Ben’s Best – Rockin’ Blues Bundle 2016 (Part One)

It was a great year for the rockin’ blues!  From Finland, Iceland, Great Britain, and Canada as well as in the United States, a slew of great new blues tunes were released featuring hits from new artists as well as established stars of the genre.  In growing recognition of the distinct and unique sound of the rockin’ blues, the Grammy awards have initiated a new “Contemporary Blues” award category that features artists that in past years would have competed in the blues or rock categories; now we have a home!  We can only hope that other major music awards venues, besides the Blues Foundation,  will follow suit in the coming years! For rockin’ blues DJs and writers like myself, this is a vindication that, yes, it is the blues, and, yes…it does Rock!

Here is my 2016 Rockin’ Blues Bundle (Part One).  The artists, albums, and songs are featured in no particular order. There is a healthy representation of female blues artists on the list, a reemergence of R&B in several selections, and, most prominently, a large number of Canadian artists. Our neighbors to the north know how to rock the blues! I hope you download and listen to ALL of them!


joe-b-blues-of-desp-2

Joe Bonamassa – Blues of Desperation

Drive, Mountain Climbing….oh hell …every song on the album!! He is the best rockin blues artist on the planet….enuff said.

 

the-record-company-give-it-back-to-youThe Record Company – Give it Back to You

Feel So Good, Off the Ground…..again….every song on the album deserves a listen. These guys, based in Los Angeles, are one of Billboard’s breakout artists of the year and nominated for a Grammy Award in the Contemporary Blues category.

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Kaleo – A/B

Way Down We Go, Glass House, & Hot Blood. Based in Iceland, this band, like the nation’s football club at the 2016 Euro championship, has taken the world by storm!

 

 

sean-pinchin-monkey-brain

Sean Pinchin – Monkey Brain

Hard Luck is an infectious upbeat tune. Feelin down or dreary?…put this tune on and shake those hips…pat your leg to the beat.. to some badass Canadian rockin’ blues.

 

jordan-patterson-band  Jordan Patterson Band – The Back on Track Recording Project

She’s Cool, Favorite Boy, & Heartbreaker (Revisited) are just HOT rockin blues tunes from another Canadian artist. Turn it on…Turn it UP!  Never forget that bluesmen Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and Buddy Guy were some of the FIRST musicians to see just how much an amp and speakers could take!

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Joanne Shaw Taylor – Wild

Wanna be my Lover, Dyin’ to Know, Ready to Roll…..heck once again the whole album. This British lady is one of the world’s best guitarists as well as a gifted songwriter and singer. One of these days she and Joe Bonamassa will share a concert billing…damn..will that be a concert or what? Special mention for her version of Summertime..Janis would be proud!

 

beth-hart-fire-on-the-floor

 

 

Beth Hart – Fire on the Floor

The album title single is another fantastic sultry song from the Queen of the rockin’ blues! The album is out in Europe and will be released in the United States in February 2017. I can’t wait!

 

bonnie-raittBonnie Raitt – Dig in Deep

Bonnie Raitt has always transcended genre boundaries and she does it again on her latest recording. I loved Gypsy, Unintended Consequences, and The Ones We Couldn’t Be. My secret wish is that when I get to heaven (probably as a menial door sweeper at best!), Bonnie’s mansion will be next door so I can hear her sing for all eternity.

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Tinsley Ellis – Red Clay Soul

Tinsley is one of giants of the blues though he seldom gets the attention and acclaim he deserves. I loved Anything But Go, Don’t Cut It, and a beautiful instrumental, Estero Noche.

 

sari-schorrSari Schorr & the Engine Room – Force of Nature

This Brooklyn born singer has one of the strongest voices I have heard in a long time. A natural R&B singer, she aces a cover of the Supremes .Stop In the Name of Love and then cranks out the rockin’ blues with Ain’t Got No Money and Work No More. I’d love to see her and Beth Hart do a duet…soon!

doyle-bramhall-iiDoyle Bramhall II – Rich Man

A firstrate guitar player and regular performer at several of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festivals, he is the son of Doyle Bramhall who wrote and performed tunes for Stevie Ray Vaughan. A major talent with a great voice and a huge future, his latest album includes two cuts I loved… November and Mama Can’t Help You.

 

angel-forrestAngel Forrest – Angel’s 11

Another album where all the tunes are great. This Canadian star has produced nine stellar albums over a career spanning 27 years. A few of my favorites are Hold on Tight Mr. I’m Alright, All the Way, and a haunting country blues tune, Tumbleweed.

 

Stay tuned for part Two of Ben’s Best – 2016 Blues Bundle.  I just couldn’t include all of the great rockin’ blues artists and tunes in one blog!!  Remember I did not rank these tunes in any particular order…so the Part two bundle of artists are just as great as the ones I wrote about here. Part Two should be out in the next couple of days.  Thanks for reading. And remember to go visit your local blues club(s) and buy blues music! Help us to help the blues THRIVE…not survive!

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Hook, Line, and Sinker…Popa Chubby is the CATFISH!

I got a healthy helping of blackened catfish and POPA CHUBBY last night at Black Eyed Sally’s in Hartford!  Our second outing in as many nights at the renowned club and eatery in downtown Hartford, I got  to check an item off the bucket list while feasting on great food and the tunes of one of the most talented artists of our time.

For over 25 years, Popa Chubby has cranked out an unapologetic mix of blues and soul that rocks the rafters and, occasionally, punches you in the gut. He feeds on the audience as he plays and his banter between songs with the guests is adult in nature and no holds barred….they love him for it. I had been told that you don’t know Popa Chubby until you see him live….well I do now!  During his second set, he did a song that makes its way onto a lot of my DJ playlists, 69 Dollars.  Well, the recorded version is great but during a 20 minute rendition of it, he took the tune to a whole new level and produced beautiful tones on an electric guitar that I have NEVER heard before! It was something to watch and hear.

During three hours of music spread over two sets, the “Catfish”, as he called himself,  played tunes from his latest album, The Catfish, as well as several songs from his other albums. He also feasted on some tunes by Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding (an impromptu request from the audience), and did a touching tribute to artists that passed on this year with a striking version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. His energy level was incredible though out..amazing given he literally just got off the plane from a two month tour of Europe..and has a packed booking schedule over the next couple of months.

My 24 music stream is entitled the Ben Vee Roadhouse blues.  After seeing Popa Chubby, I now know who truly rules the roadhouse…..long live the CATFISH!

Strike the Bell for the Delta Generators!

Last night, we got to see a bad ass rockin’ blues band called the Delta Generators at Black Eyed Sally’s in Hartford.  I just recently added their song “Strike the Bell” to my DJ set rotations and my 24 hour blues stream, so I was pretty excited at the opportunity to see them live…they did not disappoint!

They are a four piece band out of Boston featuring brothers Rick O’Neal on bass and backup vocals and Charlie O’Neal on guitars along with Jeff Armstrong on the skins and Brian Templeton serving as the new lead vocalist, harmonica player, and on acoustic guitar.

They have been nominated for and won several blues awards since their inception in 2008 and it is readily obvious why  once you get to hear them play. They cranked out tunes last night from the latest CD offering, Hipshakers and Heartbreakers, as well as from their previous three albums. Charlie is a gifted guitarist with an unassuming style but he speaks loudly through his guitar!  Watching him work the slide was pure joy. Jeff and Rick did a good job of laying down a steady groove and Brian was simply GREAT on vocals.  Brian joined the band this past August, after the release of the latest album, and he is a big man with a huge voice that could barely be contained in the small venue.  A cross between Howlin Wolf and Magic Sam, he has the range and grittiness that I associate with the best gut wrenching roadhouse blues singers.

During a break, I got to chat briefly with the brothers. Rick indicated that they are going to focus on building a larger base at clubs in the Northeastern United States over the coming months. Sooooo….strike the bell….pass the word in the Northeast……the Delta Generators are coming soon to a club near YOU!