Monday, October 31, 2011

Any Womans Blues #15 – Joanna Connor

A happy Monday morning to you!  If it’s not morning where you are, at least you know it is here in sunny Portland.  It’s time for another edition of the Monday Morning Blues, & as our monthly Any Woman’s Blues Feature for October we’re showcasing the work of an extraordinary guitarist & singer.

First it must be said: Joanna Connor is nowhere near as well known as she should be based on the talent she brings to her playing.  In fact, in terms of electric blues & blues rock, I would completely agree with the statement on her website that she presents “the complete electric guitar package,” who “covers the range of modern blues, slide guitar and blues rock.”  The old-timers used to compliment blues guitar players by saying they could “make the guitar talk”—that absolutely applies to Connor’s playing.  To top it off, she also is a vocalist of extraordinary range & feeling.

Joanna Connor began playing guitar when she was seven, & began playing in bands in the Worcester, Massachusetts area while in her teens.  She moved to Chicago in the mid 80s while in her early 20s, & was soon sitting in with the likes of Buddy Guy, James Cotton & Junior Wells.  In the later 80s she assembled her own band & recorded Believe It! for the renowned blues label, Blind Pig.  She has released at least eight albums since, with the most recent being Live & Raw #1 & 2 (I believe the dates on these are 2008.)

Although I chose two cover tunes for the videos, Joanna Connor also is talented composer in her own right, & her repertoire contains a number of original songs.  Still, she brings her formidable talent & chops to blues standards as well, & has recorded noteworthy covers of songs ranging from Robert Johnson’s “Walking Blues” to the old Percy Sledge number “The Dark End of the Street.”  Connor certainly is able to synthesize a number of styles, from the rawest Delta sounds to smooth R&B & make them her own. 

Joanna Connor has collaborated with a number of noteworthy artists; in addition to the blues greats I mentioned earlier, she also toured with tenor saxaphone great A.C. Reed & has appeared on albums by Deborah Coleman (last month’s Any Woman’s Blues feature artist!) & Luther Allison.  The Joanna Connor Band tours & can also be heard as the house band at Kingston Mines in Chicago—in fact, if you’re in the Windy City this weekend, you can catch them at Kingston Mines Thursday thru Saturday!

When Cashbox Magazine reviewed Believe It, the reviewer noted Connor’s “razor-sharp tone.”  She achieves that on her Gibson Les Paul.  Her versions of “Statesboro Blues” & “People Get Ready” are simply outstanding—there’s a bit of distortion on the recording to “People Get Ready,” but I liked the guitar solo so much I had to include it. 

Great music, people—enjoy!


  1. Wow! She's good! Thanks for introducing me to yet another great unknown, John.

  2. Hi Roy: Isn't she tho? Dynamite! I know you like Les Pauls--it's really unusual to see one with a pickguard, right? Thanks!

  3. No, it's not the pickguard, it's the white pickguard. I knew something looked unusual.

  4. Actually, there are plenty of Les Paul's with white pickguards. I looked around, and it looks like the Standards mostly had white pickguards while the Specials tended to have black ones, and the Customs have no pickguard at all. But that's from just a brief and very rough Internet survey.

  5. Hi Roy: Thanks! I guess the image of the custom is what I have in my mind, followed by the special.

  6. Storming stuff indeed! Good to hear some in-your-face slide work.

  7. Hi Dick: Yes, that's well-said--she's not shy when it comes to her slide work or her guitar-playing in general!


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