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 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 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 – 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
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 – 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
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
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 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 – 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 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 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 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!