Got some roadhouse blues for ya…..Sunday Wilde, Mike Goudreau, Tullie Brae, Crystal Shawanda, Fruteland Jackson….and many more. Just click on the link or type in http://www.bluesmusicfan.com, grab your favorite drink or smoke, and enjoy the tunes from 12-2 pm EST today, Tuesday, April 28th!
During the course of 2019, I was thrilled at the number of new artists that released debut albums. It bodes well for the future of the roadhouse blues in the next decade. My selections for the five best debut roadhouse blues artists of 2019 are (in alphabetical order) Christone “Kingfinsh” Ingram, Tennessee Redemption, The Allman Betts Band, The Weary Times, and Tiffany Pollack & Eric Johanson.
Christone “Kingfish” Ingram hails from the heart of the delta blues in Clarkesdale Mississippi. This rising blues prodigy is only twenty and has already captured the attention of blues lovers with the release of his debut album KINGFISH. Released on the prestigious blues label, Alligator Records, the album shot to the top of the blues charts this past May and has garnered him attention around the blues world.
He started out playing and singing gospel in church and by the time he was fifteen performed at the White House for Michelle Obama as part the Clarksdale Delta Museum Band. In 2017, he was a guest artist on Eric Gales’Middle of the Road album. Eventually he caught the attention of the living blues legend Buddy Guy, blues maestro Keb’ Mo’, and Grammy award winning artist and producer Tom Hambridge. With the touch of a master, Tom brings out the best in Christone on the debut album.
KINGFISH is a traditional blues album chocked full of great tunes. Fresh Out features the mastery of Buddy Guy, Hard Times is some fine delta acoustic blues, and Listen is a great duet with Keb’ Mo’. Few debut albums feature such a strong cast of world class supporting artists. It is a tribute to Christone’s talent and a beacon pointing to a very bright future.
Tennessee Redemption – Tennessee Redemption (2019 Endless Blues Records)
Brandon Santini, my 2019 Roadhouse Bluesman of the Year, received the award in part for the release of this self titled album TENNESSEE REDEMPTION. After years of honing their craft on Beale Street in Memphis (sometimes together sometimes apart), Brandon (lead vocals, harmonica) teamed with long time friend Jeff Jensen (lead vocals, guitar) and incorporated Timo Arthur (guitar, bass), Bill Ruffino (bass, vocals), and David Green (drums, vocals) to form this solid and tight band.
The album includes eight original songs plus a cover of the Tom Waits tune, Come On Up to the House and a great rendition of Little Walter’sWatch Yourself. Back To Tennessee is a fabulous jam tune steeped in the southern sound that emanated out of Macon Georgia back in the 1970’s and features some great guitar playing by Jeff and Timo. Glad To Be recounts Brandon and Jeff’s time playing on Beale Street and collecting dreams that have been realized with release of this recording. Given my love for the beaches, people, food, and tequila found in the small towns of our southern neighbor, it should be no surprise that I also enjoyed I’m Going To Mexico. See About Me,Souls In the Water, and the funky We Got A Thing Going On are also highly recommended.
Tennessee Redemption is an ideal example of the roadhouse blues with its roots in the blues but also reflecting the influences of gospel, southern rock, classic R&B, and soul. I look forward to seeing how they develop and mature their sound as the years go by.
The Allman Betts Band – Down to the River (2019 BMG Rights Management LLC)
Few groups in recent years have debuted an album to such popular and critical acclaim as THE ALLMAN BETTS BAND. The core of the band is three sons of the Allman Brothers Band (ABB): Devon Allman, Duane Betts, and Barry Oakley Jr.. Additionally Johnny Stachela provides some stellar slide guitar playing along with one of my favorite Hammond B3 organ players, John Ginty. The band also features percussionist R. Scott Bryan and drummer John Lum. And as if that wasn’t enough, former ABB keyboard player Chuck Leavall (currently with The Rolling Stones) and the Hammond B3 player for the Greg Allman Band, Peter Levin, make guest appearances on the recording.
Down to the River was recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama and features nine songs. My favorite on the album is a tune steeped in the legacy of ABB, Shinin’. All Night is a great showcase for Devon’s vocal talent and Melodies Are Memories is reminiscent of The Band and the Grateful Dead at their best and features Duane on vocals. Long Gone is a terrific ballad and the title cut, Down To The River, is some sweet easy classic R&B. Autumn Breeze is a song I can’t wait to see them jam to in concert. And Good Ol’ Days is a beautiful reminder that we need to embrace and live the “good ol’ days” now.
Since the album was released last summer, the Allman Betts Band has been on an ambitious tour of the United States and Europe. It is my understanding that the crowds have been huge and the audience response phenomenal. They are definitely on my bucket list of groups to see in 2020.
The Weary Times –The Weary Times(2019 Way Down Records)
THE WEARY TIMES, a band out of Boise Idaho, first caught my ear this past summer with Why Are You So Lonely. It’s a sad song that captures the feel of early sixties doo wap enhanced by the gravely voice of Ryan Curtis and the sparse and delightful guitar playing of Mike Simon. The tune, Piece of Mind, also grabbed me with the keyboard playing of Mike Swain and is a throwback to the very best that Eric Burdon & the Animals kicked out back in the day. Nick Archibald on bass and Ben Wieland on drums complete this creative quintet of musicians that proudly claim the blues and early rock’n’roll as the basis for their sound.
Nostalgic blues rock is the best way that I can describe The Weary Times debut album overall. Mixing in reverb and fuzz to give several songs an energetic garage band feel just adds icing to the cake. Ain’t Done Drinking and Anymore rock the blues, Best For You is another Eric Burdon & the Animals style tune, I Don’t Know Why and Hard Times are great sixties psychedelia, and Give And Take is a slow insightful song about aging after a hard lived youth.
I listened to literally hundreds of new albums during 2019 and very few were as unique and imaginative as an overall recording as this one. They have captured the essence of the early and mid 1960’s music sound (which was always based on the blues) and reintroduced it, after a fifty year lapse, with contemporary themes. It is music nostalgia for modern times.
After playing small clubs and venues across the Pacific Northwest the past couple of years, the Weary Times have earned the opportunity with this debut recording to expand their fan base and turn the rest of the roadhouse blues world on to their music. I just hope they are ready for the wild ride!!
Tiffany Pollack & Eric Johanson – Blues In My Blood (2019 NOLA Blue Records)
The best debut album by a duet couple since Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart back in 2011, Blues In My Blood is a solid recording by New Orleans based Tiffany Pollack and Eric Johanson. Tiffany comes to the blues from her roots in jazz music and Eric is an up and coming bluesman who has caught the attention of non other than Tab Benoit!
They combined their writing talents to pen seven of the 11 songs on the recording. My absolute favorite is the title cut, Blues in My Blood. It starts with a gospel inspired delta feel and then builds in intensity with some great guitar work by Eric and a powerful vocal delivery by Tiffany. Another favorite is Diamonds on the Crown with great harmonies and thoughtful social commentary. Eric has a voice similar to another great blues man from Louisiana, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and his guitar style is stellar on the song. Tiffany takes on the Nina Simone classic Do I Move You? and aces it with a sultry jazzy performance. Eric takes the vocal lead on Get Lost With Me, a blues ballad, and again wowed me with his guitar.
I also enjoyed the roots blues tune Memories to Forget as well as a knockout performance by Tiffany of the Joni Mitchell song, River, which I consider a great Christmas time tune. I played it several times during my DJ sets this past season and the response was tremendous!
Musicians that contributed their talents to the recording include Brentt Arcement (drums), Phil Wang (bass), John Gros (keyboards), producer Jack Miele (bass, bass guitar, and percussions), Sean Carey (backing vocals) and a guest appearance by the great Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone as well as the 504 Horns.
My only disappointment is that I have seen no evidence since the release of the album last spring that they have toured to support the recording. Both have returned to their solo careers. Tiffany & Co are playing jazz venues in New Orleans and Eric is touring with Tab Benoit who produced his 2017 highly acclaimed album, Burn It Down. I hear that Tab is playing drums for Eric during his part of the show; I’d pay to see that!!
My hope is that, as Joe and Beth have done, they will get back together from time to time and lay down some more tracks…..they both have blues in their blood!
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.
It’s spring time, well almost in New England, and here is what I am listening to as I await freakin’ warmer weather …..
Manx Marriner Mainline – Hell Bound for Heaven (2019)
Harry Manx is a blues original. His primary musical instrument is the Mohan Veena, often associated with classical music from India, which gives Harry’s music a surreal sound that is perfect for the blues. His partner for the album is Steve Marriner, a gifted harmonica and guitar player who also performs on the drums, organ, and bass. Both have great voices and contribute songs for Hell Bound for Heaven, released by Stony Plain Records.
The recording has a mix of what I call roots blues and gospel tunes. I particularly enjoyed their rendition of the legendary Charlie Patton’s Rattlesnake. And the songs Hell Bound for Heaven, Nothing, and Everybody Knows will get a lot of spins on my personal stream (http://s1.nexuscast.com:8043) and during my upcoming sets on Blues Music Fan Radio. Great tunes from a duo of Canadian artists!!!
Stony Plain Records 2019
Harpdog Brown – For Love & Money (2019)
To be officially released on April 26th, Harpdog Brown’s For Love & Money recording is a great throwback to the swing and jazzy feel of the blues in the late 1940’s. If I didn’t know better I would swear this Canadian from British Columbia had grown up in New Orleans. With a heavy emphasis on piano and horns on the album, Harpdog reminds me alot of the best of Dr. John….gravely voice, gritty lyrics, and fantastic musicianship.
I particularly enjoyed Thinkin’ and Drinkin’, Blue Light Boogie, Buzzard Luck, and Vicious Vodka. An album best enjoyed with your woman and a martini and cigar in hand for sure!
Dog House Records 2019
Brandon Santini – The Longshot (2019)
Brandon Santini turns up the amplifier (and I’d say it’s about time!) on his new album, The Longshot. An up and coming harmonica player and vocalist who has already been nominated for the BMA blues harmonica player of the year award (2014), his future is bright to say the least! I always have felt that Brandon, who I became aware of in 2012, had the ideal voice and harmonica skills to lay down some badass blues rock……and now he has.
He is backed on this outing by a solid group of musicians; Timo Arthur and Jed Potts on guitars, one of my favorite keyboard players John Ginty, Chuck Combs on bass, and Reid Muchow on drums. Ginty, Santini, and Ben Elliot produced the album.
I loved Somebody’s Gotta Go, Back to You, Beggin’ Baby, Going Home, and Drive You Off My Mind. All of them are now in rotation for my DJ sets.
I certainly think this album deserves early consideration as a nominee for Blues Rock album of 2019! Keep crankin out dem roadhouse blues Brandon!!!
American Showplace Music (2019)
Mark Wenner’s Blues Warriors (2018)
A side project for long time Nighthawk Mark Wenner, this album is a refreshing celebration of tunes by Muddy Water, B.B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson, Fats Domino, Big Joe Turner, Elmore James, and Slim Harpo. Mark is a gifted singer and harmonica player and his brilliance carries this upbeat bluzin’ album. Fellow Nighthawk, Mark Stutso joins him on drums, along with talented guitarist Zach Sweeney, singer and guitarist Clarence “The Bluesman” Turner, and features the double bass of Steve Wolf.
I loved every cut on this CD including King Bee, Trust My Baby, Rock A While, Hello Josephine, (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear, It’s My Own Fault, and Dust My Broom. The album includes a really nice cover of a relatively unknown tune by Muddy Waters Diamonds at Your Feet that I have worked into my blues sets al ot over the years and the only original song, written by Mark, is an instrumental tribute to the legendary Jimmy Reed entitled Just Like Jimmy.
If you want to spend some time listening to straight up rockin’ blues from the fifties, you can’t do better than downloading and listening to this album!
A selection of albums I have been listening to lately:
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne – Inspired by the Blues (Stony Plain Records 2018)
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‘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 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!
Compiling a list of my favorite roadhouse blues tunes of 2017 has been a labor of love. It includes some perennial favorites and some up and coming new artists. I hope you enjoy reviewing the list and hopefully you will buy and download some of the tunes.
At number one is Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’s, Don’t Leave Me Here, from the fantastic album Tajmo. Two special talents working together have produced the masterpiece of the 2017 roadhouse blues.
Coming in at number two, Walter Trout is a perennial favorite of blues rockers and when you combine his guitar playing with that of Joe Bonamassa you get some very special mojo on the tune We’re All in this Together.
At number three is the Altered Five band song, Charmed & Dangerous, an upbeat badass song that exudes sexual energy from a group based in Wisconsin.
Beth Hart has four songs from the album Fire on Floor in the top 66 and coming in at number four is the title cut. It is a slow intense tune that plays to all of Beth’s strengths as a song writer and performer.
The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band has three songs in the top 66 from his album Lay It on Down. Nothing But the Night comes in at number five. We have tickets to see both him and Beth Hart in July….can’t wait!!
At number six is the song Three Times Your Fool by Washington D.C.’s, the Nighthawks. This is a slow beautiful song for the ages from a group that has been playing the blues for over forty years!
Based out of Denmark, Thorbjorn Risager & the Black Tornado, have four songs in the top 66. At number seven is the title cut, Change My Game. Featuring a full seven piece band with a compliment of some badass horns, this group is easily my favorite European roadhouse blues band.
Californian Tommy Castro & the Painkillers returned to his roots in San Jose to record the album, Stompin’ Grounds, and has four songs included on my list. At number eight is Blues All Around Me. I have seen him in concert a couple of times and can’t wait to do it again!
At number nine is the band Tucci and the song, High Roller, that feature’s Chicago’s own Larry McCray….just some badass blues.
Rounding out the top ten is Dennis Johnson’s rendition of Robert Johnson’s Walkin’ Blues. Dennis is a guitar virtuoso and his talent shines through on the album, Rhythmland.
Some special notes about the rest of the top Roadhouse 66:
Samantha Fish has songs from two different albums included on the list! On one, Hello Stranger, she channels some Amy Winehouse….give it a listen!
Sean Chambers has three songs from his album, Trouble & Whiskey, on the list. The album is one of my favorites of the year.
Hurricane Ruth, from Missouri, has three songs on the list from her album, Ain’t Ready for the Grave. She belts out tunes with power and intensity……you will enjoy… I promise 🙂
Savoy Brown, a British blues band that has been recording for fifty years, has a three songs from their album, Witchy Feelin’, on the list!
John Mayall, the elder statesman of the Roadhouse Blues, has a great song, Blues Midnight on the list.
Van Morrison makes the list with the title cut of his album, Roll With the Punches.
Newcomers Eliza Neal and Anthony Rosano & the Conqueroos are well worth a listen.
The list features 14 female roadhouse blues songs. There are more and more female roadhouse blues singers releasing albums..a fantastic trend for the future.
Here is the full list….enjoy! And you can listen to all of these songs on my 24 hour roadhouse blues stream at Ben Vee’s Roadhouse Blues!
Here’s some of the artists and tunes in heavy rotation on my 24 hour rockin blues stream this week!
John Ginty featuring Aster Pheonyx – Rockers (American Showplace Music 2016)
New Jersey performers John Ginty and Aster Pheonyx have turned a chance encounter at a studio into a rockin blues collaboration that could well put them into the same stratosphere as Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa and Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks! She has a powerful voice and he is a world class keyboard/organ player. I hope they recognize the magic in the mesh of their talents and record together for a LONG time. Loved Believe in Smoke and Captain Hook.
Vidar Busk & His True Believers (Stompin Our Feet with Joy Grappa Records 2011)
One of a number of great Nordic rockin’ blues artists that have emerged over the last decade, Vidar and his band from Norway will have you hoppin’ and a boppin to Jelly Roll and the Working Man Blues. The tunes feature some bad ass harpin.
Tiphony Dames With the Coyote Kings (CD Baby 2017)
Robin Barrett and the Coyote Kings lay down some bad ass jams to showcase the voice of this young lady from Harlem on her debut album (and the sixth for the band). Loved the songs Ain’t That a Bitch, Bad News for Me, and Down with the Blues. She’ll be appearing with the band on April 7, 8, and 9 of 2017 at the Walla Walla Guitar Festival. If you live in the Washington state area…get your tickets now!
Rossington – Take It on Faith (Loud & Proud Records, 2016)
After a 28 year hiatus, Gary Rossington and his wife Dale have released another awesome blues rock album. I love their voices and his guitar licks have only gotten better (if that is possible!) from his days with Lynyrd Skynyrd. Loved the cuts Shame on Me and Two Very Different Things.
Johnny Mastro & Mama’s Boys – Never Trust the Living (Independent, 2016)
This is the fifth album for this band from my hometown of New Orleans and it is a great contemporary rockin blues disc. Chocked full of crankin guitars, great harmonica riffs, and solid vocals by Johnny, I just loved Walkin’, Monkey Man, and the title cut, Never Trust the Living. They have also taken Europe by storm with their raw brand of the blues and done over 30 tours of the continent in the last decade. If you are lucky enough to be in New Orleans this coming weekend for the Saint Paddy’s festivities, you can check them out on Frenchmen street at the Apple Barrel (Mar 17th) and Bombouloa’s (March 18th).
My lovely wife and I will be seeing Eric Clapton this coming weekend at the Madison Square Garden….woot…..will give you an update next week!! Checkin’ one off the old bucket list 🙂