Joe Louis Walker
Joe Louis Walker By the time the San Francisco Bay Area had entered its blues renaissance in the mid-1980s, guitarist Joe Louis Walker had already been paying his dues for two decades. Merging the electric, urban sounds of West Coast and Chicago blues with the down-home acoustic traditions of the Delta, Walker never strayed far from what he calls "the real blues." In a career that spans more than 35 years, he's balanced tradition with innovation and made a significant mark on the evolution of the genre.

Walker led the tribute to B.B. King at the Kennedy Center in 1995. That same year, Walker and his Bosstalkers scored the Handy Award for Blues Band of the Year, and he won the 1995 Bammy (Bay Area Music Award) for Blues Musician of the Year. Down Beat critic Michael Point wrote: "Walker, equally adept in either the acoustic or electric context, is arguably the most complete bluesman on the current scene."