Playing a variety of stringed instruments, Joe Flood delivers original material in what Karen Schoemer in the New York Times called "a gravelly voice that perfectly straddles the fence between country and the blues." His songs inhabit a place where folk and blues roots meet the craft of Tin Pan Alley and the soul of the street. They have been covered by artists as diverse as the New Orleans style jazz band The Flying Neutruinos and Alt Country Chanteuse Laura Cantrell. His individual style has made him a favored co-writer of Levon Helm of the legendary group The Band as well as producer/guitarist Eric "Roscoe" Ambel.
Joe's delivery on record and in person is straightforward, real, and engaging, a style that is a direct result of his years as a busker and journeyman musician whose survival depended on making it count every time he played or opened his mouth to sing. Joe hit the road at eighteen playing the streets of San Francisco, New Orleans, Montreal, and Boston, and seeing forty-six of the fifty states. He then headed to Europe where he honed his songwriting skills and toured the continent with, among others, the Lost Wandering Blues and Jazz Band, a continually evolving unit whose alumni include Joan Osborne, Madeleine Peyroux, Japanese harmonica virtuoso Chikara Tsuzuki, and such mainstays of the New York R&B scene as Mr. Thing and Ron Sunshine. While playing with the Lost Wandering, Joe wrote many of the early jazz-flavored songs that would later appear on his disc "Hotel Albert."
Settling in New York in 1988, Joe formed the group Mumbo Gumbo with songwriter George Breakfast. Their regular Sunday night gig at the Rodeo Bar on Third Avenue was always filled with guest appearances, and the stage crowded with musicians before the night was out. Among the people who came to listen and sit in were bluesman Pinetop Perkins, Joe Ely, Eric Andersen, Rick Danko, and the cream of New York's roots musicians. Mumbo Gumbo released two songs on the Diesel Only label, both produced by friend Jono Manson and both receiving high critical praise.
Joe's songs were also immediately being covered by many of the artists on the thriving New York roots scene which spawned Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors, and Joan Osborne. Joan covered Joe's song "Night on the Town" for an early live recording and his tune "Miss Fabulous" --later used by HBO as its summer theme--was covered by numerous local bands and called "Best Original Song" on the New York Blues scene by New York Newsday. Joe also continued working as a session musician, writing, producing, and playing on spots for Sesame Street, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon.
George and Joe along with drummer and piano player extraordinaire Howie Wyeth also joined Jono Manson and the Surreal McCoys’ Kevin Trainor and Neil Thomas to form The Dogs. Howie and Joe had been writing songs together since his arrival in New York, and while The Dogs only made one recording, many of the songs Joe wrote with Howie during this period have since appeared on Joe's and other people’s recordings.
During this period Joe also began to collaborate with members of The Band whom he had met some years before while staying in Woodstock, New York. Joe wrote many songs with guitarist Jim Weider (their "Written in Stone" appears on "New Kind of Blue") and Levon Helm and worked occasionally as a side man with Rick Danko. "Move to Japan," a collaboration between Levon, Jim, Joe, and keyboardist Stan Szelest, appeared on The Band's 1993 release "Jericho."
Through his association with The Band, Joe began working with the great Artie Traum, writing songs together and occasionally appearing on the same bill. Artie recorded the Flood/Traum/Weider song “Niagara” on his record “South of Lafayette” and later sang it in a PBS documentary about Niagara Falls. Joe can be heard on Artie’s last album, “Thief of Time,” playing and singing on their co-write, “Where the Blues Began.”
Following the break up of Mumbo Gumbo, Joe began a prolific writing partnership with his old friend Jono Manson, contributing at least one song to each of Jono's solo projects. Jono's recording of "Miss Fabulous" was featured in the film "Kingpin," and Joe and Jono’s song “The Next Big Thing” appeared in Kevin Costner's "The Postman." Joe also played with Jono on the Eric Ambel produced “Little Big Man” and added background vocals and mandolin on his album “Summertime.”
Through the auspices of his friend, producer and guitarist Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, Joe has appeared on records by Mojo Nixon, the Bottle Rockets, Greg Trooper, Go To Blazes, Cheri Knight, and others. Eric produced and played on both “Cripplin’ Crutch” and “New Kind of Blue.”
Joe now lives in Guilford, CT., not far from where he grew up in the quarry town of Portland, with his wife and children.