Ben Vee’s Roadhouse 66 – The Best Blues Tunes of 2017

Compiling a list of my favorite roadhouse blues tunes of 2017 has been a labor of love. It includes some perennial favorites and some up and coming new artists. I hope you enjoy reviewing the list and hopefully you will buy and download some of the tunes.

TAJMO

At number one is Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’s, Don’t Leave Me Here, from the fantastic album Tajmo.  Two special talents working together have produced the masterpiece of  the 2017 roadhouse blues.

Walter Trout

Coming in at number two, Walter Trout is a perennial favorite of blues rockers and when you combine his guitar playing with that of Joe Bonamassa you get some very special mojo on the tune We’re All in this Together.

Altered Five Band

At number three is the Altered Five band song, Charmed & Dangerous, an upbeat badass song that exudes sexual energy from a group based in Wisconsin.

beth hart fire on the floor

Beth Hart has four songs from the album Fire on Floor in the top 66 and coming in at number four is the title cut.  It is a slow intense tune that plays to all of Beth’s strengths as a song writer and performer.

KWS Band

The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band has three songs in the top 66 from his album Lay It on Down. Nothing But the Night comes in at number five.  We have tickets to see both him and Beth Hart in July….can’t wait!!

the nighthawks

At number six is the song Three Times Your Fool by Washington D.C.’s, the Nighthawks.  This is a slow beautiful song for the ages from a group that has been playing the blues for over forty years!

thorbjorn risager

Based out of Denmark, Thorbjorn Risager & the Black Tornado, have four songs in the top 66. At number seven is the title cut, Change My Game. Featuring a full seven piece band with a compliment of some badass horns, this group is easily my favorite European roadhouse blues band.

tommy castro stompin ground

Californian Tommy Castro & the Painkillers returned to his roots in San Jose to record the album, Stompin’ Grounds, and has four songs included on my list. At number eight is Blues All Around Me.  I have seen him in concert a couple of times and can’t wait to do it again!

Tucci Olivia

At number nine is the band Tucci and the song, High Roller, that feature’s Chicago’s own Larry McCray….just some badass blues.

Dennis Johnson

Rounding out the top ten is Dennis Johnson’s rendition of Robert Johnson’s Walkin’ Blues. Dennis is a guitar virtuoso and his talent shines through on the album, Rhythmland.

Some special notes about the rest of the top Roadhouse 66:

  • Samantha Fish has songs from two different albums included on the list! On one, Hello Stranger, she channels some Amy Winehouse….give it a listen!
  • Sean Chambers has three songs from his album, Trouble & Whiskey, on the list. The album is one of my favorites of the year.
  • Hurricane Ruth, from Missouri, has three songs on the list from her album, Ain’t Ready for the Grave. She belts out tunes with power and intensity……you will enjoy… I promise 🙂
  • Savoy Brown, a British blues band that has been recording for fifty years, has a three songs from their album, Witchy Feelin’, on the list!
  • John Mayall, the elder statesman of the Roadhouse Blues, has a great song, Blues Midnight on the list.
  • Van Morrison makes the list with the title cut of his album, Roll With the Punches.
  • Newcomers Eliza Neal and Anthony Rosano & the Conqueroos are well worth a listen.
  • The list features 14 female roadhouse blues songs.  There are more and more female roadhouse blues singers releasing albums..a fantastic trend for the future.

Here is the full list….enjoy!  And you can listen to all of these songs on my 24 hour roadhouse blues stream at Ben Vee’s Roadhouse Blues!

ARTIST TITLE
1 Taj Mahal Don’t Leave Me Here (ft Keb Mo)
2 Walter Trout We’re All In This Together (feat. Joe Bonamassa)
3 Altered Five Blues Band Charmed & Dangerous
4 Beth Hart Fire On The Floor
5 Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band Nothing But The Night
6 The Nighthawks Three Times Your Fool
7 Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado Change My Game
8 Tommy Castro & The Painkillers Blues All Around Me
9 Tucci High Roller (ft Larry McCray)
10 Dennis Johnson Walkin Blues
11 Savoy Brown I Can’t Stop The Blues
12 John Mayall Blue Midnight
13 Van Morrison Roll With The Punches
14 Tommy Castro & The Painkillers Feat. Mike Zito Rock Bottom
15 James Armstrong Second Time Around
16 Eliza Neals Another Lifetime
17 Coco Montoya Hard As Hell
18 Steve Krase Brand New Thang
19 Tommy Castro & The Painkillers Nonchalant
20 John McNamara One, Two of a Kind
21 Beth Hart Love Is A Lie
22 Sean Chambers Bottle Keeps Staring at Me
23 Kenny Wayne Shepherd Baby Got Gone
24 Popa Chubby Rescue Me
25 Dudley Taft I Lost My Way
26 The Nighthawks That’s All You Gotta Do
27 Savoy Brown Why Did You Hoodoo Me
28 Sean Chambers Trouble & Whiskey
29 Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado Train
30 Corey Dennison Band Hear My Plea
31 Hurricane Ruth Let Me Be the One
32 Anthony Rosano & The Conqueroos Bound To You
33 Karen Lovely Nice and Easy
34 John Ginty And Aster Pheonyx Captain Hook
35 Sean Chambers Gonna Groove
36 Beth Hart Tell Her You Belong To Me (feat. Jeff Beck)
37 Kenny Wayne Shepherd How Low Can You Go
38 Walter Trout Crash And Burn (feat. Joe Louis Walker)
39 Samantha Fish No Angels
40 Downchild Blues Band Mailbox Money
41 Gregg Allman I Love The Life I Live
42 Janiva Magness I Can Tell
43 Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado I Used to Love You
44 Peter Parcek World Keep On Turning
45 Milligan Vaughan Project Dangerous Eyes
46 Hurricane Ruth Beekeeper
47 The Cash Box Kings All Night Long
48 Kim Wilson Bonus Boogie
49 Jan James Black Orchid Blues
50 Hamilton Loomis Sugar Baby
51 Beth Hart Let’s Get Together
52 Billy Flynn You Are My Lover
53 Delta Wires Your Eyes
54 Savoy Brown Vintage Man
55 Samantha Fish Hello Stranger
56 The Original Blues Brothers Band Got My Mojo Working
57 Hurricane Ruth Barrelhouse Joe’s
58 Linsey Alexander Where Did You Take Your Clothes off Last Night
59 Bridget Kelly Band What You Need
60 The Magpie Salute Comin’ Home (Live)
61 Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado Hard Time
62 The Gordon Meier Blues Experience Just Keep Ridin’
63 Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm You Must Believe in Yourself
64 Jimmy Carpenter You Belong to Me
65 Albert Castiglia Woman Don’t Lie
66 Tommy Castro And The Painkillers My Old Neighborhood
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Some Badass 2017 Blues for a Sunday Night!

blues notes

My Sunday Night playlist for my Nov 26th blues set at 6 pm PST…….. the blues is doin’ just fine in 2017!!  Startin’ to think about my best of 2017 blues list…..stay tuned!!

Hope you listen to several or all of them over the next week and buy or gift them to your family & friends for the holidays!!  Support the Blues!!

 

ARTIST TITLE
Sugar Ray & The Bluetones You Know I Love You
Derrick Procell Why I Choose To Sing The Blues
Jack Mack & The Heart Attack Good Man Gone
Trudy Lynn Alright Baby
Dave Fields Doin’ Hard Time (feat. Joe Louis Walker)
Mississippi Heat The Last Go Round
Biscuit Miller She Likes to Boogie
Eliza Neals Another Lifetime
Beth Hart Love Gangster
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones Blind Date
Big Head Blues Club Hidden Charms
John Mayall Blue Midnight
Colin James Watch Out
JW-Jones Who I Am
John Ginty And Aster Pheonyx Captain Hook
Derrick Procell Trouble Me No More
Knickerbocker All-Stars Reap What You Sow
Thornetta Davis I Gotta Sang the Blues (ft Kim Wilson)
Elvin Bishop That’s What I’m Talkin’ About
Billy Price What Have I Done Wrong
Sean Chambers Bottle Keeps Staring at Me
Gregg Allman I Love The Life I Live
Hurricane Ruth Let Me Be the One

Workin that Big Brass Mojo with the Original Blues Brothers Band

The-Original-Blues-Brothers-Band-CD-Cover-150x150

The band began as part of a whimsical skit on NBC’s Saturday Night Live back in 1978. Fronted by Dan Akroyd and Jim Belushi as Jake and Elwood, the Original Blues Brothers band generated a renewed interest in big brass rhythm and blues that literally swept the world spawning concerts, movies, and huge increases in the sales of rhythm & blues and soul music.  With the release of The Last Shade of Blue Before Black, they remind us again of just what all the hub bub was about.

The Original Blues Brothers Band featuring Steve Cropper and “Blue Lou” Marini are a talent laden group of musicians that, according to Lou,  like to spread the news about the blues, drink, party, and have fun (in no particular order).  The party atmosphere comes through loud and clear on the new album and they invite former band leader Paul Shaffer, Dr. John, Joe Louis Walker, Eddie Floyd, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, and Joe Morton along for the good times as special guests.

I really enjoyed their rendition of the Jimmy Reed‘s tune Baby What You Want Me To DoBlues in My Feet, Itch and Scratch, Sex Machine, and Don’t Forget about Jame Brown are some badass funk.  Joe Louis Walker aces Don’t Go No Further and the band ‘s cranks out a great cover of Got My Mojo Working. I also loved You Left the Water the Running.

With the holiday season upon us, this album makes a great stocking stuffer! And if you have a party, I can’t think of a better ice breaker to get the good times rollin’!!

The Original Blues Brothers Band – The Last Shade of Blue Before Black – Severn Records 2017

 

 

Milligan Vaughan Project….Some Satisfaction for the Soul!

MPV

It must be pretty cool to have a dad, Jimmie Vaughan, who is a legendary blues man and an uncle, Stevie Ray Vaughan, that helped define the rockin’ blues genre but I can’t imagine the amount of pressure that goes with following in their footsteps and playin a guitar!  Tyrone Vaughan has done just that and acquitted himself well.  Combining forces with a well known and respected Texas blues and soul singer, Malford Milligan, they have produced a fine album called the Milligan Vaughan Project.

The album was recorded in Austin in between tour dates throughout Texas and produced by David Grissom.  It features original tunes written by Milligan, Vaughan, and Grissom and songs penned by Davey Knowles and Gene McDaneils. There is also  one fantastic cover of Buddy Guy’s Leave My Girl Alone.  Tyrone does a fine job of emulating Stevie Ray on the recording and I just know his uncle must be grinnin’ from ear to ear up there with the rest of the giants of the blues.

The music on the album is a creative mix of blues, rock, and soul.  My favorite track is a hot upbeat number entitled Soul Satisfaction. Malford has a voice similar to another favorite artist of mine, Joe Louis Walker, and his gritty delivery works well on the blues rockin song Dangerous Eyes. I also enjoyed Tyrone’s guitar licks amid the social commentary of Compared to What and on the tune Driving You.

Tyrone has an exciting future in front of him and it will be interesting to see how things work out for the Milligan Vaughan Project as time goes on.  But rest assured that Tyrone is not “trading on the family name”; he is very very good and deserves to be listened to….even if his last name was Jones!

 

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Dudley Taft’s Summer Rain lets the blues rock pour down!

Dudley Taft

I first became aware of Dudley Taft back in 2011 with the release of Left for Dead, a great blues rock album that highlighted his unique and memorable voice. Fast forward six years, and we get his fifth studio album, Summer Rain, which is just as good.  Dudley laid down the basic tracks for the new CD in his new studio outside Cincinnati (that he bought from Peter Frampton) and wrote all the songs.  He is an unabashed blues rocker and his music draws on the best of both its progenitors and helps to define the genre.

Come with Me sounds like a perfect mesh of Ted Nugent and Deep Purple; his guitar soars as an insistent beat drives the song….good stuff!  Dark Blue Star, Edge of Insane, and Don’t Let It Fade just crank!  My favorite tune is Flying on Love…..like fine tequila..sensimilla…you take me higher…why don’t we just drink margaritas and sit by the fire…..what a damn good idea…make it a bottle of Don Julio 1942 and I will be right there! I Lost My Way  and Live or Die are beautiful slow songs with great guitar licks.  And the title cut, Summer Rain, features some more great guitar riffs.

Dudley dedicated his album to all the men and women in the armed forces who accept duty tours in faraway places.   One of my greatest honors as a DJ has been to have troops stationed in Afghanistan tune into my live DJ sets on the Secondlife social grid and request mainly upbeat blues rock tunes to pump them up before they go out on missions.  The song, Pistols At Ten Paces, is one that I will be sure to play if they ask again.

This album was a great listen!  It will be officially released on September 15th and I hope it does well in terms of radio/internet play and sales over the coming months.  Download it as soon as you can….you won’t be disappointed!

Dudley Taft – Summer Rain    Taft Enterprises LLC 2017

Al Basile counts that Quiet Money as he Swings the Blues!

Al-Basile-Quiet-Money-Hi-Res-Cover-150x150

To me, Al Basile is the Randy Newman of the blues.  A talented song writer, as well as cornet player who has been playin’  for over forty years, Al has a nice vocal delivery similar to Randy’s and a penchant for songs that paint vivid images. His last recording, Mid-Century Modern, was nominated for 2016 Contemporary Blues Album of the year and his new album, Quiet Money, delivers some great forties and fifties style R&B and swing with the backing of Duke Robillard (who also produced the album) and several members of his former band, Roomful of Blues.  If you like your blues smooth and primarily upbeat, you are gonna love it!

I enjoyed Put Some Salt on It and Simple Ain’t Easy It which feature some nice guitar playin by the Duke.  On Time Is Now, Al lays down a cornet solo that is great. And my favorite song on the CD is You Got Two…..give it a listen and you tell me if he doesn’t channel a bit of Randy Newman… blues style!

Another song that really struck me on the album was Who’s Gonna Close My Eyes?  It is a story of a lonely man who has outlived his family and is contemplating who will be there for his last days.  It’s a pretty slow song set to an R&B beat with plenty of the horns that Al loves so much.

In an age when flash and shock value seems to count for more than they should, here’s my bet on Quiet Money…..Tasteful and thought provoking blues can still deliver!!

Al Basile – Quiet Money     Sweetspot Records 2017

 

 

Continuing to Innovate….Dennis Johnson finds the Rhythm!

Dennis Johnson

Guitars have been widely available in America since back in 1894 when Sears & Roebuck began to sell them in their catalogs.  For $4 to $26 dollars, you could live on a remote ranch in Wyoming or in a shotgun shack in the Mississippi delta, and Sears would mail you an instrument to while the nights…and the blues away.  Certainly the most famous practitioner of the blues on guitar back in the early days of recorded music was Robert Johnson.  Playing throughout the twenties in the deep American south and finally recording in the mid 1930’s, he was an innovator on the guitar blending rhythm and slide phrases that are still marveled at by the likes of Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy. 

Today, we also have blues innovators on the guitar and one of them is Dennis Johnson from San Francisco. The sounds he produces playing slide are a joy to listen to. And on his third studio album, Rhythmland, he continues to explore new and interesting ways to deliver the blues.  The first cut of the album, Walkin Blues, is his interpretation of a classic blues tune that was first recorded by Son House and then adapted by Robert Johnson. Dennis has the perfect voice for this song and uses a 12 string dobro with a tone that leaps out at you as it begins….it is simply bad ass upbeat contemporary blues based on a song that is almost 90 years old!!!

Accompanied by his band the Mississippi Ramblers that consists of Tim Metz (drums), Jonathan Stoyanoff (bass) and Craig Long (keyboards and backing vocals), Dennis delivers a number of other great songs (all originals) that will make my DJ playlists and be featured on my 24 hour blues stream, Ben Vee Roadhouse Blues.  I particularly enjoyed Valley of Love for the slide work and High Heel Shoes and Fillmore Street are great upbeat dancin’ blues tunes.  The recreation of the sounds of a moving train on an acoustic guitar are just part of delightful song, Southbound Train, that always features some nice keyboard work.  The most interesting cut was Timbale featuring a latin cascara beat and some more innovative slide work that I just know my blues listeners and readers will love.

Blues folks all owe a debt to Sears & Roebuck for the innovation of the “home shopping” catalog way back in the day and our grateful thanks to blues slide guitar innovators like Dennis Johnson for his continuing and entertaining pursuit of the best possible contemporary blues while never losing sight of the debt we owe to the early blues men and women.  Download and listen to this CD……you will enjoy it!

Dennis Johnson & the Mississippi Ramblers – Root Tone Records 2017