The Legend of Joe Taino is a combination of information provided by Joe, and an article by Carol Barbieri that appeared in the Atlantic Highlands Herald on October 19, 2000………………
“When I first heard that Joe Taino was coming to Red Bank, I couldn’t believe my ears. I’ve been following this incredibly talented Blues guitarist everywhere he goes.
He was first pointed out to me a couple of years ago by a friend of mine, while we were at a guitar trade show in New York City.
“He’s the best guitarist around,” my friend said to me. “No one can get the sound out of a guitar that he can.”
After seeing Joe perform in clubs in North and South Jersey, and all over New York, I can see what my friend means. There are many great guitarists out there, but Joe has a “sound” that is uniquely his own.
Guitarists come to see him, just to watch him and try to figure out how he does it. I’ve seen many of them just shake their heads in amazement, after one of Joe’s solos, muttering to themselves, “I’m never going to be able to play like that.”
But Joe is a veteran guitarist and has been doing what he does for a long time. Joe says that he became interested in music after watching the Beatles’ movie A Hard Day’s Night, when he was nine years old and growing up in Puerto Rico.
He got his first guitar when he was eleven and says that he started learning “everything he could get this hands on.” His early influences were the Beatles, Elvis, The Monkeys, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and Santana, to name a few.
“I got hooked on the Blues, after hearing Eric Clapton’s Sleepy Time and Sitting on Top of the World," Joe says, “and from that point on I did nothing but play records and listen to English speaking stations where they played rock and roll, jazz, rhythm and blues and Blues and occasionally Blues by artists like B.B. King ,Albert King, Freddie King, Etta James, T-Bone Walker and Taj Mahal.”
Soon after his Dad bought him his first electric guitar at age thirteen, Jose started playing in a band called “The Flower Generation”.
They performed mostly at school dances and private house parties for $5 per man, or all you could eat. At sixteen, he put his own band together, buying a PA system and a truck.
Joe got his first professional gigs at the Puerto Rico USO Naval Stations and the rock clubs in San Juan. Jose adopted the name “Taino” due to his Indian looks and background, and soon named the band “Taino Band.”
In 1978 Joe joined Marion Hite, a Kentucky native, playing country and western music. Joe also played Top 40 gigs at the hotels in the famous resort area of Condado, and put together what became the hottest rock band of all time in Puerto Rico, “Pelican in Flight”
While playing with “Pelican in Flight,” Joe shared stages with artists like U.K., Judas Priest, Kansas, Billy Idol, Cindy Lauper, Peter Frampton, Pat Travers, Rick Derringer, Ronnie Montrose, Cheap Trick and many others.
But it was the Blues that captivated Joe’s soul, “Rock isn’t what I wanted to do. So I moved to Florida and tried to establish myself as a Blues musician.”
Joe says, “As a Puerto Rican, it’s difficult to be recognized as a Blues man.”
It took an immense effort to become recognized as a Blues Artist in Florida with Joe joining many bands, including the late Big Mama Blue.
Eventually, Joe became widely renowned in the South and put his own band together, “Hot and Humid”.
By the early 1980s Joe was doing well enough to open shows for artists like, The Allman Brothers, Johnny Winter, John Myall, Robin Trower, Koko Tailor, Ruth Brown and Jaco Pastorius, with whom he spent the few months before Jaco’s death, “hanging out, jamming and sharing ideas.”
In those years, Blues gigs were few and far between, and Joe would not settle for playing Top 40, the prevalent scene in Florida. So, after Jaco died he packed his things and moved to New York City, where he had lived briefly in 1976.
New York welcomes superior talent, so after a few months of attending jam sessions and meeting people, word of Joe’s expertise began spreading. He was soon working as a sideman with a number of top bands in the city.
His amazing style and guitar wizardry made him the highlight of every show. The time was right for the next step: he formed his own band and changed his stage name from “Taino” to “Joe Taino and the Blue Flames”, in honor of his idol Jimi Hendrix (Jimmy James and the Blue Flames).
Success was inevitable. The band released CDs in the USA under their own label, and in Europe under Provogue Records.
Joe always seems to attract the most talented musicians around. He’s been playing with drummer, George Morales, for many years.
Originally from Harlem, George is a veteran drummer whose roots stem from Latino percussion music. He then moved in the direction of rock and roll and R&B, and was influenced by people like Little Richard, James Brown and the Beatles.
His biggest influence, however, is Tito Puente, saying that he “gets a big nod” from him. When I asked George how he came to be interested in the Blues, he said that Little Richard influenced him greatly.
“Little Richard’s rock was Blues,” George said.
George now resides in Manhattan and has been Joe’s steady drummer, accompanying him on all his international tours.
Joe plays with several great bass players, and until recently, one of those was Pete Persechino.
From Jersey City, but originally from Vermont, Pete is an accomplished player and added a good, tight groove to Joe’s numerous solos.
Joe has frequently tourd Europe, Japan, Brazil and the Caribbean, and can be seen at the best Blues Clubs as well as the major Blues Festivals.
Joe has also recorded for many commercials including Dial Soap, 7-UP and Schafer Beer.
Joe now plays continuously in the tri-state area and is currently promoting his new CD, "Incognito", which he has recently released.
You can catch up with Joe at Hoboken’s Scotland Yard Bar, where he runs the Blues Jam every Saturday afternoon, starting 4pm, or check out his latest gig schedule on the Home Page.