Joe Beard (b. Feb. 4, 1938) is Rochester’s legendary blues guitarist and vocalist. He has many times toured the United States as well as Europe and has sat in with Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and his idol John Lee Hooker. Beard performed at the inauguration gala of President George H.W. Bush.
He grew up in Ashland, Mississippi, surrounded by aspiring and veteran blues musicians, singing at an early age and taking to the guitar when he was 17. After settling in Rochester in the mid-1950s he formed the Soul Brothers Six and also befriended famed classic blues guitarist Son House, who was his neighbor in Rochester (and now a fellow inductees in the Rochester Music Hall of Fame). Beard and Son House began playing together, including a concert for students at the University of Rochester in 1968. Beard’s music is rooted in the delta and early urban blues of Memphis, Detroit, and Chicago. Critics and fans say his songs have a storytelling quality about them. Beard has recorded several acclaimed blue albums, incuding the critically acclaimed “Blues Union” with musician Ronnie Earl in 1996, which won Offbeat Magazine‘s Blues Album of the Year award.