The 2020 Ben Vee Roadhouse 66 Best Blues Songs of the Year

The Year 2020 was one that we all were glad to see go. Not only were our family, friends, and neighbors ravaged by COVID but our political systems were stressed and our rights to meet and gather were often suspended. And performing artists and musicians took the financial brunt of the frenzied response as outdoor venues, bars, and restraunts closed across the world throwing millions of performers out of work. But musicians are a resilient and creative group. They retreated, like the rest of us, to their homes, their garages, and their basements and began the process of creating new music using novel internet collaborative tools to record and share their music with other band members and recording studios. The product of their work is what I want us to celebrate in this article. It took new thinking, creative use of software, and dogged perseverance to write, record, and release new music during 2020 and EVERY artist and group that did so should be commended for not giving in to the darkness and continuing to bring the joy of music to us all.

During 2020, I played over 7000 songs on my DJ shows and listened to hundreds of albums sent to me by the artists, publicists, and record companies. I received even more as part of the staff of Blues Music Fan Radio. Out of all that music, I have chosen my favorite 66 roadhouse blues songs for 2020 using only two rules; I had to have played the tune during one of my shows in 2020 and I could only select one song per album. The list represents less than 1% of all music that I broadcast during the year and includes both perennial favorites as well as artists you may not have heard of. These are the best of the best and regardless of position on this listing, they are all fabulous tunes in my opinion. I hope you enjoy reviewing the list, listening to the songs, and hopefully, downloading some for your own music collection or as a gift to family and friends.

The Roadhouse Blues Top 66 Songs

61The Smoke Wagon Blues BandThe Fat ManThe Ballad Of Albert Johnson
62Misty BluesTreat Me Like I WantWeed ‘Em & Reap
63Peter ParcekBeyond Here Lies NothingMississippi Suitcase
64Nora Jean WallaceI’m A Blues WomanBlues Woman
65Lloyd JonesTurn Me LooseTennessee Run
66The Rolling StonesLiving In A Ghost TownLiving In A Ghost Town

The Roadhouse Blues Top 50 & 60 songs

51John Primer and Bob CorritoreKeep A-DrivingThe Gypsy Woman Told Me
52Cary MorinNobody Gotta KnowDockside Saints
53Pinkie RideauBring Me SugarBring Me Sugar
54Dudley TaftThe End Of The BluesCosmic Radio
55Henrik Freischlader BandWhat Have I Done to YouMissing Pieces
56JD3 & The Jondo TrioRocks At The MoonSomething Good
57Shaun MurphyLiving In The Palace Of The KingFlame Still Burns
58The NighthawksChairman Of The BoardTryin’ to Get to You
59Paul Buchanan’s Voodoo PreachersSome Kind Of VoodooTestimony
60New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom RockersNight Time (feat Jimbo Mathis)Volume I
41Mary Jo Curry BandNothin’ Is EasyFront Porch
42Kerry KearneyVoodoo Down the RiverTales From The Psychedelta
43Simon Kinny-LewisBlack Cat MoanAnother Day In San Jose
44The Reverend Shawn Amos & The BrotherhoodCounting Down The DaysBlue Sky
45The Lucky LosersHalf a NothingGodless Land
46Marcus KingThe WellEl Dorado
47Samantha Martin & Delta SugarSacrificeThe Reckless On
48Coco MontoyaTroubleComing In Hot
49Robert CrayAnything You WantThat’s What I Heard
50Dave FieldsForce of WillForce of Will

The Roadhouse Blues Top 40 songs

31Steve Washington (feat  Lucky Peterson)Blues Don’t Cost a ThingJust A Matter of Time
32Tammi Savoy & The Chris Casello ComboAs Long As I’m Movin’That Rock ‘n’ Roll Rhythm!
33Too Slim and the TaildraggersDevil’s HostageThe Remedy
34David Rotundo BandI Must Be CrazySo Much Trouble
35Mick ClarkeAin’t Beggin’ NobodyCrazy with the Blues
36Casey HensleySearching For A ManGood As Gone
37Tas CruSave MeDrive On
38Sass JordanThe KeyRebel Moon Blues
39Mark MayBarbecue And BluesDeep Dark Demon
40Shemekia CopelandWalk Until I RideUncivil War

The Roadhouse Blues Top 30 Songs

21Eric JohansonDown To The BottomBelow Sea Level
22Tinsley EllisEvil Till SunriseIce Cream In Hell
23The Immediate FamilyCruel TwistSlippin’ and Slidin’
24Mike ZitoAfter The StormQuarantine Blues
25Savoy BrownJaguar CarAin’t Done Yet
26Kirsten ThienShoulda BeenTwo Sides
27Larkin PoeEvery Bird That FliesSelf Made Man
28Eric SteckelSince I Been Loving YouGrandview Drive
29Sonny LandrethSomebody Gotta Make A MoveBlacktop Run
30Crystal ShawandaEvil MemoryChurch House Blues

The Roadhouse House Top 20 Songs

11Rae Gordon BandGet Right With The WorldWrong Kind Of Love
12Fantastic NegritoChocolate SamuraiHave You Lost Your Mind Yet?
13Ben LevinMy Back ScratcherCarryout Or Delivery
14Kat RigginsThe StormCry Out
15Albert CummingsRed RoosterBelieve
16The War and TreatyBeautiful (feat. Jason Isbell)Hearts Town
17Anthony GomesUntil The End Of TimeContainment Blues
18Popa ChubbyI’m The Beast From The EastIt’s A Mighty Hard Road
19The Mary Stokes BandComin’ HomeComin’ Home
20Joanne Shaw TaylorHumanReckless Blues

The Roadhouse Top Ten Tunes for 2020

10. Johnny Iguana – Shake Your Money Maker [Johnny Iguana’s Chicago Spectacular] (Delmark Records)

Johnny Iguana’s cover of the Elmore James song from 1961 should get you movin’ in your easy chair as you listen. Johnny’s energetic keyboard playing is superbly matched by the slide guitar work of Lil’ Ed.

9. Layla Zoe – Nowhere Left To Go [Title Cut] (Self Release)

Though not officially released until January 8, 2021, I got a promo copy in December and started spinning it so it makes the list! Layla’s growling delivery is just badass and harkens back to Janis Joplin.

8. Wily Bo Walker/Danny Flam – Ain’t No Man a Good Man [Title Cut] (Mescal Canyon Records)

Blues rock with a hint of Dr. John in his voice, Wily Bo is a fantastic UK artist with a growing following. Wily’s delivery is theatric in nature and I can’t wait for the opportunity to see him and Danny perform live on stage one day…SOON!

7. Alastair Greene – Bayou Mile [The New World Blues] (Whiskey Bayou Records)

A native of Ventura, California, Alastair got to collaborate with the great Tab Benoit from my home state of Louisiana to make this recording and the result is a haunting beautiful song.

6. Thorbjorn Risager and the Black Tornado – Come On In [Title Cut] (Ruf Records)

A Danish powerhouse and one of my favorite European roadhouse blues artists, Thorbjorn has a unique voice and he is backed by an incredible seven piece ensemble that just continue to crank out catchy and upbeat roadhouse blues tunes.

5. Dion – Blues Comin’ On (ft. Joe Bonamassa) [Blues With Friends] (KTBA Records)

An American treasure, Dion is still creating vibrant music at the age of 81! Produced by Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping the Blues Alive label, Dion got Joe to sit in on this track!

4. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram – Rock & Roll [Empty Promises] (Alligator Records)

This song is about a deal with the angels and a family’s devotion to a young artist’s future. It is simply beautiful and Christone’s delivery is authentic and riveting.

3. Joe Bonamassa – Why Does It Take So Long to Say Goodbye [Royal Tea] (J&R Adventures)

Another Joe Bonamassa ballad that meshes rock and blues like only he can. He is known as a world class guitar player, but I love his voice and his songwriting. This one is a roadhouse jewel!

2. Walter Trout – Make It Right [Ordinary Madness] (Provogue Records)

At 69, Walter is creating some of the best music of his storied career. The guitar playing on this tune is vintage Trout. I hope I get to see him perform it live sometime this year or next!

1……. Avey Grouws Band – Rise Up [The Devil May Care] (Self Release)

A self released debut album by a group from Iowa features a song that is my #1 roadhouse tune for 2020! Who would have thought?? I know I didn’t until I heard Jeni Grouw’s voice and Chris Avey’s guitar playing on Rise Up. It is not only a catchy but topical tune. We all need to rise up, in love, and confront the issues of our times head on without hate or rancor. It’s a song and a message we all need to spread around! Oh…and by the way…..the Avey Grouws Band will be appearing in concert in June with…..Walter Trout. My #1 and #2 artists on the same stage…..if you are close…go see them!!!!


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. He also has a 24 hour stream devoted to the Roadhouse Blues… WRHB.

Springtime Roadhouse Blues 12-2 pm EDT

Join me today for some Springtime Roadhouse Blues at http://www.bluesmusicfan.com from 12-2 pm EDT. I will have tunes by Mike Zito, Casey James, Misty Blues, Kat Riggins, Lloyd Jones, Bette Smith, Dion, and a bunch more contemporary blues.

This is the intended playlist:

ARTISTTITLEALBUM
The Little Red Rooster Blues BandRockin’ My BoogieUnder the Covers
Greg Copeland & Steve ‘Guitar’ GillesDon’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down (Live)Live In Aotearoa / New Zealand
Casey JamesBulletproof (Duet With Delbert McClinton)Strip It Down
Shawn PittmanTake A Real Good LookStompin’ Solo
Dione TaylorRunningSpirits in the Water
The WildRootsKing Snake Crawl RevisitedWildRoots Sessions Volume 1
Louis MezzasomaValley Of ShadowsMercenary
Misty BluesI Can’t WaitNone More Blue
Kerry KearneyWorld TrainTales From The Psychedelta
Vanessa CollierTake a Chance On MeHeart On The Line
Kat RigginsThe StormCry Out
The Hungry WilliamsGo on FoolBrand New Thing
Lloyd JonesTurn Me LooseTennessee Run
New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom RockersShe’s About a Mover (feat. Alvin Youngblood Hart)New Moon Jelly Roll Freedom Rockers – Volume 2
Cathy GrierBackroad BluesI’m All Burn
Joakim WallCan’t Find the Switch (feat. Rastafarfar, Surjo Benigh, Marcus Olsson & Daniel Karlsson)Promo Single
Gary NicholsonStay Away (feat. Wendy Moten)Stay Away (feat. Wendy Moten)
Michele BiondiDown By The RiverDown By The River
Bette SmithFistful of DollarsThe Good, the Bad and the Bette
Sonny LandrethSomebody Gotta Make A MoveBlacktop Run
Anthony GomesMake A Good Man (Wanna Be Bad)Containment Blues
Thorbjorn Risager and The Black TornadoLast TrainCome On In
DionWhat If I Told You (Feat. Samantha Fish)Blues With Friends
Mike ZitoAfter The StormQuarantine Blues
Walter TroutMake It RightOrdinary Madness
Albert CummingsCall Me CrazyBelieve
Wily Bo Walker/Danny FlamAin’t No Man a Good ManAin’t No Man a Good Man (Deluxe)
Eliza Neals/Joe Louis WalkerThe Devil Don’t Love YouBlack Crow Moan

Best of the Blues 2018 – Ben Vee’s Roadhouse 66 Song List

Similar to the old Route 66 that wound from the heart of the United States in Chicago to the west coast and captured some of the best of what America has to offer, the Ben Vee Roadhouse 66 song list meanders world wide from Africa to Europe to North and South America.. on then to Australia and up to Asia capturing the best blues songs of 2018. The roadhouse blues is situated at the crossroads of the blues and rock genres so there are plenty of upbeat tunes and a number of belly grinders on the list. The selection includes 15 female singers..a dozen blues rockers…several roots blues tunes and numbers of hot contemporary blues recordings…I hope you download and enjoy listening to all the songs!!

As a DJ, in 2018 I played over 200 sets and 500 hours of blues music or roughly 6,000 songs for listening audiences. On my 24 hour Roadhouse blues stream, I streamed thousands more. Picking the best 66 from my broadcasts was both a labor of love and a huge challenge.  The position of the songs on the list is of little consequence…you might list them in a different order or include ones that I didn’t.  The important thing is that these 66 tunes are a “top shelf” sampling of a vibrant and growing contemporary blues market. Don’t let ANYONE tell you that the blues are dead or dying!!  I encourage you to turn your friends on to songs on the list and help spread the news that, as Buddy Guy said on his latest album, the blues is alive and well!!

1 Joe Bonamassa King Bee Shakedown
2 Anthony Gomes Whiskey Made Me Do It
3 Lance Lopez Blue Moon Rising
4 Larkin Poe Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues
5 Billy F. Gibbons Hollywood 151
6 Danielle Nicole Save Me ft. Kenny Wayne Shepherd
7 Boz Scaggs Little Miss Night And Day
8 Buddy Guy Cognac (feat. Jeff Beck & Keith Richards)
9 Shemekia Copeland Ain’t Got Time For Hate
10 Widow Blue Who’s Gonna Take Care of Lucille?
11 Bettye LaVette Things Have Changed
12 Mike Zito Mississippi Nights
13 Layla Zoe Are You Still Alive Inside
14 Ray Bonneville South of the Blues
15 Markey Blue Ric Latina Project Raised in Muddy Water
16 Colin James I Will Remain
17 Jim Allchin Voodoo Doll
18 Tinsley Ellis Nothing But Fine
19 Sean Chambers All Night Long
20 Ryan McGarvey Ain’t Enough Whiskey
21 The Nick Moss Band The High Cost of Low Living
22 Teresa James & The Rhythm Tramps The Day The Blues Came To Call
23 Delta Moon Skinny Woman
24 Chris Smither Maybelline
25 Janiva Magness Down Below
26 Curtis Salgado/Alan Hager You Got to Move
27 Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats Coolin’ Out
28 The Record Company Roll Bones
29 Travis Bowlin Vicksburg Blues
30 Damon Fowler Ain’t Gonna Rock With You No More
31 Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa Give It Everything You Got
32 Dana Fuchs Ready To Rise
33 Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite The Bottle Wins Again
34 Sue Foley The Lucky Ones (ft Jimmie Vaughan)
35 Anthony Geraci Why Did You Have to Go
36 Joe Goldmark Beautician Blues
37 Mud Morganfield Oh Yeah
38 The Lucky Losers The River
39 Fiona Boyes Ember
40 Johnny & The Headhunters Watch And Chain (Hey Gyp)
41 Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones Mama Said
42 The Reverend Shawn Amos Moved
43 Dry Johnson Drunk Girl With a Tamborine (feat Snit)
44 Tom Hambridge The End of the Road (ft Sonny Landreth)
45 Anthony Gomes Take Me Back Home
46 Ally Venable Backwater Blues
47 Kat Danser Hol’ Up Baby
48 Dan Patlansky Judge A Man
49 Marcia Ball Take a Little Louisiana
50 Sari Schorr Thank You
51 Too Slim And the Taildraggers Trouble
52 Jamie Lynn Vessels Done Me Wrong
53 Lindsay Beaver Dangerous
54 Steve Krase Dirty Dirty
55 Black River Delta Keeps Me Bleeding
56 The Marcus King Band Side Door
57 Kris Barras Band Wrong Place, Wrong Time
58 Dany Franchi Wanna Know
59 Niecie Thank God for Fools
60 Eric Steckel We’re Still Friends
61 Luke Winslow King Chicken Dinner
62 John Akapo Maui Blues
63 Kat Riggins A Girl in the Boys’ Club
64 The Bob Lanza Blues Band Hey Baby
65 Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne That Raggedy Shack
66 Elvin Bishop That’s the Way Willy Likes It