Joe McMurrian is a Delta Blues/Roots songwriter/ guitarist based in Portland Oregon. He has a rich capability to infuse tradition with contemporary invention through his intense finger-style, slide guitar work and original storytelling. Joe is deeply influenced by the Delta Blues and American Hill country masters like Skip James, Son House, Doc Boggs, Robert Pete Williams, Fred McDowell, Robert Johnson, Bukka White, R.L Burnside, Roscoe Holcomb, Blind WIllie Johnson, Lightning Hopkins and modern players like Buddy Guy, Bert Jansch, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Leo Kotke, Doc Watson, James Blood Ulmer, Chris Whitley, Junior Kimbrough and Rajeev Tarnoth. Joe blends all these influences into a powerful modern gumbo that can switch from gut wrenching hard driving deep blue’s to intricate acoustic ballads. Recently Joe has formed the power quartet Woodbrain, signed with Memphis Label Yellow Dog Record and has picked up the electric guitar he used to play so much as a teen and plugged into an amp full of electricity to explore the endless possibilities available to this dynamic new band sound. The result is the new release, Swimming in Turpentine, an album that promises new & exciting things things to come for Blues and Roots music.
When he was 9 Joe found his father’s steel slide guitar up in the attic and decided to start playing. His father still played a little slide and standard guitar that he used to play in the 40's, so Joe learned the basics of various Willie Nelson, Muddy Waters and Jimmy Rogers songs. 32 years later he still likes it.
Joe is a native of the Northern California, San Joaquin Delta region. 8 years ago He relocated with his family to Portland after a ten year stay in various areas of Los Angeles where he went to art school and performed on streets and in the clubs to hone his craft. As a solo artist, McMurrian released his debut, "Rain of Days", which was voted the #2 best independent blues release of 2006 by the International Blues Foundation of Memphis as well as reaching the #5 slot on Japan's Tower Records chart.
In Los Angeles he played every acoustic venue available, as well as receiving weekly airplay on the prominent radio station KCRW in Santa Monica. Joe has performed at countless venues & numerous festivals Including the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival (the past 4 years), Portland Brewers Festival, Park City Utah Founders Tile Bluegrass and Folk Festival, Pasadena Blues Festival, String Summit and the Listening Room concert series in Los Angeles. He has appeared with such luminaries as John Mayhall, Paul Geramia, LouisianaRed, Keb Mo, Paul Livingstone, Eddie Kirkland, John McEuen, Charlie Musslewhite, Preacher Boy, Canned Heat, Sonny Landreth & Little Charley and the Nightcats to name a few.
In addition to being a musician, Joe is a highly trained Fine artist who paints and creates any number of strange things. He holds a Masters Degree in Painting and exhibits nationally. Art for Joe is a unified exploration, one that doesn’t have borders to separate different pursuits. Art and Music are one for him and ask him which one is more important and he'll probably say "who cares, it's all trying to do the same thing in the end...make people wake up and enjoy reality.." When he performs on stage he is in a way painting with sound, ebbing and flowing towards new realms of experience in the moment.