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All Together Now: Joe Bonamassa 

click to enlarge onstage_joebonamassa.jpg

The name has been bouncing around the media consciousness of Bend for the last month or two. Radio. Websites. Newspapers. But mainly radio - lots of radio, a medium that lends itself well to the baritone pronunciation of a name like Joe Bonamassa, with its vowels and consonants so sexily colliding.

And when you combine the uttering of Joe Bonamassa (go ahead, let that last syllable fling sharply off your tongue) with the man behind this name's fiery new-age blues guitar styling and growling voice, the result is pure promotional magic. Again, Joe Bonamassa is a blues rock guitar virtuoso and not a shortstop or a bantam weight fighter like that name of his might suggest.

He's coming to the Tower Theatre on Sunday in support of his latest record, The Ballad of John Henry, a 12-track disc that is focused slightly more on the power of John Henry's hammer than ballads. His guitar sound is slightly Clapton-esque with some Jonny Lang conventions mixed in, but he can ratchet it up to guitar god territory when he feels like it. As for the ballads, he does get slow and Cinemax soundtrack sexy, but for the most part he seems bent on showcasing his guitar licks than anything else.

Bonamassa should know a thing or two about guitar licks - he's been dishing them out since he was four years old and was opening shows for B.B. King by the time he was 12. His blues are gleaned more from the school of Clapton than that of King, however, and his tendencies are more rocking than soulful, but John Henry is evidence of an artist that's clearly studied the blues in all its forms.

Let's say it all one more time - Joe Bonamassssssa. Nice.

Joe Bonamassa

8pm Sunday, March 7. Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St. $40, $51, $71. All ages.

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