“I will say this, the Gibson ES-335 is not the greatest choice of guitars in high winds”: Joe Bonamassa on the challenges of playing on a cruise ship

“That’s a sail. That’s literally it.”

Playing great blues ain’t easy, but playing great blues on a cruise ship is a whole ‘nother rain-pelting, wind-roaring, and sea-rocking ball game, as Joe Bonamassa reveals in a new interview.

Bonamassa, whose floating blues-rock party ‘Keeping the Blues Alive At Sea’ earlier this year completed its third European voyage, spoke to Guitar Interactive Magazine about some of the challenges that comes with playing on a moving vessel like a cruise ship.

“You know, the Mediterranean is a lot more friendly than sometimes the Atlantic Ocean is,” the guitarist begins. “When we go out to the Bahamas, those are particularly challenging because even if you stop the boat it’s still going to be windy. It is challenging in the sense that you have to navigate these conditions.”

“It’s not a covered stage, so if it rains it’s raining on you and your gear, and you have to really navigate playing in high winds.”

“I will say this, the Gibson ES-335 is not the greatest choice of guitars in high winds. That’s a sail,” says Bonamassa. “That’s literally it.”

“I’ve had them blown, like where I’m singing and the guitar will literally come almost
90 degrees and I’m like, ‘I didn’t do that’. And I’m holding on to the neck. Literally, you’re holding on for dear life.”

He continues: “We play at 8 o’clock and it’s, especially in the summertime, the dew point. Even if it doesn’t rain, the stage is wet. So you have to watch where you’re walking, and thank God I haven’t gone down yet but there’s always tomorrow.”

In related news, the blues legend and guitar fanatic recently revealed the most expensive six-string he’s ever purchased, a mint-condition ‘58 Flying V whose price tag will send a sane person running for the hills.

“I call [it] Donny J. I got it from my friend Don in Oklahoma. He bought it in 1976 for $1,100, which was a lot of money,” Bonamassa said. “When I made the deal with Don I said, ‘Don, in 1976, it wasn’t cheap. And it’s not cheap in 2019, either.’ He goes, ‘No. It isn’t.’ In fact, it’s the most money I’ve ever paid for a guitar in my life: over $400,000.”

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