Another year of Blues Bytes--- our 16th(!) --- is in
the books, and it's been a good one for Blues CDs. As usual, we use the
January Pick Hit to feature the reviewers' Top Ten Lists for the past
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 your support!
- Bill Mitchell (Editor/Publisher of Blues Bytes)
Mitchell (editor of Blues Bytes)
Here's my list of ten favorite CDs from 2012. Enjoy!
1) Curtis Salgado - Soul Shot (Alligator Records)
"In your face" soulful blues from this veteran blues brother from the
2) Mud Morganfield - Son of the Seventh Son (Severn
Morganfield sounds so much like his father that I had to keep looking at
the CD credits to make sure they didn't sneak in some old recordings
3) Johnny Rawls - Soul Survivor (Catfood Records)
He keeps out putting good CD after good CD --- this man needs to be
4) Ryan Shaw - Real Love (Dynatone Records)
Real Love is a strong follow-up to Shaw's amazing 2007 debut,
This is Ryan Shaw. Classic soul at its best!
5) Michael Burks - Show of Strength (Alligator Records)
A bittersweet release from a man who left us far too soon.
6) Mannish Boys - Double Dynamite (Delta Groove Music)
The only thing better than a new CD from this Southern California
supergroup is a double CD!
7) Shemekia Copeland - 33 1/3 (Telarc Records)
Powerful blues set by one of the best contemporary singers on the
scene today! "Hangin' Up" is worth the price by itself.
Tail Dragger & Bob Corritore - Longtime Friends in the Blues
Tail Dragger summons the spirit of Howlin' Wolf for this solid set
of Chicago blues.
9) The 24th Street Wailers - Unshakeable (The 24th
This independent release from Canada was one of this year's biggest
surprises. Great singing!
10) The Blasters - Fun On Saturday Night (Ruf Records)
Their bluesiest release yet but the format is still all over the map ...
just like it should be with these talented cats. An added bonus is the
Spanish language remake of their early roots rock hit "Marie Marie."
(reviewer from Canada)
Estrin and the Nightcats - One Wrong Turn
Lil' Ed and The Blues Imperials - Jump Start
Joe Louis Walker - Hellfire
Curtis Salgado - Soul Shot
Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King - Close To The Bone
Billy Boy Arnold - Billy Boy Arnold Sings Big Bill Broonzy
The Mannish Boys - Double Dynamite
Barbara Carr - Keep The Fire Burning
Eddie C. Campbell - Spider Eatin' Preacher
Linsey Alexander - Been There Done That
--- Tim Holek
Freelance Journalist (www.timholekblues.ca)
Great Lakes Blues Society Media Relations Coordinator (www.greatlakesbluessociety.com)
Clarke (reviewer from Mississippi)
Hopkins & Jewel Brown - Milton Hopkins & Jewel Brown (Dialtone):
A wonderful recording from two living legends of the Houston blues
scene. Hopkins’ superlative fretwork compliments Ms. Brown’s raw and
earthy vocals perfectly. This is easily the crowning achievement of
Dialtone’s impressive catalog of recordings.
Linsey Alexander – Been There Done That (Delmark): A
longtime vet of the Windy City’s blues scene, Alexander proves to be a
formidable all-around talent with his debut recording for Delmark….one
of many winners from Delmark during 2012.
Various Artists – We Juke Up In Here (Broke & Hungry/Cat
Head): A look at what’s left of Mississippi’s juke joint scene (via DVD
and CD) from Roger Stolle and Jeff Konkel. There are some great tunes
from some familiar and not-so-familiar Mississippi blues artists.
Mannish Boys – Double Dynamite (Delta Groove): A
double-disc effort from an all-star band that covers traditional blues
and R&B-based blues, it’s a bit heavy on cover tunes. However, when
they’re this well done, it’s not a problem at all.
Tweed Funk – Love Is (Tweed Tone Records): This great
little band from Wisconsin mixes blues, swing, and funk in equal doses,
and they do them all extraordinarily well.
Larry Garner – Blues For Sale (DixieFrog): This may be
Garner’s best release yet. It features some great songs, a tight backing
band, and a definite Louisiana vibe. Plus it features some of Garner’s
best songs yet, which is really saying something.
Johnny Rawls – Soul Survivor (Catfood): I like my soul
blues a bit on the retro side. Rawls fits that mold perfectly…his
approach is modern enough, but the reverence for the deep southern soul
of artists like his mentor O.V. Wright shines through on every track.
Michael Burks – Show of Strength (Alligator): Burks’
final release ranks with his best, showcasing lots of powerhouse guitar
work, plus a version of Charlie Rich’s “Feel Like Goin’ Home” that is
actually more hopeful than somber. We’ll miss him, but he certainly went
out on a high note.
Dennis Jones – My Kinda Blues (Blue Rock): Blues/rock
of the highest order. Jones blows the doors off with 13 tunes, 12
originals, on this stellar set. Also, don’t miss his recent DVD, Live
at Temecula Theatre, for a mesmerizing live performance.
Willie Buck – Cell Phone Man (Delmark): Another
mainstay of the Chicago blues scene, Buck has released probably the best
set of traditional Chicago blues in a long time. Blending his own
original tunes with classic covers of several Muddy Waters songs, Buck
shows he has a grasp on the genre as strong as or stronger than anybody
else currently performing.
Next Ten (in no particular order): Eddie C. Campbell –
Spider Eating Preacher (Delmark), Beth McKee – Next To
Nowhere (Swampgirl Music), Sista Jean and C.B. – Back To
The Root (Freckled Bandit Records), Eric Bibb – Deeper in
the Well (Stony Plain), Mud Morganfield – Son of the
Seventh Son (Severn), The Fremonts – Live at the Woodpit
(Truax Records), Cee Cee James – Blood Red Blues (FWG
Records), Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King – Close to the Bone
(Delta Groove), Memphis Gold – Pickin’ In High Cotton
(Stackhouse Recording Co), Ian Siegal – Candy Store Kid (Nugene
Deibler (Regular Blues Bytes reviewer now living in
2012 was a year of outstanding releases from a number of artists,
both old and new. Definitely a tremendous year of outstanding music
from various Blues artists for all of us to enjoy. So here’s my top
ten with a couple of honorable mentions thrown in for good measure.
Janiva Magness – Stronger For It. Those of us who know
Janiva realize the personal courage she’s showed us in releasing
this record. A triumph for Janiva on a personal level with some
writer’s credits thrown in for good measure, my pick for record of
2. Robert Cray – Nothin But Love. Easily Robert’s
finest release in probably the last 10 years, I loved this disc
front cover to cover.
3. Tedeschi Trucks Band – Live (Everybody’s Talkin’).
Their live performance at Red Rocks here in Colorado this year was
by far the best show I was able to see this year. Just an amazing
collaboration between Derek, Susan and everyone in the band.
4. Bettye Lavette – Thankful N’ Thoughtful. I’m
grateful every day for my introduction to Bettye Lavette and her
music. How and why she toiled in relative obscurity for close to 40
years is one of the great mysteries of my generation.
5. Michael Burks – Show of Strength. I don’t know how
else to say, I miss my friend. Fortunately he left us a legacy
record to remember him by. Rest in peace, my friend.
6. Curtis Salgado – Soul Shot. Phenomenal disc from
Curtis. I was fortunate to see him on the road this summer in
Springfield, Missouri, and it was easily one of the top four
performances I’ve seen all year.
7. Billy Boy Arnold – Sings Bill Broonzy. Just a
stellar disc of Billy Boy paying homage to one of his influences. My
favorite acoustic album of the year by far.
8. Royal Southern Brotherhood – Self titled. Whoever stirred
the pot of gumbo that generated RSB did us all a favor. The
Brotherhood of Cyril Neville, Devon Allman, Mike Zito, Charlie
Wooton and Yonrico Scott delivered a show this summer at Blues from
the Top that has stayed with me all year. The finale of dueling
guitars with Devon, Mike and Samantha Fish was one of the highlights
of the year. Glad to know they’ll be back in Colorado shortly.
9. The Nighthawks – Damn Good Time. These guys have
grown on me and have definitely earned their way into the rotation
on my CD player. They were outstanding on the recent Blues Cruise
and Mark Wenner’s set with the North Mississippi All-Stars was to
10. Heritage Blues Orchestra – And Still I Rise. This
debut disc has already garnered many new fans and award nominations.
I think the Rochester Democrat & Gazette said it best, “This
is a new band with the swank of New Orleans, the urgent honk of
Chicago, the ache of the chain gang.” I’m looking forward to seeing
Honorable mentions go out to Deanna Bogart – Pianoland,
Shemekia Copeland – 33 1/3, Walter Trout –
Blues for the Modern Daze, Ruthie Foster – Let It Burn,
Michael Jerome Browne – The Road is Dark, and Paula
Harris – Turning On The Naughty.