Get your day bluzin’ with me at http://www.bluesmusicfan.com from 12-2 pm ET. Glad to see 2020 go and got some hot new roadhouse blues tunes to get 2021 rollin’ from Marc Amacher, Eel Pie, Pat Smillie, Lynne Jackaman, Jo Harman, and many more!
So you still have people on your Christmas list to shop for or maybe just a little something for yourself? No problem!! Here are some roadhouse blues albums that will endear you to your friends and help out the blues artists….all of whom have been financially struggling during this hideous year while producing some fantastic tunes!
Steve Strongman – Tired of Talking (Stony Plain Records 2020)
Steve Strongman drifts effortlessly from traditional blues to R&B and soul and then to roots acoustic music on this fine album, Tired of Talking. This Canadian artist sings, plays the guitar, dobro, and does some damn fine harpin’ also. He’s good enough to have opened for B.B. King, Johnny Winter, and Buddy Guy and that is damn sure good enough for me….and hopefully for YOU! Give Just Ain’t Right a listen!
Grainne Duffy – Voodoo Blues (2020 Independent Release)
With a powerful gritty soulful voice, this Irish lass has delivered a masterful roadhouse blues recording with the release of her seventh album, Voodoo Blues. Part roots blues, southern rock, and blues rock, overall it is representative of the talent and bright future that she has. Her style is ready made for live performances and festival appearances. As soon as the pandemic recedes, expect to hear a lot more from her! Give the title cut, Voodoo Blues, a listen….see what I mean!!
Johnny Iguana – Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular! (Delmark Records 2020)
If you love some rockin’ vibrant piano blues….have I got the album for you or someone you know! This badass blues man hails from Chicago and on Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular, he does rousing covers of 44 Blues, Down in the Bottom, Shake Your Moneymaker, and Stop Breaking Down. He was part of Junior Wells Band for a time and has toured or recorded with Buddy Guy, Billy Branch, Billy Arnold, and a number of other Chicago blues greats. Now, on his first album as the band leader, Johnny pounds the ivories through some great contemporary songs as well as blues classics. Cool tunes from a great guy!!
Brother Jon Band – Open Jam (Independent Release 2015)
I’m honored that so many independent artists choose to send me copies of their recordings. Just recently, I got one from Minneapolis that just blew me away. The Brother Jon Band has a badass roadhouse blues sound that is reminiscent of Canned Heat and the Black Crowes with hints of Guns ‘N Roses. Music like this brings back a lot of memories. Give WHEN SHE CRIES a listen (on Spotify) or BOBBY’S BLUES (on Youtube) and see if you don’t agree and then go to this link and download the album, Open Jam!
Duke Robillard – Blues Bash with Duke Robillard & Friends (Stony Plain Records 2020)
I absolutely love 1950’s style upbeat blues. It was an era when the blues was in the process of giving birth to rock ‘n roll and the Duke captures the essence of that golden era for music with the new Blues Bash with Duke Robillard & Friends recording. It is an excellent album to have playing for small Christmas party gathering. The tunes are danceable, bright, and energetic. (Try Do You Mean It! This Grammy nominated artist and five time winner of the Blues Music Award as best guitarist has been thrilling audiences all over the world since 1967 and this recordings demonstrates why he won’t be stopping anytime soon.
Kerry Kearney – Tales from the Psychedelta (2020 Highlander Records)
A slide guitar player who I would put up against the likes of Sonny Landreth and Derek Trucks, Kerry Kearney is a Long Island native who released his 18th recording this year, Tales From The Psychedelta. It is actually a compilation album that includes tracks that are no longer in print making it a nice gift for those familiar with him as well as new fans. Listen to his vocals and the badass guitar licks on Voodoo Down The River and I think you will understand why I named this album one of the 40 best blues rock albums of 2020 earlier this week.
Michael “Iron Man” Burks – Show of Strength (2012 Alligator Records)
Michael Burks’ Show of Strength album is one that I place among the pantheon of stellar blues recordings alongside works by Luther Allison and Buddy Guy. Tragically, Michael never got to hear the final mix of his work. He died suddenly of heart failure while returning from a tour of Europe. A son of Arkansas, Michael was the complete blues man; a showman, stellar guitar player, and he possessed a powerful voice that dripped with the soul. There isn’t a bad song among the 12 tracks and my personal favorite is Storm Warning. You can’t go wrong with this as a stocking stuffer for a friend or family member.
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.
The term “roadhouse blues” refers to modern contemporary blues that are primarily upbeat in nature and incorporate the influence of rock, roots music, soul, and R&B.
I wrote this review on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Connecticut. The sky was grey and brooding. It was cool and cold would soon follow. I retreated from the once sunny lairs of my backyard man cave to the warmer environs of my basement lair. It’s a good day to listen to new music as I sip on a cup of hot chocolate. And the day got better and better as I listened to the new recording on Forty Below Records by The Claudettes.
The Claudettes are a Chicago based band that defies easy music genre classification. Fronted by the willowy voice of Berit Ulseth and powered by the blues piano of Johnny Iguana, this musical quartet with Zach Verdoorn on bass/guitars and Michael Caskey on drums deliver music that is both nostalgic and contemporary….no mean feat! The closest that I can come in terms of classification is that they reside in the Amy Winehouse wing of the blues and jazz with keyboard playing that is some of the best that I have heard since Billy Joel’s Piano Man recording a generation ago.
High Times In The Dark is an excellent recording that is brooding at times without getting morose. Yet it also brims with enthusiasm and thoughtful and witty observations about our lives. My favorite cut is I DON’T DO THAT STUFF ANYMORE. The song is a duet of Berit and Zach about leaving behind your youthful wildness and settling into the safer decor of maturity while realizing there is a price to be paid in terms of passion and excitement.
I also enjoyed 24/5that reflects the reality that 24/7 love can become oppressive and leaves you with little to no private time. I SWEAR TO GOD, I WILL is a perfect synergy of Berit’s voice and the insistent and rhythmic piano playing by Johnny. DECLINED, MOST ACCIDENTS HAPPEN, and ONE SPECIAL BOTTLE are also some of my favorites on the recording.
YOU DRUMMERS KEEP BREAKING MY HEART is a great song with an interesting twist. Though sung by Berit as a romantic lament, it is actually an autobiographical tune written by Johnny about the lives of drummers that have been in his band over the years.
There are bands that very comfortable within the established genres of music….The Claudettes aren’t one of them. Their music harkens back to the jazzy cabaret blues of the 1960’s and yet has a lyrical and upbeat edginess that I believe contemporary audiences enjoy. It is my understanding that they put on one helluva live performance. It is just a dang shame that this album was released just as the pandemic of 2020 set in and prevented them from touring to support it. Once a vaccine is widely available in early 2021, I hope all of us will get a chance to see this creative group of music artists performing at a nearby venue! They can’t get here soon enough!!!!
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.
Got some Good Time Roadhouse Blues comin’ your way at http://www.bluesmusicfan.com today (October 1st) from 3 to 5 pm EDST. Tune in and listen to new contemporary blues from a slew of great artists including Linsey Alexander, Nick Moss, Johnny Iguana, Johnny Burgin, and Heather Newman.
This is the intended playlist:
Blues from the Inside Out
Down In The Valley
Every Day Of Your Life
I Got A Woman
Live at Rosa’s
New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers
Night Time (feat Jimbo Mathis)
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones feat. Little Charlie Baty
Too Far from the Bar
Too Far from the Bar
Stronger Than Strong
Rise From The Flames
Nick Moss Band Feat. Dennis Gruenling
Full Moon Ache
(All I’m Doin’ Is) Thinking Of You
Willie Buck Way
Down In The Bottom
Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular!
Bob Margolin & Dennis Gruenling
Low Life Blues
Don’t Pass Me By
Late Night Date Night (Feat. Rae Gordon)
Coming In Hot
Love’s Creeping up on You
A Woman Rules the World
Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters
Big Town Playboy
Mary Jo Curry Band
AJ Crawdaddy Band
Don’t Think About It, Baby! Featuring Baxter Robertson