Best of the Blues 2019 – The Ben Vee Roadhouse Blues 66

The year 2019 was a banner year for the roadhouse blues across the world. From Australia to Copenhagen and along all points in between, both debut artists and well established performers released a stunning number of new recordings. Every month my in box and my mail box were full of some fabulous blues recordings which makes picking the Ben Vee Roadhouse Blues 66 this year much more daunting.

This year’s list includes classic blues, roots oriented blues, R&B, soul, contemporary blues and blues rock artists with songs that span the genre from “almost the blues” tunes to the stellar classic blues sound of Mary Lane. Given that many of us have some extra time on our hands due to the ongoing global pandemic, I hope you enjoy downloading and listening to every one of these songs.

The position of the songs on the list is of little consequence…you might list them in a different order and get no argument from me.  Whether it is song #23 by Samantha Fish or number 66 by the Coyote Kings, all of these tunes made my playlists for my roadhouse blues shows at http://www.bluesmusicfan.com, got mentioned on my Ben Vee Facebook page or Twitter account, and/or got written about on this website at http://www.benveeblues.com during 2019. All 66 are representative of the energy and vitality that permeates the modern contemporary blues….by and large they are upbeat…sometimes loud…and truly international.

The Top Ten (in no particular order other than #1)

#1 Mary Lane – Blues Give Me a Feeling (2019 Travelin’ Woman)

Mary Lane, from Chicago, recorded the Roadhouse Blues 66 number one tune of 2019 at the age of 83!! How cool is that! She is one of the last living legendary singers of the blues to have been part of the great migration from the American Deep South to Chicago in the 1940’s. Just a fabulous tune!

Big Daddy Wilson – Crazy World (2019 Deep In My Soul)

An expat from the United States who has lived in Germany for years, Big Daddy aces an sumptuous slow soul ballad.

Altered Five Blues Band – Mischief Man (2019 Ten Thousand Watts)

Led by the deep blues voice of Jeff Taylor, this group out of Wisconsin once again makes one of my top performer annual blues lists.

Keb’ Mo’ – Cold Outside (2019 Oklahoma)

I played this song over and over when it came out on the album this past summer. You can nevah get enough of Keb’ Mo’!

Christone Kingfish Ingram – Fresh Out (2019 Kingfish)

A 20 year old with a debut album that features a cut with Buddy Guy as well as another with Keb’ Mo’. Life is good for this very talented young man.

Jontavious Willis – Low Down Ways (2019 Spectacular Class)

Another young blues artist that attracted the attention of Taj Mahal as well as Keb’ Mo’, Jontavious has stardom written all over him. It will be interesting to see how he evolves as a blues artist as the years roll by.

Tiffany Pollack & Eric Johanson – Blues In My Blood (2019 Blues In My Blood)

This blues duo hails from my hometown of New Orleans. Tiffany has a haunting voice that is framed by a strong beat and memorable guitar licks by Eric on this song.

Beth Hart – Bad Woman Blues (2019 War In My Mind)

Beth just has a great time with this tune and shows off the chops that have made her a fan favorite amongst blues rockers.

Brandon Santini – Drive You Off My Mind (2019 The Longshot)

This long time resident of Memphis had a great year in 2019. He was my 2019 Roadhouse Bluesman of the Year for both this album and one he did with Tennessee Redemption. A great voice and world class harmonica player; what’s not to like!

Allman Betts Band – Shinin’ (2019 Down to the River)

The sons of the Allman Brothers pick up where their dads left off! Not much else to be said but get yer tickets when they get close by!!


As you look through the rest of the list and hopefully listen to many, if not all, of the tunes, I hope you get an appreciation for what I term as the roadhouse blues. From its roots in the deep American south, the blues has grown and expanded to become a worldwide phenomenon. (And if someone you know states “the blues is dead” just show them this list and ask them how so?!) I am proud to be one of the DJs and influencers helping get the word out about just how great this music is!!!


ArtistSong TitleAlbum
1Mary LaneBlues Give Me A FeelingTravelin’ Woman
2Big Daddy WilsonCrazy WorldDeep In My Soul
3Altered Five Blues BandMischief ManTen Thousand Watts
4Keb’ Mo’Cold OutsideOklahoma
5Christone “Kingfish” IngramFresh Out (ft Buddy Guy)Kingfish
6Jontavious WillisLow Down WaysSpectacular Class
7Tiffany Pollack & Eric JohansonBlues In My BloodBlues In My Blood
8Beth Hart Bad Woman BluesWar in my Mind
9Brandon SantiniDrive You Off My MindThe Longshot
10The Allman Betts BandShinin’Down to the River
11Amnesia Blues BandFast Johnny CoolHailstorm
12HeavyDrunkIf I Love You Hard EnoughHolywater
13Mindi Abair and the BoneshakersWho’s Gonna Save My SoulNo Good Deed
14Walter TroutMe My Guitar and the BluesSurvivor Blues
15Coco MontoyaLights On But Nobody’s HomeComing In Hot
16Ghost Town Blues BandShineShine
17Chris O’Leary7 Minutes7 Minutes
18Tedeschi Trucks BandThey Don’t ShineSigns
19Van MorrisonThree Chords and the TruthThree Chords and the Truth
20Terry HanckHowlin’ For My Darlin’I Still Get Excited
21Kenny Wayne ShepherdWoman Like YouThe Traveler
22Zack Walther BandBad GirlThe Westerner
23Samantha FishDirtyKill or Be Kind
24Giles RobsonDon’t Give Up on the BluesDon’t Give Up on the Blues
25Lucky PetersonPack It Up50: Just Warming Up!
26Heather NewmanI’m Coming For YouRise from the Flames
27Left Lane CruiserSmooth CommanderShake and Bake
28Delbert McClintonA Fool Like MeTall, Dark, and Handsome
29Miss Bix and the Blues FixFollow Me DownWe Don’t Own the Blues
30Ash GrunwaldAin’t My Problem (ft The Teskey Brothers)Mojo
31The Texas HornsI’m Doin’ Alright (ft. Carolyn Wonderland)Get Here Quick
32The Mike Duke ProjectI’m Not Sad Tonight….Took a Whlle
33Ronnie Earl & the BroadcastersBaby How LongBeyond the Blue Door
34Travelin’ Blue KingsNinety MinutesWired Up
35Al BasileSo Called Story TellerB’s Hothouse
36Ida Bang & the Blue TearsShelter MeGood to Me
37Arsen ShomakhovWomen and WhiskeyRainy City Blues
38Elles BaileyHelp SomebodyRoad I Call Home
39The Teskey BrothersSo Caught UpRun Home Slow
40Kerry Pastine and the Crime SceneDown DownCity of Love
41Tad RobinsonReal StreetReal Street
42Sugaray RayfordThe RevelatorSomebody Save Me
43Southern AvenueWhiskey LoveKeep On
44Honey HoundsShine OnThe Flame
45Zac HarmonGypsy RoadMississippi BarBQ
46Annika ChambersI Feel the Same (ft Paul DesLauriers)Kiss My Sass
47Tennessee RedemptionBack To TennesseeTennessee Redemption
48Ivy FordStart a FightHarvesting  My Roots
49Wentus Blues Band w/ Duke Robillard 2:19Too Much Mustard
50Rockin’ Johnny & QuiQue GomezEverybody Loves My BabyDos Hombres Wanted
51Albert CastigliaHeavyMasterpiece
52Seth RosenbloomBroke And LonelyKeep On Turning
53Arlen RothI Can Fix It (ft Jack Pearson)Tele Masters
54Eliza NealsPawn Shop Blues (Roadhouse)Sweet Or Mean
55The Kokomo KingsHeatwaveFighting Fire with Gasoline
56Robin TrowerComing Closer to the DayComing Closer to the Day
57Blue Moon MarqueeAs I Lay DyingBare Knuckes & Brawn
58Peter WardTrain to Key BiscayneTrain to Key Biscayne
59Duke RobillardDon’t Bother Trying To Steal Her LoveEar Worms
60Harpdog BrownThinkin’ and Drinkin’For Love & Money
61Brother YusefI’m a BluesmanJook Joint Jam
62Manx Mariner ManlineRattlesnakeHell Bound for Heaven
63Josh NewcomGirl Got the MojoThe Blues Gonna Getcha
64Savoy BrownConjure RhythmCity Night
65Big Wolf BandBe FreeBe Free
66Coyote KingsDrive MeRocket

Ben Vee is an internet DJ and writer from New Orleans that now lives in Connecticut with his wife Annette. He started spinning records back in the 1970’s and has been writing about the roadhouse blues since 2011. He does two roadhouse blues shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and he writes about the blues when the urge strikes on http://www.benveeblues.com.

Best of the Blues 2019 – Five Best Roadhouse Blues Debut Albums of the Year

During the course of 2019, I was thrilled at the number of new artists that released debut albums. It bodes well for the future of the roadhouse blues in the next decade. My selections for the five best debut roadhouse blues artists of 2019 are (in alphabetical order) Christone “Kingfinsh” Ingram, Tennessee Redemption, The Allman Betts Band, The Weary Times, and Tiffany Pollack & Eric Johanson.

Christone “Kingfish” IngramKingfish ( 2019 Alligator Records)

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram hails from the heart of the delta blues in Clarkesdale Mississippi. This rising blues prodigy is only twenty and has already captured the attention of blues lovers with the release of his debut album KINGFISH. Released on the prestigious blues label, Alligator Records, the album shot to the top of the blues charts this past May and has garnered him attention around the blues world.

He started out playing and singing gospel in church and by the time he was fifteen performed at the White House for Michelle Obama as part the Clarksdale Delta Museum Band. In 2017, he was a guest artist on Eric Gales’ Middle of the Road album. Eventually he caught the attention of the living blues legend Buddy Guy, blues maestro Keb’ Mo’, and Grammy award winning artist and producer Tom Hambridge. With the touch of a master, Tom brings out the best in Christone on the debut album.

KINGFISH is a traditional blues album chocked full of great tunes. Fresh Out features the mastery of Buddy Guy, Hard Times is some fine delta acoustic blues, and Listen is a great duet with Keb’ Mo’. Few debut albums feature such a strong cast of world class supporting artists. It is a tribute to Christone’s talent and a beacon pointing to a very bright future.

Tennessee RedemptionTennessee Redemption (2019 Endless Blues Records)

Brandon Santini, my 2019 Roadhouse Bluesman of the Year, received the award in part for the release of this self titled album TENNESSEE REDEMPTION. After years of honing their craft on Beale Street in Memphis (sometimes together sometimes apart), Brandon (lead vocals, harmonica) teamed with long time friend Jeff Jensen (lead vocals, guitar) and incorporated Timo Arthur (guitar, bass), Bill Ruffino (bass, vocals), and David Green (drums, vocals) to form this solid and tight band.

The album includes eight original songs plus a cover of the Tom Waits tune, Come On Up to the House and a great rendition of Little Walter’s Watch Yourself. Back To Tennessee is a fabulous jam tune steeped in the southern sound that emanated out of Macon Georgia back in the 1970’s and features some great guitar playing by Jeff and Timo. Glad To Be recounts Brandon and Jeff’s time playing on Beale Street and collecting dreams that have been realized with release of this recording. Given my love for the beaches, people, food, and tequila found in the small towns of our southern neighbor, it should be no surprise that I also enjoyed I’m Going To Mexico. See About Me, Souls In the Water, and the funky We Got A Thing Going On are also highly recommended.

Tennessee Redemption is an ideal example of the roadhouse blues with its roots in the blues but also reflecting the influences of gospel, southern rock, classic R&B, and soul. I look forward to seeing how they develop and mature their sound as the years go by.

The Allman Betts Band – Down to the River (2019 BMG Rights Management LLC)

Few groups in recent years have debuted an album to such popular and critical acclaim as THE ALLMAN BETTS BAND. The core of the band is three sons of the Allman Brothers Band (ABB): Devon Allman, Duane Betts, and Barry Oakley Jr.. Additionally Johnny Stachela provides some stellar slide guitar playing along with one of my favorite Hammond B3 organ players, John Ginty. The band also features percussionist R. Scott Bryan and drummer John Lum. And as if that wasn’t enough, former ABB keyboard player Chuck Leavall (currently with The Rolling Stones) and the Hammond B3 player for the Greg Allman Band, Peter Levin, make guest appearances on the recording.

Down to the River was recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama and features nine songs. My favorite on the album is a tune steeped in the legacy of ABB, Shinin’. All Night is a great showcase for Devon’s vocal talent and Melodies Are Memories is reminiscent of The Band and the Grateful Dead at their best and features Duane on vocals. Long Gone is a terrific ballad and the title cut, Down To The River, is some sweet easy classic R&B. Autumn Breeze is a song I can’t wait to see them jam to in concert. And Good Ol’ Days is a beautiful reminder that we need to embrace and live the “good ol’ days” now.

Since the album was released last summer, the Allman Betts Band has been on an ambitious tour of the United States and Europe. It is my understanding that the crowds have been huge and the audience response phenomenal. They are definitely on my bucket list of groups to see in 2020.

The Weary Times – The Weary Times (2019 Way Down Records)

THE WEARY TIMES, a band out of Boise Idaho, first caught my ear this past summer with Why Are You So Lonely. It’s a sad song that captures the feel of early sixties doo wap enhanced by the gravely voice of Ryan Curtis and the sparse and delightful guitar playing of Mike Simon. The tune, Piece of Mind, also grabbed me with the keyboard playing of Mike Swain and is a throwback to the very best that Eric Burdon & the Animals kicked out back in the day. Nick Archibald on bass and Ben Wieland on drums complete this creative quintet of musicians that proudly claim the blues and early rock’n’roll as the basis for their sound.

Nostalgic blues rock is the best way that I can describe The Weary Times debut album overall. Mixing in reverb and fuzz to give several songs an energetic garage band feel just adds icing to the cake. Ain’t Done Drinking and Anymore rock the blues, Best For You is another Eric Burdon & the Animals style tune, I Don’t Know Why and Hard Times are great sixties psychedelia, and Give And Take is a slow insightful song about aging after a hard lived youth.

I listened to literally hundreds of new albums during 2019 and very few were as unique and imaginative as an overall recording as this one. They have captured the essence of the early and mid 1960’s music sound (which was always based on the blues) and reintroduced it, after a fifty year lapse, with contemporary themes. It is music nostalgia for modern times.

After playing small clubs and venues across the Pacific Northwest the past couple of years, the Weary Times have earned the opportunity with this debut recording to expand their fan base and turn the rest of the roadhouse blues world on to their music. I just hope they are ready for the wild ride!!

Tiffany Pollack & Eric Johanson – Blues In My Blood (2019 NOLA Blue Records)

The best debut album by a duet couple since Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart back in 2011, Blues In My Blood is a solid recording by New Orleans based Tiffany Pollack and Eric Johanson. Tiffany comes to the blues from her roots in jazz music and Eric is an up and coming bluesman who has caught the attention of non other than Tab Benoit!

They combined their writing talents to pen seven of the 11 songs on the recording. My absolute favorite is the title cut, Blues in My Blood. It starts with a gospel inspired delta feel and then builds in intensity with some great guitar work by Eric and a powerful vocal delivery by Tiffany. Another favorite is Diamonds on the Crown with great harmonies and thoughtful social commentary. Eric has a voice similar to another great blues man from Louisiana, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and his guitar style is stellar on the song. Tiffany takes on the Nina Simone classic Do I Move You? and aces it with a sultry jazzy performance. Eric takes the vocal lead on Get Lost With Me, a blues ballad, and again wowed me with his guitar.

I also enjoyed the roots blues tune Memories to Forget as well as a knockout performance by Tiffany of the Joni Mitchell song, River, which I consider a great Christmas time tune. I played it several times during my DJ sets this past season and the response was tremendous!

Musicians that contributed their talents to the recording include Brentt Arcement (drums), Phil Wang (bass), John Gros (keyboards), producer Jack Miele (bass, bass guitar, and percussions), Sean Carey (backing vocals) and a guest appearance by the great Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone as well as the 504 Horns.

My only disappointment is that I have seen no evidence since the release of the album last spring that they have toured to support the recording. Both have returned to their solo careers. Tiffany & Co are playing jazz venues in New Orleans and Eric is touring with Tab Benoit who produced his 2017 highly acclaimed album, Burn It Down. I hear that Tab is playing drums for Eric during his part of the show; I’d pay to see that!!

My hope is that, as Joe and Beth have done, they will get back together from time to time and lay down some more tracks…..they both have blues in their blood!


Ben Vee is an internet DJ and writer from New Orleans that now lives in Connecticut with his wife Annette. He started spinning records back in the 1970’s and has been writing about the roadhouse blues since 2011. He does two roadhouse blues shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and he writes about the blues when the urge strikes on http://www.benveeblues.com.

Best of the Blues 2019 – Soul Blues Albums of the Year

This year’s Ben Vee Roadhouse Blues best soul blues albums feature artists based in Europe, Indianapolis, Houston, Memphis, and Tyler, Texas. They all share a love for a genre that has bested the years and continues to thrive today! Great voices combined with both funky and sensual beats are the hallmark of soul blues and all five of these artists are doin’ a fine job of carrying on the soul blues tradition. The artists are listed in no particular order….I hope you download and enjoy all five! (Links to Spotify for the albums are shown in blue.)

Big Daddy Wilson – Deep in My Soul (2019 Ruff Records)

Born Wilson Blount in Edelston North Carolina, Big Daddy Wilson has been living in Germany since he left the armed forces 25 years ago. He started his recording career in the 1990’s and has over a dozen album releases to his credit. For DEEP IN MY SOUL, he teamed with renown producer Jim Gaines and recorded the album at the soul and R&B Mecca of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals Alabama. Jim’s hallmark as a producer is the search for groove and raw energy. He found them years ago with Huey Lewis & the News, and with Big Daddy Wilson, he once again has the real deal.

My favorite cuts are Voodoo with its sultry beat and Crazy World, a slow soul ballad that showcases Big Daddy’s terrific voice and is easily one of my favorite tunes of the year. During February 2020, he will be touring Switzerland and Germany supporting the new release. Checkout his website at http://www.bigdaddywilson.com and if he gets close to you in Europe, go see him and drop us a line letting us know what you thought.

Annika Chambers – Kiss My Sass (2019 Vizztone)

I first met Annika Chambers at in impromptu appearance at a small club in Houston several years ago. Her personality and voice lit up the stage and I had the chance to talk with her afterwards. She didn’t have a record deal at the time but I encouraged her to keep hustling and payin’ her dues. And that she did.

In 2014, her first album, Making My Mark, was released to critical reviews. And her second, Wild and Free, debuted at number seven on the Billboard Blues Charts and eventually earned her the prestigious Blues Music Award as female soul blues singer of year in May of 2019.

Now with the release of her third album, KISS MY SASS, Annika has solidified her place as one of the stars of the genre. The album was produced by Larry Fulcher, Richard Cagle, and Tony Braunagel. My favorite cut on the album is a cover of a Chris Smither tune I FEEL THE SAME that Bonnie Raitt also recorded. It is a duet with Canadian Paul DesLauriers that is just fantastic. I also really enjoyed Two Bit Texas Town and World of Hurt.

Annika will be out touring in Florida in early February 2020. Visit her website at http://www.annikachambers.com and go see her!!

Southern Avenue – Keep On (2019 Concord Records)

For their sophomore release, this energetic group based out of Memphis continues to build on their southern soul roots with KEEP ON. Led by the powerhouse voice of Tierinii Jackson, the group recorded the twelve song album at the Sam Phillips Studios in Memphis with the help of producer Johnny Black. The result is one of the great albums of 2019.

The guitar playing for the group is handled in dazzling style by Ori Naftaly who hails from Israel and has been a favorite of mine since I first heard him several years ago as a solo performer. Drums are played by Tierinii’s sister, Tikyra Jackson, and the keyboard player is Jeremy Powell. Guest bass player for most of the cuts on the album is Gage Markey. There is also a horn section compromised of Art Edmaiston and Marc Franklin. Together, they all meld to produce a distinctive sound that is a delightful mix of southern soul, funk, R&B, and contemporary blues. I encourage you to give a listen to We Got the Music, Whiskey Love, and the sensual Savoir to get a feel for just how good this group is.

Southern Avenue has an ambitious set of concert dates in the United States in February and March 2020 and then embarks on another tour of Europe in the spring.

And I am not the only one taking notice of this group. They were nominated for a 2020 Grammy Music Award and are a nominee for the 2020 Blues Music Awards held in Memphis each May.

Sugaray Rayford – Somebody Save Me (2019 Forty Below Records)

Sugaray Rayford is the epitome of the soul blues man; a big barreled voice full of emotion and, man, can he groove!! The album, Somebody Save Me, has 10 original tunes written by the record producer, Eric Corne. Together, this tandem has produced one the best albums of 2019.

Sugaray was nominated for the BB King Entertainer of the Year award this past year and the first cut on the album, The Revelator, helps explain why. Opening with a driving beat on drums and bass, he sets the vocal groove which is framed by some soulful backing singers and a badass trumpet solo. This is a song I want to see him perform…hopefully someday soon.

I also enjoyed Angels and Devils and Dark Night of the Soul. I absolutely loved Sometimes You Get the Bear (and Sometimes the Bear Gets You) with its down the bayou feel.

Sugaray Rayford is an imposing figure standing 6’5″. He dominates the music and stage with his persona and voice. Over the years, he has made some great records with the Mannish Boys but this is by far his best recording to date. In March 2020, he will do a concert swing along the west coast in California and then Washington. Go check out a soul man at the top of his groove!

Tad Robinson – Real Street (2019 Severn Records)

Tad Robinson got his start back in the 1980’s in the blues clubs of Chicago. That itself is no easy thing given the plethora of talent in the Windy City. He is an eight time Blues Music Award Nominee and REAL STREET has garnered him yet more attention in the past year. With a baritone voice and talent on the harmonica, Tad recorded the album in Memphis, another fitting city for his soul blues style. The producer for the recording is Scott Bomar.

The title cut, Real Street, is one of my favorites on the album. It’s upbeat and rhythmic and plays to the strength of his voice as well as highlighting the talents of the legendary Hi Rhythm Section (Howard Grimes, Charles Hodges and Leroy Hodges) who contributed their talents to the record.

I loved Tad’s imaginative reworking of You Got It, a song originally performed by Roy Orbison and penned by him, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. It is the perfect platform for Tad’s soul blues voice. It also features the tasteful Hammond B3 organ playing of Charles Hodges.

Long Way Home is another favorite of mine. It’s funky beat is set by drummer Howard Grimes and bass player Leroy Hodges. I also enjoyed Love In the Neighborhood which features some nice guitar licks by Joe Restivo.

Tad will be performing in his adopted home of Indianapolis during February and March of 2020. I hope you get a chance to catch this star of the soul blues!


Ben Vee is an internet DJ and writer from New Orleans that now lives in Connecticut with his wife Annette. He started spinning records back in the 1970’s and has been writing about the roadhouse blues since 2011. He does two roadhouse blues shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and he writes about the blues when the urge strikes on http://www.benveeblues.com.

Best of the Blues 2019 – Mindi Abair – Roadhouse Blues Woman of the Year

When I saw a video of Mindi Abair playing a tune with Joe Bonamassa a couple of years ago, I was captivated. Her voice is energetic, her sax playing is excellent, and she is pretty dang easy on the eyes. This blues rock bundle of energy hails from California where, besides playin’ the badass roadhouse blues, she also runs a winery with her husband!

Mindi is an accomplished performer and musician with the pedigree to prove it. A graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, she has been nominated for Grammy Awards for her incendiary sax style, toured with Aerosmith, and earned a reputation as a fiery on stage singer. She joined forces with The Boneshakers in 2014 and they have collaborated on three well received and popular albums in the years since; the latest of which is entitled NO GOOD DEED and one of my favorites of 2019.

NO GOOD DEED was produced by Kevin Shirley (Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Black Country Communion) and his touch brings out the very best in Mindi on No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Seven Day Fool, and Movin’ On. Mindi is a natural blues rocker who likes it LOUD with a pulsing rhythm and that is certainly something that Kevin knows a thing or two about. Mindi teams with band drummer and vocalist Third Richardson for an incredible rendition of a tune done back in the day by Ike & Tina Turner, Baby Get It On. Mindi then cranks it on a rousing version of You Better Run, a hit for Pat Benatar in the 1980’s and originally done by the Young Rascals in the 1960’s. All of the cuts also feature an awesome guitar player by the name of Randy Jacobs.

My first awareness of Mindi came with the release of THE EASTWEST SESSIONS in 2017 and the tune Pretty Good for a Girl featuring Joe Bonamassa on guitar. The tune is also the name of her production company….an in your face reminder of what Mindi and other female musicians often deal with while payin’ their dues. One of my pet peeves is writers/reviewers and industry groups that distinguish between male and female instrument players. An instrument has no sex and identifying Mindi as a “fabulous female sax player” will likely get you a stare down from her that intimates potential violence. For a taste of her prowess on the saxophone, I invite you to listen to Not That Kind of Girl. The tune reflects her boisterous style with an upbeat sound and infectious beat.

Additionally, Mindi & the Boneshakers put out a Christmas album in December of 2018 entitled ALL I GOT FOR CHRISTMAS IS THE BLUES. The title cut, Merry Christmas Baby, and I Can’t Wait for Christmas are cool modern tunes and her sax infused version of the classic The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) is something you just have to hear! The overall recording has become an instant blues Christmas favorite of mine.

Based on her most recent album which is a perfect synergy of rock, blues, and R&B, as well as her body of work during the last decade, Mindi Abair rightly deserves her selection as our 2019 Roadhouse Blues Woman of the Year!


Ben Vee is an internet DJ and writer from New Orleans that now lives in Connecticut with his wife Annette. He started spinning records back in the 1970’s and has been writing about the roadhouse blues since 2011. He does two roadhouse blues shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and he writes about the blues when the urge strikes on http://www.benveeblues.com.

Best of the Blues 2019 – Five Most Creative Songs of the Year

The year 2019 was an exciting and invigorating one for blues lovers with the largest number of new albums released that I can recall since at least 2012. Amongst all the songs that I heard and spun for the year (and that was thousands!), these five struck me as the most creative in terms of the sound or lyrics or voice or a combination of all three!! (Links to the songs on Spotify or Youtube are shown in blue.)

HeavyDrunk – If I Loved You Hard Enough (Holywater 2019 on 4142 Music)

With lyrics that are Shakespearean in terms of the pathos and images created for your mind to wrestle with, If I Loved You Hard Enough is about a dysfunctional love that has spanned the lovers lives since they were kids. The opening lyrics portray a shocking scene at a Piggly Wiggly parking lot and it just gets better from there!

The song was written by Rob Robinson, the leader and front man for the Leipers’ Fork Tennessee soul blues band and is just one of many great tunes on the album Holywater. Rob also owns and operates a roadhouse style eatery south of town called Puckett’s…..mhmm…fine food and great roadhouse blues..I gotz to get there soon!

Amnesia Blues BandFast Johnny Cool (Hailstone 2019 on CDBaby)

Amnesia Blues Band hails from Gippsland, Australia. Paul “Buck” Buchanan is the lead vocalist and primary songwriter and they have penned an incredible song, Fast Johnny Cool, on their latest album Hailstone. An infectious bass driven beat and a great voice frame a song about a battle of guitar players at a low down roadhouse.

I got to chat with them a couple of months ago and they warned me not to visit them “down under” with a great voice or guitar. Listen to the song…you will know what they mean!

Jason Ricci & the Bad KindBreak in the Rain (My Chops Are Rolling 2019 on EllerSoul Records)

A transplant from Maine to my hometown of New Orleans, Jason Ricci is one of the great harmonica players of the blues genre. Break in the Rain has an insistent beat with fabulous guitar licks, some awesome harmonica riffs, and lyrics about a day jumpin’ in puddles and layin’ in the tall grass… naked! Hell yeah!

The song was written by band member and guitarist John Lisi. The Bad Kind band also includes Jason’s wife, Kaitlin Dibble, on backing vocals on the song. I hope to see them perform tunes from My Chops Are Rolling the next time I am back down in the Big Easy!

Ghost Town Blues BandDirty (Shine 2019)

One of traits of some blues lovers is a kind of conservatism about what is and is not the blues. There are any number of blues purists out there that I respect but don’t agree with. As B.B. King stated once in an interview that I saw, it was only natural for the blues to evolve as more and more people were exposed to it and began to play and interpret it from their own individual perspectives. First it was the delta acoustic blues. Then it was electrified when it moved into urban areas like Chicago. Eventually it was rocked up by the British blues bands of the last sixties. And now we have the wide variety of contemporary blues that I love and spin regularly. I use the term “roadhouse blues” to describe this fascinating mix of modern blues with rock, soul, rhythm and blues, gospel, swing, roots music, and, yes…even a bit of rap influence!

On their latest album, Shine, Ghost Town Blues Band out of Memphis includes an original and creative song entitled Dirty. It’s a southern blues rockin’ tune about dealin’ with the life that fate sometimes deals and includes the tasteful use of rap. It is just such a natural fit for the song and blues in general. Kudos to the band for having the creativity (and bravery to face the blues purists) with such a fine recording! And people certainly love the album. It rose to number one on the Billboard Blues Charts soon after it’s release this past October.

Left Lane Cruiser Smooth Commander (2019 Shake & Bake on Alive Records)

Left Lane Cruiser hails from Indiana and is a duo consisting of singer/guitarist Joe Evans IV and Pete Dio on drums/percussions. One of the songs on the new album SHAKE & BAKE is entitled Smooth Commander and it is about a sojourn across the world and his father’s love for the blues. The use of a resonator guitar is awesome and Joe’s voice is distinctive. And as he sings in the song, the blues will bring everybody around…..that it will surely do!!!

And kudos to the renown illustrator William Stout for providing such a creative album cover!


Ben Vee is an internet DJ and writer from New Orleans that now lives in Connecticut with his wife Annette. He started spinning records back in the 1970’s and has been writing about the roadhouse blues since 2011. He does two roadhouse blues shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and he writes about the blues when the urge strikes on http://www.benveeblues.com.

Best of the Blues 2019 – Roadhouse Bluesman of the Year – Brandon Santini

During a stellar year of new recordings by blues artists, I have kept returning to songs off two 2019 albums: The Longshot and Tennessee Redemption. Both these great recordings (one is a solo album while the other is a group recording) feature the voice and harmonica playing of Brandon Santini. He is my 2019 Roadhouse Bluesman of the Year!

Brandon Santini at Black Eyed Sally’s in Hartford CT

Brandon is a 37 year old resident of Memphis who has plied his trade on Beale Street for almost 20 years. He made the move to Memphis at the age of 19 and over the ensuing years, he refined his harmonica playing to the point where he was nominated for Blues Harmonica Player of the Year by the prestigious Blues Foundation in 2014. And this past October, he received the Blues Blast Magazine 2019 award for The Longshot as Best Contemporary Blues album of the Year.

Brandon’s years in the Memphis clubs taught him the golden rule for performing music which is in part: Be Kind to Musicians. It is one that I practice also. I do not write bad reviews of artists; if I don’t enjoy a recording I simply don’t write about it. It is a practice that I wish some fellow DJs and bloggers, as well “mainstream” critics, would follow also.

His Beale street years also have taught him that you have to be an entertainer, not just a singer or musician. Music is in large part an experience of feelings. How does the song make you feel? Does the singer move you emotionally? Brandon delivers on both counts. He has a deep gravely voice reminiscent of Dr. John and his song writing is engaging and evocative. Take a listen to Drive You Off My Mind from The Longshot and you will see what I mean.

For his second recording of the year, he teamed with long time friend and fellow Beale Streeter, Jeff Jensen (guitar & vocals), and formed the group Tennessee Redemption. They released their self titled debut album this past September. The album is a fusion of southern style blues, Americana, and Memphis R&B and is absolutely delightful. Give See About Me and Back to Tennessee a listen. I know you will enjoy them!!

Brandon Santini represents the next generation of blues men and women who are coming into their own. He has paid his blues dues with hundreds of performances in small clubs in Memphis and elsewhere around the country. And he has earned and deserves the accolades that are now beginning to flow in. Receiving my 2019 Roadhouse Bluesman of the Year award is no big thing but I hope he, as I often do on special occasions (well hell…any event really) , lights a cigar after one of his gigs and smiles. I’ll be lighting one after finishing this article….Here’s to you Brandon for having a great year in 2019 and for the many more that are sure to come!


Ben Vee is an internet DJ and writer from New Orleans that now lives in Connecticut with his wife Annette. He started spinning records back in the 1970’s and has been writing about the roadhouse blues since 2011. He does two roadhouse blues shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and he writes about the blues when the urge strikes on http://www.benveeblues.com.

Best of the Blues 2018 – Ben Vee’s Roadhouse 66 Song List

Similar to the old Route 66 that wound from the heart of the United States in Chicago to the west coast and captured some of the best of what America has to offer, the Ben Vee Roadhouse 66 song list meanders world wide from Africa to Europe to North and South America.. on then to Australia and up to Asia capturing the best blues songs of 2018. The roadhouse blues is situated at the crossroads of the blues and rock genres so there are plenty of upbeat tunes and a number of belly grinders on the list. The selection includes 15 female singers..a dozen blues rockers…several roots blues tunes and numbers of hot contemporary blues recordings…I hope you download and enjoy listening to all the songs!!

As a DJ, in 2018 I played over 200 sets and 500 hours of blues music or roughly 6,000 songs for listening audiences. On my 24 hour Roadhouse blues stream, I streamed thousands more. Picking the best 66 from my broadcasts was both a labor of love and a huge challenge.  The position of the songs on the list is of little consequence…you might list them in a different order or include ones that I didn’t.  The important thing is that these 66 tunes are a “top shelf” sampling of a vibrant and growing contemporary blues market. Don’t let ANYONE tell you that the blues are dead or dying!!  I encourage you to turn your friends on to songs on the list and help spread the news that, as Buddy Guy said on his latest album, the blues is alive and well!!

1 Joe Bonamassa King Bee Shakedown
2 Anthony Gomes Whiskey Made Me Do It
3 Lance Lopez Blue Moon Rising
4 Larkin Poe Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues
5 Billy F. Gibbons Hollywood 151
6 Danielle Nicole Save Me ft. Kenny Wayne Shepherd
7 Boz Scaggs Little Miss Night And Day
8 Buddy Guy Cognac (feat. Jeff Beck & Keith Richards)
9 Shemekia Copeland Ain’t Got Time For Hate
10 Widow Blue Who’s Gonna Take Care of Lucille?
11 Bettye LaVette Things Have Changed
12 Mike Zito Mississippi Nights
13 Layla Zoe Are You Still Alive Inside
14 Ray Bonneville South of the Blues
15 Markey Blue Ric Latina Project Raised in Muddy Water
16 Colin James I Will Remain
17 Jim Allchin Voodoo Doll
18 Tinsley Ellis Nothing But Fine
19 Sean Chambers All Night Long
20 Ryan McGarvey Ain’t Enough Whiskey
21 The Nick Moss Band The High Cost of Low Living
22 Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps The Day The Blues Came To Call
23 Delta Moon Skinny Woman
24 Chris Smither Maybelline
25 Janiva Magness Down Below
26 Curtis Salgado/Alan Hager You Got to Move
27 Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats Coolin’ Out
28 The Record Company Roll Bones
29 Travis Bowlin Vicksburg Blues
30 Damon Fowler Ain’t Gonna Rock With You No More
31 Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa Give It Everything You Got
32 Dana Fuchs Ready To Rise
33 Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite The Bottle Wins Again
34 Sue Foley The Lucky Ones (ft Jimmie Vaughan)
35 Anthony Geraci Why Did You Have to Go
36 Joe Goldmark Beautician Blues
37 Mud Morganfield Oh Yeah
38 The Lucky Losers The River
39 Fiona Boyes Ember
40 Johnny & The Headhunters Watch And Chain (Hey Gyp)
41 Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones Mama Said
42 The Reverend Shawn Amos Moved
43 Dry Johnson Drunk Girl With a Tamborine (feat Snit)
44 Tom Hambridge The End of the Road (ft Sonny Landreth)
45 Anthony Gomes Take Me Back Home
46 Ally Venable Backwater Blues
47 Kat Danser Hol’ Up Baby
48 Dan Patlansky Judge A Man
49 Marcia Ball Take a Little Louisiana
50 Sari Schorr Thank You
51 Too Slim And the Taildraggers Trouble
52 Jamie Lynn Vessels Done Me Wrong
53 Lindsay Beaver Dangerous
54 Steve Krase Dirty Dirty
55 Black River Delta Keeps Me Bleeding
56 The Marcus King Band Side Door
57 Kris Barras Band Wrong Place, Wrong Time
58 Dany Franchi Wanna Know
59 Niecie Thank God for Fools
60 Eric Steckel We’re Still Friends
61 Luke Winslow King Chicken Dinner
62 John Akapo Maui Blues
63 Kat Riggins A Girl in the Boys’ Club
64 The Bob Lanza Blues Band Hey Baby
65 Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne That Raggedy Shack
66 Elvin Bishop That’s the Way Willy Likes It

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

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

As I stated in part one of this blog, there were some great tunes and albums released in 2016 by both established stars of the rockin’ blues genre and some exciting new artists. The artists noted are in no particular order….I encourage you to buy their music to help the blues to continue to thrive!

 

memphis-rock-and-soul-album

 

Melissa Etheridge – Memphis Rock & Soul

This is a GREAT album by one of the world’s best music artists.  Her voice and soul/rhythm & blues music were meant for each other.  She can rock it…she can funk it…she sings with soul…every cut on this album is a jewel! I particularly loved her covers of Rock Me Baby and Born Under a Bad Sign that feature John Mayer on guitar!  Kudos to Stax Records for releasing this masterpiece!!

 

colin-james-bule-highways

 

Colin James – Blue Highways

A Canadian national treasure, Colin’s latest album just reinforces his status as one of the best artists of the rockin’ blues. I loved the cuts HooDoo Man Blues, Going Down, and Gypsy Woman.  He is on my bucket list to see and interview!!

 

layla-zoe-breaking-free

Layla Zoe – Breaking Free

She’s a sultry rocker with a blues soul and a voice that brings the inevitable comparisons to Janis Joplin.  Another Canadian to make my 2016 Rockin’ Blues Bundle, I can’t wait for the chance to see her belt out her tunes. I loved the title cut, which is a rockin’ blues anthem to a woman taking charge of her life, as well as Work Horse and Wild One (a very adult tune..grins).

 

sonny-landreth

 

Sonny Landreth – Bound by the Blues

An artist from my birthplace in Lafayette, Louisiana, Sonny Landreth is one of the best slide guitarists on the planet according to Eric Clapton!  Though this album was released in 2015, it has so many great tunes on it that it continued to top the charts throughout 2016. Featuring a distinctive vocal style and tone on guitar, Sonny cranks out great covers of Walkin’ Blues, Dust My Broom, and Key to the Highway as well as the autobiographical original The High Side and the title cut.  Another selection for this list where you should enjoy all the tunes on the album.

monkeyjunkMonkeyjunk – Time to Roll

Following in the footsteps of their great 2015 album, Moon Turn Red, their latest offering builds on their reputation as one of the best of the contemporary blues artists out there.  From Ottawa, they are yet another Canadian group to blues their way onto the 2016 list! I loved the title cut, Undertaker Blues, and their cover of a Albert King tune, The Hunter.

 

 

stonesblueandlonesomeThe Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome

With the December 2016 release of this fantastic blues album, the Rolling Stones pay tribute to their roots.  Though arguably the greatest rock & roll band of all time, the Rolling Stones started out back in early sixties as a blues band. On this album, they pay tribute to the artists that made them who they are and they do it with respect. They play almost all the tunes on the album “straight up” with little attempt to embellish on the original arrangements…what emerges is a powerful blues sound played by band members in love with the music.

allyvenable1

 

 

Ally Venable Band – No Glass Shoes

It has been many years since I have heard a SEVENTEEN year old play guitar like this young lady based in Houston, Texas. She also has a good voice and obvious song writing talent. I enjoyed Wise Man, Train Wreck Blues, and her cover of a Bonnie Raitt tune written by Chris Smithers, Love Me Like a Man. She will have to pay her blues dues as the years go by but her talent reserves her a place on the stage for years to come.

popa-chubby-the-catfishPopa Chubby – The Catfish

When you want bad ass blues played from the heart with shredding guitar solos and lyrics sung by someone you know has lived them….you want Popa Chubby and his latest album. He tours worldwide..he plays hundreds of venues a year..he has bad ass cover art…he is THE ROCKIN BLUES.  Enuff said.

balkun-brothers-280x280Balkun Brothers – Balkun Brothers

A perfect representation of the contemporary rockin’ blues, this duo hails from my current home in Connecticut. I loved the cuts She Got It All and I Know What Ya Did off their debut self titled album.  Their music takes a traditional blues structure and then rocks it out with an interesting mix of both vocal and musical talent.  They are bringing their high energy sound to Memphis in late January to participate in the International Blues Challenge. I hope to make their fund raising gig for the trip in Berlin, CT on January 17th!!

danielle-nicole-wolf-denDanielle Nicole – The Wolf Den

Danielle’s debut album as a solo artist was released in 2015 but dominated the blues charts through all of 2016. Former lead singer for Tangled Under Foot, she is from Kansas City and has a powerful sultry voice and rockin’ blues stardom written all over her. I loved the title cut as well as It Ain’t You and her version of I Feel Like Breakin’ Up Somebody’s Home. She is definetely on the “must see” list!

jason-elmore

 

Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch – Champagne Velvet

A three piece band out of Texas, these guys play some smooth badass blues. Jason has a great blues voice and his guitar work is first class. (He reminds me a good bit of a young Jimmy Thackery.) I love Midnight in Memphis, Cross-Eyed Woman, and Double My Money.

 

 

lisa-mannLisa Mann – Hard Times, Bad Decisions

I fecommended this album earlier in the year in a separate blog. Lisa is based out of Portland Oregon (which is a hot bed of the blues!). She is blessed with a strong voice and some very good songwriting skills. AND she happens to be the reigning blues bassist of the world….for two years running. (Blues Music Award from the Blues Foundation, 2015 & 16). With her fourth album, Lisa has matured into a genuine contender for Female Blues artist of the year. The title cut is a great heart wrenching song, autobiographical in nature, that pulls no punches. I also enjoyed the thought provoking Judge a Man Forever and My Father’s House.

mikezito-makebluesnotwarMike Zito – Make Blues, Not War

Mike is the quinessentail rockin’ bluesman. A talented guitar player, songwriter, singer, and music producer, he has captivated blues audiences all over the place since he started crankin’ it out in 2008.  He is also the cofounder of the Royal Southern Brotherhood band which has captured the attention of the blues world in a big way.  His album Pearl River (one of my favorites) won Blues Album of the Year in 2010 and his latest work seems destinied to garner similar nominations. I loved the title cut as well as Bad News is Comin, Chip Off the Block, and Wasted Time.

ina-forsman

 

Ina Forsman – Ina Forsman

I have stated repeatedly over the past several years that the European blues scene is HOT and none is hotter than Ina Forsman.  A young Finnish artist with a strong sexy voice, she represents the leading edge of the next wave of European rockin’ blues women. I enjoyed Don’t Hurt Me Now and the “down the bayou” and New Orleans feel of the tune Hanging Loose.

 

thorbjorn-risagerThorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado – Songs from the Road

Though released in 2015, this live album by Swedish artist Thorbjorn Risager got extensive airplay during 2016. It features some great crankin rockin’ blues and jump blues tunes that highlight Thorjorn’s gravely blues voice.  I loved If You Wanna Leave, Paradise, Too Many Roads, and Rock ‘N’ Roll Ride.

 

Well, I hoped you enjoyed this bunch of rockin’ blues tunes reviews that I assembled to represent the year 2016. As with all such lists, the constraints of time and space prevent me for listing and reviewing all the other great artists and tunes from the past year. (I can think of at least another 20 or so that could have easily made this listing.) Thanks for taking the time to read this and here’s wishing the best of the rockin’ blues for YOU in 2017.

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.

kaleo-ab-cover

 

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!

joanne-shaw-taylor-wild-2

 

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.

tinsley-ellis

 

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!