Jontavious Willis is only 24, but he’s already earned numerous accolades – and a Grammy nomination – for his mastery of the blues. On this week’s Fretboard Journal Podcast, we talk to Willis from his home in Georgia about being a largely self-taught guitarist, the one standard tuning guitar lesson he took (just five years ago!), the gear he uses today (including his Fraulini 12-string guitar), and his love for original 78 records.
We hear about the influence that Keb’ Mo’ and Taj Mahal had on his career (Mo’ produced Spectacular Class, the album that earned Willis the Grammy nod) and Willis tells us how, even during COVID-19, a community of young Black blues musicians is mentoring each other through social media.
Willis also explains the #RobertJohnsonChallenge, where he and fellow musicians Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and Marquise Knox are interpreting Robert Johnson tunes online, every Wednesday. Inspired by the recently discovered third photo of Johnson, the challenge is required viewing if you’re a blues fan.Watch Willis’ most recent Robert Johnson Challenge contribution here.
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