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.

Best of the Blues 2019 – Soul Blues Albums of the Year

This year’s Ben Vee Roadhouse Blues best soul blues albums feature artists based in Europe, Indianapolis, Houston, Memphis, and Tyler, Texas. They all share a love for a genre that has bested the years and continues to thrive today! Great voices combined with both funky and sensual beats are the hallmark of soul blues and all five of these artists are doin’ a fine job of carrying on the soul blues tradition. The artists are listed in no particular order….I hope you download and enjoy all five! (Links to Spotify for the albums are shown in blue.)

Big Daddy Wilson – Deep in My Soul (2019 Ruff Records)

Born Wilson Blount in Edelston North Carolina, Big Daddy Wilson has been living in Germany since he left the armed forces 25 years ago. He started his recording career in the 1990’s and has over a dozen album releases to his credit. For DEEP IN MY SOUL, he teamed with renown producer Jim Gaines and recorded the album at the soul and R&B Mecca of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals Alabama. Jim’s hallmark as a producer is the search for groove and raw energy. He found them years ago with Huey Lewis & the News, and with Big Daddy Wilson, he once again has the real deal.

My favorite cuts are Voodoo with its sultry beat and Crazy World, a slow soul ballad that showcases Big Daddy’s terrific voice and is easily one of my favorite tunes of the year. During February 2020, he will be touring Switzerland and Germany supporting the new release. Checkout his website at http://www.bigdaddywilson.com and if he gets close to you in Europe, go see him and drop us a line letting us know what you thought.

Annika Chambers – Kiss My Sass (2019 Vizztone)

I first met Annika Chambers at in impromptu appearance at a small club in Houston several years ago. Her personality and voice lit up the stage and I had the chance to talk with her afterwards. She didn’t have a record deal at the time but I encouraged her to keep hustling and payin’ her dues. And that she did.

In 2014, her first album, Making My Mark, was released to critical reviews. And her second, Wild and Free, debuted at number seven on the Billboard Blues Charts and eventually earned her the prestigious Blues Music Award as female soul blues singer of year in May of 2019.

Now with the release of her third album, KISS MY SASS, Annika has solidified her place as one of the stars of the genre. The album was produced by Larry Fulcher, Richard Cagle, and Tony Braunagel. My favorite cut on the album is a cover of a Chris Smither tune I FEEL THE SAME that Bonnie Raitt also recorded. It is a duet with Canadian Paul DesLauriers that is just fantastic. I also really enjoyed Two Bit Texas Town and World of Hurt.

Annika will be out touring in Florida in early February 2020. Visit her website at http://www.annikachambers.com and go see her!!

Southern Avenue – Keep On (2019 Concord Records)

For their sophomore release, this energetic group based out of Memphis continues to build on their southern soul roots with KEEP ON. Led by the powerhouse voice of Tierinii Jackson, the group recorded the twelve song album at the Sam Phillips Studios in Memphis with the help of producer Johnny Black. The result is one of the great albums of 2019.

The guitar playing for the group is handled in dazzling style by Ori Naftaly who hails from Israel and has been a favorite of mine since I first heard him several years ago as a solo performer. Drums are played by Tierinii’s sister, Tikyra Jackson, and the keyboard player is Jeremy Powell. Guest bass player for most of the cuts on the album is Gage Markey. There is also a horn section compromised of Art Edmaiston and Marc Franklin. Together, they all meld to produce a distinctive sound that is a delightful mix of southern soul, funk, R&B, and contemporary blues. I encourage you to give a listen to We Got the Music, Whiskey Love, and the sensual Savoir to get a feel for just how good this group is.

Southern Avenue has an ambitious set of concert dates in the United States in February and March 2020 and then embarks on another tour of Europe in the spring.

And I am not the only one taking notice of this group. They were nominated for a 2020 Grammy Music Award and are a nominee for the 2020 Blues Music Awards held in Memphis each May.

Sugaray Rayford – Somebody Save Me (2019 Forty Below Records)

Sugaray Rayford is the epitome of the soul blues man; a big barreled voice full of emotion and, man, can he groove!! The album, Somebody Save Me, has 10 original tunes written by the record producer, Eric Corne. Together, this tandem has produced one the best albums of 2019.

Sugaray was nominated for the BB King Entertainer of the Year award this past year and the first cut on the album, The Revelator, helps explain why. Opening with a driving beat on drums and bass, he sets the vocal groove which is framed by some soulful backing singers and a badass trumpet solo. This is a song I want to see him perform…hopefully someday soon.

I also enjoyed Angels and Devils and Dark Night of the Soul. I absolutely loved Sometimes You Get the Bear (and Sometimes the Bear Gets You) with its down the bayou feel.

Sugaray Rayford is an imposing figure standing 6’5″. He dominates the music and stage with his persona and voice. Over the years, he has made some great records with the Mannish Boys but this is by far his best recording to date. In March 2020, he will do a concert swing along the west coast in California and then Washington. Go check out a soul man at the top of his groove!

Tad Robinson – Real Street (2019 Severn Records)

Tad Robinson got his start back in the 1980’s in the blues clubs of Chicago. That itself is no easy thing given the plethora of talent in the Windy City. He is an eight time Blues Music Award Nominee and REAL STREET has garnered him yet more attention in the past year. With a baritone voice and talent on the harmonica, Tad recorded the album in Memphis, another fitting city for his soul blues style. The producer for the recording is Scott Bomar.

The title cut, Real Street, is one of my favorites on the album. It’s upbeat and rhythmic and plays to the strength of his voice as well as highlighting the talents of the legendary Hi Rhythm Section (Howard Grimes, Charles Hodges and Leroy Hodges) who contributed their talents to the record.

I loved Tad’s imaginative reworking of You Got It, a song originally performed by Roy Orbison and penned by him, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. It is the perfect platform for Tad’s soul blues voice. It also features the tasteful Hammond B3 organ playing of Charles Hodges.

Long Way Home is another favorite of mine. It’s funky beat is set by drummer Howard Grimes and bass player Leroy Hodges. I also enjoyed Love In the Neighborhood which features some nice guitar licks by Joe Restivo.

Tad will be performing in his adopted home of Indianapolis during February and March of 2020. I hope you get a chance to catch this star of the soul blues!


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.

Roadhouse Blues Bin Singles for early October 2019

Here is a selection of Roadhouse Blues Bin tunes that I am listening to and spinning during my roadhouse blues sets on BMFR. (Links to Spotify are in blue).

Beth Hart Bad Woman Blues

Another in a long string of sexy upbeat tunes from my favorite female artist off her new album War In My Mind.

Ronnie Earl and the BroadcastersBaby How Long

The tone of his guitar is entrancing, the harpin’ is incredible, and he always lays down some bad ass blues. Love the new album, Beyond the Blue Door.

Guy Forsyth & Jeska Bailey Amazing Grace/House of the Rising Sun

This tune will raise the hair on your arms….it is that incredible. An awesome and creative mixing of the venerable Amazing Grace with another all time classic House of the Rising Sun is one of them once in a generation tunes. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have. The cut is from their album Conspirators.

Tennessee RedemptionBack to Tennessee

Brandon Santini and Jeff Jensen reunite for a killer tune off a badass self titled debut album. I just love the southern blues infused style of this recording.

Heather NewmanI’m Coming For You

Tune with a badass groove highlighted by Heather’s sultry Kansas City voice. The entire album Rise from the Flames is well worth a listen.

Altered Five Blues BandMischief Man

Building on the success of their last hit single, Charmed & Dangerous, this new tune is vibrant and upbeat with the great voice of Jeff Taylor and some incredible guitar playin’ by Jeff Schroedl. I love EVERY tune on the new release Ten Thousand Watts.

Chris O’Leary Heartbreak Waitin’ to Happen

Chris hails from New York but you would swear from his voice and tunes that he was from down the bayou in my home state of Louisiana. This cut is from 7 Minutes Late….one of my favorite albums of the year.

Tad RobinsonReal Street

An incredible soul blues singer who was born and raised in New York City and attended college in Indiana. Tad traveled to Memphis to record his stellar new album Real Street. This song is the perfect fusion of Memphis soul and the Chicago blues….a damn fine tune. This Friday, October 4th, Tad will have a special album release party at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis. If you live close …..go see him!!!

Steve Earle and the DukesKing of the Blues

This tune came out in 2015 from his album Terraplane and just keeps makin’ its way back onto my playlists. Best known for Copperhead Road, Steve is one of the premier songwriters of his generation and, along with Ray Wylie Hubbard, a co-regent of the outlaw blues.

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A note about streaming (which is great for exposing new artists and songs)…..it may surprise you to know that for every 10,000 streams of a song, the artist may make as little as $40 (US). But when you buy their CDs, they can make a decent living plying their craft. SO…….if ya love the music…use your favorite site and download the albums. And if you go see the artists live….buy those CDs, tee shirts, and hats at the show…….helps them defray road expenses and, in many cases, eat for the night.