Joanne Shaw Taylor Interview

It’s been a busy old year for Birmingham blues queen Joanne Shaw Taylor. A string of gigs supporting blues legend Joe Bonamassa on his British Blues Explosion concerts to Beck, Clapton and Page. Then there was a support slot with Glenn Hughes across the USA. Next up were festival appearances at Isle of Wight alongside The Who and

Joanne Shaw Taylor
Joanne Shaw Taylor

Queen + Adam Lambert, then Glastonbury which resulted in Joanne ending up on TV performing for the nation; an honour to be repeated recently with her debut appearance on the iconic Later, With Jools Holland.

All this amidst the small matter of Joanne releasing her fifth studio album, Wild, to much acclaim already and, also, organising and preparing for what is fast becoming a Sold Out 17 date tour across the UK.


“Yeah it’s been pretty full on, but it’s been pretty great too,” Joanne said ahead of the opening night of the tour in Tavistock. “It’s cool to have the album finally out there and getting so much positive feedback and I’m certainly not complaining about being busy as a result. It’s all pretty good.”

The last time we spoke was in June, with everything listed above still ahead. “The Joe Bonamassa gigs were great to be a part of. It’s always good to be touring with Joe and we’ve known each other a long time now. The shows themselves were fabulous as well, very well received, and in some pretty amazing venues. It’s always fantastic to be asked to support Joe. He’s a really good friend and has been a massive supporter of mine over the years.”

One of the three outdoor gigs scheduled for Joanne to support Bonamassa at was Houghton Tower in Preston. However back in July, Lancashire experienced some of its worst weather in years, causing the luxurious grounds to flood. At the last minute, almost, it was decided that rather than cancel, the gig was to be moved indoors to the Preston Guild Hall where both Joanne and Joe proceeded to rock the stuffing out of the place.

“You can’t really legislate for outdoor gigs in the British summertime, unfortunately. To switch venues, particularly from outdoors to indoors, is more a question of logistics but doesn’t really effect us as performers. There was already a back-up plan in place, I think, as Joe and his team are so vastly experienced. I also think in the end everyone was just relieved that we could go ahead with it. It was a really great night and the first one proper of the tour.”

“Joe had played The Cavern Club in Liverpool as a warm up a few days beforehand, which had gone down a storm I believe. There were still a few nerves knocking around though so it was just good to be able to get out there and play in the end. The feel in the room was fantastic too, which always helps.”

Again back in June, Joanne mentioned that she was looking forward to seeing Queen + Adam Lambert, particularly Brian May at The Isle of Wight. “Unfortunately my schedules were all mixed up and they weren’t playing the same night as we were so I didn’t get to see them. I did get to see Faithless though and they were fantastic. I got to see Gary Clark Jr. at Glastonbury so that was pretty cool, because I’ve not seen him play for awhile. Both festivals were great, but I think I’ve had enough of the mud and the rain for now. It’s nice to be back indoors. It wasn’t the best of summers weather wise and Glastonbury was pretty much a mud bath from day one. It was still cool to be a part of though.”

Then just to round things off with this flashback to June’s interview, I’d asked Joanne who she would most like to meet that she hadn’t already. The answer that day was Paul Rogers, who also featured on Later, With Jools Holland as Joanne made her debut. Another icon also performed on the show in the shape of Chrissie Hynde from Pretenders.

“Getting on the Jools Holland show was a big, big thing for us and to have him sit in and play on our version of Summertime was really awesome. Recording the song for the album was producer Kevin Shirley’s idea and what I didn’t want to do was in any way copy Ella Fitzgerald’s version. Obviously I’m a huge fan of hers and it was difficult to get her voice out of my head when I was singing it. I think it’s worked out okay though.”

“When I got confirmation I was going to be on Later, I received a text from Paul Rogers’ tour manager, who I know quite well, saying that Paul was also set to be on the show too which was pretty amazing. It was the first time we’d met and he’s such a lovely, lovely man. I even got a photograph taken with him. It’s always nice to meet an idol and to find that they’re really nice is always cool.”

“Chrissie, too, has always been something of a role model for me, as has Joan Jett, so to meet her was just the icing on top of the cake, really. It was quite the fun night where I spent a lot of time pinching myself!”

Then, on September 30th, Wild was unleashed to the public to some pretty fine reviews. Wild is a ride filled with pure emotion that’s been sprinkled with a touch of spice and seasoned with more than a dab of zest.

“Yeah, the baby is finally out there. When we spoke last I hadn’t even seen it for about six months because it was recorded way back in January, so yes it’s good to see she’s out and about at last. People are reacting so well, too. We got into the top twenty in the charts and No Reason To Stay, the first single, got some really good airplay, particularly on Planet Rock Radio. They’ve always been super supportive of me which is obviously fantastic.”

So if Joanne is tootling along in the car and one of her songs comes on, how does it feel? “Firstly, I don’t listen to the radio mainly because I don’t have one. If I did, though, I would imagine it would be pretty bizarre to hear myself. I’m currently working up the nerve to watch the first cut that went out of the Jools Holland show if I’m honest. It feels a bit weird watching and listening to yourself. It might just be me, but it is kind of like listening to a voicemail back that you’ve made and you never quite sound like you.”

Of eleven tracks on the album there are two covers: one of which is a truly stunning version of David Bowie’s Wild is the Wind. “That’s possibly my favourite on the album and again it was Kevin’s idea to record it on pretty much the last day. When he asked me if I fancied having a crack at it, I didn’t think there was a chance I could do it justice. It is such an iconic song. It’s also vocally very different to anything else I’d done previously.”

“I think it has worked out great, though, which is down to Kevin and I like to think of it as being a nice nod to David and all that he’s given me as an artist. I’m obviously a huge fan. I also lost my mum to cancer at a young age and for him to be able to handle having this awful disease so bravely and privately is inspiring in itself. His passing was such shockingly sad news, so I’d like to think he’d approve of what we’ve managed to do with one of his most legendary songs.”

And now that the tour is underway, excitement seems to be the order of the day. “It’s so good to be back out on the road. The past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic with promoting the album in various ways, so it’ll be terrific to be out on stage singing these new songs in a full set. This is what it is all about for me, playing live. I’ve got such an amazing fan base and I’m just so grateful for the support we receive wherever we play. I think now a lot of the dates have pretty much sold out, so it’s going to be brilliant to play the new stuff for them around the country.”

The new album from Joanne Shaw Taylor, Wild, is available now.

See Joanne Shaw Taylor on Tour with Special Guest Aaron Keylock:
17 Oct Worcester Huntingdon Hall
20 Oct UK Nottingham Rescue Rooms
21 Oct Chester Live Rooms
22 Oct UK Southport Atkinsons
23 Oct Shrewsbury Theatre Severn
26 Oct UK Leeds Brudenell
27 Oct Stockton Arc
28 Oct UK Dunfermline Carnegie
29 Oct Aberdeen Lemon Tree
31 Oct UK Bury The Met
02 Nov Southampton Brook
03 Nov UK Brighton Komedia
04 Nov Harpenden Public Hall
05 Nov UK Bury St Edmunds Apex

For Tickets:
For More Information About Joanne Shaw Taylor:

About Chris High