Best of the Blues 2019 – The Ben Vee Roadhouse Blues 66

The year 2019 was a banner year for the roadhouse blues across the world. From Australia to Copenhagen and along all points in between, both debut artists and well established performers released a stunning number of new recordings. Every month my in box and my mail box were full of some fabulous blues recordings which makes picking the Ben Vee Roadhouse Blues 66 this year much more daunting.

This year’s list includes classic blues, roots oriented blues, R&B, soul, contemporary blues and blues rock artists with songs that span the genre from “almost the blues” tunes to the stellar classic blues sound of Mary Lane. Given that many of us have some extra time on our hands due to the ongoing global pandemic, I hope you enjoy downloading and listening to every one of these songs.

The position of the songs on the list is of little consequence…you might list them in a different order and get no argument from me.  Whether it is song #23 by Samantha Fish or number 66 by the Coyote Kings, all of these tunes made my playlists for my roadhouse blues shows at http://www.bluesmusicfan.com, got mentioned on my Ben Vee Facebook page or Twitter account, and/or got written about on this website at http://www.benveeblues.com during 2019. All 66 are representative of the energy and vitality that permeates the modern contemporary blues….by and large they are upbeat…sometimes loud…and truly international.

The Top Ten (in no particular order other than #1)

#1 Mary Lane – Blues Give Me a Feeling (2019 Travelin’ Woman)

Mary Lane, from Chicago, recorded the Roadhouse Blues 66 number one tune of 2019 at the age of 83!! How cool is that! She is one of the last living legendary singers of the blues to have been part of the great migration from the American Deep South to Chicago in the 1940’s. Just a fabulous tune!

Big Daddy Wilson – Crazy World (2019 Deep In My Soul)

An expat from the United States who has lived in Germany for years, Big Daddy aces an sumptuous slow soul ballad.

Altered Five Blues Band – Mischief Man (2019 Ten Thousand Watts)

Led by the deep blues voice of Jeff Taylor, this group out of Wisconsin once again makes one of my top performer annual blues lists.

Keb’ Mo’ – Cold Outside (2019 Oklahoma)

I played this song over and over when it came out on the album this past summer. You can nevah get enough of Keb’ Mo’!

Christone Kingfish Ingram – Fresh Out (2019 Kingfish)

A 20 year old with a debut album that features a cut with Buddy Guy as well as another with Keb’ Mo’. Life is good for this very talented young man.

Jontavious Willis – Low Down Ways (2019 Spectacular Class)

Another young blues artist that attracted the attention of Taj Mahal as well as Keb’ Mo’, Jontavious has stardom written all over him. It will be interesting to see how he evolves as a blues artist as the years roll by.

Tiffany Pollack & Eric Johanson – Blues In My Blood (2019 Blues In My Blood)

This blues duo hails from my hometown of New Orleans. Tiffany has a haunting voice that is framed by a strong beat and memorable guitar licks by Eric on this song.

Beth Hart – Bad Woman Blues (2019 War In My Mind)

Beth just has a great time with this tune and shows off the chops that have made her a fan favorite amongst blues rockers.

Brandon Santini – Drive You Off My Mind (2019 The Longshot)

This long time resident of Memphis had a great year in 2019. He was my 2019 Roadhouse Bluesman of the Year for both this album and one he did with Tennessee Redemption. A great voice and world class harmonica player; what’s not to like!

Allman Betts Band – Shinin’ (2019 Down to the River)

The sons of the Allman Brothers pick up where their dads left off! Not much else to be said but get yer tickets when they get close by!!


As you look through the rest of the list and hopefully listen to many, if not all, of the tunes, I hope you get an appreciation for what I term as the roadhouse blues. From its roots in the deep American south, the blues has grown and expanded to become a worldwide phenomenon. (And if someone you know states “the blues is dead” just show them this list and ask them how so?!) I am proud to be one of the DJs and influencers helping get the word out about just how great this music is!!!


ArtistSong TitleAlbum
1Mary LaneBlues Give Me A FeelingTravelin’ Woman
2Big Daddy WilsonCrazy WorldDeep In My Soul
3Altered Five Blues BandMischief ManTen Thousand Watts
4Keb’ Mo’Cold OutsideOklahoma
5Christone “Kingfish” IngramFresh Out (ft Buddy Guy)Kingfish
6Jontavious WillisLow Down WaysSpectacular Class
7Tiffany Pollack & Eric JohansonBlues In My BloodBlues In My Blood
8Beth Hart Bad Woman BluesWar in my Mind
9Brandon SantiniDrive You Off My MindThe Longshot
10The Allman Betts BandShinin’Down to the River
11Amnesia Blues BandFast Johnny CoolHailstorm
12HeavyDrunkIf I Love You Hard EnoughHolywater
13Mindi Abair and the BoneshakersWho’s Gonna Save My SoulNo Good Deed
14Walter TroutMe My Guitar and the BluesSurvivor Blues
15Coco MontoyaLights On But Nobody’s HomeComing In Hot
16Ghost Town Blues BandShineShine
17Chris O’Leary7 Minutes7 Minutes
18Tedeschi Trucks BandThey Don’t ShineSigns
19Van MorrisonThree Chords and the TruthThree Chords and the Truth
20Terry HanckHowlin’ For My Darlin’I Still Get Excited
21Kenny Wayne ShepherdWoman Like YouThe Traveler
22Zack Walther BandBad GirlThe Westerner
23Samantha FishDirtyKill or Be Kind
24Giles RobsonDon’t Give Up on the BluesDon’t Give Up on the Blues
25Lucky PetersonPack It Up50: Just Warming Up!
26Heather NewmanI’m Coming For YouRise from the Flames
27Left Lane CruiserSmooth CommanderShake and Bake
28Delbert McClintonA Fool Like MeTall, Dark, and Handsome
29Miss Bix and the Blues FixFollow Me DownWe Don’t Own the Blues
30Ash GrunwaldAin’t My Problem (ft The Teskey Brothers)Mojo
31The Texas HornsI’m Doin’ Alright (ft. Carolyn Wonderland)Get Here Quick
32The Mike Duke ProjectI’m Not Sad Tonight….Took a Whlle
33Ronnie Earl & the BroadcastersBaby How LongBeyond the Blue Door
34Travelin’ Blue KingsNinety MinutesWired Up
35Al BasileSo Called Story TellerB’s Hothouse
36Ida Bang & the Blue TearsShelter MeGood to Me
37Arsen ShomakhovWomen and WhiskeyRainy City Blues
38Elles BaileyHelp SomebodyRoad I Call Home
39The Teskey BrothersSo Caught UpRun Home Slow
40Kerry Pastine and the Crime SceneDown DownCity of Love
41Tad RobinsonReal StreetReal Street
42Sugaray RayfordThe RevelatorSomebody Save Me
43Southern AvenueWhiskey LoveKeep On
44Honey HoundsShine OnThe Flame
45Zac HarmonGypsy RoadMississippi BarBQ
46Annika ChambersI Feel the Same (ft Paul DesLauriers)Kiss My Sass
47Tennessee RedemptionBack To TennesseeTennessee Redemption
48Ivy FordStart a FightHarvesting  My Roots
49Wentus Blues Band w/ Duke Robillard 2:19Too Much Mustard
50Rockin’ Johnny & QuiQue GomezEverybody Loves My BabyDos Hombres Wanted
51Albert CastigliaHeavyMasterpiece
52Seth RosenbloomBroke And LonelyKeep On Turning
53Arlen RothI Can Fix It (ft Jack Pearson)Tele Masters
54Eliza NealsPawn Shop Blues (Roadhouse)Sweet Or Mean
55The Kokomo KingsHeatwaveFighting Fire with Gasoline
56Robin TrowerComing Closer to the DayComing Closer to the Day
57Blue Moon MarqueeAs I Lay DyingBare Knuckes & Brawn
58Peter WardTrain to Key BiscayneTrain to Key Biscayne
59Duke RobillardDon’t Bother Trying To Steal Her LoveEar Worms
60Harpdog BrownThinkin’ and Drinkin’For Love & Money
61Brother YusefI’m a BluesmanJook Joint Jam
62Manx Mariner ManlineRattlesnakeHell Bound for Heaven
63Josh NewcomGirl Got the MojoThe Blues Gonna Getcha
64Savoy BrownConjure RhythmCity Night
65Big Wolf BandBe FreeBe Free
66Coyote KingsDrive MeRocket

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.

Al Basile – B’s Hot House is some fine Bedrock Blues

I’ve always thought of Al Basile as the Randy Newman of the blues and his new album B’s Hot House just reinforces the notion. Al first started recording in 1998 and has been nominated 8 times over the years for his work as a songwriter/singer/cornet player by the Blues Music Foundation.

The new album is what I call the bedrock blues; solid earthy tunes with engaging lyrics and heartfelt vocal delivery that are backed by talented veteran musicians. Al’s band mates are people he has recorded with over the years and features the renown guitar player Duke Robillard (who also produced the album), Mark Teixeira (drums), Brad Hallen (bass), Bruce Bears (keyboards), Doug James (tenor sax), and Jeff “Doc” Chanonhouse (trumpet). Mark, Brad, and Bruce are members of the Duke’s band and the horn section are old friends from Al’s days with Roomful of Blues. Together, these talented artists have created an enjoyable blues and R&B recording.

Lyrically as well as musically, the song So Called Storyteller encapsulates Al’s talent as a musician and songwriter and is my favorite on the album. I also loved Razor Wire; the guitar licks are great and Al’s cornet gives the tune just the right feel. Al does a bit of political commentary with Don’t Fool With the Truth; an upbeat song with some biting lyrics. Additionally, I will be working Five Roads, I See You There, and Looking for a Cookie into my roadhouse blues shows on BMFR.

Overall, this 14 song (all originals) recording enhances Al Basile’s reputation as a great singer/songwriter who also happens to play a badass cornet.


Al Basile – B’s Hot House (2019 Sweetspot Records)

Wentus Blues Band with Duke Robillard – Too Much Mustard

Sometimes I run across an album that just blows me away…..this one did!! Wentus Blues Band is a Finnish group that has been together touring for thirty years. Recently, they journeyed across the seas to Rhode Island to make the album TOO MUCH MUSTARD with renown guitarist and producer Duke Robillard……the result is simply blues magic!

The first cut to grab my attention was 2:19. The band is tight featuring Juho Kinaret on vocals, Niko Riippa on guitar, Robban Hagnäs on bass, Pekka Gröhn on keyboards, and Daniel Hjerppe on drums and they blend their instruments seamlessly as they drift though a badass little tune.

I was riveted by their version of FIRST WE TAKE MANHATTAN. The song was written by Leonard Cohen and I am familiar with it because of a recording done by Jennifer Warnes in the 1990’s with Stevie Ray Vaughan on lead guitar. Both the Cohen and Warnes versions were whimsical. Wentus Blues Band delivers the appropriate feel and ominous warning to this apocalyptic song.

A song that will get alot of airplay during my roadhouse blues sets on BMFR is SHE’S A KILLER HOT BLONDE. It is hot rockin’ blues with some great guitar and piano licks.

I also enjoyed the songs TOO MUCH MUSTARD, FEELS SO BAD, and I HEAR YOU KNOCKIN’. All great tunes that bear the imprint of the Duke as their record producer. He also plays guitar throughout the album and even provided two tunes for the band from his early years, SHE MADE MY MIND and PASSIONATE KISS.

In an interview done on the Michael Limnios Blues Network, Juho eloquently stated “the Blues music is a universal playground. It doesn’t look at your color, how old you are or where do you come from.” Amen, brother!! As I have stated a number of times over the last five years, there is alot of great blues coming out of Europe and Copenhagen and the Nordic countries in particular. With the release of this album, the Wentus Blues Band’s TOO MUCH MUSTARD blueses itself into contention as one of the great recordings of 2019.


Wentus Blues Band – Too Much Mustard (2019 Ramasound Records)

Links in blue are to Spotify, Youtube, or quote references.

...And yes I know “blueses” wasn’t a word until today…..lol.

Ben’s Monday Blues Bin (7/15/19)

It’s summertime in Connecticut.  I am sittin’ out in my man cave enjoying the heat, smokin’ a cigar, and listening to some new albums.

Zac HarmonMississippi BarBQ (Catfood Records 2019)

Zac Harmon

A great mix of soul, Chicago blues, and a touch of blues rock, the new Zac Harmon album Mississippi BarBQ was produced by Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana).  It also features a stellar group of studio musicians known as the Rays: Bob Trenchard (bass), Richy Puga (drums), Johnny McGee (guitars), Dan Ferguson (keyboards), Mike Middleton (trumpet), Andy Roman (alto sax), Nick Flood (tenor and baritone sax), and Drake Dominigue (trombone & tuba).

Zac has been recording since 2003 and with this CD, he steps it up to a new level. The voice is fabulous, his guitar playing is first class, and the song writing conveys images that give witness to his Jackson, Mississippi roots.  The songs are all originals except for a great rendition of Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door.  I enjoyed Make a Dollar Out of Fifteen Cents, Gypsy Road, Honey Pleez, Smoke and Mirrors, and So Cold.

A gifted artist, a world renown producer, and some fantastic studio musicians meld together for a first rate recording that also features cuts by his current touring band. Make sure to give the title cut Mississippi BarBQ a listen….with some barbeque, cornbread, mustard greens, black eyed peas and, of course a cold beer at the ready!!

The Texas HornsGet Here Quick (Severn Records 2019)

Texas Horns

 

Three of the most bad ass horn blowers on the planet got together down in Texas, invited some gifted friends, and created a delightful RnB recording entitled Get Here Quick. Mark ‘Kaz’ Kazanoff (tenor sax), John Mills (baritone sax), and Al Gomez (trumpet) can truly be judged by the company they keep with the likes of Carolyn Wonderland, Curtis Salgado, Guy Forsyth, Gary Nicholson, John Nemeth, Ronnie Earl,  and Anson Funderburgh steppin’ into the studio to assist; they got the rhythm and they damn sure got the blues!  This is an awesome CD!

A long time favorite of mine, Carolyn belts it out on I’m Doin’ Alright At Least For Tonight. And Curtis lends his soulful voice to Sundown Talkin’. My favorite tune on the album is Guitar Town that is sung by Guy Forsyth with backing vocals by Carolyn and lead guitar work by Anson. Gary Nicholson contributes two of his songs, Soulshine  & Fix Your Face, and both recordings are mighty fine. Anson does the lead guitar on Soulshine and another of my favorites, Ronnie Earl, does the honors on Fix Your Face.

There are also several tasty instrumentals on the album that showcase the talent of this horn blowin trio. My favorite is Truckload of Trouble written by John Mills and I also enjoyed the title cut contributed by Kaz Kazanoff.

I have to say when I opened the CD I was thinkin’ “now who are these guys?”.  Man…was I pleasantly surprised after listening to the entire recording. Download and give this a listen…hope you are pleased too!

The Duke Robillard BandEar Worms (2019 Stony Plain Records)

Duke Robillard

The new album, Ear Worms, has a fifties and sixties feel to it and is a pleasant listen.  Duke Robillard has been playing and recording for over fifty years and is a superlative guitar player.  I particularly loved the instrumental You Belong to Me that I first heard sung by Patsy Cline many years ago. It was one of my mother’s favorites and Duke shows it the love and tenderness it deserves.

I also enjoyed Don’t Bother Trying to Steal Her Love with Dave Howard on vocals and the song Yellow Moon which is sung by drummer Mark Teixeira.  The rest of the band is Bruce Bears (keyboards & vocals) and Brad Hallen on bass and they are a very tight knit group of artists.  The album features a number of guest vocalists including Sunny Crownover, Chris Cote, Mark Cutler, and Klem Klimek.  This is definitely a recording to relax with on warm summer evening.

 


Send along a comment if you would like! Love to hear what your thoughts are on these albums and blues music in general!!

 

Ben Vee’s Roadhouse Blues Bin for Nov 12 2018

A selection of albums I have been listening to lately:

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne – Inspired by the Blues (Stony Plain Records 2018)

Kenny Blies Boss Wayne

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne is the Chicago Boogie Woogie Blues Boss!  On his latest recording, Inspired By the Blues, he goes full tilt classic style boogie and blues with help from Duke Robillard (guitar) , Billy Branch (harmonica), and B.B. King’s long time bass player Russell Jackson. Kenny can pound those ivories and was named the “Most Outstanding Musician (Keyboards)” by the prestigious Living Blues Magazine in 2015. He has also won Juno and Maple Leaf blues awards in Canada and the new album is a great addition to my collection of roadhouse blues tunes.

Kenny makes the sounds of the late forties and fifties relevant for modern audiences with superb songs like Old Brick Wall, Start Rockin’, Make Up Your Mind, and Jimmy & Johnny.  I particularly enjoyed the tune That Raggedy Shack. Primarily upbeat and featuring great musicians, I think you will enjoy listening to this as much as I did!

The Bob Lanza Blues Band – Kids, Dogs, and Krazy Women  (ConnorRayMusic 2018)

Bob Lanza

Bob Lanza‘s new album Kids, Dogs, and Krazy Women is some fine roadhouse blues.  Up tempo for the most part, it features some particularly great musicianship from band members Vin Mott (harmonica), John Ginty (keyboards), Anthony Krizan (guitars, vocals, drums) and David Lockhart (bass) as well as Bob himself who has a great voice and plays some badass guitar. I have followed the solo careers of Vin Mott and John Ginty for some time and Bob brings out the best of their talents on this recording.

I loved Hey Baby, the title cut, Let Me In, Little Momma, and Problems.  Bob does a nice cover of Patsy Cline‘s Walking After Midnight and the grindin’ blues tune I’m Not the Man I Used to Be is absolutely fantastic.

Overall, I think this album merits a nomination for Contemporary Blues album of the year!

Cary Morin – When I Rise (Cary Morin Music 2018)

Cary Morin

Cary Morin is a native American who is a member of the Crow tribe. He was born and raised in Montana and is now based in Colorado.  He has long been known for his accomplishments on the acoustic guitar and his style of music would be equally at home in the juke joints of the Mississippi delta or in the folks clubs of Greenwich Village.  On his latest album, he includes a number of electric guitar and pedal steel guitar tunes that are well worth a listen.

The album has an electric and an acoustic version of Jug in the Water that I really enjoyed. I also liked the roadhouse sound of Carmela Marie. The acoustic tune and title cut of the album, When I Rise, features some great harmonica work by Dexter Payne and has both delta and native american influences..interesting tune to say the least.

All the songs are originals except for a delightful cover of Duane Allman’s Little Martha and a nice rendition of the Grateful Dead’s Dire Wolf. Generally, I would classify the album as Americana or roots music with some great blues influences.  And if he ever gets up into the northeastern part of the United States, I would drive a good ways to see one of his performances!

Al Basile counts that Quiet Money as he Swings the Blues!

Al-Basile-Quiet-Money-Hi-Res-Cover-150x150

To me, Al Basile is the Randy Newman of the blues.  A talented song writer, as well as cornet player who has been playin’  for over forty years, Al has a nice vocal delivery similar to Randy’s and a penchant for songs that paint vivid images. His last recording, Mid-Century Modern, was nominated for 2016 Contemporary Blues Album of the year and his new album, Quiet Money, delivers some great forties and fifties style R&B and swing with the backing of Duke Robillard (who also produced the album) and several members of his former band, Roomful of Blues.  If you like your blues smooth and primarily upbeat, you are gonna love it!

I enjoyed Put Some Salt on It and Simple Ain’t Easy It which feature some nice guitar playin by the Duke.  On Time Is Now, Al lays down a cornet solo that is great. And my favorite song on the CD is You Got Two…..give it a listen and you tell me if he doesn’t channel a bit of Randy Newman… blues style!

Another song that really struck me on the album was Who’s Gonna Close My Eyes?  It is a story of a lonely man who has outlived his family and is contemplating who will be there for his last days.  It’s a pretty slow song set to an R&B beat with plenty of the horns that Al loves so much.

In an age when flash and shock value seems to count for more than they should, here’s my bet on Quiet Money…..Tasteful and thought provoking blues can still deliver!!

Al Basile – Quiet Money     Sweetspot Records 2017