30) Justin Saladino Band – A Fools Heart
Laid back blues with a funky, soulful edge to them, Justin delivers a set of tunes that is perfect for chilling out with the lights low.
29) Luke Winslow-King – Blue Mesa
If the Eagles ever decided to become a blues band, I imagine it would sound something like this. Fiery in places but with a ton of heart, this is a great example of how you write a record that people will want to hear for a long time.
28) Ryan McGarvey – Heavy Hearted
Ryan is an absolute hurricane of blues guitar playing and frankly, this record is only ranked this low on the list due to the fact that it came to my attention so late in the year. With all the fire of SRV and the skill of Brian Setzer, Ryan blazes a path that few blues players could wish to follow here. Easily a Top 5 record if I had gotten it earlier. A must have for any blues collection.
27) Paul Thorn – Don’t Let The Devil Ride
Paul races in here with a blazing set of Gospel inspired blues tunes that will have you jumping in the aisles with your hands in the air! Praise the Lord, this is blues at it’s finest!
26) Pascal Geiser – Lucky Man
Swiss Born Pascal is someone that I only recently discovered and absolutely fell in love with. His New Orleans styled blues drip with all the flavor that city offers and demands your attention from the opening note til the end. He will absolutely be someone I watch for in the future.
25) Danny Bryant – Revelation
Danny is hands down, one of the most versatile blues players in the business. Effortlessly switching from a Clapton style to a Chicago style without missing a beat, there’s very little territory that doesn’t get covered on this record. Another can’t miss record for fans of Pure Blues.
24) Seasick Steve – Can U Cook
Very few are better ambassadors for the cigar box style of blues playing than Steve. The guy uses a wide range of hand built instruments to achieve his unique tone and style. An absolute barn scorcher of a record.
23) Jonathon Long – Jonathon Long
The first of the Southern Rock records to make the list this year, Jonathon cooks up a record that flawlessly blends the best of the Southern Rock style with a heavy dose of blues tossed on to really make it kick ya square in the ass! If the Black Crowes were a REAL Blues band, it’d sound something like this.
22) The Reverend Shawn Amos – Breaks It Down
Rev. Shawn is a new name to me as well but I’m glad that he was brought to my attention. With an amazing lyrical message throughout, whatever this lacks in musical prowess, it more than makes up for in style and heart.
21) Roosevelt Collier – Exit 16
One of the funkiest, groove laden releases this year, Collier is a steel fiddle player of the first magnitude. Purely instrumental in nature, this is a record that Jimi would have been proud to call his own!
20) Buddy Guy – The Blues Is Alive and Well
With a massive list of guest players, the legend delivers a record that showcases all the reasons that he’s been a legend for 60 years! Blues that way that they were meant to be played!
19) Ben Harper and Charlie Musslewhite – No Mercy In This Land
A record built around acoustic picking and harmonica, with vocals layered over it. It works well for Ben and Charlie, who give an authentic down home performance here.
18) Robert Jon & The Wreck – Robert Jon & The Wreck
Robert and Gang get super funky on this set of blues inspired Southern Rockers that will have you dancing in your seat. They shine the brightest on song “High Time” that cooks with a vocal and organ intensity that would make Stevie Wonder proud!
17) Mike Zito – First Class Life
One of the finest blues musicians alive today, Mike delivers a whammy here with a blistering set of blues.
16) Anthony Gomes – Peace, Love and Loud Guitars
Much like Ryan McGarvey, Anthony can absolutely cook on guitar! Anyone that is a fan of Gary Moore or Eric Sardinas should absolutely love this record. It has that same kind of go for broke intensity that Gary was so known for.
15) The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Poor Until Payday
Slide guitar blues with a big thumping rhythm section tossed in. As raucous as the blues get!
14) Vanja Sky – Bad Penny
The first of this year’s ladies. Nothing here that re-invents the wheel, just extremely fulfilling, well written tunes that leave a major impression!
13) Fantastic Negrito – Please Don’t Be Dead
Take Prince’s spirit, toss it in a blues man and then turn the volume knobs to 11 and rip them off! The diversity of this record is staggering! Another one which came to me very late in the process and thus affects it’s placement. If you don’t know this guy’s name, LEARN it! Absolute PERFECTION! A must have for any fan of blues, blues rock, or even funk!
12) The Pat McManus Band – Tattooed In Blue
Furious blues in the Gary Moore/SRV style. Throw this one and get any party jumping!
11) Victor Wainwright & The Train – Victor Wainwright & The Train
Boogie-Woogie Blues piano with a ton of Memphis style soul heaped on top. A big, stomping, hell raising set of tunes!
10) Pontus Snibb’s Wreck Of Blues – Too Late To Die Young
For fans of Stevie Ray, this will be a glorious record as it wears that influence cleanly on it’s sleeve. Nothing wrong with that though as the playing here is flawless and full of the same emotion that made us love Stevie!
09) The Wild Feathers – Greetings From The Neon Front
Southern Rock with Americana influences. Super catchy tunes with great guitars and a rhythm section that moves that songs along nicely. Imagine if Tom Petty and Bob Seger recorded a record with Marshall Tucker.
08) Marcus King Band – Carolina Confessions
Man, the only thing I will say about this is HOLY SHIT can this guy SING! These songs would be average at best in the hands of a normal singer but Marcus just belts them out with a conviction that would melt steel! The band absolutely cooks backing him up as well. Another band I only recently discovered and will be following religiously now!
07) Crystal Shawanda – Voodoo Woman
Crystal comes in here with an absolutely explosive set of tunes that will scorch the hair off your head and leave your begging for more! Anyone that has ever doubted if ladies can perform the blues, need to look no further than this right here!
06) Keeshea Pratt Band – Believe
I discovered this band strictly by accident but am glad that I did. Another lady that is proof positive that the Ladies deserve their spot at the table and if given half a chance, will probably steal the spotlight! A fabulous record that should absolutely make them a household name for years to come.
05) Lincoln Durham – And Into Heaven Came The Night
You can’t really describe what Lincoln does accurately, you just have to witness it for yourself. Buy this record, crank it loud, and let it blow you way!
04) The Milk Men – Full Phat
This came to me courtesy of PR firm, Skyfire Interactive, and what a ass kicking set of tunes that was delivered here. Blues Rock that is sure to get any club’s crowd jumping! Full of hearty rockers, emotional slower tunes, and some roof raising covers, this is a winner on every level.
03) Hannah Wicklund & The Stepping Stones – Hannah Wicklund & The Stepping Stones
You only need to hear the first track, Bomb Through The Breeze, to immediately know you’re dealing with one badass woman here! Leading her power trio through a set of tunes that will have your foot tapping vigorously while you air drum along, Hannah delivers an absolutely monstrous debut record that shreds with all the subtlety of a raging bull!
02) Kat Riggins – In The Boys’ Club
One of my absolute favorite blues performers returns with a set of tunes that will absolutely kick your ass and you’ll be thanking her for the pleasure the whole time! With a voice that could absolutely cut through metal, Kat pierces the night with her soulful wail. It only took one listen to immediately know this was going to be another contender for #1…and it was a hell of a battle right to the end!
An absolute MUST have for any blues lover and one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever had the honor of having on the radio show. Book her in your club and I promise you’ll want to do it more than once!
01) Shemekia Copeland – America’s Child
It was a battle til the end for who was going to get the #1 spot but I ended up going with Shemekia strictly based on lyrical content. The fact that women had FIVE of the Top seven records this year tells you what a banner year it was for them!
So, what makes this #1? The title track has a message that should be REQUIRED listening for every single person today! Both Shemekia and Kat delivered thunderous, blazing records that simply could not be denied but there’s a certain appeal to this record that just really hits the parent in you. When she sings “I’m Not Like Everybody Else,” you can’t help but be sucked in by the ferocious spirit that is on display and you just know you’re hearing something rare and special!