Dave Kalz – The blues with rock RELISH on the side!

I absolutely love artists that play a mean guitar. And Dave Kalz does just that on his debut release for Gulf Coast Records, RELISH. The album is packed with original songs that celebrate the insistent tones of a guitar with blues rock gusto.

I suggest you listen to Route 666 first. It is a raucous upbeat tune with undertones of ZZ Top dripping from the music. You can just tell Dave is havin’ a blast as his fingers fly over the neck of the guitar. Next give She’s Got A Hemi a listen with it’s great rock and roll rhythm and those fabulous tones that bring back memories of LInk Wray. Up next focus your ears on a song about the bane of many musicians, the Taxman; it’s another blues rocker with a funky starting beat that shifts into some of the loud late night jammin’ that I have always associated with the Allman Brothers. It should be an audience pleaser when Dave hits the road to support the album which was officially released on June 25th.

Just these three tunes alone will help you understand why Dave’s long time friend, Mike Zito (they are both from St. Louis) signed him to a record deal for Mike’s label, Gulf Coast Records. Mike also sits in for one tune, Werewolf Blues. Dave just absolutely tears it up on another of my favorite cuts of the album, I Can’t Quit Ya Baby. It is a song he played with Devon Allman over two decades ago while Dave was a member of the Devon Allman’s Honeytribe and I am damn glad he included it on the album. I also enjoyed Playing the Blues (with some Jimi Hendrix riffs towards the end!), the title cut Relish, and Flying High.

For the recording, Dave has Kevin McDonald on drums, and Greg Hulub on bass and backing vocals; both of whom also attack the blues….forgive the impending pun…. with relish!! Tony Campanella sits in on guitar for Playing the Blues and Lewis Stephens provides the keyboards on the cut Mexico.

As a debut album, RELISH, is simply stellar. If you often love your blues loud and upbeat (and I do!), then you will enjoy this joyful celebration of the electric guitar.

Dave Kalz – RELISH (2021 Gulf Coast Records)


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. He also has a 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB

Rising Above the Blues Fray….Mike Zito’s RESURRECTION

I first became aware of Mike Zito back in 2008 with the release of his “Today” album and my interest was cemented in 2009 with his performances on the stellar album “Pearl River“. Over the last dozen years, Mike has been a veritable titan of the contemporary blues as a singer, songwriter, guitar player, producer, and now a record label owner. The energy that drives his life translates well on his recordings and with the official release this week (July 16) of RESURRECTION, we get treated to an outpouring of all the music passion he has stored up during the pandemic.

The album begins with a delightful cover of the J.J. Cale tune, I’ll Make Love To You. that features some tasty slide guitar work. On the second cut, Don’t Bring Me Down, Mike encapsulates how many of us feel about a lot of the modern culture and media and it’s insidious attempts to stir controversy and control the debate. The guitar playing on the song is incredible and the lyrics “You’re lookin’ for a victim, someone you can hurt, I won’t take the bait, I got no time for those that hate” rings so true in an era when social media is overrun with people telling others how to live and what to think. “I just need MY space….I just wanna live MY life….Don’t bring me down”…I couldn’t have said it better.

On the fifth cut of the RESURRECTION recording, MIke provides a mesmerizing rendition of the Blind Faith/Eric Clapton song, In the Presence of the Lord. replete with world class guitar licks. Mike’s singing is so heart felt and this is simply the best cover of the song that I have ever heard! The next song, When It Rains, is as fine an example of the contemporary low down blues that I know of and my favorite song on the album. Mike also provides a jammin’ version of the Howlin’ Wolf/Willie Dixon classic Evil, that is some badass roadhouse blues. And the title cut that closes the album is a pretty love song about second chances.

The album is masterfully produced by David Z who has worked with Mike on seven previous recordings and also worked with Etta James and Prince during his heyday. The backing cast of musicians for the album include many that have worked with Mike for years: Matthew Johnson (drums); Doug Byrkit (bass guitar); Lewis Stephens (piano, organ); Zach Zito (acoustic guitar); Lisa Andersen (backing vocals); Eric Demmer (saxophone); and Fernando Castillo (trumpet).

Mike Zito is undoubtedly one of the stars of the contemporary blues and a musical force to be reckoned with in the coming years. He will be doing an album release concert at Antone’s in Austin Texas on August 5th and another in Los Angeles at the Mint on August 7th. And during the months of August and September he will be doing shows with Anthony Geraci, Tito Jackson, and Albert Castiglia. I am hoping to get tickets to the show at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, Connecticut on August 18th. I’ll let ya know how it goes if I am lucky enough to be there!!

Mike Zito – Resurrection (2021 Gulf Coast Records/Hillside Global)


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. He also has a 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB

Southside of Heaven just North of Hell…..the ATOMIC 44s Crank It out at the Roadhouse Blues Epicenter

I’ve often struggled for a mental image of the location of the Roadhouse Blues. The place itself would undeniably be an aged structure with a big dance floor, pool tables, and a large bandstand that serves cold beer and food that scorns calorie counters. The music would be edgy, primarily upbeat, and definitely the roadhouse blues. And now I know the location……southside of Heaven just north of the Hell, thanks to a lyric from the fabulous debut ATOMIC 44s album, VOLUME ONE.

The Atomic 44s are a result of the synergy between two talented and veteran artists; Johnny Main (The 44s) and Eric Von Herzen (The Atomic Road Kings). Johnny sings and plays the guitar with a tone and style that defines the roadhouse blues and Eric wails on a badass harmonica. The music on the album is loud and boisterous with the kind of rhythm and feel you are looking for on a Friday night after another week of slogging through the grind. And Johnny and Eric have surrounded themselves with a band of roadhouse blues luminaries; Kid Ramos of the Proven Ones, The Roomful of Blues, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds (guitar), blues award winning Deb Ryder (backing vocals), Bill Stuve (bass), Gary Ferguson who played with Etta James and Gary Moore (drums), plus Taryn Donath and Jim Pugh (keyboards).

Picking a favorite tune off this recording is tough. THE BOOGIEMAN was released earlier this year as a music video and serves as a gateway to the other eight original tunes on the album. It has already topped several blues charts propelled by Eric’s harpin’, Johnny’s gritty vocals, and the dueling guitars of Johnny and Kid Ramos. Another song, MY ’49, also deserves release as a video as a anthem to car lovers everywhere. OL’ MEXICO and OLIVIA are some straight up Chicago blues that showcase the overall talents of the band. They drift into Omar Kent Dykes territory on SAINTS AND SINNERS that features a hypnotic beat laid down by Gary and some great guitar riffs. It is a perfect tune for a concert jam that I would love to be able to see. CANDY MAN has some tasty keyboard playing and Eric gets yet another chance to wail on that badass harmonica. LYIN STILL is world class low down dirty blues with amazing guitar solos and BARBWIRE AND FENCES provides the memorable lyrics…southside side of Heaven just north of Hell.. which will forever be ground zero for the Roadhouse Blues. But my favorite cut has to be FADE TO BLACK with its film noir feel. It’s a ready made musical vehicle for a future Quentin Tarantino movie featuring stretches of edgy harmonica, dark guitar tones, and the raw and growling vocals of Johnny.

With the pandemic finally beginning to recede, the Atomic 44s should begin to hit the road supporting this incredible recording. It is undoubtedly one of the finest releases of 2021 and well worth your time and money. And for me personally, it will always be the recording that defines the location of the Roadhouse Blues….the end to a lifelong musical search!!

Atomic 44s – VOLUME ONE (Bird Dog Records 2021)


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. He also has a 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB

Bad Outdoor Science threw Performers and Musicians Out of Work – Now Make It Right

Bad Outdoor Science threw thousands of musicians and performers out of work during the last year. Reports over the last week, including from the New York Times, indicate that the threat of COVID in an outdoor setting is minimal to non existent with NO reported deaths resulting from outdoor exposure anywhere!! The WHO and CDC “science” on outdoor exposure turns out to have been based in part on a now discredited “study” done in Singapore. Fine and good…so the government didn’t know then what they know now. But it does stick in my craw that we got beat over the head with the mantra of “we are following the science” mantra again and again by governors, government scientists, and media pundits as governments imposed ever more draconian martial laws on outdoor gatherings to combat Covid. Turns out they rushed the “science”…….thank god that Big Pharma didn’t!! Big Pharma, under enormous time pressure, got the science right! And I, for one, am benefitting from the vaccine. Imagine the outcry if Big Pharma had gotten the science wrong! But if you are a government scientist, it is okay to get it wrong, and literally destroy the livelihood of restaurant workers, musicians, and performers. Now make it right!!

In the United States, trillions of dollars have been allocated to deal with the impact of COVID. Unfortunately, most of the money is not directed at individuals impacted but at government. As one example, the state of California is reportedly receiving 25 billion or more dollars to deal with the ‘impact” of Covid on their state budget. California ran a 75 billion dollar surplus last year!!! In a state with a population of 40 million, my unscientific guess is 500,00 restaurant workers, musicians, and performers that could have kept working in outdoor settings were shutdown by bad science. Add in first responders and front line hospital workers and my guess is the number rises to 1 million people. Instead of doling out money to government agencies, how about taking that 25 billion and apportioning 50% of it directly to those directly impacted! That would be a one time check for 12,500 dollars to, in part, say, “Oops, we got the science wrong on your ability to work and perform in an outdoor setting”.

To be fair, the governor of California is proposing distributions of the Covid cash: $600 for everybody. But “everybody” wasn’t significantly financially impacted. Big Tech companies in particular have done very nicely during the pandemic. Instead of doling out the money to everyone…….give the performers and musicians what they deserve…make it right!!


Some Mighty Dangerous Boogie from JP and Ekat

There is a surprising amount of great roadhouse blues that has been coming out of the Pennsylvania over the last decade. One of the best is a guy named JP Williams I spun his 2018 album, Everblue, quite often during that year and in 2019 and now he has a new recording out that is getting extensive airplay all over the world. For the new album, JP & Ekat, he is joined by the sultry voiced Ekat Pereyra and a collection of stellar musicians that perform as the JP Williams Blues Band. The product of their effort is a first class rendition of the contemporary roadhouse blues.

JP has a great voice and he is a fantastic storyteller. All of the tunes on the album but one are from his pen and paint some great mental pictures. My favorite is the first cut on the album, Mighty Dangerous Boogie. It has an infectious beat set by the harp and drums and describes an encounter with a lady dressed to kill and bedroom eyes. Another tune that tells a story…about Slammin’ Sammy and Juke Joint Jimmy… is Regret. I love the lyric “what you did yesterday, you have to live with today.” Amen, brother! Ekat Pereyra is Russian born and came to the United States as a teenager. She has a voice tailor made for the blues and she really shines on Solid Gone, Around Midnite, and a cut that is getting plenty of airplay Need a Little Sugar.

JP has been a guest in the chat room for my BMFR Roadhouse blues shows over the last month and I have thrilled to see that the album is at the top of the charts here in North America and also getting a lot of spins in Europe. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy with a true love for the blues in all its varied forms…..including the roadhouse blues!!

JP Williams Blues Band Featuring Ekat Pereyra – JP & EKAT (2021 self release) https://jp-williams.com/


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. He also has a 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB.

Roadhouse Blues Music News — New and Upcoming Music Releases

Some new and upcoming music releases that I thought you might like to know about! When you get a chance to listen to them, leave a comment here on my blog with your thoughts!!

Out now:

Van Morrison – Latest Record Project Volume 1

Nancy Wilson (of Heart) – You and Me

Upcoming Releases:

The Black Keys – Delta Kream (May 2021)

Mike Zito – Resurrection (May 2021)

John Hiatt with the Jerry Douglas Band – Leftover Feelings (May 2021)

Robert Finley – Sharecropper’s Son (May 2021)

Eddie 9V – Little Black Flies (May 2021)

Various Artists – Alligator Records 50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music (June 2021)

Billy F Gibbons – Hardware (June 2021)

Sean Chambers – That’s What I Am Talking About….Tribute to Hubert Sumlin (July 2021)

Three Hot European Roadhouse Blues Singles (April 2, 2021)

There is a lot of great roadhouse blues being recorded in Europe. Here is just a sampling with current hit songs by Superdownhome, Be Sharp Band, and Son of Dave. I hope they help kick start a great upcoming weekend for each of you!

SuperdownhomeBooze Is My Self-Control Device Blues Case Scenario (2020 Remaster)Dixiefrog Records (2021)

This Italian group records on the same French blues label as Popa Chubby….Dixiefrog Records. Their first release for their new record label is a remastered version of an album they released previously in 2020. It is some badass roadhouse crankin’ blues.

Be Sharp Band – Wolf – Ashes (Self Release 2020)

Easily one of my favorite blues rock artists of 2020, the Be Sharp Band hails from my ancestral home of Croatia. They feature a female lead singer by the name of Marija Gašparić that growls, struts, and belts out some mighty fine blues rock.

Son of Dave – What a Life (Self Release Single 2021)

Benjamin Darvill, better known as the Son of Dave, is a one man band featuring the harmonica and a beat box. He is from Canada and now based in London. He was also a member of the Crash Test Dummies back in the eighties and early nineties. His music is an eclectic mix of songs that generally fall under the blues genre. I love his talent and particularly his song writing on this “slice of life” tune.


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. He also has a 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB.

Hot Roadhouse Blues Singles for March 18, 2021

There is a steady supply of great 2021 Roadhouse blues albums being issued and I am fortunate that between BMFR and the artists and publicists, many of them are making their way to my in box at ben@benveeblues! Here are some hot singles taken from the recordings that I think are worth your time. (Colored links are to Spotify or Youtube)

Mark SutherlandNext to Me from the album The Good Fight (Indie Release)

Mark Sutherland hails from Albert, Canada and his first solo album is replete with great guitar playing and some badass early 2000’s garage style blues rock. I got to chat with him a bit recently and he cites the Black Keys as a major influence along with Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Pink Floyd. Mark stated “The Good Fight is as much an album of self-reflection as it is a tip-of-the-cap to the artists who inspire me to pick up a guitar and sing.” I love the stripped down sound and the magic beat of Next To Me and I think you will too!

Popa ChubbyCan I Call You My Friends from the album Tinfoil Hat (Dixiefrog Records)

It is Popa Chubby time again with the release of his first single off the new Tinfoil Hat album, Can I Call You My Friends. It is a bright upbeat song with an infectious rhythm…..I think he has a new hit on his hands! The album features a number of other great tunes including several that take on social issues and politics in Popa’s legendary “in your face” style. There is no doubt where Popa stands on the issues and, right or wrong, I am always proud to call him my friend!

Tomislav GolubanExpress Connection from the album Express Connection (Blue Heart Records)

Tomislav Goluban is a native of my ancestral home of Croatia and a world class bluesman and harmonica player. It is not often than an instrumental makes my Hot Singles list but Express Connection is just a cool upbeat and catchy tune. There is also a video for it featuring fast cars, snowmobiles, jet skis, and dirt bikes……what’s not to like!

Tosha OwensHalf Moon from the album Wrong Side of Right (Indie Release)

When you take on a song by Janis Joplin, you bettah bring your “A” game and this Detroit based artist, Tosha Owens, certainly does. What is delightful about her cover of Half Moon is that while she channels Janis, she doesn’t mimic her as so many artists try to do when they sing her songs. Tosha simply makes the song her own and that is more than good enough!

A J FullertonSay You’ll Stay from the album The Forgiver (VizzTone Records)

A J Fullerton hails from the town of Montrose, Colorado on the western slope of the Rockies. He has already won a number of honors from the Colorado Blues Society over the last five years and with the release of The Forgiver on Vizztone Records, he is poised to make a big impression on blues lovers across the world with songs like Say You’ll Stay. AJ is another emerging artist that gives alot of credit to the Black Keys for their influence on his music. Rock and Blues Muse Magazine recently named him one of 75 artists that you have to listen to in 2021….I heartedly agree!!


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. He also has a 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB.

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.

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 JamesIf You Don’t Know By NowUSA
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.