Joe Bonamassa

Bonamassa’s blues takes over Red Rocks 08-08-2021



Bonamassa’s blues take over Red Rocks in Morrison, Colorado for two sold-out shows. I was first introduced to Joe Bonamassa when he and Glenn Hughes put together the supergroup, Black Country Communion. Joe Bonamassa’s style merges classic rock with traditional blues. In Bonamassa’s music, you can hear the great bluesmen, from Robert Johnson to Eric Clapton and Gary Moore to Stevie Ray Vaughan. Joe has a soulful voice that has Greg Allman feel to it. When Joe starts playing, you know in your heart; he is one of the finest musicians of the 21st century and a true bluesman. Never flashy, never self-absorbed, always masterfully musical. 

At 8 PM, the stage went dark with the “Welcome Back Kotter” theme song playing through Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Joe, in an all-black suit with sequin patches, walks onto the stage. He is met with roaring applause from the sold-out crowd of 9,000. Joe begins with a cappella intro of “Oh Beautiful.” This is followed by a hard rock blues riff from his 1977 Zemaitis Custom.  His touring band consists of vocalist Jade MacRae, bassist Michael Rhodes, keyboardist & three-time Grammy winner Reese Wynans, and drummer Greg Morrow. Bonamassa’s soulful voice was in perfect form in the Red Rocks amphitheater.

Not giving the audience a chance to breathe, Joe and his band tore into it  with the 70s funk vibe single, “Love Ain’t a Love Song.” It introduces the audience to beautiful backing vocalist Jade MacRae on harmonies. 

Joe and his 1959 Gibson Les Paul “Spot” takes the audience on a soulful journey with Gary Moore’s “Midnight Blue.” The stage and the rock formations were bathed in soft dark blue light. The late great British blues guitarist would be proud to hear Joe’s version.  It takes the Gary Moore masterpiece and makes it his own with Joe’s soulful, bluesy voice. “Lookout Man” re-energized the audience with its crunchy guitar licks from Joe. It is joined by Michael Rhodes’s monstrous bassline and the pummeling percussion from Greg Morrow. The song invokes the raw power of the legendary power trio, Cream. 

The Red Rocks audience was full of energy as Joe covers Tom Waite’s classic “Jockey Full of Bourbon.” It’s one of Joe’s more whimsical fun blues songs with the boogie-woogie piano playing from keyboardist Reese Wynans. Joe continues with the British blues-rocker, “I Didn’t Think She Would Do It,” and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Texas blues-influenced “Just ‘Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should.”

Bonamassa welcomes the Red Rocks audience back to live music and thanks them for a sold-out show. Joe then introduces the talented musicians in his band. He follows by telling a funny story of life on the road.  This includes his finger injury with a fight with an airlock, and his eye infection. He humorously wishes he could say his eye infection was from a bar fight in downtown Denver. 

The next song dug deep into his 13-album discography.  Joes and the band begins with 2010’s “Wandering Earth.” It is followed by two Allman Brothers influence songs, “Pain and Sorrow” and “Conversation with Alice.”

The Sunday set ended with two songs from his 2020 British blues influence Royal Tea album “When One Door Opens” and the jive & swing song “Lonely Boy” with the boogie-woogie piano and guitar duel between Joe and keyboardist Reese Wynans. Joe ended the set was the popular Led Zeppelin-ish blues-rocker, The Ballad of John Henry.” Jade MacRae’s soaring vocals and Joe’s guitar sound effects were the fun highlights. Thunderous applause as the stage turned dark, ending the set. The sold-out crowd lit the Red Rocks’ night with their cell phone flashlights.

Joe returns to the dark stage with his 1969 Grammer Johnny Cash acoustic guitar. He starts with a Spanish-accented solo which morphs into a blazing bluegrass-picking version of “Woke Up Dreaming.” The encore ends with Joe’s version of Crossroads performed to the sold-out Red Rocks crowd on their feet. You can hear Bonamassa quoting Cream’s Clapton, who was quoting Robert Johnson in this song.

Joe Bonamassa’s blues annual take over of Red Rocks Amphitheater are a must-see event.



Joe Bonamassa – Vocals and Guitar

Jade MacRae – Backing Vocals

Reese Wynans – Keyboardist and Piano

Michael Rhodes – Bassist

Greg Morrow – Drums




Oh Beautiful

Love Ain’t a Love Song

Midnight Blues (Gary Moore cover)

Lookout Man

Jockey Full of Bourbon (Tom Waits cover)

I Didn’t Think She Would Do It

Just ‘Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should

Wandering Earth

Django / Pain and Sorrow

A Conversation With Alice

When One Door Opens

Lonely Boy

The Ballad of John Henry


Woke Up Dreaming

Crossroad Blues (Robert Johnson/Eric Clapton cover)




Follow Joe Bonamassa Online: