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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Blues guitarist JoAnne Shaw Taylor makes her Spokane debut Monday at The Bing

JoAnne Shaw Taylor will bring her blues-rock music to Spokane for the first time next week. She’ll play the Bing Crosby Theater on Monday night.  (Simon Green)
By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

While growing up in rural England during the ‘90s, JoAnne Shaw Taylor gravitated toward blues guitar heroes, such as Albert Collins, Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Taylor, who studied classical guitar as a child, was particularly captivated by the latter.

“My dad played some Stevie Ray Vaughn when I was 10 years old and it was like I was transported to a secret world,” Taylor said while calling from Austin. “None of my friends knew who Stevie Ray Vaughn was. But I just loved what he accomplished with his guitar.”

Shortly thereafter classical was in the rearview as Taylor focused on blues guitar. However, there was a void for Taylor. There were few female guitar heroes. “The women with guitars in magazines then were Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt, who is great,” Taylor said. “But there wasn’t a female Stevie Ray Vaughn out there.”

Taylor, 38, didn’t let that stop her and she studied male blues guitarists. “The only problem is that I’ll never sound like Albert Collins since I’m a girl,” Taylor said. “My music had to be a little different than Howlin’ Wolf.”

Instead of straight blues, Taylor delivers a combination of rock, soul, blues, R&B with a dash of pop throughout her latest album, “Nobody’s Fool.” Taylor’s eighth studio release is the follow-up to 2020’s covers project “The Blues Album.”

Taylor, who will perform Monday at the Bing Crosby Theater, wrote 10 of the 11 songs on “Nobody’s Fool,” which dropped in October. The uplifting songs are gritty but poignant.

“I had to get those tunes out of me,” Taylor said. “I love to write. I wasn’t writing when I started out but I’m so passionate about it now.”

Taylor, who lives in Detroit, wasn’t crafting songs at the beginning of her career. Taylor was only 14 when she started gigging at English clubs. Two years later, Eurythmics legend Dave Stewart tabbed her as lead guitarist for his band D.U.P.

“To be fair to myself I was learning during those early days,” Taylor said. “I learned so much from Dave Stewart.”

Stewart was so impressed with Taylor that he showed up at her parents’ house after he heard her demo tape. “I didn’t know who Dave was at the time since I was born in 1985,” Taylor said. “But my parents were thrilled.”

The quirky and gifted Stewart has given Taylor considerable songwriting advice.

“It’s amazing having Dave in your corner,” Taylor said. “Not only is he great at what he does but he’s bonkers and I mean that in the best possible way. Dave is truly the Mad Hatter. He’s so energetic and inspiring. I’m fortunate to have been around so many incredibly talented musicians.”

Blues guitar hero Joe Bonamassa, who signed Taylor to his KTBA (Keeping the Blues Alive) label, is her confidant.

“Joe is my best friend and has been for the last 14 years,” Taylor said. “We come from the same experience since Joe started playing out as a young teenager. His parents drove him to gigs before he could drive and that was the same for me. We bonded over having the same wonderful but bizarre journey.”

Bonamassa is a huge Taylor fan. “Joanne is a tremendous talent,” Bonamassa said. “More people should know about her. She’s amazing.”

Taylor’s profile should expand since she’s performing in other parts of the country for the first time. “I’ve never been to Spokane before,” Taylor said. “But I’ve hardly been out to that part of the country. I’ve only played Los Angeles twice. I’ve mostly played the Midwest and the East.”

Taylor intends to perform throughout the U.S. hoping she’ll catch the eye of women, who she hopes pick up the guitar after experiencing her music. “Young girls need role models,” Taylor said. “When you play guitar, you look at who you can relate to. There aren’t that many bluesy-rock guitarists. There’s me. There’s Sam Fish but not many others. You have to put the work in when you play guitar but it’s well worth it. It’s so cool to play this instrument. You never know what’s going to happen. Because I put the work in I’ve had the chance to play with Dave Stewart. I’m good friends with him and Joe (Bonnamassa) and the best part is that I go out and perform in America. It’s a dream for musicians from Britain.”

When Taylor was practicing as a pre-pubescent in tiny West Midlands, England, she fantasized about playing Vaughn’s hometown of Austin. “Each time I play Austin I think about how lucky I am since so many British musicians never play America,” Taylor said. “It’s not easy with visas and all of that. Whenever I get off the stage here, I think, ‘You did it, kid. Now move on and play as well as you can and then make the best record possible.’ ”