"This is the first time I ever decided to do a full-on, whole-hog acoustic show," Bonamassa says of the surprising DVD and live CD.
We've grown used to seeing Joe Bonamassa with an electric guitar in his hands since he was a teen prodigy. But he his new CD and DVD -- "An Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House," due out March 26 -- taps into Bonamassa's quieter side.
"I have a few areas which I can surprise people with, and I think the acoustic thing is one of them," Bonamassa tells Billboard. He filmed the DVD last year accompanied by a quartet that played a selection of favorites as well as rarely performed songs such as "Seagull," "Jelly Roll" and "Athens To Athens." "We've been kind of woodshedding the acoustic thing for many years. I do a little bit in the live show, but this is the first time I ever decided to do a full-on, whole-hog acoustic show. It's a whole different thing. There's no four-minute solo at the end of 'Sloe Gin' anymore. There's none of those long jams. It was a real shocker to me, but I think once I got my head around it and really embraced it, it was great. I think it made me a better singer, too."
That said, don't expect to see an acoustic studio album from Bonamassa any time soon.
"I've been doing more acoustic stuff in the live show, but I don't really fancy doing that (in the studio)," he explains. "Originally we were doing to do an acoustic studio album, way back in the day, but that kind of thing doesn't appeal to me. I think it would be boring in the studio, kind of lighting candles and incense and all that stuff. I'd rather just do it in a live set."
Palladia HD will premiere "An Acoustic Evening..." on March 23, while PBS will be airing the show subsequently.
Bonamassa -- who recently finished working on a second album with Beth Hart, a follow-up to 2011's lauded "Don't Explain" that's due out this summer -- certainly isn't wallowing in acoustic world. He kicks off a North American tour on April 10 in Vancouver, with three shows slated for May 16-18 at New York's Beacon Theatre. Before that, however, he's doing a four-night stand in London at the end of March, playing four different venues and a different show every night -- including a trio show March 26 at Borderline and a horn-augmented band the following night at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire -- which will be filmed for future DVDs.
"I'm doing all my material, starting from way back in the day," Bonamassa says. "It's going to be fun. I enjoy it, and it'll be a challenge. I haven't sung some of these tunes in a long time, so it should be a treat for me and the fans."
Meanwhile, Bonamassa isn't ruling out a return at some point to the all-star Black Country Communion, even after last year's public tiff with singer-bassist Glenn Hughes over touring after the release of the group's "Afterglow."
"I'm not a guy to hold a grudge," Bonamassa says. "I'm still a fan. I'm still (Hughes') friend. But touring is not what we all signed up for in that band... and I'm not certain of how much demand there is for it, anyway. It's not like we're talking about an act that's platinum or even close. It's not even trash can lid. We're talking about a group that sold a couple hundred thousand records total. It's not a sustainable model to (tour). As long as it's fun, then I'm in; if it's not fun, then I'm not in. That's just the way it is."