Smokin’ Blues Reviews (March 26, 2015)

Jay Willie Blues BandRumblin’ and Slidin’ – Zoho Root 2014

No Cigar – Not as good as the previous two albums from this Connecticut based trio. Somehow they lost the mojo!

Billy Walton Band Wish for What You Want – VizzTone Label Group 2014

One Fine Cigar – Some great blues rock and soul from a Jersey Shore artist! Enjoyed Mountain, Come On Up, Blues Comes a Knockin’, and loved Worried Blues!

Johnny Drummer Bad Attitude – Earwig Records 2013

One Fine Cigar for a Bluesman! He moved from the Deep South to Chicago in the fifties and played with Muddy, Junior Wells, and Otis Spann. He holds court every week at Lee’s Unleaded Blues in Chicago. Loved the title cut, Ain’t No Secret in a Small Town, and My Woman My Money My Whiskey. Check him out in person if ya live close, aren’t many of the original electric bluesmen still with us!

Mike SponzaMike Sponza (ft. Duke Robillard & Herbie Goins) – Epops Productions 2015

One Nice Cigar – An Italian bluesman with a beautiful touch on the guitar, this was a real pleasure to listen to. This is a remastered reissue of the 2003 original. Particularly enjoyed Small Gods and As the Years Go Passing By!

Smokin’ Blues Reviews (March 16, 2015)

Vaneese ThomasBlues for my Father – Segue Records 2014

One fine Cuban cigar and a sniffer of brandy –  She has the blues in her blood and the pedigree shows! Daughter of bluesman Rufus Thomas and sibling of R&B and Memphis blues artists Carla and Marvell, Vaneese is just smokin’ hot on a great album nominated and likely to win the 2015 Soul Blues album of the year award. I loved the tune Southern Central Blues!

Michael BloomfieldFrom His Head To His Heart To His Hands – Sony Legacy 2014

A box of Cubans and a long weekend – He deserves a place on the same podium as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher, and Joe Bonamassa. Bob Dylan once called him the greatest guitar player ever yet most people to this day have no idea who he is. He was a member of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and founded Electric Flag as well as being a session man for Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin to name just two. This 3 CD and one DVD box set will help you understand why blues aficionados love him! A great gift for the bluesman or woman in your life! I love his work on Janis Joplin’s One Good Man…..have a listen!

Smokin’ Blues Reviews (March 11, 2015)

Sitting in my easy chair smoking a cigar and ponderin’ blues reviews:

Selwyn BirchwoodDon’t Call No Ambulance – Alligator Records 2014

One Fine Cuban Cigar and a sniffer of brandy – The debut album from this Tampa based musician is a great mix of blues and R&B with some fine guitar playin’. Enjoyed the grindin’ blues jam, Brown Paper Bag. I think this is a shoe in for Best New Artist album of the year.

Annika Chambers & the Houston All-StarsMaking My Mark – Montrose Records 2014

One Fine Cigar and two tickets to paradise – She does some sultry Chicago style tunes on her debut album that hold promise for a great blues future. Checkout Put It Where You Want It and Let’s Get Down to Business.

Austin Walkin’ CaneOne Heart Walkin’ – Lazy Eye Records 2014

One fine Cigar – Some excellent delta acoustic blues by this Ohio based artist. I loved the title cut and South of Lonesome.

Janiva MagnessOriginal – Fathead Records 2014

One fine Cigar on a relaxed evening – Another solid R&B recording from one of the great artists of our time. She is at her best on slow melancholy tunes but she can also get your hips and feet movin’! When You Were My King, Badass, I Need a Man, and The Hard Way are all great tunes.

Joe Louis Walker Hornet’s Nest – Alligator Records 2014

Cigars all around at a party – A fantastic mix of the rockin’ blues that highlight his unique voice and guitar style. I downloaded the entire album! I’m Gonna Walk Outside is grindin’ blues at its best.

Keb’ Mo’Bluesamericana – Kind of Blue Music 2014

One Fine Cigar and a sniffer of brandy – Keb’ breaks the acoustic mold with a great electric R&B and blues album. Move is the blues dance song of the year in my opinion. And That’s Alright should have been nominated for blues song of the year. This has Contemporary Blues Album of the year written all over it!

A great interview with Beth Hart in New Zealand to rehearse for her new album tour!

Check out this interview about the songs on the new album!  Beth is just so open and sincere…I just wanna hug her!

And the pre release single from the new album due out on April 15th!

Paul Butterfield Blues Band (Born in Chicago: composed by Nick Gravenites)

They exposed the sound of the blues to a whole new generation of urban rock listeners. Glad to see them getting their just due!


On April 18th, they will finally be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Paul Butterfield Blues Band! Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield, Mark Naftalin, Sam Lay, Elvin Bishop, Jerome Arnold and Billy Davenport.

Paul Butterfield Blues Band @Freakoutville

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A Blues Primer for Electric Blues and Blues Rock Artists

What is the blues? I get asked that question a lot and it is not as easy to answer as it might sound. The blues covers a lot of territory from its roots in the African culture and rhythms of the American Deep South to the latest music from Buddy Guy and Joe Bonamassa. There is the delta blues of the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s personified in the music of Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Skip James, Son House, and Sonny Boy Williamson to name just a few. There is the electric blues (and soul blues) of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Elmore James, Albert King, Freddie King, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, and Howlin’ Wolf that emigrated from the American south to the cities of the northern United States during the 40’s and 50’s , primarily to Chicago. Both the delta and Chicago blues were reinterpreted by a bunch of young urban kids in bands like the Rolling Stones, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the Doors, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Jimi Hendrix, and many others to create the blues rock genre. There are country blues, jazz blues, soul blues, jump blues, Kansas City Blues, St. Louis blues, New Orleans blues, gospel blues, swamp blues, and the West Coast blues. There are female blues (and jazz) from the likes of Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Etta James, Janis Joplin, Janiva Magness, Koko Taylor, and Beth Hart. The blues is a broad diversified music genre that has expanded from the Mississippi Delta and is now enjoyed all over the world.

So for me, the blues is about the music. It has no color, though we all pay our deep respects to the early black blues men and women artists who worked the fields, the juke joints, and battled the menace of segregation. The blues is definitely not politically correct, and it is not confined to one type of lyric composition or music style. It is the music of the soul battling the everyday demons that haunt us all. The stories it tells in the music often don’t have happy ending and deal with jealousy, lust, drinking, anger, remorse, and sadness. But they also address joy, faith, and profound love. The blues instrument of choice for me is the electric guitar but the acoustic guitar, the bass, drums, the Hammond organ, the harmonica, the piano and electric keyboards, and a variety of horns populate the music of the blues.

So if you’d like to learn more about the blues, listen to the music! Download some to support the artists, checkout out Spotify on the internet, visit my stream at , and most importantly, go see them LIVE! Blues artists almost to a person are accessible at their shows. They are you and me…real down to earth people. And they love their blues. They have to….. since most can’t make a living solely from the blues unless they stay on the road paying their dues. Below is a list of artists that I enjoy from the electric blues and blues rock genres; many have passed on but there are plenty that are out there touring regularly. It is not an all inclusive list but it will get you started! Enjoy the artists and the tunes!

Electric and Soul Blues Artists

B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Buddy Guy, Etta James, Eric Clapton, Luther Allison, Janiva Magness, Koko Taylor, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Little Walter, Hubert Sumlin, Albert Collins, AC Reed, Chris Thomas King, Curtis Salgado, Deborah Coleman, Dion, Boz Scaggs, Hound Dog Taylor, Elmore James, Willie Dixon, Ian Siegal, Irma Thomas, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, Joe Lewis Walker, Johnny Copeland, Shemika Copeland, Junior Wells, Keb Mo, Tab Benoit, Kim Wilson, Lonnie Brooks, Lonnie Mack, Magic Sam, Magic Slim, Marcia Ball, Maria Muldaur, Mary Bridget Davies, Mavis Staples, Melody Gardot, Mississippi Fred McDowell, RL Burnside, Nina Simone, Otis Rush, Robert Cray, Robert Johnson, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Ruthie Foster, Seasick Steve, Taj Mahal, and T-Bone Walker.

Blues Rock Artists

Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Albert Cummings, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Vaughan, 24 Pesos, The Black Keys, the Rolling Stones, Cream, Alvin Lee, Robin Trower, Albert Castiglia, Damon Fowler, Ana Popovic, Meena, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Bonnie Raitt, Bryce Janey, Jack White, Julian Sass, Coco Montoya, Colin James, Dave Hole, David Gogo, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Eric Gales, Dr. John, Van Morrison, Steve Miller Band, Johnny Winter, Elvin Bishop, Eric Sardinas, the Allman Brothers, Gary Clark Jr, Gary Moore, Jeff Healey, George Thorogood, Gov’t Mule, Greg Allman, Devon Allman, The Royal Southern Brotherhood, Trampled Under Foot, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Thackery, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Jonny Lang, Joss Stone, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Leslie West, Mike Zito, Nick Moss, Ollie Brown, Omar and the Howlers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pat Travers, Chuck Berry, Fleetwood Mac, Rory Gallagher, Samantha Fish, Sena Ehrhardt, Sonny Landreth, Stacy Mitchart, JJ Grey & Mofro, The Blues Brothers, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Peter Green, Tinsley Ellis, Tommy Castro, Grand Funk Railroad, Joe Cocker, Tony Jo White, Ty Curtis Band, ZZ Ward, Walter Trout, and Warren Haynes.