The Year 2020 was one that we all were glad to see go. Not only were our family, friends, and neighbors ravaged by COVID but our political systems were stressed and our rights to meet and gather were often suspended. And performing artists and musicians took the financial brunt of the frenzied response as outdoor venues, bars, and restraunts closed across the world throwing millions of performers out of work. But musicians are a resilient and creative group. They retreated, like the rest of us, to their homes, their garages, and their basements and began the process of creating new music using novel internet collaborative tools to record and share their music with other band members and recording studios. The product of their work is what I want us to celebrate in this article. It took new thinking, creative use of software, and dogged perseverance to write, record, and release new music during 2020 and EVERY artist and group that did so should be commended for not giving in to the darkness and continuing to bring the joy of music to us all.
During 2020, I played over 7000 songs on my DJ shows and listened to hundreds of albums sent to me by the artists, publicists, and record companies. I received even more as part of the staff of Blues Music Fan Radio. Out of all that music, I have chosen my favorite 66 roadhouse blues songs for 2020 using only two rules; I had to have played the tune during one of my shows in 2020 and I could only select one song per album. The list represents less than 1% of all music that I broadcast during the year and includes both perennial favorites as well as artists you may not have heard of. These are the best of the best and regardless of position on this listing, they are all fabulous tunes in my opinion. I hope you enjoy reviewing the list, listening to the songs, and hopefully, downloading some for your own music collection or as a gift to family and friends.
The Roadhouse Blues Top 66 Songs
|61||The Smoke Wagon Blues Band||The Fat Man||The Ballad Of Albert Johnson|
|62||Misty Blues||Treat Me Like I Want||Weed ‘Em & Reap|
|63||Peter Parcek||Beyond Here Lies Nothing||Mississippi Suitcase|
|64||Nora Jean Wallace||I’m A Blues Woman||Blues Woman|
|65||Lloyd Jones||Turn Me Loose||Tennessee Run|
|66||The Rolling Stones||Living In A Ghost Town||Living In A Ghost Town|
The Roadhouse Blues Top 50 & 60 songs
|51||John Primer and Bob Corritore||Keep A-Driving||The Gypsy Woman Told Me|
|52||Cary Morin||Nobody Gotta Know||Dockside Saints|
|53||Pinkie Rideau||Bring Me Sugar||Bring Me Sugar|
|54||Dudley Taft||The End Of The Blues||Cosmic Radio|
|55||Henrik Freischlader Band||What Have I Done to You||Missing Pieces|
|56||JD3 & The Jondo Trio||Rocks At The Moon||Something Good|
|57||Shaun Murphy||Living In The Palace Of The King||Flame Still Burns|
|58||The Nighthawks||Chairman Of The Board||Tryin’ to Get to You|
|59||Paul Buchanan’s Voodoo Preachers||Some Kind Of Voodoo||Testimony|
|60||New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers||Night Time (feat Jimbo Mathis)||Volume I|
|41||Mary Jo Curry Band||Nothin’ Is Easy||Front Porch|
|42||Kerry Kearney||Voodoo Down the River||Tales From The Psychedelta|
|43||Simon Kinny-Lewis||Black Cat Moan||Another Day In San Jose|
|44||The Reverend Shawn Amos & The Brotherhood||Counting Down The Days||Blue Sky|
|45||The Lucky Losers||Half a Nothing||Godless Land|
|46||Marcus King||The Well||El Dorado|
|47||Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar||Sacrifice||The Reckless On|
|48||Coco Montoya||Trouble||Coming In Hot|
|49||Robert Cray||Anything You Want||That’s What I Heard|
|50||Dave Fields||Force of Will||Force of Will|
The Roadhouse Blues Top 40 songs
|31||Steve Washington (feat Lucky Peterson)||Blues Don’t Cost a Thing||Just A Matter of Time|
|32||Tammi Savoy & The Chris Casello Combo||As Long As I’m Movin’||That Rock ‘n’ Roll Rhythm!|
|33||Too Slim and the Taildraggers||Devil’s Hostage||The Remedy|
|34||David Rotundo Band||I Must Be Crazy||So Much Trouble|
|35||Mick Clarke||Ain’t Beggin’ Nobody||Crazy with the Blues|
|36||Casey Hensley||Searching For A Man||Good As Gone|
|37||Tas Cru||Save Me||Drive On|
|38||Sass Jordan||The Key||Rebel Moon Blues|
|39||Mark May||Barbecue And Blues||Deep Dark Demon|
|40||Shemekia Copeland||Walk Until I Ride||Uncivil War|
The Roadhouse Blues Top 30 Songs
|21||Eric Johanson||Down To The Bottom||Below Sea Level|
|22||Tinsley Ellis||Evil Till Sunrise||Ice Cream In Hell|
|23||The Immediate Family||Cruel Twist||Slippin’ and Slidin’|
|24||Mike Zito||After The Storm||Quarantine Blues|
|25||Savoy Brown||Jaguar Car||Ain’t Done Yet|
|26||Kirsten Thien||Shoulda Been||Two Sides|
|27||Larkin Poe||Every Bird That Flies||Self Made Man|
|28||Eric Steckel||Since I Been Loving You||Grandview Drive|
|29||Sonny Landreth||Somebody Gotta Make A Move||Blacktop Run|
|30||Crystal Shawanda||Evil Memory||Church House Blues|
The Roadhouse House Top 20 Songs
|11||Rae Gordon Band||Get Right With The World||Wrong Kind Of Love|
|12||Fantastic Negrito||Chocolate Samurai||Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?|
|13||Ben Levin||My Back Scratcher||Carryout Or Delivery|
|14||Kat Riggins||The Storm||Cry Out|
|15||Albert Cummings||Red Rooster||Believe|
|16||The War and Treaty||Beautiful (feat. Jason Isbell)||Hearts Town|
|17||Anthony Gomes||Until The End Of Time||Containment Blues|
|18||Popa Chubby||I’m The Beast From The East||It’s A Mighty Hard Road|
|19||The Mary Stokes Band||Comin’ Home||Comin’ Home|
|20||Joanne Shaw Taylor||Human||Reckless Blues|
The Roadhouse Top Ten Tunes for 2020
10. Johnny Iguana – Shake Your Money Maker [Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular] (Delmark Records)
Johnny Iguana’s cover of the Elmore James song from 1961 should get you movin’ in your easy chair as you listen. Johnny’s energetic keyboard playing is superbly matched by the slide guitar work of Lil’ Ed.
9. Layla Zoe – Nowhere Left To Go [Title Cut] (Self Release)
Though not officially released until January 8, 2021, I got a promo copy in December and started spinning it so it makes the list! Layla’s growling delivery is just badass and harkens back to Janis Joplin.
8. Wily Bo Walker/Danny Flam – Ain’t No Man a Good Man [Title Cut] (Mescal Canyon Records)
Blues rock with a hint of Dr. John in his voice, Wily Bo is a fantastic UK artist with a growing following. Wily’s delivery is theatric in nature and I can’t wait for the opportunity to see him and Danny perform live on stage one day…SOON!
7. Alastair Greene – Bayou Mile [The New World Blues] (Whiskey Bayou Records)
A native of Ventura, California, Alastair got to collaborate with the great Tab Benoit from my home state of Louisiana to make this recording and the result is a haunting beautiful song.
6. Thorbjorn Risager and the Black Tornado – Come On In [Title Cut] (Ruf Records)
A Danish powerhouse and one of my favorite European roadhouse blues artists, Thorbjorn has a unique voice and he is backed by an incredible seven piece ensemble that just continue to crank out catchy and upbeat roadhouse blues tunes.
5. Dion – Blues Comin’ On (ft. Joe Bonamassa) [Blues With Friends] (KTBA Records)
An American treasure, Dion is still creating vibrant music at the age of 81! Produced by Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping the Blues Alive label, Dion got Joe to sit in on this track!
4. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram – Rock & Roll [Empty Promises] (Alligator Records)
This song is about a deal with the angels and a family’s devotion to a young artist’s future. It is simply beautiful and Christone’s delivery is authentic and riveting.
3. Joe Bonamassa – Why Does It Take So Long to Say Goodbye [Royal Tea] (J&R Adventures)
Another Joe Bonamassa ballad that meshes rock and blues like only he can. He is known as a world class guitar player, but I love his voice and his songwriting. This one is a roadhouse jewel!
2. Walter Trout – Make It Right [Ordinary Madness] (Provogue Records)
At 69, Walter is creating some of the best music of his storied career. The guitar playing on this tune is vintage Trout. I hope I get to see him perform it live sometime this year or next!
1……. Avey Grouws Band – Rise Up [The Devil May Care] (Self Release)
A self released debut album by a group from Iowa features a song that is my #1 roadhouse tune for 2020! Who would have thought?? I know I didn’t until I heard Jeni Grouw’s voice and Chris Avey’s guitar playing on Rise Up. It is not only a catchy but topical tune. We all need to rise up, in love, and confront the issues of our times head on without hate or rancor. It’s a song and a message we all need to spread around! Oh…and by the way…..the Avey Grouws Band will be appearing in concert in June with…..Walter Trout. My #1 and #2 artists on the same stage…..if you are close…go see them!!!!
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.