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.

The Nighthawks 31st album is STUPENDOUS – Tryin’ To Get To You ….and they do!

There are good bands and there are great bands but there are not many great roadhouse blues bands that have produced THIRTY ONE solid and engaging albums over the years. With the release of TRYIN’ TO GET TO YOU, The Nighthawks, based out of Washington, DC, continue to mesh the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll and the upbeat electric blues into a incredible musical menagerie. And they are worthy of consideration as one of the very best bands in the storied history of the electric blues.

The band is led by Mark Wenner, a first class harmonica player and a singer with the perfect type of voice for the uplifting style of music that they play. The steady beat is provided by drummer Mark Stutso who also adds vocals. And two new group members, Dan Hovey (guitars) and Paul Pisciotta (bass) both contribute vocals for some fabulous harmonies on a number of the new tunes.

The new album has that upbeat rhythm and sound that just transports you to a good place. I loved the driving bass and harmonica on Baby, It’s Time. And Chairman of the Board is some damn fine sultry blues with an insistent hip movin’ beat that cries out to be released as a single. The title cut, Tryin’ to Get to You, is a sweet fusion of doo wap and the electric blues with a tone on Dan’s guitar that is entrancing. Don’t Worry Baby is the kind of rockin’ blues song that has been a signature staple of the band over the years. And Somethin’ Cookin is a delicious blues shuffle…..mhmm…my kinda tune.

This is easily one of the best roadhouse blues releases of 2020. It will wanna make ya call out to your Baby and get them close for some social spacing hip shakin’ in the living room….yeah it is that good! Go On….right now….download this jewel of a recording…I promise you that you won’t regret it!! It will make ya smile, dance, and have a damn fine time while ya listen….and that is the very definition of the roadhouse blues for the weekend!

The Nighthawks – Tryin’ To Get To You (2020 Ellersoul 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.

Crystal Shawanda singin’ the CHURCH HOUSE BLUES

Crystal Shawanda is an indigenous Canadian who grew up on the Wikwemikong reserve on an island in Ontario, Canada. Blessed with a stellar voice that has catapulted her to the forefront of the contemporary blues scene, Crystal now lives in Nashville with her record producer and co-writer husband Dewayne Strobel. The new album CHURCH HOUSE BLUES is her second for True North Records and an incredible followup to Voodoo Woman that I reviewed back in 2018. (The link in blue is to the album on Spotify.)

Church House Blues is part of her continuing evolution from country music to the blues. She initially came to Nashville as a country singer back in 2007 for RCA Records and recorded a Billboard top 20 country hit for them. But, as you can clearly hear when you listen to her, her forte and her heart belong to the blues. She left RCA a couple of years after the hit single and has been focused primarily on the blues ever since.

The first single from the new album is WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE, a pretty ballad that highlights that awesome voice which has both elements of Koko Taylor and Janis Joplin as well as a delicious hint of Patsy Cline. The emotion she invokes as she sings will draw you in and then grab your soul. And there is no better showcase for that than BIGGER THAN THE BLUES and EVIL MEMORY. Another favorite of mine is NEW ORLEANS IS SINKING with its driving clap rhythm and some haunting harmonica. Additionally I enjoyed MOVE ME. HEY LOVE, BLAME IT ON THE SUGAR, and the title cut. Crystal sings my favorite sensual love song of the year so far with I CAN’T TAKE IT….ya gotta give it a listen!!

Crystal draws on her life and the blues as inspiration and gives back to the community both as a singer and a motivational speaker. I wouldn’t mind gettin’ up on a Sunday morning and pokin’ my head into any church in Canada or Nashville that gave the pulpit and stage to Crystal Shawanda for her CHURCH HOUSE BLUES!!

Crystal Shawanda – Church House Blues (True North 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.

Forrest McDonald Gathers the Blues in a Bucket

Forrest McDonald, over his lifetime, has been coast to coast in the United States pursing his dream and providing us with some memorable guitar playing along the way. He jammed with Muddy Waters in New York City as a teenager, rolled out to California and jammed there with Van Halen and Steve Perry in the seventies, played the guitar solo with Bob Seger on the mega hit Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll recording and with Bobby Womack on Roads of Life, and then settled down in Atlanta in the 1990’s.

Considered a musician’s musician, but largely unknown by the general music public, Forrest has done a number of recordings with the Forest McDonald Band on his label, World Talent Records, in the years since he began calling Atlanta home. The latest release, Blues In A Bucket, is a stellar album that features a number of talented backing musicians including Andrew Black (vocals), Becky Wright (guest vocals), and Tony Carey (guest keyboards/organ).

The album opens with a New Orleans style “down the bayou” tune Boogie Me Til I Drop that channels a bit of Dr. John……loved it!! Blue Morning Sun is a touching song done in remembrance of his brother that he lost recently. The slide guitar work on the tune is absolutely world class and evokes the spirit of the Macon sound of the seventies. The title cut, Blues In a Bucket, is some nice rockin’ blues, and Hard to Lose, Blues in the Basement, and Misery and Blues are just badass low down blues recordings. Going Back to Memphis is a great funky tune with some stellar horn and organ playing. And the album closes like it started with the delicious down the bayou sound of Let the Love in Your Heart.

Forrest has been playing his heart out on the guitar for over 55 years and he deserves wider recognition for his talent and his lifetime of contributions to the blues. And he certainly defines what I mean by the term “the roadhouse blues” on this fabulous recording. I hope my readers will consider purchasing a copy of this album both for the great songs included and as a big thank you to him for a music life well done!


Forrest McDonald – Blues in a Bucket (2020 World Talent 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.

Al Basile – B’s Hot House is some fine Bedrock Blues

I’ve always thought of Al Basile as the Randy Newman of the blues and his new album B’s Hot House just reinforces the notion. Al first started recording in 1998 and has been nominated 8 times over the years for his work as a songwriter/singer/cornet player by the Blues Music Foundation.

The new album is what I call the bedrock blues; solid earthy tunes with engaging lyrics and heartfelt vocal delivery that are backed by talented veteran musicians. Al’s band mates are people he has recorded with over the years and features the renown guitar player Duke Robillard (who also produced the album), Mark Teixeira (drums), Brad Hallen (bass), Bruce Bears (keyboards), Doug James (tenor sax), and Jeff “Doc” Chanonhouse (trumpet). Mark, Brad, and Bruce are members of the Duke’s band and the horn section are old friends from Al’s days with Roomful of Blues. Together, these talented artists have created an enjoyable blues and R&B recording.

Lyrically as well as musically, the song So Called Storyteller encapsulates Al’s talent as a musician and songwriter and is my favorite on the album. I also loved Razor Wire; the guitar licks are great and Al’s cornet gives the tune just the right feel. Al does a bit of political commentary with Don’t Fool With the Truth; an upbeat song with some biting lyrics. Additionally, I will be working Five Roads, I See You There, and Looking for a Cookie into my roadhouse blues shows on BMFR.

Overall, this 14 song (all originals) recording enhances Al Basile’s reputation as a great singer/songwriter who also happens to play a badass cornet.


Al Basile – B’s Hot House (2019 Sweetspot Records)

Wentus Blues Band with Duke Robillard – Too Much Mustard

Sometimes I run across an album that just blows me away…..this one did!! Wentus Blues Band is a Finnish group that has been together touring for thirty years. Recently, they journeyed across the seas to Rhode Island to make the album TOO MUCH MUSTARD with renown guitarist and producer Duke Robillard……the result is simply blues magic!

The first cut to grab my attention was 2:19. The band is tight featuring Juho Kinaret on vocals, Niko Riippa on guitar, Robban Hagnäs on bass, Pekka Gröhn on keyboards, and Daniel Hjerppe on drums and they blend their instruments seamlessly as they drift though a badass little tune.

I was riveted by their version of FIRST WE TAKE MANHATTAN. The song was written by Leonard Cohen and I am familiar with it because of a recording done by Jennifer Warnes in the 1990’s with Stevie Ray Vaughan on lead guitar. Both the Cohen and Warnes versions were whimsical. Wentus Blues Band delivers the appropriate feel and ominous warning to this apocalyptic song.

A song that will get alot of airplay during my roadhouse blues sets on BMFR is SHE’S A KILLER HOT BLONDE. It is hot rockin’ blues with some great guitar and piano licks.

I also enjoyed the songs TOO MUCH MUSTARD, FEELS SO BAD, and I HEAR YOU KNOCKIN’. All great tunes that bear the imprint of the Duke as their record producer. He also plays guitar throughout the album and even provided two tunes for the band from his early years, SHE MADE MY MIND and PASSIONATE KISS.

In an interview done on the Michael Limnios Blues Network, Juho eloquently stated “the Blues music is a universal playground. It doesn’t look at your color, how old you are or where do you come from.” Amen, brother!! As I have stated a number of times over the last five years, there is alot of great blues coming out of Europe and Copenhagen and the Nordic countries in particular. With the release of this album, the Wentus Blues Band’s TOO MUCH MUSTARD blueses itself into contention as one of the great recordings of 2019.


Wentus Blues Band – Too Much Mustard (2019 Ramasound Records)

Links in blue are to Spotify, Youtube, or quote references.

...And yes I know “blueses” wasn’t a word until today…..lol.

Zack Walther Band – The Westerner

The Texas based Zack Walther Band is hard to pin down when it comes to their tastes in music…and that is a good thing! On the new album, The Westerner, due out this Friday, October 25th, they provide a spicy mix of Americana, rock, country, and R&B that plays to the strength of band leader Zack Walther’s soul infused voice.

My favorite tune on the album is Payin’ For It Now. A song about poor life choices that lead inevitably to the blues, Zack’s voice vividly brings home the realization that there is more to bein’ a man than money and cars. An insistent beat and some great backing harmonies with band members Matthew Briggs (drums, guitars, bass) and Mike Atkins (keyboards, bass) make this a recording you won’t soon forget.

Zack reminds me a bit of Gregg Allman on another of my favorite cuts of the recording, What Kind of Man. He originally released this song on a previous album, Get Out of Your Head, and I am glad to see him include it once again. The lyrics are powerful and the delivery is perfect.

The album also features a song originally recorded by Sam & Dave, Hold On I’m Coming that is some damn fine soul music featuring trumpet playin’ by D. Tiger Anaya and some badass sax by Mark L. Wilson.

Other songs that I enjoyed on the album were I’m Going Out of Your Mind that has some awesome guitar riffs, the sultry tune Bad Girl, and DFW which has a great Kenny Wayne Shepherd feel to it.

And for those of you that enjoy cool album art, this one is a must have that was designed by Catherine Atkins.

Overall, this is an awesome album of Americana music performed by a talented band with great crossover potential for contemporary blues audiences on several cuts. I will be featuring some during my upcoming BMFR roadhouse blues sets. If you live in the New Braunfels area of Texas, try and catch their CD release party this Friday, October 25th, at the Brauntex Theater. If you go, let me know what you think.


Zack Walther Band – The Westerner (2019)