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.

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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!