If you’re looking for a way to heat up the coldest winter weekend in decades, Daryl Hall and the crew at Daryl’s House in Pawling, N.Y., have just the thing for you on Saturday night: Joe Louis Walker.
The 65-year-old Walker has an explosive, urgent style of playing and singing that makes him one of the most exciting blues players working today. And it’s no surprise, give he’s been at it since first picking up a guitar at age 8 — or so the story goes.
Walker isn’t one of the originators of the style, but he learned by working with some of the very best in blues, jazz, and rock — Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Thelonius Monk. and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few — and makes the most of his lessons.
Walker’s at his best when he’s playing pedal-to-the-metal electric blues, as on “Hornet’s Nest,” the title track of his latest album — his 24th release — which drops on Alligator Records on Feb. 25. His voice and guitar snarl in the best possible way on that outstanding track. “All I Wanted to Do,” on the other hand, is a loping, horn-filled showcase that sounds original and classic all at once. In “Don’t Let Go,” he mines a vein tradition that inspired artists like Elvis Presley so many years ago.
Like the hard-working bluesman that he is, he’s superb when he sounds like he’s sweating his way through numbers that bring his gritty, dangerous voice to the front. When he dials the vocals back a bit, as on “Ride On, Baby,” his strongest qualities begin to disappear, making him sound less distinctive. But even then, Walker’s energy and enthusiasm shine through
Walker, a 2013 inductee into the Blues Hall of Fame, is a real musical treasure. Daryl’s House (the former site of the Towne Crier) is a comfortable, homey place that should be a perfect showcase for Walker’s prodigious gifts. Catch him there if you can.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Joe Louis Walker in concert
WHEN: 9:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21
WHERE: Daryl’s House, 130 Route 22, Pawling, N.Y.; 845-289-0185
TICKETS: $20, www.darylshouseclub.com