Forrest McDonald Gathers the Blues in a Bucket

Forrest McDonald, over his lifetime, has been coast to coast in the United States pursing his dream and providing us with some memorable guitar playing along the way. He jammed with Muddy Waters in New York City as a teenager, rolled out to California and jammed there with Van Halen and Steve Perry in the seventies, played the guitar solo with Bob Seger on the mega hit Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll recording and with Bobby Womack on Roads of Life, and then settled down in Atlanta in the 1990’s.

Considered a musician’s musician, but largely unknown by the general music public, Forrest has done a number of recordings with the Forest McDonald Band on his label, World Talent Records, in the years since he began calling Atlanta home. The latest release, Blues In A Bucket, is a stellar album that features a number of talented backing musicians including Andrew Black (vocals), Becky Wright (guest vocals), and Tony Carey (guest keyboards/organ).

The album opens with a New Orleans style “down the bayou” tune Boogie Me Til I Drop that channels a bit of Dr. John……loved it!! Blue Morning Sun is a touching song done in remembrance of his brother that he lost recently. The slide guitar work on the tune is absolutely world class and evokes the spirit of the Macon sound of the seventies. The title cut, Blues In a Bucket, is some nice rockin’ blues, and Hard to Lose, Blues in the Basement, and Misery and Blues are just badass low down blues recordings. Going Back to Memphis is a great funky tune with some stellar horn and organ playing. And the album closes like it started with the delicious down the bayou sound of Let the Love in Your Heart.

Forrest has been playing his heart out on the guitar for over 55 years and he deserves wider recognition for his talent and his lifetime of contributions to the blues. And he certainly defines what I mean by the term “the roadhouse blues” on this fabulous recording. I hope my readers will consider purchasing a copy of this album both for the great songs included and as a big thank you to him for a music life well done!


Forrest McDonald – Blues in a Bucket (2020 World Talent Records)

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.

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.

August 13th Roadhouse Blues Nooner on BMFR

Join us for a mix of the contemporary blues during my roadhouse blues nooner today on BMFR starting at High Noon EST. Got some new 24 Pesos, the Altered Five Blues Band, and a fantastic version of Amazing Grace/House of the Rising Sun by Guy Forsyth & Jeska Bailey…ya gotta hear it!

Below is the intended playlist….

ARTISTTITLE
Dr. JohnHoney Dripper
24 PesosBreakdown Paranoia Blues
FatheadMonkey Time
Altered Five Blues BandDollars & Demons
Frank BeyGive It To Get It
Dave AlvinBarn Burning
Guy Forsyth – Jeska BaileyAmazing Grace/House of the Rising Sun
Tony Joe WhiteMojo Dollar
Geoff AchisonI Wish You Were Mine
Guy DavisI Got The Power
Greg KochForever at Last
The GreyhoundsIt’s So Good To Be Alive
Climax Blues BandThe Cat
The Teskey BrothersSo Caught Up
Shaun MurphySame Old You
Gráinne DuffyBad to Worse
Rick VitoMojo on My Side
Long Tall Deb & The Drifter KingsChef Jen’s Kitchen
Chris O’LearyCircus Just Left Town
Jimmy HallToo Tall To Mambo
Jon ButcherFoolish Behavior
Big Joe and the DynaflowsGo On Fool
Kjell Gustavsson Rhythm & Blues OrchestraThat Worries Me
Jersey Swamp CatsTootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing
Vegas Strip KingsBack To You
Altered Five Blues BandSweet Marie
Guthrie TrappGot My Mojo Workin’ (Feat. Jimmy Hall)
Climax Blues BandStraight Down The Middle

Joe Bonamassa – Redemption

Joe B 1.jpg

From Joe B.’s fan art work!

 

The synthesis of the electric blues, British blues, delta blues, and progressive and classic rock, Joe Bonamassa merges them all  on his new album Redemption to create an  inspiring anthem to the roadhouse blues.  Since his first solo album in 2000, Joe has been building a loyal following among blues rockers, blues fans, and old time classic rockers yearning for a sound that has largely disappeared from main stream broadcasting.  All of them should be thrilled to listen to his latest recording.

Joe is certainly one of the finest electric guitar players on the planet, has a fantastic voice, and is under rated as a song writer. On Redemption, he showcases all three elements of his talent.  The Ghost of Macon Jones is a blues rock ballad with guitar work that hints at Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band and has haunting synthesizer and keyboard play by band member Reese Wynans.  On Molly O, Joe creates a rock masterpiece on par with Led Zeppelin’s KashmirAnton Fig on drums and Michael Rhodes on bass provide an insistent beat as Joe takes his guitar to places only the very best can go. On the title cut, Redemption, the delta and gospel blues merge with Led Zeppelin and Black Country Communion influences to create a fantastic rock paean.  Deep in the Blues is a notable song with that same ethereal quality that Eric Clapton has always brought to his music.

On King Bee Shakedown and Evil Mama,  Joe finds that sweet spot between the blues and rock I call the roadhouse blues on upbeat horns infused tunes. On I Got Some Mind Over What Matters, Joe channels a bit of Muddy Waters on a sweet delta electric blues tune.

When Joe was a youngster, B.B. King invited him on stage to give the audience a glimpse of his talent and on Just Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should Joe displays some of the same mastery of the electric guitar that the King of the Blues saw almost 30 years ago.

Joe B Redemption

Love is a Gamble is some bad ass grindin’ blues in the mold of Albert King, Freddie King, and Luther AllisonPick Up The Pieces is a down home New Orleans style blues tune with echoes of Dr. John in the rhythms and lyrics. And Stronger Now in Broken Places is a heart tugging acoustic number that highlights Joe’s stellar voice.

Over the years, Joe has recorded several songs that seem directed right at me, a laser pointed straight at my heart. Self Inflicted Wounds joins the songs Drive, Different Shades of Blue, and Driving Towards The Daylight from previous albums as soul searching epics that I will never forget.  On an album filled with great songs, it is my favorite.

Joe has earned the admiration and accolades from  music critics and reviewers like myself since the release of his third album, Blues Deluxe, back in 2003. It is my fervent hope that this album finally takes Joe into the main stream for contemporary rock audience downloads; the final piece in the puzzle. The mainstream contemporary rock genre has been decimated over the years; Joe and his music are the path back!  Redemption is an interesting and intense synergy of the blues and rock and worthy of comparisons with the works of B.B. King, Muddy WatersLed Zeppelin, and Eric Clapton. He has internalized influences from some of the greatest and with Redemption makes the statement that he represents the best of all of them: a blues man, a blues rocker, a rock guitar virtuoso, and, in my opinion, the best roadhouse blues man alive today.

Joe Bonamassa – Redemption (2018 J&R Adventures)

 

P.S. You can listen to Joe and enjoy many more roadhouse blues artists on my 24 hour blues stream at Ben Vee Roadhouse Blues !

 

Ray Bonneville – Roots Blues at its Best on “At King Electric”

Ray Bonneville

Around the smokey campfire of the roots blues you find drifters and story tellers huddled close together on a cold night drinkin’ whiskey from the bottle or at best with a paper cup and regaling each other with songs and tales of mistaken choices and loves lost; Ray Wylie Hubbard and Bob Dylan come to mind.  Ray Bonneville belongs there too.  Born in Canada, he grew up in Boston, served in the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam, worked as cab driver back in Boston, and then set out on the road in the seventies playin’ small clubs all across North America.  He was good enough as a musician and singer to appear on stage as the opening act for Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Dr. John. Like Dylan, he can be a one man band with his guitar, harmonica, and a rhythmic tappin’ foot.

Over the years, Ray has released eight albums and several have won him awards and critical acclaim.  His latest, At King Electric,  was recorded in Austin, the natural home of the roots blues.  It is blues at its dark loneliest Americana roots with songs of addiction, Codeine, and eternal drifting, Forever Gone.  The tune, Make a Hole In You, will indeed cut you to the core and South of the Blues takes you to a place where the downtrodden and forlorn can lose themselves.

ray bonneville portrait

Ray is a fantastic songwriter and the imagery he invokes will probe deep into your soul. And the music is just……well …I encourage you download the album for yourself and find out.  Few albums I have heard over the last several years have grabbed me like this one.  From the deepest darkest places the blues can go, Ray has lifted up haunting portraits of misfortune, desolation, and emptiness that accompany all of us at one time or another on our lifetime journey….they are beautiful works of art and worthy of your time and attention.

Ray Bonneville – At King Electric (2018 Stonefly Records)

Workin that Big Brass Mojo with the Original Blues Brothers Band

The-Original-Blues-Brothers-Band-CD-Cover-150x150

The band began as part of a whimsical skit on NBC’s Saturday Night Live back in 1978. Fronted by Dan Akroyd and Jim Belushi as Jake and Elwood, the Original Blues Brothers band generated a renewed interest in big brass rhythm and blues that literally swept the world spawning concerts, movies, and huge increases in the sales of rhythm & blues and soul music.  With the release of The Last Shade of Blue Before Black, they remind us again of just what all the hub bub was about.

The Original Blues Brothers Band featuring Steve Cropper and “Blue Lou” Marini are a talent laden group of musicians that, according to Lou,  like to spread the news about the blues, drink, party, and have fun (in no particular order).  The party atmosphere comes through loud and clear on the new album and they invite former band leader Paul Shaffer, Dr. John, Joe Louis Walker, Eddie Floyd, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, and Joe Morton along for the good times as special guests.

I really enjoyed their rendition of the Jimmy Reed‘s tune Baby What You Want Me To DoBlues in My Feet, Itch and Scratch, Sex Machine, and Don’t Forget about Jame Brown are some badass funk.  Joe Louis Walker aces Don’t Go No Further and the band ‘s cranks out a great cover of Got My Mojo Working. I also loved You Left the Water the Running.

With the holiday season upon us, this album makes a great stocking stuffer! And if you have a party, I can’t think of a better ice breaker to get the good times rollin’!!

The Original Blues Brothers Band – The Last Shade of Blue Before Black – Severn Records 2017