We've just completed the 14th full year of Blues Bytes ---- wow, what a
great run so far! As usual, we use the
January Pick Hit to feature the reviewers' Top Ten Lists for the past year.
We couldn't do Blues Bytes without our team
of dedicated reviewers, who year after year submit the wonderful
reviews found on the pages of this site for one primary reason
--- they love the blues! If you read a review that you like,
send us an email and we'll forward your compliments on to that
Thanks to all of you for
- Bill Mitchell
(Editor/Publisher of Blues Bytes)
Mitchell (editor of Blues Bytes)
The Nighthawks - Last Train To Bluesville (Rip Bang)
I've been listening to the Nighthawks for 35 years, but this
all-acoustic album presents the D.C.-based band in a new light. Well
The Mannish Boys - Shake For Me (Delta Groove)
It's always a treat when Delta Groove founder Randy Chortkoff gathers
the best musicians and multiple special guests for these Mannish Boys
sessions. This is the fifth album and their best yet. You'll be hooked
after the first few notes of the opening cut, "Too Tired."
Tad Robinson - Back In Style (Severn)
He's one of the best at what he does, which is combining gritty
Chicago blues with a classic soul sound. Back In Style is a
valuable addition to the Tad Robinson catalog.
Mitch Kashmar & The Pontiax - 100 Miles To Go
100 Miles To Go could really be classified as a re-issue and not a
new CD, if not for the fact that the old Pontiax re-grouped to record a
couple of new songs to add to this collection of recordings from the
The Holmes Brothers - Feed My Soul (Alligator)
Every recording by these cats should be cherished, and Feed My Soul
is no exception. The Holmes Brothers have a knack for taking well-worn
covers of classic tunes and making it their own, like on Johnny Ace's
"Pledging My Love."
Kirk Fletcher - My Turn (Eclecto Groove)
He's better known as a supporting player in various L.A.-based blues
bands, but his solo releases show that he's perfectly capable of taking
a lead role. My Turn is a diverse set of blues and other musical
genres that will never grow old.
Bob Corritore - Harmonica Blues (Delta Groove)
Phoenix blues impresario Corritore brings a lot of great acts to his
club, the Rhythm Room. While they're in town he often plans time to take
these blues legends into the studio. The result of these efforts is
Harmonica Blues, featuring priceless recordings by Koko Taylor, the
late Nappy Brown, Carol Fran, Henry Gray, Pinetop Perkins, Little
Milton, and many more.
Rick Holmstrom, John "Juke" Logan, Stephen Hodges - Twist-O-Lettz
If I didn't know better, I'd say that this recording by these Los
Angeles area blues players was recorded for Excello Records back in the
1950s. It's got that same swampy, rootsy blues vibe made famous by the
seminal Louisiana label. But this one's brand-new, recorded at the
beginning of the second decade of the 21st century. It's raw ... it's
feral ... it's wild ... it's unrestrained ... it's great!
Nick Curran - Reform School Girl (Eclecto Groove)
Speaking of raw, unrefined and raucous, this one takes home the trophy.
He's always straddled the line between roots rock and blues, and
Reform School Girl is no exception except that this one turns up the
volume even louder.
The Sojourners - The Sojourners (Black Hen Music)
It would be short-sighted just call the music from The Sojourners
"gospel," as this Vancouver-based vocal group incorporates elements of
doo wop, soul and blues into their sound. Leader Marcus Mosely and
friends can harmonize with the best of them, even tackling a Los Lobos
song, "The Neighborhood." Yeah, that makes it extra cool.
Tom Principato - A Part Of Me (Powerhouse)
A Part Of Me was actually not released until January 2011. I
reviewed it in 2010 and am likely to forget to include it on the 2011
list, so I'll add it as the 11th favorite on this year's Top Ten .....
just in case! A Part Of Me is a musically diverse album with a
nice collection of special guests, but it's Principato's exquisite
guitar work that highlights this fine disc.
(reviewer from Spain)
Phoenix & Mo'Hell - Jumper On The Line
Tim Lothar & Peter Nande - Two For The Road
The Mannish Boys - Shake For Me
Charlie Musselwhite - The Well
Rocky Jackson - Testify
Chris James & Patrick Rynn - Gonna Boogie Anyway
The Nighthawks - Last Train to Bluesville
Tim Woods - The Blues Sessions
Buddy Guy - Living Proof
Various Artists - Louisiana Swamp Stomp
David Gerald – Hell & Back
(reviewer from Canada)
Eugene Hideaway Bridges – Live in San Antonio
Chris James & Patrick Rynn – Gonna Boogie Anyway (Earwig)
The Holmes Brothers – Feed My Soul (Alligator)
John Nemeth – Name The Day! (Blind Pig)
Bernard Allison – The Otherside (CC Entertainment)
Various – Jimmy Dawkins Presents The Leric Story (Delmark)
Luther Allison – Songs From The Road (Ruf)
Arthur Adams – Stomp The Floor (Delta Groove)
Mississippi Heat – Let’s Live It Up! (Delmark)
Mannish Boys – Shake For Me (Delta Groove)
--- Tim Holek
Freelance Journalist (www.timholekblues.ca)
Great Lakes Blues Society Media Relations Coordinator (www.greatlakesbluessociety.com)
Clarke (reviewer from Mississippi)
(In no particular order)
Magic Slim & the Teardrops – Raising The Bar (Blind
A Top Ten List without Magic Slim is like apple pie without ice
cream. He just keeps getting better and better.
Bob Corritore – Harmonica Blues (Delta Groove)
fascinating retrospective teaming Corritore with a veritable Hall of
Fame roster of blues legends.
Eden Brent – Ain’t Got No Troubles (Yellow Dog)
Brent traveled down the Mississippi River and did the impossible….she
recorded an album that’s even better than Mississippi Number One.
Various Artists – Louisiana Swamp Stomp (Honeybee
Great set of Louisiana blues, put together to benefit a
great cause (brain and spinal cord injuries) with some familiar names
(Larry Garner, Percy Sledge, Carol Fran, Henry Gray) and some
not-so-familiar (Omar Coleman, Charlene Howard) in fine form.
Tad Robinson – Back In Style (Severn)
set of soul music, just like they used to do it in Memphis forty-plus
The Sojourners and Jim Byrnes – Everywhere West (Black
The Sojourners sing old-time gospel with a touch of Curtis
Mayfield soul and bluesy instrumentation. Byrnes’ latest mixes unique
interpretations of some old classics with some fine new compositions.
Super Chikan – Chikadelic (Bluestown Records)
Everybody needs a little Super Chikan in their collection and this
release ranks with his best work.
Travis “Moonchild” Haddix
If I’m One, You’re One Too
(Benevolent Blues) – A strong set of urban blues by one of the
underappreciated veterans on the scene.
Claude Hay – Deep Fried Satisfied (Ingot Rock)
it Muddy Waters meets P-Funk and you’re on the right track. Probably the
most-played disc I had this year.
Lynwood Slim and the Igor Prado Band
(Delta Groove) – Lynwood Slim never disappoints and this collaboration
with Prago and his wonderful band is West Coast blues at its best.
Honorable Mention: Joe Pitts – Ten Shades of Blue
(Kijam Records), Son Jack Jr. & Michael Wilde – Walk The Talk,
Buddy Guy – Living Proof (Silvertone), Tim Lothar &
Peter Nande – Two for the Road (Straight Shooter); Larry
Garner with the Norman Beaker Band – Live at the Tivoli,
Johnny Moeller – BlooGaLoo (Severn), The Mannish Boys
– Shake For Me (Delta Groove), Chris James & Patrick Rynn
– Gonna Boogie Anyway (Earwig), Cee Cee James –
Seriously Raw (FWG), Vincent Hayes Project – Reclamation
(North 61), Chris Antonik - Chris Antonik.
1. Downchild -
I Need a Hat; (Linus 09)
2. Cashbox Kings - I-94 Blues (Blue Bella)
3. Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters - Spread the Love (Stony
4. Shaun Murphy - The Trouble With Lovin (Serenity Hill)
5. Moreland & Arbuckle - Flood (Telarc)
6. Robin Rogers - Back In the Fire (Blind Pig)
7. Lynwood Slim & the Igor Prado Band - Brazillian Kicks
8. Jean Shy & Friends - Blow Top Blues (King Edward)
9. Karen Lovely - Still The Rain (Pretty Pear)
10. Cathy Lemons & Johnny Ace - Lemonace (Vizztone)
Deibler (President of the Phoenix Blues Society and
regular Blues Bytes reviewer)
Buddy Guy – Living Proof. A gem from Buddy. Kudos
to Tom Hambridge for coaxing this record out of Buddy. “Stay Around
A Little Longer”, the duet with B.B. King, is priceless.
2. Eden Brent – Ain’t Got No Troubles. Recorded in New
Orleans, producer Colin Linden works his magic with Eden. Her
strongest disc to date, earning Eden three more Blues Music Award
nominations, including record of the year.
3. Eric Bibb – Booker’s Guitar. Just a great, great
disc from Eric. One of the acoustic highlights of the year.
4. Janiva Magness – The Devil is an Angel Too. Very
soulful disc from Janiva that earner her four BMA nominations. The
Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year category is one of the
toughest in recent memory and Janiva definitely holds her own.
5. Ronnie Earl – Spread the Love. Classic Ronnie Earl
and a great disc from one of my favorite guitar players. I’m
definitely going to have to head back East to catch one of Ronnie’s
shows since he doesn’t tour anymore.
6. Reba Russell – 8. Reba’s best work to date and it
earned her a BMA nomination for the Koko Taylor Traditional Female
Artist of the Year. Reba wowed the crowd at the Biscuit and is
definitely hitting her stride as an artist.
7. Walter Trout – Common Ground. I was the first in
line at the Fargo Blues Festival after Walter’s stellar performance
to pick up this disc. Earned Walter a BMA nomination for Blues Rock
Album of the Year and deservedly so.
8. Karen Lovely – Still the Rain. I watched Karen’s
band take second place at the IBC after Grady Champion literally
took the Orpheum by storm. Tremendous disc for this very talented
lady from Ashland, Oregon. Garnered three BMAs for Karen and the
audience in Memphis will be in for a treat when she performs there
9. John Nemeth – Name the Day. John’s best work to
date and very indicative of his growth as a writer and performer.
There is more where this came from and John is definitely on the
10. Robin Roberts – Back in the Fire. The Blues world
said goodbye to Robin on December 17th and I miss her. She was a
great friend to me last summer and was very hopeful of the prospects
for this record and how it would be received. She left behind a
great disc and is definitely missed.