Blues Bytes

Pick Hit

January 2014

an associate


The 17th year of Blues Bytes is in the books. 17 years? That's almost as old as the internet itself. As with every previous year, 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 reviewer.

Thanks to all of you for your support! 

- Bill Mitchell (Editor/Publisher of Blues Bytes)


Bill Mitchell (editor of Blues Bytes)

4 Jacks

Here's my list of ten favorite CDs from 2013. Enjoy!

1) 4 Jacks - Deal With It (Ellersoul Records)
Any band that consists of both Big Joe Maher and Anson Funderburgh just has to be good!

2) John Primer / Bob Corritore - Knockin' Around The Blues (Delta Groove Music)
Primer has always been one of the more underrated bluesmen on the Chicago scene, and this fine disc is just another example of why he's one of the best.

3) Johnny Rawls - Remembering O.V. (Catfood Records)
Every Johnny Rawls CD is pretty much a guaranteed top ten, with this one having the added bonus of featuring songs from his musical mentor, O.V. Wright.

4) Homemade Jamz Blues Band - Mississippi Hill Country (CD Baby)
This family band from Mississippi breathes new life into the blues scene with every new disc, and this one is their best yet.

5) Nicole Hart & Anni Piper - Split Second (Blues Left Records)
It was a brilliant idea to pair Ms. Hart with the native Australian Piper, with Split Second seldom leaving my CD player in the past year.

6) Barrelhouse Chuck & Kim Wilson's Blues All-Stars - Driftin' From Town To Town (The Sirens Records)
I just saw this basic ensemble in concert recently, and of course it was one of the best shows of the show. Not surprising considering the array of talent here.

7) Pete Anderson - Birds Above Guitarland (Little Dog Records)
Guitarist extraordinaire Anderson continues to produce quality music with every CD.

8) Cash Box Kings - Black Toppin' (Blind Pig Records)
Solid Chicago blues from four fine Windy City musicians.

9) James Cotton - Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator Records)
Veteran blues harmonica ace is joined by a host of special guests.

10) Gina Sicilia - It Wasn't Real (Swing Nation Records)
An artist who has shown great improvement since the beginning of her career. "Walkin' Shoes" is one of the best songs of the year, and it really isn't even a Blues.

11) Ruff Kutt Blues Band - That's Where The Blues Begins (Ruff Kutt Records)
Finis Tasby, Zac Harmon and Anson Funderburgh team up with James Goode's band to make an album too good to be left off the Top Ten (or Top Eleven!).


Tim Holek (reviewer and freelance journalist from Canada)

Andy T - Nick NixonAndy T - Nick Nixon Band - Drink Drank Drunk

Billy Boy Arnold/Charlie Musselwhite/Mark Hummel/Sugar Ray Norcia/James Harman - Remembering Little Walter

Chris James and Patrick Ryn - Barrelhouse Stomp

Shawn Holt and the Teardrops - Daddy Told Me

Toronzo Cannon - John The Conquer Root

Barrelhouse Chuck and Kim Wilson's Blues All-Stars - Driftin' From Town To Town

James Cotton - Cotton Mouth Man

Roomful of Blues - 45 Live

Frank Bey and Anthony Paule Band - Soul For Your Blues

Harrison Kennedy - Soulscape


Graham Clarke (reviewer from Mississippi)

2013 was a fantastic year for new releases, and for me, it was really difficult to settle on just ten favorites, but here are mine.

Johnny RawlsJohnny RawlsRemembering O.V. (Catfood): The student pays tribute to the teacher. He learned his lessons well.

David EganDavid Egan (Rhonda Sue): Egan is one of the best songwriters currently practicing, and nobody interprets his songs better than he does.

Chris AntonikBetter For You: Outstanding sophomore release for this rising star.

4 JacksDeal With It (EllerSoul): One of several great recordings with Anson Funderburgh’s impeccable guitar work, this was one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. This is one of many great EllerSoul releases this year.

Lurrie BellBlues In My Soul (Delmark): Bell does old-school Chicago blues, breathing new life into a well-chosen set of classic tunes.

Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois KingRoad Dog’s Life (Delta Groove): Another stellar set of roadhouse blues from this underrated duo.

Toronzo CannonJohn the Conquer Root (Delmark): As exciting and dynamic a blues album as you will hear this year, and maybe next.

Buddy GuyRhythm & Blues (Silvertone/RCA): The Guy/Tom Hambridge collaboration continues to pay dividends for both, but their best may still be ahead of them.

Frank Bey & the Anthony Paule BandSoul for Your Blues (Blue Dot): A great singer finds a great band and magic ensues. Check out their live recording from earlier this year, too.

Cyril NevilleMagic Honey (Ruf Records): Fellow Royal Southern Brothers Devon Allman and Mike Zito also recorded solo gems this year, but Neville’s release is hard to top with its blues/R&B/funk gumbo.


Kyle Deibler (Regular Blues Bytes reviewer now living in Colorado)

This past year saw a lot of very good releases and a great deal of diversity which is great for this music genre we all know and appreciate. In no particular order, here is my top 10 for the year.

1. Otis ClayTruth Is
A wonderful record by Otis who is the premier soul singer in our universe today. He told me last May at the BMA’s that his new record was going to be a good one and it is!

Buddy Guy2. Buddy GuyRhythm & Blues
Buddy continues to be Buddy and he’s at a point in his career where it’s great to see him have the flexibility to record projects such as this. Kudos to Tom Hambridge for continually bringing out the best in Buddy.

3. James CottonCotton Mouth Man
A wonderful recording that shows Cotton is still at the top of his game blowing harp like nobody’s business.

4. Shaun MurphyAsk for the Moon
Outstanding record from Shaun that features some brilliant original songwriting from Bekka Bramlett. Caught my ear from the minute I pushed “play” and never let me go.

5. Walter TroutLuther’s Blues
A project Walter has long wanted to get off the ground and an amazing tribute to Luther Allison. Definitely got my blues/rock fix here!

6. Trampled Under Foot Badlands
The record I always thought TUF was capable of and glad to see it make the light of day. Nick, Kris and Danielle show the future of the blues is in great hands!

7. Cash Box KingsBlack Toppin’
Brilliant record from the Cash Box Kings and a real treat for my CD player.

8. Nikki HillHere’s Nikki Hill
Fantastic debut for this artist from North Carolina! A force to be reckoned with, Nikki Hill’s star is fast rising and far reaching.

9. Brandon SantiniThis Time Another Year
Wonderfully mature record from my friend in the Bluff City. This disc definitely shows that the faith we all had in Brandon in the early years was truly justified!

10. Lou PrideAin’t No More Love in this House
Final record from this soul blues legend. Shows his artistry and mastery of his craft. A fitting legacy for Lou.

Honorable Mention: Dave KellerSoul Changes. Kevin SelfeLong Walk Home. Cassie McKenzie Taylor Out of My Mind. Hadden SayersRolling Soul. Kara GraingerShiver and Sigh.


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