Ben Vee’s Roadhouse 66 – The Best Blues Tunes of 2017

Compiling a list of my favorite roadhouse blues tunes of 2017 has been a labor of love. It includes some perennial favorites and some up and coming new artists. I hope you enjoy reviewing the list and hopefully you will buy and download some of the tunes.

TAJMO

At number one is Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’s, Don’t Leave Me Here, from the fantastic album Tajmo.  Two special talents working together have produced the masterpiece of  the 2017 roadhouse blues.

Walter Trout

Coming in at number two, Walter Trout is a perennial favorite of blues rockers and when you combine his guitar playing with that of Joe Bonamassa you get some very special mojo on the tune We’re All in this Together.

Altered Five Band

At number three is the Altered Five band song, Charmed & Dangerous, an upbeat badass song that exudes sexual energy from a group based in Wisconsin.

beth hart fire on the floor

Beth Hart has four songs from the album Fire on Floor in the top 66 and coming in at number four is the title cut.  It is a slow intense tune that plays to all of Beth’s strengths as a song writer and performer.

KWS Band

The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band has three songs in the top 66 from his album Lay It on Down. Nothing But the Night comes in at number five.  We have tickets to see both him and Beth Hart in July….can’t wait!!

the nighthawks

At number six is the song Three Times Your Fool by Washington D.C.’s, the Nighthawks.  This is a slow beautiful song for the ages from a group that has been playing the blues for over forty years!

thorbjorn risager

Based out of Denmark, Thorbjorn Risager & the Black Tornado, have four songs in the top 66. At number seven is the title cut, Change My Game. Featuring a full seven piece band with a compliment of some badass horns, this group is easily my favorite European roadhouse blues band.

tommy castro stompin ground

Californian Tommy Castro & the Painkillers returned to his roots in San Jose to record the album, Stompin’ Grounds, and has four songs included on my list. At number eight is Blues All Around Me.  I have seen him in concert a couple of times and can’t wait to do it again!

Tucci Olivia

At number nine is the band Tucci and the song, High Roller, that feature’s Chicago’s own Larry McCray….just some badass blues.

Dennis Johnson

Rounding out the top ten is Dennis Johnson’s rendition of Robert Johnson’s Walkin’ Blues. Dennis is a guitar virtuoso and his talent shines through on the album, Rhythmland.

Some special notes about the rest of the top Roadhouse 66:

  • Samantha Fish has songs from two different albums included on the list! On one, Hello Stranger, she channels some Amy Winehouse….give it a listen!
  • Sean Chambers has three songs from his album, Trouble & Whiskey, on the list. The album is one of my favorites of the year.
  • Hurricane Ruth, from Missouri, has three songs on the list from her album, Ain’t Ready for the Grave. She belts out tunes with power and intensity……you will enjoy… I promise 🙂
  • Savoy Brown, a British blues band that has been recording for fifty years, has a three songs from their album, Witchy Feelin’, on the list!
  • John Mayall, the elder statesman of the Roadhouse Blues, has a great song, Blues Midnight on the list.
  • Van Morrison makes the list with the title cut of his album, Roll With the Punches.
  • Newcomers Eliza Neal and Anthony Rosano & the Conqueroos are well worth a listen.
  • The list features 14 female roadhouse blues songs.  There are more and more female roadhouse blues singers releasing albums..a fantastic trend for the future.

Here is the full list….enjoy!  And you can listen to all of these songs on my 24 hour roadhouse blues stream at Ben Vee’s Roadhouse Blues!

ARTIST TITLE
1 Taj Mahal Don’t Leave Me Here (ft Keb Mo)
2 Walter Trout We’re All In This Together (feat. Joe Bonamassa)
3 Altered Five Blues Band Charmed & Dangerous
4 Beth Hart Fire On The Floor
5 Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band Nothing But The Night
6 The Nighthawks Three Times Your Fool
7 Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado Change My Game
8 Tommy Castro & The Painkillers Blues All Around Me
9 Tucci High Roller (ft Larry McCray)
10 Dennis Johnson Walkin Blues
11 Savoy Brown I Can’t Stop The Blues
12 John Mayall Blue Midnight
13 Van Morrison Roll With The Punches
14 Tommy Castro & The Painkillers Feat. Mike Zito Rock Bottom
15 James Armstrong Second Time Around
16 Eliza Neals Another Lifetime
17 Coco Montoya Hard As Hell
18 Steve Krase Brand New Thang
19 Tommy Castro & The Painkillers Nonchalant
20 John McNamara One, Two of a Kind
21 Beth Hart Love Is A Lie
22 Sean Chambers Bottle Keeps Staring at Me
23 Kenny Wayne Shepherd Baby Got Gone
24 Popa Chubby Rescue Me
25 Dudley Taft I Lost My Way
26 The Nighthawks That’s All You Gotta Do
27 Savoy Brown Why Did You Hoodoo Me
28 Sean Chambers Trouble & Whiskey
29 Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado Train
30 Corey Dennison Band Hear My Plea
31 Hurricane Ruth Let Me Be the One
32 Anthony Rosano & The Conqueroos Bound To You
33 Karen Lovely Nice and Easy
34 John Ginty And Aster Pheonyx Captain Hook
35 Sean Chambers Gonna Groove
36 Beth Hart Tell Her You Belong To Me (feat. Jeff Beck)
37 Kenny Wayne Shepherd How Low Can You Go
38 Walter Trout Crash And Burn (feat. Joe Louis Walker)
39 Samantha Fish No Angels
40 Downchild Blues Band Mailbox Money
41 Gregg Allman I Love The Life I Live
42 Janiva Magness I Can Tell
43 Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado I Used to Love You
44 Peter Parcek World Keep On Turning
45 Milligan Vaughan Project Dangerous Eyes
46 Hurricane Ruth Beekeeper
47 The Cash Box Kings All Night Long
48 Kim Wilson Bonus Boogie
49 Jan James Black Orchid Blues
50 Hamilton Loomis Sugar Baby
51 Beth Hart Let’s Get Together
52 Billy Flynn You Are My Lover
53 Delta Wires Your Eyes
54 Savoy Brown Vintage Man
55 Samantha Fish Hello Stranger
56 The Original Blues Brothers Band Got My Mojo Working
57 Hurricane Ruth Barrelhouse Joe’s
58 Linsey Alexander Where Did You Take Your Clothes off Last Night
59 Bridget Kelly Band What You Need
60 The Magpie Salute Comin’ Home (Live)
61 Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado Hard Time
62 The Gordon Meier Blues Experience Just Keep Ridin’
63 Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm You Must Believe in Yourself
64 Jimmy Carpenter You Belong to Me
65 Albert Castiglia Woman Don’t Lie
66 Tommy Castro And The Painkillers My Old Neighborhood
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Some Badass 2017 Blues for a Sunday Night!

blues notes

My Sunday Night playlist for my Nov 26th blues set at 6 pm PST…….. the blues is doin’ just fine in 2017!!  Startin’ to think about my best of 2017 blues list…..stay tuned!!

Hope you listen to several or all of them over the next week and buy or gift them to your family & friends for the holidays!!  Support the Blues!!

 

ARTIST TITLE
Sugar Ray & The Bluetones You Know I Love You
Derrick Procell Why I Choose To Sing The Blues
Jack Mack & The Heart Attack Good Man Gone
Trudy Lynn Alright Baby
Dave Fields Doin’ Hard Time (feat. Joe Louis Walker)
Mississippi Heat The Last Go Round
Biscuit Miller She Likes to Boogie
Eliza Neals Another Lifetime
Beth Hart Love Gangster
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones Blind Date
Big Head Blues Club Hidden Charms
John Mayall Blue Midnight
Colin James Watch Out
JW-Jones Who I Am
John Ginty And Aster Pheonyx Captain Hook
Derrick Procell Trouble Me No More
Knickerbocker All-Stars Reap What You Sow
Thornetta Davis I Gotta Sang the Blues (ft Kim Wilson)
Elvin Bishop That’s What I’m Talkin’ About
Billy Price What Have I Done Wrong
Sean Chambers Bottle Keeps Staring at Me
Gregg Allman I Love The Life I Live
Hurricane Ruth Let Me Be the One

Full Steam Through the Night with Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado

thorbjorn

The first great blues rock album of 2017, Change My Game, is by Copenhagen based Thorbjorn Risager and the Black Tornado. A true mesh of blues, rock, and soul, the album resonates with a contemporary sound.  Thorbjorn was a distinctive voice meant for steamy nights at the club or home. Musically, the album makes tasteful use of horns, keyboards, and backup vocals to compliment the outstanding guitar and percussion work.

I have noted previously over the last year that a number of music artists have revived the true rhythm and blues and soul sound of the sixties and seventies on their releases. These genres are important categories of the blues and deserve the attention and respect they are getting from contemporary artists.  Beth Hart, Melissa Etheridge, along with perennials Curtis Salgado and Janiva Magness come to mind and Thorbjorn fits nicely into this group of stellar performers.  The title cut is vintage funk…upbeat and snappy. Long Gone is a slow lyrical masterpiece filled with late night images of sorrow and pain. And I Used To Love You is a beautiful song with some awesome blues guitar riffs and a nice beat.

thorbjorn-1On a number of cuts on the album, Thorbjorn continues to expand on the blues for contemporary audiences.  Train is just badass contemporary upbeat rockin’ blues…ridin full steam through the night. Holler and Moan builds on the delta roots of the electric blues and makes tasteful use of blues chant and horns as well as the banjo to highlight the growling vocals of Thorbjorn…a very cool tune.  Maybe It’s Alright is a perfect synergy of the blues, soul, and rock that should drive people to the dance floor at juke joints worldwide.

Without a doubt, Thorbjorn Risager and the Black Tornado, are world class talents.  This is the tenth record release for the group and with the power and drive of blues giants Ruf Records behind them, they should get a lot of airplay on blues stations and streams (like mine) across the globe.  They will be touring in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden to support the new album over the next several months. As the airplay builds for the record, I expect the tour to expand through the rest of Europe during the summer.  I know it is very expensive for an eight member European band to travel and play in the United States, but I do hope they will make one foray to the northeastern United States and Canada. I know enough about the current blues and blues rock music scene to say with full confidence that audiences in New York City, Hartford, Boston, Montreal, and Toronto will love their music!! I just hope I get to see them soon…..or can find a cheap flight to Copenhagen!

Beth Hart – Fire on the Floor … You’re Gonna Need a Hose!

Since the October release in Europe of Fire on the Floor by Beth Hart, I’ve been waiting to watch the new album stream onto my computer here in the United States. I finally have it and all I can say is WOW!  It is another soul baring and intense foray by Beth! An exhilarating tour de force that runs from soulful to upbeat blues to excruciatingly personal and beautiful ballads, Beth just continues to amaze.  She paints real life scenes in her songwriting, frames them with powerful strong rhythms, and then delivers the final product with a voice that belts out reality.  At times fiery and very often vulnerable, the album is a masterpiece!

beth-hart-fire-on-the-floorOn the title cut, Beth delivers another instant classic with lyrics that will cut waning lovers to the core; it is the radio/streaming hit of the album. And you may well need a fire hose to cool off after listening!

The tune, Good Day to Cry, just stunned me. It is as if Beth and Janis Joplin sat down and wrote a song together.  It is what Janis would have written and sung at this stage of her career had she lived…I just know it.

 

For fans like me of William Gibson and the novel Neuromancer (that forecast the internet back in 1983 and introduced the “cyber punk” cult), the tune Fatman could be a future movie soundtrack cut.  It is a witty biting look into the dysfunctional personality of a drug user and a great upbeat tune.

The song, Coca Cola, brought a laugh and a big smile to my face. For those of you that know me personally or listen to my DJ sets, you know that a cigar and a Coca-Cola can are never far from my hands when I play my tunes. And I would be more than happy to share an ice cold one with Beth any time!

Stylistically, the album takes you several different places. I can see Beth performing Baby Shot Me Down with Dr. John at the Jazz Fest in New Orleans; another song with strong lyric visuals and excellent keyboard work by Beth. Let’s Get Together is a vintage 60’s Motown soul that is a strong suit for Beth’s voice.  Jazz Man hails back to Billie Holiday and the film noire movies that I love so much.  Love is a Lie and Love Gangster are sassy and sultry tunes that harken back to her Bang Bang Boom Boom album. Picture in a Frame and No Place like Home are just great Beth ballads.. vignettes of her soul.

This album is a great listen and a testament to the songwriting, musical talent, and powerful voice of Beth Hart.  I can’t wait to see her perform these songs live….SOON!

Ben’s Best – Rockin’ Blues Bundle 2016 (Part One)

It was a great year for the rockin’ blues!  From Finland, Iceland, Great Britain, and Canada as well as in the United States, a slew of great new blues tunes were released featuring hits from new artists as well as established stars of the genre.  In growing recognition of the distinct and unique sound of the rockin’ blues, the Grammy awards have initiated a new “Contemporary Blues” award category that features artists that in past years would have competed in the blues or rock categories; now we have a home!  We can only hope that other major music awards venues, besides the Blues Foundation,  will follow suit in the coming years! For rockin’ blues DJs and writers like myself, this is a vindication that, yes, it is the blues, and, yes…it does Rock!

Here is my 2016 Rockin’ Blues Bundle (Part One).  The artists, albums, and songs are featured in no particular order. There is a healthy representation of female blues artists on the list, a reemergence of R&B in several selections, and, most prominently, a large number of Canadian artists. Our neighbors to the north know how to rock the blues! I hope you download and listen to ALL of them!


joe-b-blues-of-desp-2

Joe Bonamassa – Blues of Desperation

Drive, Mountain Climbing….oh hell …every song on the album!! He is the best rockin blues artist on the planet….enuff said.

 

the-record-company-give-it-back-to-youThe Record Company – Give it Back to You

Feel So Good, Off the Ground…..again….every song on the album deserves a listen. These guys, based in Los Angeles, are one of Billboard’s breakout artists of the year and nominated for a Grammy Award in the Contemporary Blues category.

kaleo-ab-cover

 

Kaleo – A/B

Way Down We Go, Glass House, & Hot Blood. Based in Iceland, this band, like the nation’s football club at the 2016 Euro championship, has taken the world by storm!

 

 

sean-pinchin-monkey-brain

Sean Pinchin – Monkey Brain

Hard Luck is an infectious upbeat tune. Feelin down or dreary?…put this tune on and shake those hips…pat your leg to the beat.. to some badass Canadian rockin’ blues.

 

jordan-patterson-band  Jordan Patterson Band – The Back on Track Recording Project

She’s Cool, Favorite Boy, & Heartbreaker (Revisited) are just HOT rockin blues tunes from another Canadian artist. Turn it on…Turn it UP!  Never forget that bluesmen Muddy Waters, Elmore James, and Buddy Guy were some of the FIRST musicians to see just how much an amp and speakers could take!

joanne-shaw-taylor-wild-2

 

Joanne Shaw Taylor – Wild

Wanna be my Lover, Dyin’ to Know, Ready to Roll…..heck once again the whole album. This British lady is one of the world’s best guitarists as well as a gifted songwriter and singer. One of these days she and Joe Bonamassa will share a concert billing…damn..will that be a concert or what? Special mention for her version of Summertime..Janis would be proud!

 

beth-hart-fire-on-the-floor

 

 

Beth Hart – Fire on the Floor

The album title single is another fantastic sultry song from the Queen of the rockin’ blues! The album is out in Europe and will be released in the United States in February 2017. I can’t wait!

 

bonnie-raittBonnie Raitt – Dig in Deep

Bonnie Raitt has always transcended genre boundaries and she does it again on her latest recording. I loved Gypsy, Unintended Consequences, and The Ones We Couldn’t Be. My secret wish is that when I get to heaven (probably as a menial door sweeper at best!), Bonnie’s mansion will be next door so I can hear her sing for all eternity.

tinsley-ellis

 

Tinsley Ellis – Red Clay Soul

Tinsley is one of giants of the blues though he seldom gets the attention and acclaim he deserves. I loved Anything But Go, Don’t Cut It, and a beautiful instrumental, Estero Noche.

 

sari-schorrSari Schorr & the Engine Room – Force of Nature

This Brooklyn born singer has one of the strongest voices I have heard in a long time. A natural R&B singer, she aces a cover of the Supremes .Stop In the Name of Love and then cranks out the rockin’ blues with Ain’t Got No Money and Work No More. I’d love to see her and Beth Hart do a duet…soon!

doyle-bramhall-iiDoyle Bramhall II – Rich Man

A firstrate guitar player and regular performer at several of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festivals, he is the son of Doyle Bramhall who wrote and performed tunes for Stevie Ray Vaughan. A major talent with a great voice and a huge future, his latest album includes two cuts I loved… November and Mama Can’t Help You.

 

angel-forrestAngel Forrest – Angel’s 11

Another album where all the tunes are great. This Canadian star has produced nine stellar albums over a career spanning 27 years. A few of my favorites are Hold on Tight Mr. I’m Alright, All the Way, and a haunting country blues tune, Tumbleweed.

 

Stay tuned for part Two of Ben’s Best – 2016 Blues Bundle.  I just couldn’t include all of the great rockin’ blues artists and tunes in one blog!!  Remember I did not rank these tunes in any particular order…so the Part two bundle of artists are just as great as the ones I wrote about here. Part Two should be out in the next couple of days.  Thanks for reading. And remember to go visit your local blues club(s) and buy blues music! Help us to help the blues THRIVE…not survive!

Pour Me a Dream – A review of Beth Hart’s “Better Than Home”

In an age when pulsing electronica and sexually explicit hip hop and pop drive the top of the music charts, it is exhilarating to listen to an artist that continues to write and perform from the soul. On her latest album, Better Than Home, Beth Hart pours out her feelings and thoughts in a musical style that reflects her blues core. The album highlights her artistry on the keyboards as well as her song writing talent without diminishing the quality of a voice for the ages.

This is an album best listened to with a glass of wine on a contemplative evening. (In my case, it would also include a Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne robusto cigar!) On my favorite cut, she writes “Pour me a dream and play me a tune…I will get along just as long as I have a song.” It is a lyric that reflects the feelings of most music lovers. But then she cuts you to the core with the reminder that melancholy reverie is “a slip into the rich of the dark…the cheapest of tricks” but she goes ahead anyway and invites us along. It is the essence of the blues and no other current artist even comes close to laying out her heart and soul like Beth.

I had the honor to interview Beth backstage in the fall of 2013. I was doing a piece to be used on radio in Europe for her upcoming tour that year. It was my first (and to date only) radio interview with an artist and she immediately put me at ease. She is personable, self-deprecating, a “down home” girl from California, who after struggling and overcoming her drug demons is comfortable in her own skin. She talked of her love for her husband (who has been her road manager for the last 15 years), her family, and the fans that have stuck with her through thick and thin. I also mentioned that over the years on many of her albums she has “wrestled with God” in her lyrics. She smiled and said simply that she writes about life’s struggles and her feelings as best she can. She also stated that she prefers a simple sound without a lot of the “production values” that modern producers foist onto the final versions of songs before they are released. On the deluxe version of the current CD, there are a couple of songs where one is “produced” and the other version is only Beth and her piano and they are great. (I will get along as long as I have a Song and St. Teresa). Kudos to the producers for allowing Beth’s vision to bear witness to her talent.

On the new album, she continues to address many of the topics we discussed two years ago. The title cut of the album, is a great song where Beth addresses God and angels with an honesty and sincerity that transcends the cold and often harsh theology of modern religion. She pays tribute to her mother “Mama, This One is for You” on one tune and writes another “We’re Still Living in the City” that is surely for her husband. I had mentioned to Beth in our interview that I thought R&B was her strong suit and “Smile on my Face”, “Trouble”, and “The Mood I’m In” just confirm my thought. The power of her voice matched to an R&B beat is simply infectious. Beth reaches out to those struggling with their demons, poverty, and despair with “Tell Them to Hold On”. And her love song, “Tell Her You Belong to Me”, is just simply beautiful. My pick for “breakout single” is a catchy tune called “Mechanical Heart”.

Beth’s new album debuted on the Billboard Hot 200, a feat she last accomplished fifteen years ago. It is a testament to her perseverance and love of music, the loyalty of her fans, and her constant touring in Europe and the United States. I will get to see her again here in Houston on June 13th. Checkout her website at www.bethart.com , buy the album, and make sure to go see her if she gets close! Pour me a dream Beth and just sing your songs….and the world will be a better place for us all.

April 2015  Mascot/Provogue Records (Deluxe Edition)

Review by Ben Vee  benveeblues.com benvee@yahoo.com

A great interview with Beth Hart in New Zealand to rehearse for her new album tour!

Check out this interview about the songs on the new album!  Beth is just so open and sincere…I just wanna hug her!

http://13thfloor.co.nz/my-back-pages/beth-hart-the-13th-floor-interview/

And the pre release single from the new album due out on April 15th!