Joe performs early jazz and blues, folk songs and fiddle tunes on both guitar and banjo. An experienced facilitator and teacher, he also is happy to serve as MC at your event or facilitate discussions about issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, bringing a special perspective as a NW folk musician and award-winning blues musician. With a variety of collaborators, he performs nationally with groups that feature jazz, blues, folk and acoustic dance music while always acknowledging the roots of American music.
What to Expect
In addition to performing American music on guitar, banjo or harmonica, Joe will happily serve as your master of ceremonies, and be rapidly adaptable within the scope of work agreed upon. You can be confident that, whenever you hire Joe, he will comport himself professionally and provide articulate feedback as desired. Joe has spent his life singing and interpreting music of the Pacific Northwest, so if you want to align your event with the spirit and ethos of an Oregon-born, lifelong resident of the region, he is the musician or facilitator for you!
Joe Seamons is a musician and educator based in the Pacific Northwest and dedicated to helping people connect with their heritage through music and storytelling. As director of The Rhapsody Project, he works with youth in Seattle to explore the influence of regional and personal history through the lens of American blues and folk songs. He serves as board chair of the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center.
Born and raised in Northwestern Oregon, Joe has made a living interpreting the songs and stories of the local sawmill, logging, and fishing ballads composed by elder working people and folklorists. Many of these songs are included on the 2016 album, Timberbound, the story of which is detailed here. In the same vein, Joe directed and served as executive producer for a Smithsonian Folkways album entitled, "Roll, Columbia: Woody Guthrie's 26 Northwest Songs."
Joe's work to interpret, document, and reflect upon the ethos of Northwest folk songs and stories--post-colonization--continues regularly on his blog, which you can read here.
Through his mother's side of the family, Joe is a descendant of the Aurora Colony, making him a fifth-generation Oregonian. His surname is the legacy of a family of English farmers who lived since at least the 1490's the small community of Weedon, an old English name meaning, "pagan shrine on a hill." Through his music, teaching, and writing, Joe is on a mission to grapple with and address the legacy of colonization that lead to his existence.
Touring internationally in a multi-instrumental duo with fellow songster, Ben Hunter, Joe was awarded 1st place in the 2016 International Blues Challenge, as well as recognition by the Ethnic Heritage Council for excellence in ethnic performance and significant contributions to the development and presentation of the traditional cultural arts in the Pacific Northwest.
Additional Booking Notes
When hiring Joe solo, first know that he is experienced performing unamplified. If your event necessitates a sound system, Joe requires only two microphones and a very straightforward sound setup. You can avoid hiring a sound crew altogether for events of 200 people or less, and add $300 to Joe's fee to provide his own sound system.
"Ain't Misbehavin" by Fats Waller (vocals and guitar)
"Pastures of Plenty" by Woody Guthrie (vocals and banjo)
"Sail Away Ladies" (traditional fiddle tune played on banjo)
"Timberbound" (Northwest folk song on guitar or banjo)
"After You've Gone" (early jazz standard, guitar and vocal)
"Nature's Gospel" (original song on guitar and vocal)
Influences & Inspiration
Joe is deeply influenced by Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, and a host of other, more obscure folk and blues musicians whose work has shaped the foundations of American roots music.
1 vocal mic
1 instrument mic
Sound system and technician (optional)
Small table (roughly 2' x 2' square, preferred not required)