Bo Jenkins was born on a small farm in Bottleneck, Arkansas, to Joe and Thelma Jenkins. He spent his early years living next door to Levon Helms, future drummer and vocalist for The Band.
After his family moved to Helena, Arkansas, Bo grew up hearing his father sing and his grandfather (a full-blood Native American) play guitar.
Bo started his career playing the roadhouses and bars in Helena and up and down Highways 49 and 61. These have produced many renowned musicians such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Conway Twitty, Houston Stackhouse and Willie Dixon. This delta region is where blues met country and had a baby named rock and roll. Artists such as Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich and Ronnie Hawkins learned their trade in this small town.
Bo spent a few years as a deckhand working on the Mississippi River and was drafted in to the army, serving with the 82nd Airborne as a paratrooper. After his release, he decided to continue his career in music. His love of playing guitar led him to play many different styles. Over the years Bo has shared the stage with various groups such as Albert King, Reba McIntyre, Earl Thomas Conley, BB King and Kansas – thus being one of the few musicians to play major US venues in the three main styles (rock, blues and country).
Bo’s music is a combination of blues, country and rock. Bo was raised where music was a part of everyone’s life; however, it wasn’t until later in his career that he began to play blues.
After touring with other musicians, in 1992 Bo decided to form his own band in order to have the freedom to play the type of music he wanted and to write originals.
At this stage in his career Bo was settling down with his Australian wife Vanda and family. He and his family took a trip in 1993 to visit Australia, and he liked it so much that he wanted to move here. In 1994 the family uprooted from Arkansas to Melbourne, where he currently resides. He now plays in a trio and is also works solo with acoustic guitar and stompbox.
Since coming to Australia Bo has released his first CD, titled Razorback Road, which is a mixture of his musical talents. The CD is a combination of rock ’n’ roll, blues and country.
His second CD is called Skin It Back – the title is based on a musician’s phrase used in Arkansas. It reflects his growing talent as a songwriter and guitarist, as well as his recording-studio skills.
See Bo at the Riverview Hotel, Murwillumbah, on Sunday.