Best of the Blues 2019 – Five Most Creative Songs of the Year

The year 2019 was an exciting and invigorating one for blues lovers with the largest number of new albums released that I can recall since at least 2012. Amongst all the songs that I heard and spun for the year (and that was thousands!), these five struck me as the most creative in terms of the sound or lyrics or voice or a combination of all three!! (Links to the songs on Spotify or Youtube are shown in blue.)

HeavyDrunk – If I Loved You Hard Enough (Holywater 2019 on 4142 Music)

With lyrics that are Shakespearean in terms of the pathos and images created for your mind to wrestle with, If I Loved You Hard Enough is about a dysfunctional love that has spanned the lovers lives since they were kids. The opening lyrics portray a shocking scene at a Piggly Wiggly parking lot and it just gets better from there!

The song was written by Rob Robinson, the leader and front man for the Leipers’ Fork Tennessee soul blues band and is just one of many great tunes on the album Holywater. Rob also owns and operates a roadhouse style eatery south of town called Puckett’s…..mhmm…fine food and great roadhouse blues..I gotz to get there soon!

Amnesia Blues BandFast Johnny Cool (Hailstone 2019 on CDBaby)

Amnesia Blues Band hails from Gippsland, Australia. Paul “Buck” Buchanan is the lead vocalist and primary songwriter and they have penned an incredible song, Fast Johnny Cool, on their latest album Hailstone. An infectious bass driven beat and a great voice frame a song about a battle of guitar players at a low down roadhouse.

I got to chat with them a couple of months ago and they warned me not to visit them “down under” with a great voice or guitar. Listen to the song…you will know what they mean!

Jason Ricci & the Bad KindBreak in the Rain (My Chops Are Rolling 2019 on EllerSoul Records)

A transplant from Maine to my hometown of New Orleans, Jason Ricci is one of the great harmonica players of the blues genre. Break in the Rain has an insistent beat with fabulous guitar licks, some awesome harmonica riffs, and lyrics about a day jumpin’ in puddles and layin’ in the tall grass… naked! Hell yeah!

The song was written by band member and guitarist John Lisi. The Bad Kind band also includes Jason’s wife, Kaitlin Dibble, on backing vocals on the song. I hope to see them perform tunes from My Chops Are Rolling the next time I am back down in the Big Easy!

Ghost Town Blues BandDirty (Shine 2019)

One of traits of some blues lovers is a kind of conservatism about what is and is not the blues. There are any number of blues purists out there that I respect but don’t agree with. As B.B. King stated once in an interview that I saw, it was only natural for the blues to evolve as more and more people were exposed to it and began to play and interpret it from their own individual perspectives. First it was the delta acoustic blues. Then it was electrified when it moved into urban areas like Chicago. Eventually it was rocked up by the British blues bands of the last sixties. And now we have the wide variety of contemporary blues that I love and spin regularly. I use the term “roadhouse blues” to describe this fascinating mix of modern blues with rock, soul, rhythm and blues, gospel, swing, roots music, and, yes…even a bit of rap influence!

On their latest album, Shine, Ghost Town Blues Band out of Memphis includes an original and creative song entitled Dirty. It’s a southern blues rockin’ tune about dealin’ with the life that fate sometimes deals and includes the tasteful use of rap. It is just such a natural fit for the song and blues in general. Kudos to the band for having the creativity (and bravery to face the blues purists) with such a fine recording! And people certainly love the album. It rose to number one on the Billboard Blues Charts soon after it’s release this past October.

Left Lane Cruiser Smooth Commander (2019 Shake & Bake on Alive Records)

Left Lane Cruiser hails from Indiana and is a duo consisting of singer/guitarist Joe Evans IV and Pete Dio on drums/percussions. One of the songs on the new album SHAKE & BAKE is entitled Smooth Commander and it is about a sojourn across the world and his father’s love for the blues. The use of a resonator guitar is awesome and Joe’s voice is distinctive. And as he sings in the song, the blues will bring everybody around…..that it will surely do!!!

And kudos to the renown illustrator William Stout for providing such a creative album cover!


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.

December 3rd Roadhouse Blues Nooner on BMFR

The holiday season is upon us and my hope is that one of the tunes during today’s Roadhouse Blues Nooner will inspire you to download the album and gift it to a friend! Join us at High Noon EST on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com for a mix of the best in contemporary blues including a new promo single from Albert Cummings plus some vintage Bob Dylan and an “almost the blues” Creedence Clearwater Revival tune that I love.

You can find the intended playlist below:

ARTISTTITLE
Noah WotherspoonBaptism by Fire
Keb’ Mo’Merry Merry Christmas
Noah WotherspoonDon’t Let the Darkness
Polly O’Keary and The Rhythm MethodIt’s My Soul
Diane BlueSame Old Blues
Rebekah MeldrumWhiskey And Wine
Ronnie Wood & His Wild FiveWee Wee Hours (Feat. Imelda May) (Live)
Doug Duffey And BaddDrink It On Down
Albert CummingsHold On
Black Cat BonesLaying in Wait
Peter KarpCool Cool Thing
Creedence Clearwater RevivalPagan Baby
Crazy HambonesBullfrog Blues
Lloyd SpiegelAny Second Now
Brother Snakeoil & The Medicine MenDo A Little Hoodoo
Bob DylanCall Letter Blues
KaleoAutomobile
Bad Temper Joe & Fernant ZesteBeen a While Since We’ve Talked
Meena Cryle & Chris Fillmore BandSweet Loving Mama
Hector AnchondoCandy Shop
Laura CoxJust Another Game
Brad James SwallowWorking Man
Nico Duportal & The SparksNo Hate, Just Pain
Pierce Dipner & The Shades Of BlueGet Out Of Your Life
Joanna ConnorBlues Tonight

Late October Roadhouse Blues Nooner on BMFR

Join me today, October 29th, at High Noon EST for some roadhouse blues on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com. Got some contemporary blues, classics from the masters, and a few blues rock cuts.

You can find the intended playlist below:

ARTISTTITLE
Shun KikutaThe Stumble
The Johnny Max BandRoadhouse Soul
Joss StoneFree Me
Bargel & HeuserThe Heat
Doc Nice & Muddy FeetBlue Sky
Lonesome ShackTrying To Forget
Curtis Salgado and Alan HagerI Want You By My Side
The Fabulous ThunderbirdsRich Woman
Little FeatDixie Chicken
Shemekia CopelandSholanda’s
Rita ChiarelliJust Gettin Started
Albert Collins, Robert Cray and Johnny CopelandBring Your Fine Self Home
Fenton RobinsonYou Don’t Know What Love Is
Rockin Johnny BurginCold Chills
Slim HarpoShake Your Hips
Southern AvenueRumble
Selwyn Cooper & The Hurricane Blues BandHit the Big Time
Zoe Schwarz Blue CommotionHold On
Joe BonamassaAround The Bend
Erja LyytinenGrip Of The Blues
Gary MooreHouse Full Of Blues
Henrik Freischlader BandI Give Up on Loving You
BlindstoneWhat Your Lovin’ Can Do
Lil’ Ed & The Blues ImperialsIt’s Alright

My Roadhouse Blues on BMFR – 3 pm EST 10/24/2019

Join us for new contemporary blues by the B. Christopher Band, Wentus Blues Band, Zack Walther Band, Johnny Boy Kunk, and many more as well as several classics from my archives. Tune in at http://www.bluesmusicfan.com at 3 PM EST today, October 24th.

Below is the intended playlist.

ARTISTTITLE
Vince Salerno and Gerald McClendonThe Wobble
John HammondCryin’ For My Baby (ft. Duane Allman)
Greg CopelandBrown-Eyed Handsome Man
Joel StoneSweet Kiss
Memphis SlimThe Come Back
Johnny Boy KunkJust What You Want
Ghost Town Blues BandDirty
Martin HarleyThe Time Is Now
Leela James and The Truth BandI Still Believe
Bob Margolin & Dennis GruenlingLow Life Blues
Teresa James & The Rhythm TrampsI Like It Like That
Leighton FieldsShame
Paul GabrielI Feel Good
William ClarkeThat Ain’t The Way To Do It
The B. Christopher BandTried To Keep You Satisfied
Vince Salerno and Gerald McClendonUp the Line
Jonathon Boogie LongCatfish Blues
James CottonStraighten Up Baby
Wentus Blues Band w. Duke RobillardYou Got My Love
Zack Walther BandI’m Going Out of Your Mind
Eightball AitkenLove
Ghalia VoltGypsy Lady
Jimmy HallThat’s The Truth
Nick SchnebelenI’m A Fatboy
Mojo HandsAs Long As I’m Moving
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night SweatsBabe I Know
John LatiniBlack Eyed Blues
Popa ChubbyBlack Hearted Woman
On The LevelBaby Gone Left Me
NiecieBaby It’s Working
Keith SykesBaby Please (All The Shrimp In New Orleans)

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.

Tuesday Roadhouse Nooner on BMFR at 12 pm EST

I am back from vacation and ready to roll out some badass roadhouse blues for you on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com at High Noon EST. Have a mix of new contemporary tunes by Mike Duke, Zack Walther, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band as well as some classics from the archive.

Here is the intended playlist that I post with the hope that if you like the some of the tunes that you will go to your favorite music shop and buy them! Help the blues to thrive in 2019!

ARTISTTITLE
William ClarkeHittin’ Heavy
Etta JamesDown Home Blues
John HammondBarrelhouse Woman Blues
Little FeatA Apolitical Blues
Steve MarrinerHow In The Devil
The Michael Mills BandMy New Woman
Blues BrothersShotgun Blues
Dr. FeelgoodCheque Book
Bo DiddleyCan I Walk You Home
Little WalterYou’re So Fine
Quique Gomez and His VipersI´m Gonna Keep What I Got
Tedeschi Trucks BandHigh and Mighty
The Nick Moss Band with Michael LedbetterHard Luck Woman
Zack Walther BandHold On, I’m Coming
The Mike Duke ProjectI Can’t Let You Go (ft Elvin Bishop)
Marie MarxAm I Enough
Candye Kane & Laura ChavezI’ve Got To Ride
Marcia BallLouella
North Mississippi AllstarsLonesome in My Home
Martin HarleyRoll With The Punches
ZZ TopMushmouth Shoutin’
Johnny WinterIt’s My Own Fault (2004 Digital Remaster)
Paul RodgersMuddy Water Blues (live)
Buddy GuyLove Her with a Feeling (feat. Junior Wells)
Miss Bix and The Blues FixVoodoo Man
Heather NewmanHowling For Love

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)

The Mike Duke Project ….took a while

I first met Mike Duke during the heyday of Wet Willie back in the 1970’s. Wet Willie was part of the sound emanating from Macon, Georgia, the home of Capricorn Records. Along with the Allman Brothers Band and the Marshall Tucker Band. Wet Willie helped solidify the main stream appeal of southern style rock music with its blues, soul, and country influences. And that was in no small part due to the talent of Mike Duke He was, and remains, a gifted song writer, singer, and keyboard player.

After the luster of Wet Willie faded for Mike, he moved on, doing a stint with The Outlaws and then relocating to the San Francisco Bay area where he spent most of the 1980’s. During that time he wrote several tunes that became hits for Huey Lewis and enhanced his reputation as a songwriter. During the 1990’s he moved to Nashville and was a featured member of Delbert McClinton’s band. In 1998, he moved back to Northern California and has been there ever since.

This album “….took a while” includes tunes that span the length of his career since the 1970’s and yet is, amazingly, his debut album! All of the songs are written by Mike and four of them are newly recorded. One tune, Torn & Scarred, was actually written by Mike in 1969 while he worked with a black church in his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. It is a sweet little gospel song with Mike pounding the ivories and singing with a voice that has lost none of its power or range after all these years.

My favorite cut on the album is a new recording of I Can’t Let You Go featuring some tasteful lead guitar licks from Elvin Bishop. It should get a lot of airplay on stations and streams that feature soul blues music. I will certainly be playing it during my roadhouse blues sets on BMFR.

I also loved another new recording, I’m Not Sad Tonight, that features Gary Vogensen on guitar and his long time friend, Angela Strehli, as part of the backing vocals. Mike’s voice and keyboard playing transported me back…just remembering…but I’m not sad….just dang happy he came out with this album!

The album has the demo version of Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do recorded in 1980. Huey Lewis loved it when encouraged by Bob Brown, his manager, to give it a listen. And it was performed by Huey on his second album in 1982. Mike’s demo recording started a life long friendship with Bob who also played a major part in getting this album recorded and released.

Let Her Go And Start Over is another tune on the album that I really enjoyed that Mike recorded in 1981 and was used by Huey on one of his albums. Other songs on the album that I recommend for a listen are Little Miss Ponytail and That’s What So Good About the South (featuring Jack Pearson). And there is also a little zydeco influenced jewel of a tune Let Me Be Your Fool Tonight that you just have to hear.

I remember Mike as a young affable musician with obvious talent who took enjoyment from keyboard playing, the chance to sing for audiences, and have people hear songs he had written. He didn’t avidly seek the limelight or stardom like so many of his contemporaries and that is probably why It took a damn long while for Bob Brown to convince Mike to release his first solo album. My hope is that several more will follow in short order!


The Mike Duke Project…took a while (2019 Little Village Foundation)

Chuck Berry Blues

Today, October 18th, is the birthday of Charles Edward Anderson Berry who is better known to us as Chuck Berry. He is one of my favorite all time artists and he could damn sure rock the blues.

Here are some cuts from his years recording for Chess Records, one of the premier blues recording labels of the fifties and sixties.

Chuck BerryDust My Broom

A delicious cover of the Robert Johnson classic featuring distinctive Berry riffs on his beloved Gibson Guitar.

Chuck BerryI Just Want to Make Love to You

Chuck lays down a great version of the Willie Dixon penned tune first recorded by Muddy Waters and which, much later, became a mega hit for Foghat.

Chuck Berry Johnny B. Blues

This is an instrumental version of Johnny B. Goode that is just some badass bluzin’.

Chuck BerryBaby, What You Want Me to Do

Just an awesome rendition of the Jimmy Reed classic.

Chuck BerryConfessin’ the Blues

From his 1960 album, Rockin’ at the Hops, Chuck helped translate the electrified urban blues to an entire generation of teenagers, including John Lennon and Eric Clapton, back in the 1950’s and 1960’s with songs like this one. He is rightly called the father of rock & roll and was one fantastic blues man too!

Chuck Berry was one of the defining artists of his time…..flaws and all. I love his music and hope you do too.


Links in blue are to Spotify

A Two for Tuesday Roadhouse Blues Nooner on BMFR

Time for the Tuesday Roadhouse Blues Nooner with Ben Vee on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com! It starts today (July 30th) at High Noon EST and will feature tunes that are related to each other by some measure.

Below is the intended playlist. See if you can pick out why I related the tunes!

ARTISTTITLE
Dominic SchoemakerDom’s Train
Blues ArcadiaI’m Your Man
Amnesia Blues BandGotta Move On
Bonita and The Blues ShacksMomma’s Goin’ Dancin’
The Kokomo KingsFooled By The City Lights
Travellin’ Blue KingsI Cannot Believe
Julian SasA Light In The Dark
Brandon IsaakI Wanna Be Your Man
Blue Moon MarqueeHard Times Hit Parade
The Reverend Shawn AmosHave Love Will Travel
Mindi Abair And The BoneshakersVinyl
Boo Boo DavisWhat The Blues Is All About
Southern AvenueWhiskey Love
Tomiko DixonI’m Ready
Zakiya HookerDirty Things
ThirtyTwo20Wildest Dreams
Dominic SchoemakerFly Away
Lachy Doley GroupA Woman
Rob TognoniAnother Tequila
Black WaterWalking Blues
Dan PatlanskyJump On
Jason RicciThink It Over
Brandon SantiniDrive You Off My Mind
HeavyDrunk and the HurricaneMidnight in Harlem
The Rolling StonesThe Harlem Shuffle
Beth HartFat Man
Beth Hart, Joe BonamassaSinner’s Prayer (Live)