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.

Ben Vee’s Good Time Roadhouse Blues 3-5 pm ET Thursday, August 6th

Join me this afternoon for new songs by Savoy Brown, Kirsten Thien, Eric Johanson, Mojomama, and Lucinda Williams on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com. The show runs from 3 to 5 pm ET….hope ya can make it.

Below is the intended playlist:

ARTISTTITLE
Omar & The HowlersOmar’s Boogie
Omar & The HowlersSnake Oil Doctor
CD WoodburyWang Dang Doodle
Savoy BrownJaguar Car
Eric JohansonDown To The Bottom
Kirsten ThienI Gotta Man
SoulmateI Sing the Blues
Larkin PoeEvery Bird That Flies
Martin HarleyThe Time Is Now
Bettye LaVetteI’m Not The One
Katie KadanTake Me to the River
Bridget Kelly BandFind My Way Back Home
Mo’ JakeThe Queen Of Losers
Kyle YardleyLittle Girl (ft. Johnny Burgin)
The Ryan McGrath BandSpent Like a Dollar
JONNY LANGA Quitter Never Wins
Joshua BattenSilver Dollars
Kara GraingerWorking My Way Back Home
MojomamaWithout Your Love
Lucinda WilliamsYou Can’t Rule Me
TBellyWalk With Me
MandalynBaby On The Run
Mike ZitoCall Of The Wild
Scott Weis BandJesus Just Left Chicago
Main Street BluesBreaking Up Someone’s Home

BMFR Roadhouse Blues Nooner for May 5, 2020

Kind of an eclectic set of the roadhouse blues today with contemporary blues, roots blues, some soul, and a bit of blues rock. A number of tunes are by artists that won awards at Sunday night’s Blues Foundation award ceremonies for 2019.

Hope ya have a chance to tune in from 12 to 2 pm EST today on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com. And since most of us are at home, freshen up your coffee or whatever you are drinking….kick back….and enjoy the tunes.

Here is the intended playlist:

ARTISTTITLE
Robert Hill BandBig Al
The NighthawksChairman Of The Board
Be Sharp BandMojo Joe
Rynhrd Boegl GroupI Want You To Come Back
Three’s Company BluesSiphon
Kristin DiableGuess It’s Gonna Take Some Time
Red’s BluesFlim Flam Man
Robert Hill BandDogtown Blues
Sweet Mama DeeNever Make Your Move Too Soon
Nico SmoljanAct Like You Love Me
Tony HolidayIt’s Gonna Take Some Time
Southern AvenueWe’re Gonna Make It
Colin James40 Light Years
David GogoVicksburg Call
Nick Moss Band Feat. Dennis GruenlingLucky Guy
Billy PriceWorking On Your Chain Gang
Tad RobinsonChanges
Hazmat ModineGet Get Out
Manx Marriner MainlineRattlesnake
MonkeyJunkIf You Were Mine (2014 Remaster)
Angel ForrestHouse Of The Rising Sun
The Jeff Healey BandWhile My Guitar Gently Weeps
Three’s Company BluesBurn Like Whiskey
Rynhrd Boegl GroupThe Eternal Clock

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.

Jan 14th Roadhouse Blues Nooner on BMFR

It’s a fabulous Tuesday for the Roadhouse Blues! Join us at High Noon EST for my Roadhouse blues Nooner featuring a mix of contempory and roots blues tunes by John Hiatt, Bob Dylan, Omar & the Howlers, Miss Bix and the Blues Fix, Popa Chubby, Eric Johanson, Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, and many more. Plug in at http://www.bluesmusicfan.com.

Oh….and a big GEAUX TIGERS for all the football fans that watched LSU win the national championship last night! I know there was alot of roadhouse bluzin’ goin’ on in the French Quarter afterwards!!!

Here is the intended playlist:

ARTISTTITLE
Peter ParcekPat Hare
J.J. CaleThirteen Days
Dave AlvinDon’t Let Your Deal Go Down
John HiattJohnny ’99
Bob DylanThe Levee’s Gonna Break
Omar & The HowlersWhen Sugar Cane Was King
Bonnie RaittThe Kokomo Medley
Susan TedeschiMama He Treats Your Daughter Mean
Rita ChiarelliLast Train
The Marcus King BandSide Door
Anders OsborneTracking My Roots
Monti AmundsonLooking Back
The Cold StaresThorns
Eric JohansonBurn It Down
OSLUOne Good Man (ft. Jade Thunder)
Arlen RothWhite Lightning
Markey BlueCash Is Always King
The Jeff Healey BandWho’s Been Talking
Paradise KingsSlow Down
Popa ChubbyI Was Looking Back
Miss Bix and The Blues FixIf You’re Doing What I’m Thinking
Parking WestShow Me The Way
Mississippi ShakedownTalking to My Baby
The Cash Box KingsAin’t No Fun (When The Rabbit Got The Gun)
Tom HambridgeThis End Of The Road
The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie JohnsonWalking With The Wolf

The Thursday Dec 19th Roadhouse Blues on BMFR

Tune in for new tunes from CW Ayon, Sean Poluk, Janiva Magness and a bunch of other contemporary blues artists of 2019 on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com at 3 pm EST! Hope you have time to grab your favorite beverage and kick back and enjoy the music!

Here is the intended playlist:

ARTISTTITLE
Widow BluePow Wow Blues
Hakon HoyeOne Floor Down
Lucky PetersonPack It Up
Mindi Abair & The BoneshakersGood Day For The Blues
Honey HoundsShine On
Dynamite Blues BandMessed It Up
CW AyonI Need You Now
Janiva MagnessSomeday Never Comes
Tedeschi Trucks BandThey Don’t Shine
Ray Wylie HubbardJessie Mae
Jessie Mae HemphillDC 9
Joe KopickiLet’s Boogie
Jack BroadbentThe Other Side
The Allman Betts BandShinin’
Brandon SantiniGoing Home
Heather NewmanHigh Mountain Blues
Keb’ Mo’Put A Woman In Charge (Feat. Rosanne Cash)
The Nick Moss Band with Michael LedbetterHard Luck Woman
Martin HarleyHotel Lonely
Sean PolukEverybody Lies
Rev Neil DownWithout You I Can’t Ride
Left Lane CruiserSmooth Commander
HeavyDrunkMemphis
Dawn Tyler WatsonThe River
Matchedash ParishAfraid
Dom MartinThe Rain Came
Shaun MurphySame Old You
Demian BandWaiting

Best of the Blues 2019 – Roadhouse Bluesman of the Year – Brandon Santini

During a stellar year of new recordings by blues artists, I have kept returning to songs off two 2019 albums: The Longshot and Tennessee Redemption. Both these great recordings (one is a solo album while the other is a group recording) feature the voice and harmonica playing of Brandon Santini. He is my 2019 Roadhouse Bluesman of the Year!

Brandon Santini at Black Eyed Sally’s in Hartford CT

Brandon is a 37 year old resident of Memphis who has plied his trade on Beale Street for almost 20 years. He made the move to Memphis at the age of 19 and over the ensuing years, he refined his harmonica playing to the point where he was nominated for Blues Harmonica Player of the Year by the prestigious Blues Foundation in 2014. And this past October, he received the Blues Blast Magazine 2019 award for The Longshot as Best Contemporary Blues album of the Year.

Brandon’s years in the Memphis clubs taught him the golden rule for performing music which is in part: Be Kind to Musicians. It is one that I practice also. I do not write bad reviews of artists; if I don’t enjoy a recording I simply don’t write about it. It is a practice that I wish some fellow DJs and bloggers, as well “mainstream” critics, would follow also.

His Beale street years also have taught him that you have to be an entertainer, not just a singer or musician. Music is in large part an experience of feelings. How does the song make you feel? Does the singer move you emotionally? Brandon delivers on both counts. He has a deep gravely voice reminiscent of Dr. John and his song writing is engaging and evocative. Take a listen to Drive You Off My Mind from The Longshot and you will see what I mean.

For his second recording of the year, he teamed with long time friend and fellow Beale Streeter, Jeff Jensen (guitar & vocals), and formed the group Tennessee Redemption. They released their self titled debut album this past September. The album is a fusion of southern style blues, Americana, and Memphis R&B and is absolutely delightful. Give See About Me and Back to Tennessee a listen. I know you will enjoy them!!

Brandon Santini represents the next generation of blues men and women who are coming into their own. He has paid his blues dues with hundreds of performances in small clubs in Memphis and elsewhere around the country. And he has earned and deserves the accolades that are now beginning to flow in. Receiving my 2019 Roadhouse Bluesman of the Year award is no big thing but I hope he, as I often do on special occasions (well hell…any event really) , lights a cigar after one of his gigs and smiles. I’ll be lighting one after finishing this article….Here’s to you Brandon for having a great year in 2019 and for the many more that are sure to come!


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

Roadhouse Blues Nooner for Nov 5th on BMFR

Hope you have time to join us today, November 5th, at 12 PM EST for my roadhouse blues Nooner on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com. I have some Nordic blues by Lollo Gardman and Lena & the Slide Brothers, a new song from the Reverend Shawn Amos, some Aussie Blues from Lloyd Spiegel, and much more.

The intended playlist is shown below.

ARTISTTITLE
Johnny BurginThe Leading Brand
Tino Gonzales & Los Reyes Del KOI Ain’t Gonna Pray
The Russell Barber BandMidnight Hour
Larry Griffith ProjectI Know
The Reverend Shawn Amos & The BrotherhoodCounting Down The Days
Lollo GardtmanChasing The Wind
Lena & The Slide BrothersRight Train, Wrong Track
Thorbjørn Risager & The Black TornadoI Used to Love You
Kerry Pastine And The Crime SceneDown Down
Marc CohnTalk Back Mic
Ghost Town Blues BandShine
Mike GoudreauThe Blues Is Killing Me
The Bluesland Horn BandKeep It In The Shadows
Kelsey MilesShow Me
Lloyd SpiegelChristina
Brandon SantiniDrive You Off My Mind
Steve MillerKilling Floor
Lightning HallThat Joker’s Wild
Omar & The HowlersDown To The Station
Left Lane CruiserSmooth Commander
SouthfieldBypass to Nowhere
The Mike Duke ProjectI’m Not Sad Tonight
Johnny BurginI Got To Find Me A Woman (Feat. Rae Gordon & Nancy Wright)
Sayer and JoyceBackbone
Marc AmacherJack Driver (Roadhouse Version)
[Lowbudget] Blues BandThe Usual
Johnny Boy KunkSnake Bite

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