Blues-rock's most fervent gear collector discusses life at home and the future of his massive collection.
How Joe Bonamassa Promotes His Own Shows
Cory Wong: I heard that you're quite the gangster when it comes to your deals and touring. And I am down with this and I gotta get a little info because I've had other people talk about doing this sort of thing and your rolling the most gangster I've heard out of anybody. You don't take the traditional route where you book tours through promoters. I've heard that you rent the venues yourself and you promote the shows yourself. And that way you're taking promoter side and artist side. That's what I'm talking about. Tell me how you started pulling that off.
Joe Bonamassa: It all started in 2005 when I was domestically ... I was starting to draw about 200 to a 1,000 people. It would just, it would be all over the shop. So it's almost incredible. It'd be incredibly hard to scale a tour. Meaning one night you're playing to 180 people. The next night you're in Fort Wayne, Indiana and you got 1200. You know, production is based on the ... Once it starts to, even out, you can actually go, "Okay, we can bring this amount of lights. We can afford to do this and that." And we'd always have this standing house gig in Jacksonville, Florida, and in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which at that point in time where my two biggest markets domestically. And we were firewalled by these promoters. My manager and I, who now have been together for 30 years. And they basically all intensive purposes, you know, told William Morris my agent at the time, which by the way, I don't have an agent anymore, either got rid of them. So if you wanna keep it going, you want ...
Cory Wong: Yeah, it's an extra 10 percent. I like that.
Joe Bonamassa: It's called the vertical integration.
Cory Wong: Keep at it. I'm in this I'm this is what I'm here for.
Joe Bonamassa: Okay. And everybody goes, "How do you get all those fucking guitars, Bonamassa?" It's called a vertical integration. So, the idea is we started to look at these markets and we're going, "They were offering us $3,500 or $2,500. And those were our biggest paydays. And we said, "Well, how much, if we took all the gross receipts from this one club tour we were doing and promoted the Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne?" Which we still play, which holds 2,600 seats. We knew we couldn't sell 2,600 seats, but we were the place that B.B. King played and I'd opened for him there. Same thing in Jacksonville. We went from this place called Freebird Live to where it was kind of a club to the Florida Theater, which was 1,600 seats. We knew we couldn't sell 1,600 seats, but people don't have eyes in the back of their head. And then we could shut the balcony down. We raised the ticket price and we went out and rented some lights and made it like, you know, we were pretend rock stars. Like, we've actually put on a real gig.
By the time it was all said and done $3,500 turned into $25,000 after you've paid all the expenses, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ring the bell. Okay. Now, how do you scale it? Well, then every tour from 2000 to 2008 we would cherry pick our best markets. And we would go in and we would four wall and four wall is just a high falutin' Madison Avenue term for we're gonna rent the venue and put the gig on sale. And by the time 2008 ended, we were not only four walling everything in America, we were four walling in Europe as well. And we now don't do a show that has a traditional quote, unquote promoter with it because of those reasons. And we can put on the kind of production and show that we really think the fans deserve. And that's basically the model ... betting on yourself time and time and time again.
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Joe Bonamassa On Post-Pandemic Life
Joe Bonamassa: Well to begin with, when we got sent home on March 12th from Minneapolis, we were supposed to play the State Theater, two nights, Friday and Saturday. We had shown up at Green Bay, the previous Tuesday and had a day off. We were supposed to play Wednesday, day off Thursday, and then two nights in Minneapolis and Tuesday, we were good to go and it started to scale and snowball a little bit throughout the week before. You know, we were calling ahead going, "Hey, what do you wanna do? Are we doing this or not?" They set up the gear. The crew goes in. They put the PA in the air, caterers fire up the bacon and eggs, you know? And at about 10:30, I get a call from the tour manager saying, "Hey, what time do you wanna leave from Minneapolis today?" And I go, "Standard time, 10:15 after the gig," he goes, "No the governor just canceled us." That's when I knew we were done. We show up to Minneapolis, put on the whole charade, but then they canceled at the last minute. I said, "Everybody, we're going home. Enough is enough. The weirdest ... The adjustment for me at first was it was, it was a brick wall and it was very difficult to come off the rollercoaster. But to be honest with you, this has been the year that I've needed to take off for 10 years, and would've never done this myself. And I hate to say that, you know, out of this huge negative impact on both society and people's health and their lives, the one positive that I could say that has affected in my world has been the fact that it forced me to take a break that I would've never taken on my own. And I think that it's going to, I think that bodes well for my future and, and my future mental health and stability.
Joe Bonamassa on the Future of his Gear Collection | Wong Notes Podcast
Article last updated on October 12, 2022.
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Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
The new finish, according to Lava Music, is “inspired by the beauty of the golden hour,” a shining time just before sunset and after sunrise when photographers covet to capture stunning pictures.
With bright and warm golden hues, the new finish adds a brilliant metallic glow to the surface of Lava ME 3, complementing its AirSonic 2 carbon fiber unibody which features L3 Preamp with FreeBoost 2.0, delivers industry-leading sounds by breakthrough acoustic technologies, and houses a multi-touch display powered by Lava-developed HILAVA system.
Speaking of the HILAVA system, Lava Music also added four new effects: Nebula, Desert Rose, Cassette, and Edge of Breakup. As unique as their names sound, they are very much different from what we normally know about effects. Programmed into the HILAVA system, each of the four is powered by the company’s latest ArctanDrive algorithm and incorporates effects like Pitch Shift, Delay, and Reverb. And every one of those incorporated sub-effects comes with various parameters that players can adjust to design unique, overdriven sounds by just tapping on the multi-touch display. That said, those effects enable users to play with overdriven tone on an acoustic-electric guitar without even plugging in any external gear.
LAVA ME 3 | Now in Golden Hour | LAVA MUSIC
Lava Me 3 in Golden Hour is now available starting from $999 on LAVA MUSIC, Amazon, and local guitar dealerships near you.
For more information, please visit store.lavamusic.com.