Justin Golden

Justin Golden. Photo by Frank Matheis 2017

Justin Golden. Photo by Frank Matheis 2017

The young bard is from Suffolk, Virginia and currently lives in Richmond, Virginia. Just 26 at the time of this writing, young in age and right at the beginning of his music career, he still has a full time job and works at music part-time. He’s only been playing music for seven years.

So why feature a neophyte in this acoustic blues directory when so many big names don’t have a profile yet? Because we need the next generation of vibrant, exciting new players and Justin Golden has great promise to be just that. Golden voiced, with some clever original songs and a certain level of youthful, fun approach to the music, he’s plain exciting to meet – and, he brings the music to a young audience again.

Phil Wiggins identified him after hearing about him from harmonica player Andrew Alli, also from Richmond. Phil invited Justin to teach beginning blues guitar at the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College, Blues & Swing Week in July 2017. People loved him, and with good reason. Justin Golden holds great promise as a songwriter and the future of the blues. thecountryblues.com caught up with the bard at Blues Week: “ My path to the blues was a little bit unconventional. I learned it through contemporary music, like Black Keys. They really affected me. But it’s not the blues I like to play personally, but that’s what made me get into it. I just listened to more modern music and then once I started playing I started getting melodies in my head, and as my technique progressed people were calling it a certain style. From there I started digging back farther. I found Taj Mahal a little bit earlier in that process and listened to a good amount of Taj Mahal. Now I’m starting to look back farther to like the ‘30s and ‘40s and stuff like that.

About two years ago I wrote that song Walking Blues – I woke up with it. The melody stuck in my head, and I just figured out how to play it. To write songs I have time to just relax, let myself be creative. But I just choose little bits of inspiration– or they find me. I’ve been playing guitar seven years, my main songwriter’s tool. I came into the blues a little bit later. I’ve always just loved music.

Justin Golden and Jontavious Willis. Photo by Frank Matheis 2017.

Justin Golden and Jontavious Willis. Photo by Frank Matheis 2017.

Right now I mainly play solo gigs in and around Richmond. I’m very busy. I’ve had about 70 gigs this year already, three or four times a week most weeks. Richmond has a great amount of music venues and is very receptive to lots of different types of music. But they’re mostly actual music venues, not just small bars, like small concert halls: actual music venues. We get 40, 50, or 100 people coming out depending the day of the week.

I get billed as a singer-songwriter, which I think is usually appropriate, just because my longer sets are eclectic. I play in a guitar- harmonica duo and with a five-piece band. The harmonica player I partner with is Ty Rone, who is really just super-super charged. He’s always about the lead, so it’s fun for me to hold him back and then let him loose.

I write my take on Piedmont music as it comes to me. So and it’s not as influenced by some of the more traditional people because I hadn’t heard all that music. Now I’m listening to it. But as of three years ago when I started writing and listening to more blues I hadn’t heard people like John Jackson. That’s why I wouldn’t call myself a traditionalist. I like the traditions and I love to hear that stuff, but it’s not what influenced me originally. So it’s my take on what I’m hearing now and what I’m digging back when listening to John Cephas or like a lot of hill country blues as well, like Junior Kimbrough is pretty good. He was very rhythmic with his droning sort of repetitive stomping electric.

Justin Golden. Photo by Frank Matheis 2017.

Justin Golden. Photo by Frank Matheis 2017.

I play enough gigs where I see a lot of young people and a lot of mixed crowds, a lot of college students. I play at a vineyard once a month and that’s everybody. It’s like right along this bike trail so you get really young people and you get grandparents coming out there. I get a good crowd of African Americans out there. And the vineyard is on a plantation on the Upper Shirley Vineyards and it’s on Upper Shirley Plantation.

Presently, I don’t have an album out yet. I’m still working on my original stuff and I really want to make sure that I have a finished product of what I want to say Justin Golden is about. So that’s on the docket now, and between that and just building my audience. I’m playing a ton of gigs now, because no one in Richmond knows me yet. I’m not from there. I moved there knowing pretty much nobody. But now I’m drawing a lot of people to a show and it’s kind of cool. If all goes well I can be ready to record in January 2018 if I can. I recorded some stuff last year at Spacebomb Studios in Richmond, just rough stuff to get out there for promotional purposes.

Music is my life. I wake up ready to play, network, finding reasons to schedule a show or learn something new.”

Wait and see. You are going to remember reading it here.

Here he is performing his original song I Hate When She Calls with Andrew Alli on harmonica.

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