A Bin Full of Roadhouse Blues 2020 (They Make GREAT Christmas Gifts) – Part One

So you still have people on your Christmas list to shop for or maybe just a little something for yourself? No problem!! Here are some roadhouse blues albums that will endear you to your friends and help out the blues artists….all of whom have been financially struggling during this hideous year while producing some fantastic tunes!

Steve Strongman – Tired of Talking (Stony Plain Records 2020)

Steve Strongman drifts effortlessly from traditional blues to R&B and soul and then to roots acoustic music on this fine album, Tired of Talking. This Canadian artist sings, plays the guitar, dobro, and does some damn fine harpin’ also. He’s good enough to have opened for B.B. King, Johnny Winter, and Buddy Guy and that is damn sure good enough for me….and hopefully for YOU! Give Just Ain’t Right a listen!

Grainne Duffy – Voodoo Blues (2020 Independent Release)

With a powerful gritty soulful voice, this Irish lass has delivered a masterful roadhouse blues recording with the release of her seventh album, Voodoo Blues. Part roots blues, southern rock, and blues rock, overall it is representative of the talent and bright future that she has. Her style is ready made for live performances and festival appearances. As soon as the pandemic recedes, expect to hear a lot more from her! Give the title cut, Voodoo Blues, a listen….see what I mean!!

Johnny Iguana – Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular! (Delmark Records 2020)

If you love some rockin’ vibrant piano blues….have I got the album for you or someone you know! This badass blues man hails from Chicago and on Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular, he does rousing covers of 44 Blues, Down in the Bottom, Shake Your Moneymaker, and Stop Breaking Down. He was part of Junior Wells Band for a time and has toured or recorded with Buddy Guy, Billy Branch, Billy Arnold, and a number of other Chicago blues greats. Now, on his first album as the band leader, Johnny pounds the ivories through some great contemporary songs as well as blues classics. Cool tunes from a great guy!!

Brother Jon Band – Open Jam (Independent Release 2015)

I’m honored that so many independent artists choose to send me copies of their recordings. Just recently, I got one from Minneapolis that just blew me away. The Brother Jon Band has a badass roadhouse blues sound that is reminiscent of Canned Heat and the Black Crowes with hints of Guns ‘N Roses. Music like this brings back a lot of memories. Give WHEN SHE CRIES a listen (on Spotify) or BOBBY’S BLUES (on Youtube) and see if you don’t agree and then go to this link and download the album, Open Jam!

Duke Robillard – Blues Bash with Duke Robillard & Friends (Stony Plain Records 2020)

Photo by David Lee Black

I absolutely love 1950’s style upbeat blues. It was an era when the blues was in the process of giving birth to rock ‘n roll and the Duke captures the essence of that golden era for music with the new Blues Bash with Duke Robillard & Friends recording. It is an excellent album to have playing for small Christmas party gathering. The tunes are danceable, bright, and energetic. (Try Do You Mean It! This Grammy nominated artist and five time winner of the Blues Music Award as best guitarist has been thrilling audiences all over the world since 1967 and this recordings demonstrates why he won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Kerry Kearney – Tales from the Psychedelta (2020 Highlander Records)

A slide guitar player who I would put up against the likes of Sonny Landreth and Derek Trucks, Kerry Kearney is a Long Island native who released his 18th recording this year, Tales From The Psychedelta. It is actually a compilation album that includes tracks that are no longer in print making it a nice gift for those familiar with him as well as new fans. Listen to his vocals and the badass guitar licks on Voodoo Down The River and I think you will understand why I named this album one of the 40 best blues rock albums of 2020 earlier this week.

Michael “Iron Man” Burks – Show of Strength (2012 Alligator Records)

Michael Burks’ Show of Strength album is one that I place among the pantheon of stellar blues recordings alongside works by Luther Allison and Buddy Guy. Tragically, Michael never got to hear the final mix of his work. He died suddenly of heart failure while returning from a tour of Europe. A son of Arkansas, Michael was the complete blues man; a showman, stellar guitar player, and he possessed a powerful voice that dripped with the soul. There isn’t a bad song among the 12 tracks and my personal favorite is Storm Warning. You can’t go wrong with this as a stocking stuffer for a friend or family member.


Ben Vee started out spinning songs on terrestrial radio and at nightclubs back in the 1970’s in his home state of Louisiana. After a career in the construction business, he returned to DJing in 2011. He now hosts two shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and writes about the blues at http://www.benveeblues.com from his home in Connecticut.

The term “roadhouse blues” refers to modern contemporary blues that are primarily upbeat in nature and incorporate the influence of rock, roots music, soul, and R&B.

The Ben Vee Roadhouse 40 Best Blues Rock Albums of 2020

I am publishing my annual lists early this year with the hopes that people who follow me will give the gift of music for the holidays to friends and family to financially help a group of creative people that have been particularly hard hit by public gathering restrictions. No single working group other than restaurant workers has been hit as hard during the pandemic as artists and musicians. My heart goes out to them and 2021 can’t get here soon enough!

My criteria for picking the 40 best blues rock albums that I have heard during 2020 are pretty simple: 1) A judgement of the body of work on the recording, not just the fact that it may have a hit single. (Which I address in my annual Roadhouse 66 Best Blues Songs of the Year review.) 2) In the blues community there is a lot of respect given to artists and groups that “have paid their dues” through years of recording and performing which I reflect in my weighting of selections for the list. With that stated…..get your credit cards ready and your favorite music purchase app loaded….and chose a couple or more of these albums to help the blues community survive the 2020 pandemic!!

The Top Forty Blues Rock Albums (Listings 31 through 40)

These ten selections include Australian Simon Kinny-Lewis performing a rousing rendition of “I Just Want to Make Love To You” and getting help from Robben Ford on the song “Dagger Eyes”. American expat Seasick Steve cranks out a message to all of us to give each other a break, come together, stop the hatred, and get back to “Love & Peace”. Hurricane Ruth is a blues rockin’ Mama out of St. Louis that continues to do an awesome job of rockin’ the blues with tunes like “She’s Golden”. Some of you may not know of King King out of the UK where they are a perennial blues rockin’ favorite. Their lead singer, Alan Nimmo, has a voice you just have got to hear!! Give the song “I Will Not Fail” a listen!! Sass Jordan delivers a purely blues rockin’ album that includes a great version of “One Way Out” by the Allman Brothers and covers of blues favorites “Palace of the King” and “Leaving Trunk”. The UK’s Snowy White recorded with Thin Lizzy and Pink Floyd back in the day and has put out a string of awesome blues rock albums over the years. Give a listen to “One More Traveler” and “Commercial Suicide” from his latest recording to understand why I think it is one of the very best albums of 2020.

Top FortySimon Kinny-LewisAnother Day in San JoseAustralia
Top FortySeasick SteveLove & PeaceUK
Top FortyHurricane Ruth Good LifeUSA
Top FortyDave FieldsForce of WillUSA
Top FortyKing KingMaverickUK
Top FortySass JordanRebel Moon BluesCanada
Top FortyBilly Walton BandDark HourUSA
Top FortySnowy White and the White FlamesSomething on MeUK
Top FortyRae Gordon BandWrong Kind of LoveUSA
Top FortyRobert Jon & The WreckLast Light on the HighwayUSA

Top Thirty Blues Rock Albums (selections 21 to 30)

Our next grouping of artists includes Casey James who is a talented Texan with a Hollywood smile, a great voice, and plays a badass guitar. One testament to his talent is that Roadhouse Hall of Famer Delbert McClinton recorded the song “Bulletproof” with him on the new album. The Allman Betts Band featuring the sons of the Allman Brothers Band released their sophomore album this past summer. Give “Pale Horse Rider” and “Savannah’s Dream” a spin to understand why I believe they will be one of the great touring bands of this decade. I love the depth of sound of big bands and the seven piece ensemble that backs Thorbjorn Risager as the Black Tornado are world class. Thorbjorn’s voice has driven a number of listeners to my Blues Music Fan Radio shows to jump on chat and ask me “who is THAT singing?”. Give the title cut and “Last Train” a listen…you will understand why. Another fabulous voice of the blues is Canadian Crystal Shawanda who belts out “Evil Memory” and “Move Me” on the new recording. Dudley Taft has done well enough in the music biz over the years to purchase Peter Frampton’s studio in Ohio and record some stellar albums there. Give the title cut of Croatia’s Be Sharp Band recording and you’ll understand why I am so high on this European group. One of my picks for breakout group of 2020 has to be the Avey Grouws Band out of Iowa. They have been nominated for a Grammy and their future is very bright!

Top ThirtyCasey JamesStrip It DownUSA
Top ThirtyThe Allman Betts BandBless Your HeartUSA
Top ThirtyThorbjorn Risager and The Black TornadoCome On InDenmark
Top ThirtyDudley TaftCosmic RadioUSA
Top ThirtyAlastair GreeneThe New World BluesUSA
Top ThirtyCrystal ShawandaChurch House BluesCanada
Top ThirtyMarcus KingEldoradoUSA
Top ThirtyAvey Grouws BandThe Devil May CareUSA
Top ThirtyThe Reverend Shawn Amos & The BrotherhoodBlue SkyUSA
Top ThirtyBe Sharp BandAshesCroatia

Top Twenty Blues Rock Albums (Selections 11 to 20)

This selection of albums includes new recordings by perennial favorites Joe Bonamassa, Tinsley Ellis, Joe Louis Walker, Sonny Landreth, and Joanne Shaw Taylor. All of them are super stars of the blues in general and blues rock in particular. And any of their albums would make great stocking stuffers for Christmas! The selection also includes some interesting newer artists. Eliza Neals, from Detroit, can dang sure belt out a tune with feeling. Andy Watts hails from Israel and gets contributions from Eliza Neals, Joe Louis Walker, and a gravely voiced singer by the name of Roy Young on the Supergroove recording. Hailing from New York City, you need to give the fierce vocals and gritty realism of Bette Smith’s lyrics a listen on “Fistful of Dollars”, “I’m A Sinner”, and “Don’t Skip Out on Me”. Another New Yorker on the list, from Long Island, is Kerry Kearney. His new album includes some stellar cover tunes (“Lawdy Mama”, “Mean Old Frisco”) as well as several badass originals including “Voodoo Down the River”. And last but nevah least is the new recording from Jeff Fetterman. Give “49/61” and his incredible cover of “All Along The Watchtower” a spin to understand why I love his talent.

Top TwentyAndy WattsSuperGrooveIsrael
Top TwentyJoe BonamassaRoyal TeaUSA
Top TwentyTinsley EllisIce Cream In HellUSA
Top TwentyBette SmithThe Good, the Bad and the BetteUSA
Top TwentyJoe Louis WalkerBlues Comin’ OnUSA
Top TwentySonny LandrethBlacktop RunUSA
Top TwentyJeff FettermanSouthern SonUSA
Top TwentyJoanne Shaw Taylor Reckless BluesUSA
Top TwentyEliza NealsBlack Crow MoanUSA
Top TwentyKerry KearneyTales from the PsychedeltaUSA

THE BEN VEE ROADHOUSE TOP TEN BEST BLUES ROCK ALBUMS OF 2020

#10 – Albert CummingsBelieve

Albert Cummings first started recording in the late 1990’s and his stellar guitar playing earned him instant notice. Over the last 20 years, he has released six studio albums prior to this one. Given that he has a day job as a custom home builder, he has not toured as extensively as many of the others on this list. But that hasn’t stopped him from developing a loyal following including one Ben Vee! Give “Call Me Crazy”, “Me and My Guitar”, or his cover of “Hold On” and “My Babe” a spin to get a good feel for his talent.

#9 – Too Slim and the TaildraggersThe Remedy

If ya just want to listen to power trio blues rock to chase the black clouds in your mind away, there is no better remedy than Too Slim and The Taildraggers. Tim “Too Slim” Langford has a distinctive gravely voice and cranks out sonic pyrotechnics that are a meld of Robin Trower and ZZ Top. Give “Devil’s Hostage”, “She Got the Remedy”, and “Reckless” a listen to understand my amazement at the number of people that don’t know who this group is though they have released over TWENTY albums since the mid 1980’s.

#8 – Larkin PoeSelf Made Man

This talented sister duo has taken the world by storm over the last several years and are probably the best selling artists on this year’s list. Their music is highly accessible as evidenced by their crossover appeal to blues, rock, country, and gospel audiences. During the pandemic, I have tuned into several of their live performances on Facebook and it is incredible to watch them just wing their way through their songs while chatting, laughing, and having a generally fine time from a small room. Give a listen to “Every Bird That Flies”, “Holy Ghost Fire”, and “Danger Angel” to understand what all the commotion is about. I can’t imagine you going wrong giving this album as a gift to anyone on your shopping list!

#7 – Savoy BrownAin’t Done Yet

The music of Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown helped coin the phrase “blues rock” back in the late 1960’s. Over 50 years later, Kim is still producing amazing songs! The title cut is definitive blues rock, “Jaguar Car” will get ya moving in your computer chair, and “Rocking In Louisiana” is a tribute to the music and people of my home state. Every tune on this recording rocks the blues….enough said.

#6 – Anthony GomesContainment Blues

A Canadian blues rocker with a distinctive voice and incredible guitar talents, Anthony Gomes released his first album in the late 1990’s. Over the ensuing years, he has released eight more studio albums and garnered a very loyal following. He has the swagger of a rock star and the persona to match. While he can crank it out with the best of them, he also writes beautiful blues rock ballads like ” Until the End of Time” that is included on the latest release. My bet is if ya love blues rock, you will love “Hell and Half of Georgia”, “Make a Good Man (Wanna Be Bad), and “Tell Somebody”. And kudos to Anthony for having the courage to record “Stop Calling Women Hoes and Bitches”….I’ve had enough of the use of these hateful terms in “pop culture”…how about you?

#5 – Eric JohansonBelow Sea Level

In 2017, Eric Johanson released his debut album BURN IT DOWN on Tab Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou and spent the next two years touring with and opening for Tab. I spun it all the time during my internet radio shows. In early 2019, he made a duet recording with Tiffany Pollack entitled BLUES IN MY BLOOD. I spun it all the time again. Now in 2020, he has released BELOW SEA LEVEL and guess what? I spin it all the time!! Eric, who lives in New Orleans, does a great job of melding the blues with rock in a style that is distinctively his own. On the latest release he expands the limits of the blues with tunes like “Buried Above Ground”, “Down to the Bottom”, and “River of Oblivion”. Ya gotta listen!! Eric is a blues rock star in the making!

#4 – Mike ZitoQuarantine Blues

Some people have the talent and inspiration to make the best of any situation. Mike Zito is one of those people. A gifted singer, songwriter, guitar player, producer, and now record company owner, Mike exudes confidence with a proverbial twinkle in his eye. Another artist that I have watched on Facebook several times during the pandemic (and made my first Venmo contribution to on my phone), Mike is as relaxed playing in his home studio as he is before large audiences. I first got turned on to Mike with the release of Pear River in 2009 and he just keeps gettin’ bettah and bettah. Give “After the Storm”, “Dark Raven”, and “Don’t Let the World Get You Down” for a tiny glimpse of his talent. Oh..and by the way…the title cut is my defining song of the 2020 pandemic.

#3 – Wily Bo Walker/Dennis FlamAin’t No Man a Good Man

I’ve been a big Wily Bo Walker fan since I first became aware of him in 2015 and his latest collaboration with Dennis Flam is a jewel of a recording. This British artist channels Dr. John as he weaves music and storytelling into a magical series of songs. The title cut and associated “return” tune “Build My Gallows” are absolutely incredible. So much so that they got stuck in my head for days on end. “Ain’t Hungry No More”, “Fool For You”, “Walking with the Devil”, and “Night of the Hunter” should give you a good feel for his style and talent. Additionally, he does a great cover of “St. James Infirmary Blues” as well as a tune called “Did I Forget” that would fit perfectly during a set at Tipitina’s in New Orleans. If you have friends that enjoy Night Tripper style blues, this album will make a great stocking stuffer for them.

#2 – DionBlues With Friends

Dion started out as a teenage rock and roller back in the early 1960’s. Now in his eighties and still a fantastic artist, a literal who’s who of the music world have gotten together to pay homage to this giant of American music on the Blues With Friends recording. Billy Gibbons, Joe Bonamassa, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Scialfa, Sonny Landreth, Paul Simon, Rory Block, Stevie Van Zandt, Samantha Fish, Joe Louis Walker, Jeff Beck, Van Morrison, and John Hammond all make contributions. This recording is not only a great blues rock album, it will almost certainly be in contention for the prestigious 2020 Blues album of the year award at next year’s Blue Music Foundation ceremonies in Memphis.

My favorite cuts are “Blues Comin’ On” with Joe Bonamassa, “I Got Nothin'” with Van Morrison and Joe Louis Walker, “Way Down (I Won’t Cry No More)” with Stevie Van Zandt, and the contemporary gospel song “Hymn to Him” with Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa.

You can’t go wrong giving this album as a Christmas present to anyone you know that loves music. On an interesting side note, this is also the first label release for Joe Bonamassa’s new recording company, Keep The Blues Alive (KTBA)….quite an impressive start!

#1 – Walter TroutOrdinary Madness

At the age of 69, Walter Trout has released possibly the greatest album of his long and storied career, Ordinary Madness. He started out in the late 1960’s playing bars and juke joints in his home state of New Jersey alongside other bands including one that featured another blossoming talent, Bruce Springsteen. By the time the eighties rolled around, his guitar playing and love of the blues had landed him gigs with John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat and drawn the attention of John Mayall. In 1984, he became another of the legendary guitarists (e.g. Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor) to play in the Bluesbreakers.

In 1989, he started his own band and became an overnight sensation in Europe. He played and released albums there for almost ten years before his United States solo debut in 1998. And during the past decade he has released eight of what I consider to be the finest albums of the blues rock genre including one, Luther’s Blues, that paid homage to the great Luther Allison.

Walter’s blues are often described as hard core, a term that reflects as much how he lived his life as the music he played. Renowned for his live performances, the constant touring lead to bouts with alcoholism that culminated in liver failure in 2014. He was able to receive a life saving transplant that year and returned to performing in 2015 with an album, Battle Scars, that chronicled his desperation and fears while awaiting a suitable matching liver.

Ordinary Madness is an unapologetic blues rock recording with songs that address his observations on life and time (“Final Curtain Call”, “The Sun Is Going Down”, “Ordinary Madness”) and thoughts on love and relationships (“All Out of Tears”, “Heaven in Your Eyes”, “My Foolish Pride”). My favorite three songs on the album are “Up Above My Sky”, “Make It Right”, and the simply incredible “Wanna Dance” which is likely to be my favorite single for 2020 when I publish my Roadhouse 66 list of the best songs of the year.

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All in all, it was an incredible year for fans of the blues rock genre. I hope you enjoyed reviewing the list and PLEASE download one or more of these albums to help the artists that you enjoy listening to.


Ben Vee started out spinning songs on terrestrial radio and at nightclubs back in the 1970’s in his home state of Louisiana. After a career in the construction business, he returned to DJing in 2011. He now hosts two shows each week on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com and writes about the blues at http://www.benveeblues.com from his home in Connecticut.

It Isn’t Freedom If YOU don’t have a CHOICE!

Government restrictions on the right to assemble during the ongoing pandemic have destroyed the livelihoods of many local musicians and performing artists. And the rationale for lockdowns being used by politicians and public health officials bode ill for their long term future.

The current pandemic was initially termed the Wuhan flu before it was deemed politically incorrect. It is a virulent and deadly form of the flu. It is not the first such strain nor will it be the last. Every year, the flu strikes millions of people. It is particularly deadly to the elderly and those with other serious underlying medical problems. AND it mutates as it goes so that in any given year there can be new strains to address. And this strain is really bad news.

But we know this….if you are over 70 or have a serious medical issue…take EVERY rational precaution. If you are over 50, wear a mask and wash your damn hands when you are out and about. But if you are under 50 and have no serious medical condition, you should have the CHOICE to take the RISK and get on living your life. Restricting the rights of people under 50 to go to a restaurant or a concert hall or a local bar is government sticking its nose where it can….but it shouldn’t!!

We ALL live with risk every moment of every day. And destroying the livelihoods of performing artists to mitigate these risks is not going to do anything but lead to more drug use and suicides among this vulnerable group of people. Public Health officials are already stating that it may be 2022 “before they feel the threat to the public is under control”. And I have news for you ….the NEXT STRAIN of flu after COVID-19…and there will be a next strain… will lead to the same rationale for restricting public assembly in the name of safety……..for whom?

At some point, we must, in the music industry, stand up to the hysterical (and politicized) fear mongering. Previous generations have had to battle evils that far outweigh this pandemic. All we have to do is endure the slights of the social media trolls (who tolerate no opinion but their own) and rationally make the case that freedom is about making choices and taking the associated risk. If the reasoning takes hold that MY freedom should be restricted dramatically to lower YOUR risk then democracy will become just a platitude and public health officials will be screaming an alarm on any number of issues. If they can restrict your right to assemble, they can damn sure restrict your ability to eat, drink, smoke, drive, create music, or make comments like I am…all in the name of public health!! Fight for your freedoms…..and help put a lot of performing artists and musicians back to work NOW!


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.

High Times In The Dark – The Claudettes

I wrote this review on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Connecticut. The sky was grey and brooding. It was cool and cold would soon follow. I retreated from the once sunny lairs of my backyard man cave to the warmer environs of my basement lair. It’s a good day to listen to new music as I sip on a cup of hot chocolate. And the day got better and better as I listened to the new recording on Forty Below Records by The Claudettes.

The Claudettes are a Chicago based band that defies easy music genre classification. Fronted by the willowy voice of Berit Ulseth and powered by the blues piano of Johnny Iguana, this musical quartet with Zach Verdoorn on bass/guitars and Michael Caskey on drums deliver music that is both nostalgic and contemporary….no mean feat! The closest that I can come in terms of classification is that they reside in the Amy Winehouse wing of the blues and jazz with keyboard playing that is some of the best that I have heard since Billy Joel’s Piano Man recording a generation ago.

High Times In The Dark is an excellent recording that is brooding at times without getting morose. Yet it also brims with enthusiasm and thoughtful and witty observations about our lives. My favorite cut is I DON’T DO THAT STUFF ANYMORE. The song is a duet of Berit and Zach about leaving behind your youthful wildness and settling into the safer decor of maturity while realizing there is a price to be paid in terms of passion and excitement.

I also enjoyed 24/5 that reflects the reality that 24/7 love can become oppressive and leaves you with little to no private time. I SWEAR TO GOD, I WILL is a perfect synergy of Berit’s voice and the insistent and rhythmic piano playing by Johnny. DECLINED, MOST ACCIDENTS HAPPEN, and ONE SPECIAL BOTTLE are also some of my favorites on the recording.

YOU DRUMMERS KEEP BREAKING MY HEART is a great song with an interesting twist. Though sung by Berit as a romantic lament, it is actually an autobiographical tune written by Johnny about the lives of drummers that have been in his band over the years.

There are bands that very comfortable within the established genres of music….The Claudettes aren’t one of them. Their music harkens back to the jazzy cabaret blues of the 1960’s and yet has a lyrical and upbeat edginess that I believe contemporary audiences enjoy. It is my understanding that they put on one helluva live performance. It is just a dang shame that this album was released just as the pandemic of 2020 set in and prevented them from touring to support it. Once a vaccine is widely available in early 2021, I hope all of us will get a chance to see this creative group of music artists performing at a nearby venue! They can’t get here soon enough!!!!

High Times In the Dark – Forty Below Records (2020)


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.

Hoodoo and Holy Water Make for a Fine Blues mix!!!

Paul Gallucci and John Brauchler have been friends and playing music together since their high school days. Based in the Boston area, they were an acoustic duo for years. In 2017, they formed ONE DIME BAND and with the release of their second album, Hoodoo and Holy Water, have popped up on the blues radar for a lot of listeners around the world. I was fortunate to get to chat with Paul on social media recently and ask him some questions. But first…about the music and the band.

The title cut is some badass contemporary blues…a catchy and upbeat tune that is getting a lot of airplay during my roadhouse blues shows. Witch Child is some sultry funk with great horns accompaniment. Salaryman has a Steely Dan feel to it with great vocals and a nice touch of wah wah on guitar. I loved the ‘remembrance’ tune, Mama’s Chair with it’s charming reminder of gentler times with our mothers. Something Good opens with a cool organ solo and then glides through a rhythmic reminder to us all to do something good everyday. I also loved the roots blues tune, Facing Yourself, and the fifties style blues rock & roller, Hard Luck Daddy. And the tune, Nobody’s Dog, is a tasty little ‘down the bayou’ blues number.

ONE DIME BAND’s diverse sound is crafted with Paul on lead vocals and harmonica, and John on lead guitars as well as the resonator and banjo. Supporting them on various tracks are Alizon Lissance (keyboards and accordion), drummers Chris Anzalone and Jay Gillies, Paul Konchanski and John Grube (bass), David Gordon Jr. (organ), Jackie Damsky (violin), Donna Tritico (vocals), John ‘Blue Horn’ Moriconi (trumpet) and Mario Perrett (tenor sax). As you can see from the band member instrument list, this is not your typical blues quartet just crankin’ out an album. The songs were written by Paul and John with one notable exception. Author Tim Curry sits in on one track playing acoustic guitar and singing for Hard Luck Daddy.

To me, it is always interesting to get band members perspectives on music and learn about the groups that influence them. Below are some questions I put to Paul and his answers:

  • There is a delightful little tune on the new album entitled Little Time.  During the pandemic, how have you all been spending your time? Writing new tunes? Reconnecting with family and friends? WE’VE DEFINITELY BEEN WRITING AND RECORDING DEMOS OF NEW MATERIAL AS WELL AS DOING SOME OUTDOOR LOCATION LIVE VIDEO THAT WE’VE SHARED ON SOCIAL MEDIA…WE’VE ALL BEEN ABLE TO SPEND SOME TIME WITH FAMILY, TOO – THANK GOD!
  • The song Mama’s Chair is about the simpler times of our childhood and our mothers. Who wrote the song? EXACTLY! IT WAS WRITTEN BY JOHN BRAUCHLER AND MYSELF.
  • The keyboard interplay with the harmonica on Nobody’s Dog is pretty badass. Who is playing keyboards and harmonica? ALIZON LISSANCE IS THE INCREDIBLE PIANO PLAYER ON THAT NUMBER – SHE ALSO PLAYS HAMMOND ORGAN AND ACCORDION ON THE ALBUM…I’M PLAYING ALL THE HARMONICA ON THE ALBUM.
  • Can you talk about some artists that have influenced the band since you all first started playing together back in the 1980’s. WELL, THAT’S A LONG LIST – LOL! WE’RE LOVERS OF SUCH A VARIETY OF ROOTS MUSIC FROM DELTA AND URBAN BLUES TO SOUL, R&B, ROOTS COUNTRY AND ROCKABILLY BUT WE WERE VERY INFLUENCED BY ARTISTS LIKE TAJ MAHAL, MUDDY WATERS, HOWLING WOLF, BUDDY GUY, JUNIOR WELLS, WILLIE DIXON, LITTLE WALTER, SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON, CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE, ELMORE JAMES, JIMMY REED, LIGHTNING HOPKINS, SON HOUSE, ALBERT, FREDDIE AND B.B. KING, SONNY TERRY & BROWNIE MCGEE, JOHNNY WINTER, LONNIE MACK, JIMI HENDRIX,  STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN – JUST TO SCRATCH THE SURFACE!
  • Are there any other contemporary blues artists out there that you all really enjoy listening to? OH YES! JUST A FEW FAVORITES ARE GARY CLARK JR., CHRISTONE “KINGFISH” INGRAM, JONTAVIOUS WILLIS, RUTHIE FOSTER, TAB BENOIT, ERIC GALES, PROFESSOR HARP, AND GA-20
  • With so many venues closed now by government mandate, how do you try to stay in touch with your fanbase? WE’VE BEEN POSTING VIDEOS AND LINKS TO OUR MUSIC ON FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM AND YOUTUBE. HOPING TO DO SOME FACEBOOK LIVE PERFORMANCES SOON!
  • What has been your favorite venue to play over the years? Any one that is special to the group? UNFORTUNATELY SO MANY ARE CLOSING DURING THE PANDEMIC, BUT HOPEFULLY A FEW CAN RECOVER…THE CANTAB, JOHNNY D’s, HARPER’S FERRY, THE NEXT PAGE, THE C NOTE, JASPER HILL  – BUT ONE THAT WAS A SPECIAL VENUE  FOR US WAS THE BRIGHTON, MA LOCATION OF JONATHAN SWIFT’S WHERE WE HOSTED A BLUES JAM MANY YEARS AGO.

Hoodoo and Holy Water turns out to be quite a bluzin’ combination………..download and give it a listen. You won’t be disappointed!!!

One Dime Band – Hoodoo and Holy Water (2019 Toneblanket Records)


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.

Savoy Brown – Ain’t Done Yet…and they damn sure aren’t!!

A chance meeting between two musicians at a record shop in England in 1965 led to the formation of one of the most enduring of all the bands from the Golden Age of music. And all these years later, Savoy Brown featuring Kim Simmonds is making an emphatic statement with the release of AIN’T DONE YET. Savoy Brown has been and continues to be a synonym for the term blues rock.

What started with the chance encounter between Kim Simmonds and harmonica player John O’Leary resulted in the release of Shake Down in 1967. They were then known as the Savoy Brown Blues Band and kicked out a mix of blues covers and a couple of instrumentals including High Rise, that I still love.

Over the years, a literal who’s who of rock and blues artists have spent time with the band including bluesmen Hubert Sumlin, Paul Oscher, and Duke Robillard. For the latest album, long time band members Pat DeSalvo (bass) and Garnet Grimm (drums) help flesh out a tight trio of rhythmic sound that is a perfect compliment to the vocals and both harmonica and guitar playing by Kim.

On this, their 41st recording, the band continues a hit run of releases in the last ten years. Voodoo Moon (2011), The Devil to Pay (2015), Witchy Feelin’ (2017), and City Nights (2019) are all great blues rock albums. AIN’T DONE YET is a bit more introspective with the title cut, Borrowed Time, All Gone Wrong, and Devil’s Highway addressing Kim’s blues rockin’ observations from a long life. I loved the guitar tones and easy rhythms of Feel Like a Gypsy. Jaguar Car is some badass boogie about how men identify with their cars.

Rocking In Louisiana is about my birthplace and long time home and Kim’s love for the state where the music he loves was born. He plays a steel dobro to give it a “down the bayou” feel and it works to perfection! To close out the album, Kim chose an instrumental, Crying Guitar. All of Savoy Brown’s albums have included at least one instrumental and this one is another blues rock jewel.

Savoy Brown featuring Kim Simmonds damn sure aren’t done yet! And I, for one, am mighty pleased!

Savoy Brown featuring Kim Simmonds – Ain’t Done Yet (2020 Quarto Valley Records)


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.

Checkin Out the Blues for June 2020

Some artists that I have checked out during June….that you should too! (Links in blue are to the albums on Spotify.)

Rory Block – Prove It On Me (2020 Stony Plain Records)

A first class acoustic guitar player with a great voice and a true appreciation for the blues, Rory Block (a six time winner of blues awards from the prestigious Blues Foundation) unearths some gems by early female blues singers and applies her special touch to them. This is the second Power Women of the Blues recordings she has done and it is a great listen.

I enjoyed her new song Eagles as well as He May Be Your Man (Helen Humes), It’s Red Hot (Madlyn Davis), and Wayward Girl Blues (Lottie Kimbrough).

Kyle Yardley – St. Louis to Savannah (2020)

Some badass Chicago blues from singer and harmonica player Kyle Yardley who hails from St. Louis and is now lives in Georgia. Particularly loved Little Girl which features some licks from one of my favorite guitarists, Johnny Burgin, and also loved That Ain’t Right, Savannah Georgia Women, and Country Girl (alternate version).

Evelyn Rubio – Crossing Borders (2020 Productions On Seaspeed LLC)

Evelyn Rubio hails from Mexico City and is now based in Houston. A singer and saxophone player, when she turns up the volume and lets it wail, she is at her finest. Really liked I Made a Mistake, Just Like A Drug, and One More Last Time.

Joshua Batten – The City Within (2020 Batten Down Music)

Joshua Batten hails from Australia and at 23 has just released his second recording that features a range of tunes across several genres. I loved the blues rocker Tell Me I am Wrong as well as Silver Dollars and The Fox and The Hound. All three will get airplay during my roadhouse blues shows on Blues Music Fan Radio.

Jose Ramirez – HERE I COME (2020)

Produced by the great Texas bluesman Anson Funderburgh, Jose Ramirez’s new album features some stellar guitar playing and singing and is full of catchy blues tunes. Jose hails from Costa Rica and is now based in Tampa, Florida. With a Robert Johnson tat on his arm and a distinctive guitar tone, he is more than ready to pay his blues dues. I loved One Woman Man as well as Gasoline and Matches and Stop Teasing Me. Keep an ear out for this guy…..he has a very bright bluzin’ future!

Jan JamesJUSTIFY (2020 Blues Palace Records)

Jan James has been singin’ the blues and payin’ her dues for many years. The new album Justify may finally get her the broad based recognition she is due as one of the contemporary blues’ great female singers. I loved the songs A Different Life, Believe in Me, and I’m Always Coming Back. Her long time partner Craig Calvert plays some mean guitar licks as well on all the songs. Overall, a great blues recording!!

What have YOU been listening to over the past month?? Leave a comment with an album that you have enjoyed….we wants to know!!!


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.

DayDreams in Blue with Anthony Geraci

Years ago down in Birmingham, I got my start managing bands and helping to produce concerts. And at least once a month, I would wander into an aging hotel downtown that was long past its prime. Most of the guests were budget vacationers traveling in the South or just off the bus from the Greyhound terminal down the block. But it was a warm and friendly place with a great little smokey piano bar with smiling waitresses, great martinis, and some damn fine jazzy blues. It had a healthy mix of old timers and young people from the local area as well as the occasional hotel guest and was just a fun place to hang out and listen to the music.

Listening to Anthony Geraci on his new album Daydreams in Blue brought back memories of that place and time with his virtuoso piano playing of both upbeat roadhouse style tunes and jazzy blues numbers that let you drift off into memory land. Dennis Brennan does almost all of the singing on the album and his Randy Newman style voice is a perfect fit for Anthony’s music. Monster Mike Welch does most of the guitar playing with other guest appearances by Walter Trout (guitar), Peter Ward (guitar), Troy Gonyea (guitar). Michael Mudcat Ward handles the acoustic bass, Jeff Armstrong is on drums, and Scott Arruda along with Mark Early do some badass horn playing. Overall, it is a fantastic supporting cast for the album.

With regards to the roadhouse blues, I loved the blues shufflin’ Mister. Anthony pounds those ivories and Dennis wails on his harmonica…..badass tune. One note from the guitar on No One Hears My Prayers and you know Walter Trout is in the studio. The back and forth between Anthony’s keyboards and Walter’s guitar is simply awesome. And another little jewel is Tutti Frutti Booty with Anthony on vocals. It is some classic boogie woogie that will get ya boppin’ in your easy chair.

Among the more jazzy blues tunes on the album that highlight Anthony’s keyboard talent, I loved Daydreams of a Broken Fool, Hard to Say I Love You, and the sultry Jelly, Jelly. My favorite Dennis Brennan vocals on the album are on Living in the Shadow of the Blues… the song and lyrics are picture perfect for him.

Every song on the album was enjoyable and I hope you will download and give it a listen. Daydreams in Blue is never a bad way to spend an afternoon or evening sometime soon. In fact, you can catch Anthony and Dennis live online Friday, July 10th at 7:30 pm ET. Just follow these links for more info… https://www.facebook.com/epsfalloutshelter and https://www.youtube.com/user/alternateroot1?fbclid=IwAR1dBUei%20wqPhULzrXjYLvfmeEwCJKa1lkkKHRi3bILcVDLs2eGpguSRqTM .

Anthony Geraci with Dennis Brennan – Daydreams in Blues (2020 Shining Stone Records)


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.

Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne – Doin’ It Mighty Fine!

At the age of 75, Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne has cooked up a fine blues gumbo of 13 songs that range from boogie woogie to a compelling blues rendition of a Lynyrd Skynyrd classic. An expat from the United States who has lived and recorded in Canada since the 1980’s, the Blues Boss released his eleventh studio album, GO, JUST DO IT!, a couple of weeks ago to a chorus of applause from across the blues spectrum. With talent on the keyboards, and a soulful energetic voice, Kenny reminds us with some stunning riffs and rolls that the piano and other keyboard instruments have been as vital a part of the blues over the years as the electric guitar.

My personal favorite on the recording is the title cut that features a vocal duet performance with Canadian Dawn Tyler Watson, a rising blues star in her own right. It’s a funky upbeat tune with lots of horns that sends a message that resonates in my life; don’t let folks tell what you can’t do……Go…just do it!

Another song that made me sit up and listen on the album is You’re In For A Big Surprise. It is 60’s style martini bar jazzy blues number that is splendidly delivered by Kenny and Grammy Award winning Diane Schuur. The keyboard playing is stellar and the horns are terrific. It brought back memories of Nina Simone and that is nevah a bad thing!!

Additionally, That’s the Way She Is is a great roadhouse blues tune that I will be giving a lot of spins during my radio shows. I also enjoyed the boogie woogie instrumental Let the Rock Roll as well as Lost & Found, Motor Mouth Woman, and You Did a Number on Me. Kenny also takes on the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic They Call Me the Breeze and produces a great bluzin’ cover.

Kenny was ably assisted on the recording by a slew of talented musicians including horn players Jerry Cook and Vince Mai (Powder Blues), guitarist Yuji Ihara (Boogie Patrol), renown harmonica player Sherman Doucette, Russell Jackson on bass (B.B. King), Joey “the Pocket” Dimarco on drums (Studebaker John) , Barry Sharbo on tamborine, and additional vocals by Julie Masi (Parachute Club) and Kenny’s son Corey Spruell.

So…if ya wanna hear one of the great singing and piano talents of the blues (and a member of the Boogie Woogie Hall of Fame) givin’ it all he has….buy this album……GO, JUST DO IT!

Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne – Go, Just Do It (2020 Stony Plain Records)


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.

Roadhouse Hot Blues Bin for May 13th

The contemporary blues scene is very much alive in 2020. Below are some artists that you may not be aware of that are worth a listen. Check ’em out! Links to their albums on Spotify are provided in blue.

Katie KadanKatie Kadan (2019)

A vibrant soul singer out of Chicago, Katie Kadan got her first big break on The Voice back in 2017. Her voice is a delightful mix of Adele and Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes). Her newest release, Katie Kadan, contains a number of great tunes including My Man and Stuck on You.

Harper and Midwest KindRISE UP (2020)

Peter D. Harper hails from Australia where he released his first album back in the mid 1990’s. On his latest album, RISE UP, he cranks out some rockin’ and socially relevant roots blues playin’ a badass harmonica and incorporating the use of the didgeridoo. Give the title cut a listen to see what I mean. I Still Got You and Welcome Home are tunes I also loved…heck…the whole album is great!!

Pinkie RideauBring Me Sugar (2020)

A Sacramento California based artist, Pinkie Rideau has been playin’ music for a long time. On the new album BRING ME SUGAR, she brings together some fine musicians (and life long friends) to produce music with a laid back “down the bayou” feel. I particularly liked Forgetful and I’m On The Outside. She has such a great voice….give her a listen!!

John Primer and Bob Corritore The Gypsy Woman Told Me (2020)

What’s not to like when two of the finest blues artists in America collaborate to produce a spectacular album. If you are not familiar with either of these artists, John Primer is a well known Chicago blues man (who played with Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Magic Slim) and Bob Corritore, who is based in Arizona, is one of the genre’s great harmonica players. I love the title cut as well as the grindin’ blues tune Walking The Back Streets And Crying and the Elmore James/Magic Slim inspired Keep A-Driving.

Be Sharp BandASHES (2020)

A great new group out of my ancestral home of Croatia, the BE SHARP BAND features the stellar voice of Marija Gašparić. On their debut album, ASHES, they crank out some badass roadhouse blues. Give Put ‘Em Down and Wolf a listen….and then download and buy the album!!


If you have suggestions for albums that I should give a listen to or are an artist with radio ready material…..just send me an email at ben@benveeblues.com. If I like it, I will give it a spin during my shows on BMFR and, perhaps, write about it.