Theater & Arts

Artists You Should Know: Joe Walton and the Starr Choice Band

Joe Walton is one of the elder statesman of Fresno blues.

He has been playing for 43 years, and these days he does so with his Starr Choice Band, playing weekly at various nightclubs and restaurants around town.

Walton, 57, plays guitar and is joined by his wife, Katherine Fowler-Walton, on vocals, plus Jerry Yada (saxophone), Jerry Coleman (keyboards), Tony Britten (bass) and Alexander Voloshin (drums).

The band will be playing its blues, funk and R&B tonight at 7 at Patio Cafe, 5138 N. Palm Ave.

Here's a chance to get to know Walton and his band.

What's the history of the band? We've been playing together for about three years, off and on.

What about you personally? How long have you been playing? How did you get started? I've been playing for, shoot, about 43 years in nightclubs and parties. Actually, I got started when one of The Tucker Brothers taught me how to play when I was 9 or 10 years old. He taught me three songs. From then, I just kept learning with a lot of people.

There are many styles of the blues. Describe what you guys do. My blues is based upon B.B. King, Albert King, Z.Z. Hill. In the band we do the rhythm and blues, like Tyrone Davis. We do a little bit of Albert Collins. The blues that we do is a mixture of funk and jazz. We do some some James Brown funk, some Earth, Wind & Fire rhythm and blues.

Sounds like you guys are a party band. Oh yeah, we are. We played last week at Vinnie's in Chowchilla and they really liked us. They just stayed on the dance floor.

How often do you guys play around town? We play a good once or twice a week. We play at Patio Cafe. We play at Bobby Salazar's. We've got something coming up at the Crossroads on the 18th and 31st of October. And then at Table Mountain -- it's going to be our first time playing there in November. We play at the farmers market at River Park -- we've played there a number of times.

What's the best thing about one of your live shows? Everybody is a star. Everybody can play their instrument well. Normally, we try to play what the people like. We feed off the crowd.

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Know a local musician that more people should be familiar with? Send the who and why to Mike Osegueda,