Every generation or so a young bluesman bursts onto the scene. Someone who sends a jolt through blues lovers. Someone who has mastered the craft for sure, but who also has the blues deep down in his heart and soul. At the age of 21, bluesman Jontavious Willis may be the one.
We’re excited to welcome Jontavious to the 2018 faculty of the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Workshop in August.
“That’s my Wonderboy, the Wunderkind. He’s a great new voice of the twenty-first century in the acoustic blues. I just love the way he plays.” – Taj Mahal
Hailing from Greenville, Ga., Jontavious grew up singing gospel music at the Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church with his grandfather. At the age of 14, he came across a YouTube video of Muddy Waters playing “Hoochie Coochie Man” and was hooked. That’s when he set his course on the blues. All types — Delta, Piedmont, Texas, gospel. As a fingerpicker, flat-picker and slide player. On guitar, harmonica, banjo and cigar box.
And four years later he was playing on Taj Mahal’s stage.
How do you connect as a young black man in the 21st century with the music of your great-great grandfather? “In some aspects the same problems of those day are still occurring. Out of all the current music I connect with the blues the best. The same blues songs of the Jim Crow era can still be sung today. The songs about getting mistreated and abused are still fights we battle daily.” – Jontavious Willis
Currently Jontavious is finishing his studies at Columbus State University, majoring in sociology. But on most weekends you can find him playing a small house show, up on the main stage or posting music videos for his friends and fans around the world.