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Blues takes center stage in Aurora

Joe Louis Walker to perform as part of festival

Joe Louis Walker will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, June 27, at RiverEdge Park in Aurora during the 18th annual Blues on the Fox Festival.
Joe Louis Walker will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, June 27, at RiverEdge Park in Aurora during the 18th annual Blues on the Fox Festival.

At the age of 16, San Francisco-born Joe Louis Walker was already playing with the likes of Jimi Hendrix.

Walker, who was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame last year, will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, June 27, as part of the two-day Blues on the Fox Festival at RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway St., Aurora.

Grammy Award-winning guitarist Jimmie Vaughan will take the stage at 9 p.m. following Walker’s set. Samantha Fish, Tab Benoit, Taj Mahal and Los Lonely Boys will perform on Saturday, June 28.

Tickets are $20 a day. More information is available at

Kane County Chronicle reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Walker about the upcoming show.

Eric Schelkopf: You are coming to Blues on the Fox, and I imagine you will be playing a lot from your latest album, “Hornet’s Nest.” What were your goals for “Hornet’s Nest” and do you think you accomplished them?

Joe Louis Walker: I was hoping to maybe get some new ears, people who haven’t heard of me. The record’s only been out for a few months now, so if we accomplished that, I won’t know for that for a while.

But hopefully we got some new people listening, and that would be a good thing.

Schelkopf: It seems like you really put a lot in there. It’s blues, rock, funk and soul. Do you just like mixing it up? Is that who you are as a musician, you roam through a lot of genres?

Walker: The musicians who would come to the Bay Area and play, like Sly and the Family Stone and Tower of Power, all these people were doing something different with their music.

They were all trying to do something new at the time. So that’s the sort of thing that I gravitate to.

It’s easy to do one thing. But I think audiences are a lot smarter, and expect a lot more.

Schelkopf: It does seem like to get younger people interested in the blues, you are going to have to incorporate other genres in the music, such as rock and even rap.

Walker: Exactly. And try to do it good. I like a lot of younger people’s stuff, and I could see doing something with some of them.

There are some younger people out there really doing some good stuff, people like the North Mississippi Allstars, Gary Clark Jr., and of course, Jack White.

It does my heart good to see them out there, because they all do various things. They all don’t do the same thing.

The music business is a place for misfits.

Schelkopf: At 16, you were already playing with Jimi Hendrix, and other musicians like Ike Turner and Albert King, they gave you advice. What did you learn from them?

Walker: It was eye-opening. It was something that would be an inspiration.

The generation of musicians that I came out of, they took chances. It really inspired me to know that people could push the envelope.

Freddie King became a big star not playing 12-bar blues. He sort of took the blues and went in his own direction.

It remains to be seen if I’ve made that kind of impact, but I’ve reached a lot of different people all over the world, and I’m glad of that. And I’m glad that I’ve inspired a little bit of a younger generation to play instruments and live music, and to be a musician.

Because there’s a big difference between someone wanting to be a musician, and someone wanting to be famous. All the reality shows that are on TV now are basically about being famous.

Nobody can make you a star. The people make you a star.

It’s 99 percent perspiration, 1 percent inspiration, and there’s a lot of luck involved in it.

Schelkopf: Last year, you were inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. That must have been a high honor for you.

Walker: That was great. I basically feel like I got inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame for doing the blues my way.

For that, I’m grateful. I don’t believe I got into the Blues Hall of Fame for playing like somebody else, or being like somebody else.

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