It's hard to believe we've been doing Blues Bytes for
more than 15 years! 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)
Here's my list, which goes to a dozen CDs since I didn't know how
to cut it any shorter. Enjoy!
1) Davina and the Vagabonds - Black Cloud (Roustabout
This CD just plain blew me away when I first heard it. Davina is the
best new singer I've heard in quite some time.
2) Big Joe and the Dynaflows - You Can't Keep A Big Man Down (Severn
IIt was way too long between CDs for the D.C.-based Big Joe Maher but
this one was worth waiting for. Retro jump blues at its best!
3) Sugar Ray & the Bluetones - Evening (Severn
Blues harmonica veteran Sugar Ray does it up right with this fine
release. It's good solid blues with a touch of soul and jazz.
Los Fabulocos - Dos (Delta Groove)
Traditional Mexican music meets the blues on this CD that just refuses
to leave my rotation of driving music. Guitarist Kid Ramos comes
on-board as guest guitarist. Sure, it's not all blues, but I'm not
5) Johnny Rawls - Memphis Still Got Soul (Catfood
There are few blues cats out there that can sing soul as well as Rawls,
so it's great to hear him pay tribute to the classic Memphis sound.
6) Samantha Fish - Runaway (Ruf Records)
Ruf did a very good job this year in bringing forth several excellent
woman blues guitarists, with Fish's debut solo release being quite the
7) Marcia Ball - Roadside Attraction (Alligator
Is it possible for the engaging Ms. Ball to release a new CD without
it showing up on a Top Ten list???
Anderson - Even Things Up (Little Dog Records)
Noted country / roots rock guitarist takes on the blues with
excellent results. It was a great way to kick off 2011!
9) Dana Fuchs - Love To Beg (Ruf Records)
I called her a major talent on the rise ... and I meant it! Be sure
to check out her soulful, rockin' style of blues.
10) Dani Wilde - Shine (Ruf Records)
Wilde's second CD is a keeper. With room to grow as an artist, this one
could be a big star in a few years.
11) Darren Watson - Saint Hilda's Faithless Boy (Red
Obscure artist alert! Watson is just a little outside the normal blues
circuit, instead hailing from New Zealand. But this is the second CD
from him that I've loved.
12) James Armstrong - Blues At The Border (Catfood
Welcome back, James!
... and one more. My list was complete until I was editing the
submissions of the other reviews, and noticed that the Bo-Keys
had a new disk, Got To Get Back! (Redeye Records). I quickly
downloaded it and have been grooving to it ever since!
(reviewer from Spain)
Shar Baby - 11 O’Clock Blues (Blues DigitDoc Records)
Grady Champion - Dreamin’ (GSM Music Group)
Big Joe and the Dynaflows - You Can't Keep A Big Man Down
Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne - An Old Rock on a Roll (Stony
Ian Siegal - The Skinny (Nugene Records)
Rory Block - Shake ‘Em on Down (Stony Plain Records)
Richard Ray Farrell - I Sing The Blues Eclectic (Blue Beet
Marcia Ball - Roadside Attractions (Alligator Records)
Susan Wylde - In The Light (Sun, Moon & Stars
Fred Sanders - I Believe (I55 Productions)
(reviewer from Canada)
Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges - Rock and A Hard Place
Toronzo Cannon - Leaving Mood (Delmark
Travis "Moonchild" Haddix - Old Man In Love
The Bo-Keys - Got To Get Back! (Redeye
Marcia Ball - Roadside Attractions
Johnny Sansone – The Lord Is Waiting The Devil Is Too
Chick Willis – Mr. Blues The Best Of So Far…
Mac Arnold’s Blues Revival – Live at The Grey Eagle
(2010 Plantation One Records)
Roomful of Blues – Hook, Line & Sinker
Various Artists – Alligator Records 40th Anniversary Collection
--- Tim Holek
Freelance Journalist (www.timholekblues.ca)
Great Lakes Blues Society Media Relations Coordinator (www.greatlakesbluessociety.com)
Clarke (reviewer from Mississippi)
To me, this was a great year for new releases. It seems like the My
Top Ten releases for 2011 (in no particular order):
Mistakes Were Made: Five Years of Raw Blues, Damaged Livers, &
Questionable Business Decisions (A Broke & Hungry Retrospective) (Broke
& Hungry): While it certainly qualifies for Longest Title of the Year,
this retrospective was no mere compilation of past glories. Over half of
the tunes included were previously unreleased and many were just as good
as the tunes that B&H had previously released. Proof positive that those
Delta blues are still alive and thriving.
Gregg Allman – Low Country Blues (Rounder): Gregg Allman’s first solo
recording in 14 years is heavy on covers of classic blues tunes from
Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, B.B. King, Sleepy John Estes, and others. This
is the blues recording that his fans knew he had in him.
Chicago Blues: A Living History-The (R)evolution Continues (Raisin):
This set picks up where its predecessor left off, reprising some of the
Windy City’s finest recordings. Billy Boy Arnold, Billy Branch, Lurrie
Bell, John Primer, and Carlos Johnson are back, with able assistance
from Buddy Guy, Zora Young, James Cotton, Magic Slim, and Ronnie Baker
Brooks. Just sit back and take it all in.
Grady Champion – Dreamin’ (GSM Music): Mr. Champion has been knocking
on the door for a while now. With Dreamin’, he just kicked the door in.
This is contemporary Mississippi blues at its finest.
Toronzo Cannon – Leaving Mood (Delmark): I probably listened to this
CD more than any other this year. This is a dazzling set of original
tunes with some inspired performances that is still getting a lot of
playing time at my house.
James Armstrong – Blues at the Border (Catfood): There were several
outstanding releases on Johnny Rawls’ label this year, but Armstrong was
a welcome return. His latest has more of an R&B leaning than his
previous efforts, but, man, it’s great to have him back.
D’Mar & Gill – Real Good Friend (Airtight): Trust me when I say that
you haven’t heard anything quite like this disc. Chris Gill plays
traditional blues with assistance from Derrick “D’Mar” Martin’s
irresistible African-based percussion and the blues may never be the
Elam McKnight/Bob Bogdal – Zombie Nation (Desert Highway): The force
of nature that is Elam McKnight teams up with harmonica monster Bob Bogdal for a scorching set of Delta/Hill Country magic. Better wear your
helmet for this one.
John+Alex Mason – Jook Joint Thunderclap (Naked Jaybird): Mason
ordinarily performed solo on his releases, but this time around he was
in wonderful company, teaming with Cedric and Cody Burnside, Lightnin’
Malcolm, and a trio of musicians from Guinea. This was an amazing
release that indicated great things ahead for Mason, who tragically
passed away at the end of the year.
Stevie J – The Diversity Project (Blue Skunk Music): A double CD set,
one set focusing on electric blues, and the other set focusing on
Southern soul. It’s safe to say that Mr. Johnson has a firm grip on both
styles. This is a well-done, ambitious set that deserves to be heard.
Honorable Mention: Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans – Traveling Mood
(Man-Hat-Tone), Pete Herzog – Steel Guitar: A Blues Opera,
– Memphis Still Got Soul (Catfood), Lightnin’ Malcolm – Renegade (Ruf),
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Peyton on Patton (SideOneDummy).
Deibler (President of the Phoenix Blues Society and
regular Blues Bytes reviewer)
was a stellar year for Blues releases, and here are my top ten (11)
in no particular order:
The Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator (Sony
A fine disc from Susan & Derek. They maximize the talents of their
big band to the fullest and there’s more to come.
Johnny Winter – Roots (Megaforce)
Thanks to the astute care from Paul Nelson, Johnny is playing and
performing at a high level again.
Johnny Sansone – the lord is waiting and the devil is to
This disc from Johnny caught a lot of people by surprise at the
artistic choices and chances he took with this disc. Outstanding
Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – Don’t Explain (J&R
Very strong record highlighted by Beth’s soulful vocals and very
expressive playing from one Joe Bonamassa.
Hadden Sayer – Hard Dollar (Blue Corn Music)
Classic Texas Blues from Hadden who definitely opened some eyes with
this disc. The duet with Ruthie Foster, “Back to the Blues”, is up
for song of the year.
Marcia Ball – Roadside Attractions (Alligator Records)
Outstanding writing & performances from Marcia make this one of her
best ever. Definitely a favorite.
Eugene Hideaway Bridges – Rock and a Hard Place
Wonderful release from Eugene that caught some people by surprise.
Johnny Rawls – Memphis Still Got Soul (Catfood
Mr. Rawls has been very busy putting out some of his best work ever
or his last three releases. This may be the best of the three.
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones – Evening (Severn Records)
Simply a stellar effort from this former front man for Room Full of
Blues, rewarded with 5 Blues Music Award Nominations.
Tab Benoit – Medicine (Telarc)
Ably assisted by Anders Osborne, Medicine is some of Tab’s
best work yet.
Trampled Under Foot – Wrong Side of the Blues (Vizzitone)
Those of us who watched TUF win the IBC have been infected with
their enthusiasm for the Blues. Producer Tony Braunagel worked his
magic with this disc.
Other Discs of Note:
Davina & the Vagabonds – Black Cloud, Brick Fields
– Gospel Blue, Lloyd Jones – Highway Bound and
Greg Allman – Low Country Blues.