Roadhouse 2021 Blues Rock Album of the Year – Beggars Soul by J. Lee and the Hoodoo Skulls

The Roadhouse 2021 Blues Rock Album of the Year is by a British group from Surrey, England…. J. Lee and the Hoodoo Skulls. The recording, Beggars Soul, is a vibrant energetic collection of tunes that are brash and edgy. Drawing from the same musical well as Chuck Berry, Larkin Poe, the Black Keys and the Record Company, this 4 piece band cranks out songs that will get ya pumped and wanting to gather once again with friends at a rowdy roadhouse or pub for some good times.

The band is composed of J. Lee (vocals), Harun Kotch (Lead Guitar/ Writer), Wayne Riches (Drums) and Mike Hartnett (Bass). The album was recorded at an old church chapel which gives the songs a cool texture that just enhances the aura of the music. Just give the title cut, Beggars Soul, a listen……you will hear what I mean.

I also just love tunes that capture the magic of the era when Muddy Water’s famously said that the blues had a baby and it was called rock & roll. The song Baby Can’t Sing the Blues is an absolute time capsule of a roadhouse blues tune that perfectly illustrates Muddy’s statement.

Every recording on this album is worth a listen, particularly if you are feeling dreary or depressed and need a musical “pick me up”. So…..go to your favorite music download site….get your own copy of Beggars Soul as your endorsement of the very best badass Roadhouse blues rock of 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

Firmly In the Roots of the Roadhouse Blues 12-2pm ET on BlueMusicFan Radio

Join me today from 12-2 pm ET on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com for some roadhouse roots blues tunes from Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, EG Kight, John Hiatt, Veronique Gayot, David Gogo, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Rod Gator, Kaleo, the Misty Blues, and many more.

Here is the intended playlist:

ARTISTTITLE
Dede Priest & Johnny Clark’s OutlawsRum & Sugarcane
Van MorrisonThank God for the Blues
Eric ClaptonGot My Mojo Working
Veronique GayotGood Blues On The Radio
The Immediate Family3:45 Coming Through
Robert Plant & Alison KraussHigh and Lonesome
John Hiatt With The Jerry Douglas BandKeen Rambler
Misty BluesDays Gone By
David GogoBlues For Dollface
Mission BrownExpectations
EG KightYou’re drivin’ me crazy
Brad PalmerRisin’ Moon
The Shedmen Blues BandChain Gang Stomp
Dede Priest & Johnny Clark’s Outlaws16 Tons
KaleoBackbone
Rodney CrowellSomething Has To Change
Rod GatorMermentau Bridge
HolebonesAin’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around
Eric Starczan, Jennifer Jordan, Ian SiegalYou Are Right For Me
Blue in the FaceAin’t Nobody Gonna Miss You
Jackie VensonRollin’ On
Chris Kramer and Beatbox ‘n’ BluesIn the Dead of the Night
Danny BryantRescue Me
Rebecca DownesTake Me Higher
Toby LeeOne Foot On The Path
Dave HuntBehind the Moon
Caleb JohnsonDrift Away (Acoustic)
Ben LevinLove And Friendship

Euro Blues on BluesMusicFan Radio 12-2 pm ET

There are a large number of great contemporary roadhouse blues bands and artists in Europe. Today on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com from 12-2 pm, I will give you a sampling including Maria Daines, Clara Rose, Malted Milk, Band of Friends, Ben Granfelt, Davy Knowles, The Liberators, Greg Copeland & Steve Giles, and a dozen or so more. Bundle up and let’s blues the first day of winter away together!!

Here is the intended playlist:

ARTISTTITLEALBUM
Manny FizzottiSliding AwayNobody Understands
Eddie Kold BandBlues Man (ft. Bernard Allison)Chicago Alley Blues
Captain Morgan ExpressGot to MoveNo Weirdos Please
The Mary Stokes BandMoonshineComin’ Home
Michele BiondiLonely And LostDown By The River
Edgar BluesFeeling DownThe Next Step
Kiko And The Blues RefugeesPoor Man’s JusticeThreadbare
Epi K. ParadoxChange Your MindI’ll Take The Long Road
HolebonesAin’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me AroundLoud
Greg Copeland & Steve ‘Guitar’ GillesDon’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down (Live)Live In Aotearoa / New Zealand
Davy KnowlesRiverbedComing Up For Air (Revisited)
Marcus LazarusHit The Ground RunningHell Of A Ride
Maria DainesSpirit of the FreeThis Heart Remembers
Louis MezzasomaValley Of ShadowsMercenary
Lowland BrothersDriftin’Lowland Brothers
Malted MilkLet Me RideRiding High
Clara RoseHit or MissClara Rose: Live, Live, Love
Jack J HutchinsonHip Slickin’Back To The Blues
Band Of FriendsFuel To The FireSpotlight on the G-Man Vol.2
Hitman Blues BandGo Down FightingNot My Circus, Not My Monkey
Ben GranfeltGoing Home (Live)Live… Because We Can!
Harlem LakeThe RiverA Fool’s Paradise Vol. 1
Johnny GallagherShake That TambourineA 2020 Vision
The LiberatorsCry Like a WolfWaitin’
Lisa Lystam Family BandGet Out Of BedIII
Mick PiniStanding in the RainBacktrack

The Big Easy Sound of Ricci/Krown on City Country City

Any album that starts with a Hammond B3 organ intro has my attention. One that then integrates some Big Easy style harmonica is just plain badass.The new Jason Ricci and Joe Krown collaboration, City Country City on Gulf Coast Records, starts just that way with the title cut and is infused throughout with the rhythms of a bluesy fall day in the French Quarter roamin’ down Royal Street and then perhaps eating beignets out by the mighty Mississippi in New Orleans.

Jason has long been considered one of the premier harmonica players of the blues genre and Joe Krown, an established piano and organ player in New Orleans, is also a member of the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Together with monster drummer Doug Belote, they lay down a sound that reflects the city in which they all reside. In parts funky and soul infused, the recording is a very enjoyable listen.

Besides the title cut, I also enjoyed the instrumentals Down n’ Dirty, My Mama Told Me So, It Starts with Me, and Upshot. I was particularly impressed with their reinterpretation of the Bobby Gentry classic Ode to Billy Joe as a blues funk instrumental. Jason’s work on the harmonica on the song takes the tune to a whole new level.

On Badger the Witness, Jason and Joe channel Doctor John to perfection. Feel Good Funk is just that and my favorite song on the album is Down At the Juke. It’s just a perfect “down the bayou” tune reflective of some places I used to frequent while growing up and working in southern Louisiana. If you enjoy the low down blues, you won’t find much better than the trio’s rendition of Charles Brown’s Drifting Blues with Joe’s haunting organ setting just the right vibe and counterpoint to some sweet harmonica playing. Listening to Jason on this song will help you to understand why blues music lovers rave about his talent. I also enjoyed their cover of Sonny Boy Williamson’s Just a Playboy with Joe pounding those ivories.

The textures and rhythms of this album embody the city of New Orleans and are reflective of the powerhouse talents of Jason, Joe, and Doug. Though they all have busy schedules with other bands, it is my hope that they will carve out some time to tour a bit together. I think people world wide would enjoy some of their Big Easy blues.

Ricci Krown – City Country City (Gulf Coast 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

Roadhouse Blues Nooner on BluesMusicFan Radio (12-2 pm EST)

Hope you get a chance to listen in today to the Ben Vee Roadhouse Blues Nooner on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com from 12-2 pm EST. We will roll out with a Faces tune featuring Rod Stewart from back in the day and then spend the rest of the show spinning some incredible new contemporary blues from artists all over the USA and around the world:Manny Fizzotti, Joe Louis Walker, Natalia M. King, Malted Milk, Bad Temper Joe, Colin James, Carolyn Wonderland, and a whole bunch more!!

ARTISTTITLECountry
Manny FizzottiSliding AwayItaly
FacesThree Button Hand Me DownUK
Joe Louis WalkerTwo Trains RunningUSA
Son Of DaveGimme A DoctorUK
Natalia M. KingPink Houses (Feat. Elliott Murphy)France
Mick Schafer BandDon’t Wanna B JudgedUSA
Zoom With Shawn KellermanBorn To Sing The BluesCanada
Jesse RoperDoes Anybody KnowCanada
P K MayoTruthUSA
Santana ft. Chris StapletonJoyUSA
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night SweatsI’m On Your SideUSA
Eric GalesI Want My Crown  (Feat. Joe Bonamassa)USA
Altered Five Blues BandAll Suit, No SoulUSA
The Head Hunters Blues BandForty Days And Forty NightsUK
Black PumasI’m ReadyUSA
Manny FizzottiTurn Me OnItaly
Malted MilkLet Me RideFrance
Circle Of MudNative ManFrance
Andreas Diehlmann BandMade It My WayGermany
Bad Temper Joe3rd Floor Elevator BluesGermany
Colin JamesRaging RiverCanada
The Doobie BrothersCannonballUSA
Carolyn WonderlandBroken Hearted BluesUSA
Phillip-Michael ScalesWhen They Put Me in My GraveUSA
Simon Kinny-LewisJust Need A Kind Hearted Woman ( Feat Robben Ford )Australia
Gov’t MuleMake It RainUSA
Tommy CastroBluesman Came To TownUSA
Christone “Kingfish” IngramThat’s What You DoUSA

Soul Blues Chillin’ with Zac Harmon

For those of you who haven’t heard of Zac Harmon, he is an award winning bluesman who comfortably resides in the Robert Cray wing of the contemporary blues. In 2006, he won the Blues Music Foundation award for Best New Artist for his album The Blues According To Zacariah. In the years since six more albums have followed including the new recording Long As I Got My Guitar.

Zac has a voice and a guitar style that can best be described as ‘chillin with the soul blues’. His songs on the new album are in parts upbeat, funky, pensive, spiritual, and socially aware. He even ventures “down the bayou” a bit with the delightful accordion accompanied Crying Shame. Zac was born in Jackson Mississippi to parents who schooled him in music. His mother played piano and his father, the first black pharmacist in Mississippi, played harmonica. His dad tended to the needs of Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Albert King, Ike & Tina Turner, and Little Milton at times and all those combined influences have made Zac Harmon one of the great blues & soul men of the roadhouse blues.

Now based in Texas, Zac worked with the renown music producer, Jim Gaines, who most notably produced Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, and Journey, to create the soulful music magic on this recording. Backing Zac on most of the tracks are the Rays consisting of Bob Trenchard (bass), Richy Puga (drums), Johnny McGhee (guitars), Dan Ferguson (keyboards and accordion) and backing vocals by SueAnn Carwell and Corey Lacey.

My favorite recording on the album is the title cut, Long As I Got My Guitar. Over the years, I have heard guitar players time and again talk about having survived their days payin’ their blues dues and facing the brutal choice of pawning their guitar for money to pay bills. Zac captures that melancholy experience with some exquisite guitar licks and real world lyrics. I also loved the guitar work on the socially conscious Waiting to Be Free. Another favorite of mine on the recording is People Been Talking which is soul blues at its very finest.

Over the last 18 months all of us have dealt with enforced periods of isolation as a result of the pandemic. It has given most of us a new appreciation of family and friends and, in Zac’s case, he says it gave him the realization that “as long as I have my guitar, all is good with my soul”. All I can add to that is that just listening to Zac sing and play on this new recording had a nice calming effect on my soul best exemplified by his song, Soul Land. Give it and the rest of the songs on this album a listen as you chill to some mighty fine soul blues.

Zac Harmon – Long As I Have My Guitar (2021 Catfood 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

An enticing Open Road to the Blues with some new Colin James

Every life is an open road. It’s a lyric from the title cut for Colin James‘ 20th album which was released this week. In Colin’ case, the certainty and direction of his musical journey was cemented when fate intervened back in the 1980’s in his hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan. A late no show and a desperate last minute search for an opening act for Stevie Ray Vaughan led to Colin. After the show, Stevie told him , “I’m opening doors for you….walk through them!”.And that he did!!

In 1988, Colin released his first self-titled album which contained two self-penned hits, Voodoo Thing and Five Long Years that garnered him the first of his 7 JUNO awards and a spot touring with Keith Richards. Over the ensuing years, Colin has rocked it, been credited with reviving swing music in Canada, and, with the last three albums, solidified his standings as one badass roadhouse bluesman.

The OPEN ROAD album is an impressive collection of original songs as well as covers of tunes he recalls first firing his imagination at the age of 12. It has rockin’ blues songs, traditional blues numbers, and beautiful roots tunes. Overcoming the challenges of the pandemic, Colin drew together the talents of Chris Caddell (rhythm guitar), Steve Pelletier and Norm Fisher (bassists), Simon Kendall and Jesse O’Brien (Hammond B3 organ), and Geoff Hicks (drums) to make the recording. It was mixed at the famed Abbey Roads Studios in London by producer Dave Meszaros. And the product, which includes guest appearances by Steve Marriner (harmonica) and Jerry Cook and Steve Hilliam (saxophone) is in my opinion his best overall release to date and worthy of consideration as one of the best blues recordings of 2021 world wide, not just in Canada. To give you a feel for just how good it is, I use a 5 star rating system for songs and there are 13 on the Open Road recording. My overall rating is an incredible 57 out of a possible 65. As context, my normal rating for an album I considered great would be 40 to 45! This recording is special!!

The album opens with some tasty guitar pickin’ on the Tony Joe White song As The Crow Flies. Colin then takes on challenge of covering an Albert King tune, Can’t You See What You’re Doing to Me. He follows that up with some badass lowdown blues on That’s Why I Am Crying. The fourth song Open Road was written by Colin and Craig Northey. It is insightful observation on life and the travails of a traveling musician. On the fifth tune, Change It, Colin pays tribute to his fateful meeting with Stevie Ray with a song written by Doyle Bramhall. The album also contains two songs written by Colin and Colin Linden, another of my favorite Canadian artists, Raging River and There’s a Fire. Colin cranks out a signature rockin blues tune, Leave This House, that he wrote with Tom Wilson as the seventh cut. Colin’s version of the Bob Dylan song, It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry is a showcase for his voice and some more tasty guitar licks. And he absolutely aces another Dylan tune, Down On the Bottom, that served as one of the “promo singles” released back in September. Colin also delivers a fabulous cover of the John Lee Hooker song, Bad Boy. One of my all time favorite bluesmen is Otis Rush and the recording of It Takes Time featuring some exquisite harmonica by Steve Marriner is just simply badass roadhouse blues! And to top it all off, the last song on the album is a soulful rendition of Otis Redding‘s I Love You More Than I Can Say.

I have been told that the average music lover buys a dozen or so albums a year. In what is fast becoming the new age of the single, I highly recommend that you purchase the entire recording to truly appreciate what an incredible recording this is! And in the coming months, I will be more than willing to hit the open road to see Colin James work his musical magic on stage….how about you?

Colin James – Open Road (2021 Stony Plain 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

Sue Foley – A Canadian at home in Texas on Pinky’s Blues

Sue Foley saw her first blues concert in Canada at the age of 15 and she has been captivated by the blues ever since. She is a Texas infused Canadian who has released 16 albums since 1992. A talented singer, songwriter, and guitarist, she exhibits her talent and her love of the blues genre on the new recording Pinky’s Blues. The name of the album comes from her hot pink Fender guitar which is front and center on the songs.

The album was recorded over a three day period during the pandemic in 2020 and features Chris “the Whipper” Layton of Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble fame, Mike Flanigin on the Hammond B3 organ (he also produced the album) and Jon Penner on bass who has been with Sue on a number of her recordings over the years.

The signature cut on the album is Hurricane Girl which features a special appearance by the renown Jimmie Vaughan on rhythm guitar. It is simply some badass roadhouse blues and a perfect vehicle for Sue’s talent. As she sings in the song, she is a force of nature that has paid her dues in a career spanning over 30 years. Check out the video here !!

Another song and video release from the album is Dallas Man. It is vintage upbeat Texas blues and she wrote it while thinking of all of the great bluesmen that have come out of Dallas including Freddie King, Bugs Henderson, Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan, Anson Funderburgh, and Doyle Bramhall II to mention just a few. There is also a third song and video that I really enjoyed, Southern Men, because of the numerous shots focused on Sue playin’ that damn guitar.

I also enjoyed Two Bit Texas Town (written by another Texas legend Angela Strehli), Stop These Tears (written by Lavelle White), and Frankie Lee Sim’s Boogie Real Low. And if you want a straight up sampling of Sue’s guitar playing prowess just listen to the instrumental title cut….mhmm.

Sue has embarked on an extensive tour of Canada, the United States, and Europe over the next year to support the album. I hope to be among the crowd that gets a chance to see this stellar performing artist.


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 News – ALBUM RELEASES

It is officially fall and there are a whole lotta great roadhouse blues albums hitting the market in the coming days and months!

Out Now

Samantha Fish – Faster

She is arguably the most popular female contemporary blues rock artist on the planet…..the lady can rock it!!

Robert Jon & the Wreck – Shine On Me Brother

On tour now in Europe, the Euro fans are in for a fabulous treat from these Southern California based southern rock & blues rockers!

Altered Five Blues Band – Holler If You Hear Me

This album merits album of the year consideration. See my review from last week here on this blog.

Colin Linden – bLOW

Colin is a Canadian that has been based in Nashville for a long time. I listened to the promo copy I received this weekend and the album just enhances his reputation as both an artist and songwriter.

Tony Holiday – Porch Sessions Vol. 2

A literal who’s who of the blues join Tony on this badazz recording!

Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps – Rose-Colored Glasses

What a voice! Teresa is one of the great talents of contemporary blues!

DUE THIS WEEK

Avey Grouws Band – Tell Tale Heart

I received a promo copy of the album today…..can’t wait to give it a spin!

DUE IN OCTOBER

The Doobie Brothers – Liberte

Zac Harmon – Long As I Got My Guitar

Sue Foley – Dallas Man

DUE IN NOVEMBER

Colin James – Open Road

This is the first video released for the forthcoming album.

Joanne Shaw Taylor – The Blues Album

Produced by Joe Bonamassa, this promo single brings Joanne’s awesome R&B voice to the fore!

Dion – Stomping Ground

Dion is in his eighties and still just so damn cool!!

Gov’t Mule – Heavy Load Blues

The new album is supposed to be straight up blues….can’t wait to hear it all!

Eric Clapton – The Lady in the Balcony – Lockdown Sessions

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raise the Roof

They pick up right where they left off with an excellent cover of the Lucinda Williams tune!

Tour Worth Noting

Allman Family Revival (November 27 to December 19)

Duane Allman will be joined by the Allman Betts Band, Samantha Fish, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Eric Gales, Jimmy Hall, Robert Randolph and several others to celebrate the songs and memory of his father Gregg. Tour starts in St. Louis and winds across the United States and then ends in San Francisco!


A Baker’s Dozen of Badass Blues – The New Altered Five Blues Band album HOLLER IF YOU HEAR ME

The new Altered Five Blues Band album HOLLER IF YOU HEAR ME is out today and it is a baker’s dozen of badass blues. One of the stellar groups of the contemporary blues, this five member band out of Milwaukee cranks out 13 infectious tunes with a rhythm that drags you to the dance floor. Led by the barrel chested voice of Jeff Taylor, this musical ensemble, with the help of Grammy award winning producer Tom Hambridge, have created a sure fire 2021 album of the year nominee.

The album comes out of the gate with the title cut, Holler If You Hear Me. Come join the party….let’s ramble and roll…whole lotta shakin’ gonna move your soul….Raise your hands…move your feet…everybody now ….feel the beat. Those lyrics should be on the door mantle of every roadhouse blues joint from Copenhagen to Chicago to Adelaide!

Guilty of a Good Time is another genre defining tune which echoes my sentiments about the roadhouse blues; it’s about hand rolled cigars and a big bar tab among like minded friends! It also features some awesome guitar licks by Jeff Schroedl. If You Go Away (She Might Come Back), All Suit No Soul, and In the Name of No Good are all “pull your Baby to the dance floor” tunes. There are also a couple of belly rubbing tunes in Holding On with One Hand and Leave Before I Let You Down.

If there is one song on the album that kind of brings it all together….the voice of Jeff Taylor….the roadhouse beat….the talent of a tight band with Jeff Schroedl on guitar, Alan Arber on drums, Mark Solveson on bass, and Raymond Tevich on Keyboards, it is Full Moon, Half Crazy! Give it a listen!

The album ends with a heartfelt upbeat tribute to the men and women of the blues that laid the groundwork for all of us that perform, spin, and write about the blues today: Big Shout Out. It includes a literal who’s who of the blues and is a great list of artists for those new to blues to use to become acquainted with in this incredible musical genre.

To say I enjoyed listening to this album while writing this review would be an understatement. It is everything that you could hope for in a roadhouse blues recording; vibrant, upbeat, great musicians, and insightful, witty and thoughtful lyrics. And mark my words…if this recording doesn’t get an album of the year nomination then it is time for me to stop reviewing albums……and that ain’t gonna happen!!!

Altered Five Blues Band – Holler If You Hear Me (2021 Blind Pig 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