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.

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

Roadhouse Blues Bin Singles for early October 2019

Here is a selection of Roadhouse Blues Bin tunes that I am listening to and spinning during my roadhouse blues sets on BMFR. (Links to Spotify are in blue).

Beth Hart Bad Woman Blues

Another in a long string of sexy upbeat tunes from my favorite female artist off her new album War In My Mind.

Ronnie Earl and the BroadcastersBaby How Long

The tone of his guitar is entrancing, the harpin’ is incredible, and he always lays down some bad ass blues. Love the new album, Beyond the Blue Door.

Guy Forsyth & Jeska Bailey Amazing Grace/House of the Rising Sun

This tune will raise the hair on your arms….it is that incredible. An awesome and creative mixing of the venerable Amazing Grace with another all time classic House of the Rising Sun is one of them once in a generation tunes. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have. The cut is from their album Conspirators.

Tennessee RedemptionBack to Tennessee

Brandon Santini and Jeff Jensen reunite for a killer tune off a badass self titled debut album. I just love the southern blues infused style of this recording.

Heather NewmanI’m Coming For You

Tune with a badass groove highlighted by Heather’s sultry Kansas City voice. The entire album Rise from the Flames is well worth a listen.

Altered Five Blues BandMischief Man

Building on the success of their last hit single, Charmed & Dangerous, this new tune is vibrant and upbeat with the great voice of Jeff Taylor and some incredible guitar playin’ by Jeff Schroedl. I love EVERY tune on the new release Ten Thousand Watts.

Chris O’Leary Heartbreak Waitin’ to Happen

Chris hails from New York but you would swear from his voice and tunes that he was from down the bayou in my home state of Louisiana. This cut is from 7 Minutes Late….one of my favorite albums of the year.

Tad RobinsonReal Street

An incredible soul blues singer who was born and raised in New York City and attended college in Indiana. Tad traveled to Memphis to record his stellar new album Real Street. This song is the perfect fusion of Memphis soul and the Chicago blues….a damn fine tune. This Friday, October 4th, Tad will have a special album release party at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis. If you live close …..go see him!!!

Steve Earle and the DukesKing of the Blues

This tune came out in 2015 from his album Terraplane and just keeps makin’ its way back onto my playlists. Best known for Copperhead Road, Steve is one of the premier songwriters of his generation and, along with Ray Wylie Hubbard, a co-regent of the outlaw blues.

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A note about streaming (which is great for exposing new artists and songs)…..it may surprise you to know that for every 10,000 streams of a song, the artist may make as little as $40 (US). But when you buy their CDs, they can make a decent living plying their craft. SO…….if ya love the music…use your favorite site and download the albums. And if you go see the artists live….buy those CDs, tee shirts, and hats at the show…….helps them defray road expenses and, in many cases, eat for the night.

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)

These Ladies Got the Rhythm and dah Blues!

Been listening to the blues and writing in the man cave in the sweltering summer heat…..just so YOU get to know some great female artists!! Grab a cold one, maybe a cigar, and read on……….

(links to songs in Youtube or Spotify are in light blue)

Eliza Neals – Sweet or Mean (2019 E-H Records LLC)

What is there not to love about the pairing of a great artist with a fantastic blues man and producer. Detroit based Eliza Neals launches it into the blues stratosphere on her new EP Sweet or Mean which is produced by the renown Popa Chubby. The new EP has a rock & roll edge and a gritty blues rhythm and beat…you don’t have to give up one to love em both! 

Loved Bitten By the Blues and the roadhouse version of Pawn Shop Blues. Also, enjoyed Living With Yo Moma featurng some badass roadhouse bluzin’ guitars by Popa Chubby and Dave Keyes. Blackish Grey is some great blues and Knock Knock Knockin’ is acoustic blues that highlights Eliza’s voice.

Ida Bang & the Blue Tears – Good to Me (2019 Ida Bang Musik)

Based out of Sweden, Ida Bang has one heck of a voice and she is backed by a band that can lay down the groove. Good To Me is a snappy little tune and I also enjoyed the rhythm and beat of Not the Same featuring some stellar guitar work by Leo Henriksson and John Bergstrom, great bass playing by Patrik Engstrom and badass drums by Leo Sund. Shelter Me, Don’t You Worry. and You Can’t Have It Both Ways are also pretty tasty!

Anna Scionti – Orphan Blues (2019)

This Australian artist plays the guitar and sings the blues with an intensity that just draws you in. A blues rocker to the core, Anna Scionti reminds me of George Thorogood and Buddy Holly, particularly on the cut Never Let Her Go. Bury My Hurt and Too Much Drinkin’ are some crankin’ roadhouse blues. Also enjoyed You’re My Keeper. Overall Orphan Blues is a fantastic listen!!

Tullie Brae – Revelation (2019)

Tullie Brae has the looks of a superstar and a voice steeped in the blues. On her new album Revelation, she melds brash powerful vocals with songwriting that reflects on love, life, anger, and perseverance. Most of the tunes have a driving roadhouse rhythm that I absolutely loved.

Particularly enjoyed Break These Chains featuring Brandon Santini on harmonica. The tunes Watch Her Move, Devil in Deville, and Price of the Blues are also all badass roadhouse blues.

She appeared at the Beale Street Cigar Festival last year during Labor Day weekend in Memphis. Dang…if I had only known!!!!!!


Feel free to leave a comment below or email me at ben@benveeblues.com. AND likes and shares are ALWAYS appreciated!!

Roadhouse Blues on BMFR 3 pm EST Thursday July 18th

Gonna be playing a eclectic mix of contemporary and classic blues today on BMFR with tunes from Brandon Santini, Little Willie Farmer, Albert King, Seasick Steve, Spooky Tooth, the Atomic Road Kings, Big Daddy Wilson, and Jamie Lynn Vessels. Tune in today at 3 pm EST (Thursday July 18th) for Ben Vee’s Roadhouse Blues on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com.

Here is the intended playlist:

ARTIST TITLE
Gerry Joe Weise Blues Down Under
Hans Theessink Storm Warning
Texas Horns, The I’m Doin’ Alright (ft Carolyn Wonderland)
Big Daddy Wilson Crazy World
Albert King Down the Road I Go
Shari Puorto Outta My Mind (ft Alastair Greene)
Barefoot Doctors Don’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down
Widow Blue New Sun Rising
Brandon Santini This Time Another Year
Willie Farmer The Man From The Hill
Seasick Steve Down de Road
Atomic Road Kings Rumors
Spooky Tooth Tobacco Road
Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King I Need More
Wily Bo Walker & E D Brayshaw The Roads We Ride
The Jeff Healey Band When The Night Comes Falling From the Sky
Tab Benoit, Debbie Davies, Kenny Neal Luberta
Sonny Landreth Hell At Home (with Eric Clapton)
RootBone Wrong Way Jack
Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado Holler n Moan
Johnny Tornado’s Stormriders Voodoo Queen
Jamie Lynn Vessels Fool Me Twice

June 4th Roadhouse Nooner on BMFR at High Noon EST

Join us for my Roadhouse Blues Nooner on http://www.bluesmusicfan.com at 12 pm EST today, June 4th!  Plenty of new contemporary blues from artists such as Nick Schnebelen, Meg Williams, Beth Hart, Eric Jerardi, Reese Wynans, and many more!

Here is the intended playlist:

ARTIST TITLE
Bernie Marsden Highway 45
Alexis P. Suter Band Sick and Tired Blues
Beth Hart Might As Well Smile
Reese Wynans & Friends Take The Time
King King A Long History Of Love
Nick Schnebelen Crazy All By Myself
Melissa Etheridge Memphis Train
Mike Farris Snap Your Fingers
Sven Zetterberg & Chicago Express All For Business
Elise LeGrow Who Do You Love
Tony Campanella Finger On Your Trigger
Reverend Freakchild Hippie Bluesman Blues
Brandon Santini One More Day
Eric Jerardi Don’t Take It Personally
Hamish Anderson Damaged Goods
Selwyn Birchwood Guilty Pleasures
Shane Dwight Come See Me
Meg Williams Played by the Blues
Corey Stevens Louisiana Queen
Bridget Kelly Band Sugar Sweet Baby
Damon Fowler We’ve Got a Good Thing
Ellis Mano Band Whiskey
Joanne Shaw Taylor I’ve Been Loving You Too Long
Tiffany Pollack & Eric Johanson Slave Of Tomorrow
The Rocky Athas Group Miracle