Alligator Records to Release ‘Journeys to the Heart of the Blues’

Joe Louis Walker, Bruce Katz, and Giles Robson bring their take on some stripped-down, traditional blues.

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Alligator Records has acquired the rights to release Journeys To The Heart Of The Blues on Friday, October 26th. The album is a dynamic new acoustic release from three of the blues’ best players. Grammy-winning guitarist, vocalist and Blues Hall Of Famer Joe Louis Walker, virtuoso pianist/organist Bruce Katz and next-generation British harmonica ace Giles Robson take listeners on a musical journey of traditional blues. The album features a carefully chosen collection of eleven stripped-down, unadulterated rare and classic blues and one newly written instrumental performed by absolute masters of the form.

Journeys to the Heart of the Blues Album Cover

Recorded at NRS Studios, Journeys To The Heart Of The Blues is produced by the three artists on the recording. The songs—originally by blues masters including Sonny Boy Williamson, Jazz Gillum, Blind Willie McTell, Smiley Lewis, Papa Lightfoot and Big Maceo—may be old, but the recordings are fresh and vibrant. “Journeys To The Heart Of The Blues celebrates the dynamics, grooves, lyrics and feeling of pure, traditional blues,” says Robson. “It’s blues played intimately and at a low volume and with the wonderful space that is created when drums and bass are taken out of the equation.”

Joe Louis Walker is among the blues’ most honored players and is known worldwide as a mesmerizing guitarist and soul-testifying vocalist. Born in San Francisco on Christmas Day, 1949, he picked up the guitar as a child, and by the time he was 16, was an in-demand musician on the local club scene. Since his debut record in 1986, Walker has released 23 albums and has toured the world virtually non-stop. In addition to his Grammy Award, he has won four Blues Music Awards and has been nominated for a BMA a whopping 52 times.

Bruce Katz, among the most in-demand pianists on the blues scene and a four-time Blues Music Award nominee, was born in New York City in 1952. He has recorded nine albums with The Bruce Katz Band and has performed, toured and recorded with The Gregg Allman Band, Delbert McClinton, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, and The Allman Brothers Band. Greg Allman said of Katz, “He can play jazz, blues, Bach, anything. Man, he’s a heavy!” Legendary blues pianist Pinetop Perkins simply said, “Now that’s a piano player.”

The youngest of the group is UK-based harmonicist and bandleader Giles Robson. Born in 1978, he has recorded three albums and has won fans and headlined festivals all across the UK, Europe, and Russia. A lifelong blues devotee, he knows and understands tradition but is unafraid to take the music in unexpected directions. He picked up his first harmonica at age 14 and soon after saw a concert by American Piedmont blues duo Cephas & Wiggins at his local arts center. From then on, he was hooked on the blues.

Together, the interplay of these three master musicians borders on telepathic. With Journeys To The Heart Of The Blues, they have created a dynamic, intimate album of pure, unrestrained blues magic.

According to Walker, “This album is a throwback to the days of less is more. No long guitar solos, no drums or extra instrumentation. Just good honest blues played with heart and soul. I hope people enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.”

“This was an incredibly satisfying CD to record,” said Katz. “To be able to play deep, real blues with musicians like Joe and Giles was a truly soulful experience.”

With that in mind, Joe Louis Walker, Bruce Katz and Giles Robson will join forces live and tour Europe in fall of 2018, with plans to bring the music to the U.S.A. in the near future.

Confirmed concert dates include:

September 13 — Pizza Express Live, Maidstone, UK

September 14 — Blues De Flux, Zaandam, NETHERLANDS

September 15 — Pizza Express Live, Birmingham, UK

September 16 — Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho, LONDON, UK