Updated: Feb 25

Joanna Connor talks about working with Joe Bonamassa and being a woman in a man's world

Chicago-based slide guitar virtuoso Joanna Connor has performed with some of the biggest names in blues. Her 14th studio album, '4801 South Indiana Avenue' sees her working with Joe Bonamassa and is about to open her music up to a whole new fanbase. We caught up with Joanna to talk about the new album, her mean guitar playing, summoning demons and how it really is her time to shine.

Photo by Allison Morgan

Hi Joanna, how is everything over there in the US with the pandemic?

In Chicago, supposedly this weekend they're going to have indoor dining again. It just doesn't make any sense to me. None of the clubs are open, though. Some in the suburbs, a few but none of the ones that I play at.

You're used to playing a lot live, have you been able to perform at all?

No, October 30th was the last time I played live.

How have you been affected by the pandemic?

I don't even know what to think anymore. I mean, it'll be a year next month that everything happened. I went through so many different changes. First, it was like, disbelief, anger, I didn't believe it was necessary. Then I realized it was and I got sad and some days I was happy. I mean, it's just been all over the place. I played a minimum of 175 to 220 gigs a year forever. So it's a lifestyle change for me.

Have you enjoyed the break or has it been hard not getting out and playing?

You know, I was never one to hang out a lot. I had two kids I raised and so if I wasn't playing I was home. So, I was used to that, I wasn't really a party girl per se. I've just missed playing with my band. I missed the energy of the crowd. It was good to take a break in the sense that you don't realize how much you've been pushing yourself until you don't do it anymore. You're like, “wow, I was really kind of a maniac there”, but somehow there's a happy medium.

You've been professional since you were seventeen, have you found it hard to motivate yourself during this time to pick up your guitar and play?

I've been teaching seven days a week on online guitar. So I am picking it up, but I'm not doing it nearly as much as I was. I mean, I always played at least four nights a week for hours and on my days off I wouldn't even look at the guitar. Now I pick it up every day, I don't want to lose all my chops, my calluses are starting to get soft. I'm like, Oh, no!

Your new album takes its name from the address of Teresa's Lounge. That venue obviously meant a lot to you, what was it like playing there?