, it will all be worth it.

To support KTBA in its mission to promote music and help working musicians, visit keepingthebluesalive.org (opens in new tab)

Mark is a freelance writer with particular expertise in the fields of ‘70s glam, punk, rockabilly and classic ‘50s rock and roll. He sings and plays guitar in his own musical project, Star Studded Sham, which has been described as sounding like the hits of T. Rex and Slade as played by Johnny Thunders. He had several indie hits with his band, Private Sector and has worked with a host of UK punk luminaries. Mark also presents themed radio shows for Generating Steam Heat. He has just completed his first novel, The Bulletproof Truth, and is currently working on the sequel.