Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Community & Society
Published on May 29, 2017
Guitarist Jose Simioni: 'I’ve Played At Every Venue You Can Imagine'Simioni with part of his guitar collection. | Photo: Jose Simioni/Facebook

Guitarist Jose Simioni has lived and played in San Francisco for more than two decades, but he's best known in North Beach, where he appears weekly at The Saloon, The Belle Cora and Tupelo.

To learn more about his work and background, Hoodline sat down for a talk with the guitarist last week.

Hoodline: When did you start playing the guitar?

Jose Simioni: I started when I was 16. My mom bought me a $30 piece-of-shit guitar and four lessons at the local music store.

And you were off to the races.

Well, after the fourth lesson, my mom said I sucked. Told me, 'I’m wasting my time, I’m not taking you to guitar lessons anymore.'


But I kept the book from the teacher, and... I was angry. And determined.

So, I taught myself out of the book. And when I finished that book, I went for other books, and started checking out other guitar players. It just went from there.

How did you end up in San Francisco?

I came for a two-day visit, and I’ve been here 21 years. I had a guitar, amp, a sleeping bag and a few clothes.

Where did you grow up?

Washington, DC.

When was your first gig at the Saloon?

Probably like 19 years ago, 20 years ago.

Is that your favorite venue?


Where else do you like to play?

Any opportunity to play music anywhere. I like [The] Belle Cora, I like Tupelo. I’ve played at every venue you can imagine.

Who would you say are your biggest influences? 

There are many. Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Joe Pass, Jim Hall... I mean, the list goes on and on.

You have an unconventional style of playing. Can you tell us how you learned?

I was too lazy to learn guitar licks. It’s a blessing and a curse. 

What do you mean?

Well, I don’t sound like Clapton, I don’t sound like Joe Pass. I sound like me. If I had learned all those licks from other people, then I wouldn’t have an identity. That’s the problem with guitar players today. They sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan, they sound like BB King… I sound like me.

Simioni performs at The Saloon (1232 Grant Ave.) on Wednesdays from 4:30–8:30pm, and every Tuesday at The Belle Cora (565 Green St.) from 7-10pm.