After being discovered by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics at the tender age of 16, Joanne Shaw Taylor has just about conquered the UK blues scene over the the past decade.
Now 27, she has performed in front of the Queen, won best female vocalist at the British Blues Awards twice, toured the globe with the likes of BB King and Joe Bonamassa and released three critically acclaimed albums including 2012’s Almost Always Never.
This month Taylor returned to Australia ahead of her third Byron Bay Bluesfest and a sideshow on Saturday at Kelts Bar, Emu Plains Sports Club, and The Star had the pleasure of her time.
The Star: So you're quite the shredder! When did you first pick up a guitar and can you remember what the original attraction to it was?
JST: I started playing classical guitar when I was 8. Both my father and older brother played so there we're always guitars lying around the house. When I was around 13 I started getting disinterested in playing so my dad encouraged me to switch to electric. Shortly after that I discovered a SRV video in my dads collection and that pretty much propelled me into my love for the blues. After that I started researching all Stevie's influences and just dedicated myself to playing, practicing and learning as much as possible.
The Star: Who are your musical role models?
JST: There's a lot and their quite diverse, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie ray Vaughan, Gary Moore, Eric Johnson, Prince, Joan Jett, King's X, Judy Garland, John Mayer, Bonnie Raitt, Motown. There's too many to list. I have quite a diverse taste in music and what i feel like listening to changes all the time. I tend to only listen to one thing at a time too. I'll go through phases where I only wanna listen to Metal or Country. But I guess it keeps things interesting.
The Star: You have now played with some blues legends, have there been any surreal moments on stage when you thought 'how did I get here?' Explain.
JST: I think probably the Diamond Jubilee concert with Annie Lennox was the most surreal, Firstly it was such a momentous occasion in the UK, secondly I was backing Annie Lennox who's a huge influence and inspiration to me and lastly not at least because of the setting and the entire royal family being there.
The Star: If I'm correct, this will be your third trip to Australia; how have you found playing here so far? And what do you think of the Byron Bay Bluesfest?
JST: I love playing Australia. It was top on my list of countries I most wanted to visit so being able to visit in the first place let alone return is great for me. The crowds are great here, they know how to let their hair down and party but they have a great love, and knowledge of music. The Star: Do you have a favourite moment from one of your Bluesfest experiences?
The Star: There's lot's. The first time I was there 3 years ago I met my fiancé so you know realizing you've met someone special whilst watching Jeff beck playing "somewhere over the rainbow" is pretty damn cool. John foggerty was awesome last year too I'm a huge fan so that was a big thing for me. Also opening up for Kenny wayne shepherd last year, I grew up listening to his playing so again thats another favorite.
The Star: I've got to say, sorry, but blues rock isn't one of the genres that comes to mind immediately when thinking of the UK music scene. What is the blues scene like over there? Am I missing something?
JST: You know the UK has a great Blues rock scene. I would say our traditional blues scene is lacking but we do seem to have an insurgence of young guys gravitating toward that sort of classic rock british sound. Virgil and the Accelerators are my favorite young guys, and Tracer who are from Aus their getting really popular over in the UK which they deserve.
The Sun: Are you familiar with many blues-rock artists in Australia? Who has caught your attention over here (if anyone has)?
The Star: Well Tracer for a start, And thats right up my street. Kinda Blues rock crossover, good songs, cool image, good playing/singing… I really like some of the artists I've meet through the Blues fest too, Claude Hayes, Marshall Okell and Cass Eager. Also through my relationship with Dave Stewart I've got to know Mia Dyson who I thinks fantastic. You've got some great talent coming out of Australia.
The Star: What are you looking forward to when you get to Australia? Have you got any extra-curricular activities planned?
JST: Well I land on the day of the first show and then we play every night until I leave for NZ so I'm going to be trying not to talk and eat lots of fruit I think! Hopefully next time i'll get a day or two off, I'm dying to have a BBQ on the beach and do some surfing!