Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Joanne Shaw is Taylor made for the blues

Joanne Shaw Taylor
Joanne Shaw Taylor

British blues star Joanne Shaw Taylor releases her new two disc live album “Songs From The Road” on CD/DVD on November 25th on Ruf Records. She also kicks off a headline UK tour on November 28th, with special guests King King.

Dates are: London’s o2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire (Nov 28), Birmingham Town Hall (Nov 29), Holmfirth Picturedrome (Nov 30) and Sage Gateshead (Dec 1).

The new live album and DVD: One night. One shot. No safety net. If there was pressure afoot as Joanne Shaw Taylor walked onstage at The Borderline on May 12th, 2013, then the bandleader used it as rocket-fuel, channeling the vibe into the set of her life. That explosive performance is captured on Songs From The Road - a live album with the soul power to jostle the greats off the podium. “I’m really pleased with it,” says Joanne. “It’s everything I wanted it to be.”

As part of Ruf Records’ legendary "Songs From The Road" series – the next one to come will be The Royal Southern Brotherhood - this CD/DVD set is the live album Joanne’s fans both sides of the Atlantic have been waiting for. “The timing is good,” agrees Joanne. “My fans, and especially the blues fans, have been asking me for a live album for a while now. I’m glad that we waited, and didn’t do it two years ago, because hopefully I’ve improved. We’ve done three studio albums now, so I think the live album ties all the albums together.” A seasoned road-warrior since 2009’s debut album "White Sugar", Joanne has nothing to fear from the stage, but the demands of her diary meant "Songs From The Road" presented a logistical challenge. “We only had one chance to do it because of my schedule,” she reflects. “If I’d played terribly – which fortunately I don’t think I did – it would have been unusable. It worked out really well, and I think a big part of that is because the fans were so good.”

“We wanted to do it in London,” Joanne continues, “and the reason for picking The Borderline was because I wanted something small and intimate. I grew up being inspired by those small Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins club gigs, and I wanted to have that same ‘everyone-packed-in-like-sardines’ vibe – as opposed to a big production and losing some of that intimacy.” If the crowd brought the atmosphere, then Joanne brought the songs. While some bands merely sleepwalk through the hits live, "Songs From The Road" finds the bandleader pulling her back catalogue around by the hair, ensuring that from early favourites like "Going Home" to current roof-raisers like "Soul Station", these songs are very different beasts to the studio originals.

“There’s a very different energy live: that’s probably the main thing,” she notes. “I’m a live guitar player. There’s definitely more guitar in my live show than on any of the albums. I tend to lose all sense of control once I get onstage, and everything is twenty beats faster than it’s meant to be! And there were no overdubs, so what you hear is what you get.”

Joanne, 27, is based in Detroit these days, but she was born in the Black Country of the West Midlands in the UK, and fell in love with the electric guitar and its sound as a youngster. While her mates were out chasing boys, she was at home practising her Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and Albert Collins riffs, from her Father’s record collection. At 13 she picked up her first guitar which was laying around the house, and that was that……..

At 14, she defied her teachers to play at Ronnie Scotts in London and The famed Marquee. She left school at 16 and landed her first big break. A demo fell into the hands of Eurythmics star Dave Stewart at a charity event. He was blown away by what he heard. He recalls that hearing Joanne play blues guitar "made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.” He called Joanne and she joined his supergroup DUP for a 2002 European tour. He is still a valued friend and adviser to Joanne. He gave Joanne her first record deal but the label ran into trouble, so she focused on songwriting and developing her vocals. “I never really wrote songs until I was 21.” She signed to Ruf Records in 2008, and began working with mega blues producer Jim Gaines on her acclaimed debut record “White Sugar.” Recorded in Tennessee with bassist Dave Smith and drummer Steve Potts. That disc dropped the following year and had the critics all a flutter for this trainee blues Queen. She toured supporting Black Country Communion, the supergroup featuring Joe Bonamassa, and then cut her second CD “Diamonds In The Dirt.” The songs were all written in two days and the album recorded in less than two weeks! The album was a huge success.

She received a nomination for “Best New Artist Debut" at the British Blues Awards for "White Sugar", and scooped consecutive wins in the “Best British Female Vocalist” category, at the 2010 and 2011 awards ceremonies. Since then Joanne has cracked the US blues scene - with all her albums denting the top 10 of the Billboard Blues Chart - and she tours all over Europe with the Ruf Records Blues Caravan and Girls with Guitars package tours. In the summer of 2012, she was seen by millions as an angel-winged guitarist at the side of Annie Lennox for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee concert live on TV. That same summer she released her latest album, “Almost Always Never,” recorded in Texas.

The tracklisting for the new “Songs From The Road” CD:

1. Soul Station
2. Tied & Bound
3. Beautifully Broken
4. Watch ‘Em Burn
5. Diamonds In The Dirt
6. Manic Depression
7. Jealousy
8. Kiss The Ground Goodbye
9. Just Another Word
10. Band Introductions
11. Jump That Train

UK tour dates and ticket info:

Thursday 28th November
Tickets: £20.00 / Box Office: 0844 478 0898
Book Online:
Doors 7pm/ Stage 8pm
Shepherd's Bush Green, London W12 8TT

Friday 29th November
Tickets: £17.50 / Box Office: 0121 345 0600
Doors: 7:30pm / Stage: 8pm
Victoria Square, Birmingham, B3 3DQ

Saturday 30th November
Tickets: £17.50 / Ticket Hotline: 0844 478 0898
Venue Box Office: 01484 689759
Doors: 7.30pm / Stage: 8pm
Picturedrome, Market Walk, HD9 3DA

Sunday 1st December
Tickets: £17.50 / Box Office number: 0191 443 4661
Doors: 7.30pm / Stage: 8pm
St Mary's Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead, NE8 2JR

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Photo: Arnie Goodman

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