On front porches and in local 'juke joints' he played with old bluesmen like R.L. Burnside, T-Model Ford and Frank Frost, performed at the Sunflower Blues & Gospel Festival in Clarksdale, and featured the legendary radio show King Biscuit Time. Inspired by these journeys, Joep released his debut album "Blues from the Gaasperdelta", launched at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2000. After rounding up a study of English Literature at the University of Amsterdam with a dissertation on the devil in the blues, Joep's album "Stick It In" was released by the French label Bad Reputation Records. This "magnificent debut" (Fret Magazine) with a typical "adventurous and contemporary approach" (OOR Magazine) was recorded with drummer Randell Sambo and bass player Arthur ten Cate.
This formation has since played several shows and festivals in France and the Netherlands, like North Sea Jazz, Paradiso, New Morning in Paris and the Europavox Festival in Clermont-Ferrand. In 2004 Joep first traveled to Mali in search of new musical ingredients, and played with legendary guitarists like Ali Farka Touré, Djelimady Tounkara, Baba Salah and Lobi Traoré. The Malian influence on Joep’s music was first heard on his following solo album "It Is What It Is" (2006, Bad Reputation Records). Late 2006, he returned to Mali to record the album "I Yougoba" in Bamako with Lobi Traoré, and performed at the Festival sur le Niger in Segou. After a solo tour through the US, with showcases in New York, San Francisco and the SXSW Festival in Texas in 2007, "I Yougoba" was released by the British label Cadiz Records. The project featured on several big Dutch festivals such as Oerol, North Sea Jazz, Festival Mundial and in rooms like Melkweg, 013 and Bimhuis.
Early 2008 the band 'Joep Pelt & Lobi Traoré' toured successfully through the US, playing showcases in New York, Chicago and the SXSW Festival. The US release of "I Yougoba", the re-release in Benelux by Excelsior Recordings and the documentary in the Museum of Ethnicology in Leiden proved to be the perfect finale for this collaboration. At this time, a new solo album is being worked on, with several side projects in the making. Unsurprisingly Joep Pelt has come to be known as one of the most adventurous artists of the Dutch music scene, as OOR Magazine once wrote: "Both solo and with his band, he proved to have a personal and contemporary perspective on roots music", to which Fret Magazine concluded: "An adventurous spirit with an unstoppable curiosity. When it comes to Joep never say 'never'".
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