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A lifetime with the blues makes Joe Louis Walker happy

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Joe Louis Walker turned 65 in December -- on Christmas Day, in fact.

That's retirement age for some, but Walker proudly says "that word never comes out of my mouth."

Of course, the veteran bluesman comes from a discipline whose performers were built to last. Starting in San Francisco, he played with the likes of John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Otis Rush, Steve Miller and even Jimi Hendrix, and he spent many years rooming with the late Mike Bloomfield. With those influences around him, music was clearly a viable lifetime pursuit.

"I didn't have any other way to look at it, really," says Walker, who now lives in Hyde Park on Hudson in New York State and released his latest album, "Hornet's Next," last year. "I've been performing for 50 years -- maybe not on the schedule of some successful people, but my life has been about playing music." And, Walker adds, he's getting used to the idea of being an elder statesman in the blues world.

"The older guys we used to follow around and want to be like them, some of US are them now," Walker says with a laugh. "There's another generation that's still around above me. There's Buddy Guy's generation, and before his generation is B.B. King's generation. But when you get down to it, there's very few of those guys left on that scale.

"I'm sort of a tweener -- not as young as my good friends Robert Cray and Stevie Ray Vaughan, but not as old as Taj Mahal. But that's OK; this way I can play with everybody, older and younger."

And, Walker says, variety has also allowed him to maintain an active career.

"Being from San Francisco is sort of a different thing when it comes to blues," he explains. "I'm not a Chicago guy. I'm not a Mississippi, not a Memphis guy, not an English guy. But I've lived in all those places and played with all those people. I'm not stuck in one place or one sound. I cant do my own thing, which is what keeps it fresh. It doesn't have to just be a shuffle or a I-IV-V blues. That's a blessing."

Joe Louis Walker

7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 26.

Callahan's Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills.

Tickets start at $20.

Call 248-858-9508 or visit www.atcallahans.com.

Web Site: www.atcallahans.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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