Blues Bytes

Pick Hit

January 2016


We've now been publishing Blues Bytes for 19 years. It seems like only yesterday that the first issue came out --- wow! 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)

Texas Horns

Here's my list of ten favorite CDs from 2015. Enjoy!

1) The Texas Horns - Blues Gotta Holda Me (VizzTone Label Group)
Horn stalwarts Kaz Kazanoff, John Mills and Al Gomez team up to produce one of most exhilarating discs of the year.

2) Igor Prado - Way Down South (Delta Groove Productions)
It's the special guest stars, such as Kim Wilson, Mud Morganfield, Junior Watson, Rod and Honey Piazza, and more, that make this disc by Brazil native Prado stand out. Just good, basic blues well done.

3) Knickerbocker All-Stars - Go Back To The Blues (CD Baby)
This all-star ensemble from New England occupies the #2 spot on my top ten list for the second straight year, this time with their second CD. Their sound reminds me of recordings by the very early Roomful of Blues, not surprising since many of those ex-ROB cats are here.

4) Henry Gray and Bob Corritore - Blues Won't Let Me Take My Rest (Delta Groove Productions)
One of the few bluesmen left from his generation, Mr. Gray shows no signs of slowing down even thought he's already celebrated his 90th birthday. These recordings were made at various sessions over the past 20 years and include special guests like the late Nappy Brown, Tail Dragger and Robert Jr. Lockwood.

5) Mighty Mike Schermer - Blues In Good Hands (VizzTone Label Group)
The Blues certainly are in good hands when being delivered by this very fine California guitarist!

6) Andy Santana - Watch Your Step! (Delta Groove Productions)
It's only appropriate that I put this disc right next to the one from Mighty Mike Schermer since this pair of fine musicians once played together in a vastly underrated band called The Soul Drivers.

7) Chris James & Patrick Rynn - Trouble Don't Last (VizzTone Label Group)
The San Diego-based duo consistently put out a solid "old school" blues sound.

8) Jimmy Burns - It Ain't Right (Delmark Records)
It's been way too long since Mr. Burns last cut an album, but this one was certainly worth waiting for.

9) Tad Robinson - Day Into Night (Severn Records)
Robinson consistently rates as one of the better performers combining blues and gritty soul into a nice package.

10) Cash Box Kings - Holding Court (Blind Pig Records)
This contemporary Chicago group merges a wide range of talented musicians into another good collection of traditional Chicago and Delta blues.

Note: As I went through all of the lists on this page I realized just how many excellent recordings came out on the VizzTone label, followed closely by Delta Groove. Keep up the good work, folks!


Tim Holek (reviewer and freelance journalist from Canada)

Chris James - Patrick RynnThe following list is in no particular order and it represents several styles of blues and soul.

Chris James and Patrick Ryn - Trouble Don't Last (VizzTone Label Group)

Anthony Geraci and the Boston Blues All-Stars - Fifty Shades of Blue (Delta Groove Productions)

Wee Willie Walker - If Nothing Ever Changes (CD Baby)

Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King - Fat Man's Shine Parlor (Blind Pig)

Billy Price and Otis Clay - This Time For Real (Bonedog / VizzTone)

The Texas Horns - Blues Gotta Holda Me (VizzTone Label Group)

Andy T Nick Nixon Band - Numbers Man (Blind Pig Records)

Harrison Kennedy - This Is From Here (Electro-Fi)

Ronnie Earl - Father's Day (Stony Plain Records)

Johnny Sansone - Lady on the Levee (CD Baby)


Mark E. Gallo (reviewer from Michigan)

2015 Top DozenAnthony Geraci

1. Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges: Hold On A Little Bit Longer (Armadillo Music)
2. Chris O’Leary: Gonna Die Tryin’ (American Show Place)
3. Benny Turner: Journey (NOLA Blues)
4. Anthony Geraci and the Boston Blues All-Stars: Fifty Shades of Blue (Delta Groove)
5. Igor Prado: Way Down South (Delta Groove)
6. Jay Stollman: Room For One More (Number 7 Records)
7. Joakim Tinderholt and His Band (Big H)
8. Sugar Ray Rayford: Southside (NimoySue)
9. Blackburn: Brothers In This World (Electro-Fi)
10. Deb Callahan: Sweet Soul (Blue Pearl)
11. Wee Willie Walker: If Nothing Ever Changes (Little Village)
12. Gaye Adegbalola & The Wild Rutz: Is It Still Good To Ya? (Hot Toddy)

Kudos too to Nikki James (The Album), Laura Rain & The Caesars (Gold), Eliza Neals (Breaking and Entering) and Kenny Parker (Yes Indeed!)


Graham Clarke (reviewer from Mississippi)

James Armstrong

Top Ten Releases for 2015 (in alphabetical order):

Bernard AllisonIn The Mix (Jazzhaus) – A bit understated by Allison’s usual standards, but the better for it, focusing more on the songs and grooves……still plenty of great guitar though.

Bey Paule BandNot Goin’ Away (Blue Dot) – This is 12 tracks of soul/blues Heaven.

Jimmy BurnsIt Ain’t Right (Delmark) – Burns returns to the Delmark label with very satisfying results. His mix of urban blues and soul with traditional Mississippi blues is second to none.

Eddie CottonOne At A Time (DeChamp) – His best studio release to date, it’s great to have Cotton recording on a regular basis.

Ghost Town Blues BandHard Road To Hoe (self-released) – If you’re a blues fan at all, you must find this CD. Then, catch these guys live. You can thank me later.

David Michael MillerSame Soil (Food For The Soul) – This guy should be better known. He’s a great vocalist and guitarist and mixes blues, soul, and gospel as well as anybody currently practicing.

Andy SantanaWatch Your Step! (Delta Groove) – This is a great mix of Texas, Chicago, and New Orleans that will have heads bobbing and toes tapping.

Sista Jean & CBRequiem For A Heavyweight (Freckled Bandit) – The duo’s wonderful, heartfelt tribute to the blues/folk legend is a joy from start to finish.

Leo “Bud” WelchI Don’t Prefer No Blues (Big Legal Mess) – Welch’s sophomore effort, devoted mostly to the blues, is a fine complement to his raw and ragged gospel debut.

Webb Wilder Mississippi Möderne (Ruf) – Wilder takes the best things about Austin, Nashville, and Mississippi music and makes his own potent mix that not only crosses musical boundaries, but erases them completely.


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

2015 was definitely a good year for the Blues and a number of artists released amazing records for all of us to enjoy. My top 10 in no particular order include:

Buddy GuyBorn to Play Guitar (RCA). Buddy is just in a class of his own these days and producer Tom Hambridge continues to record the best of what Buddy has to give us.

Otis TaylorHey Joe Opus Red Meat (Trance Blues Festival). Brilliant record by Otis. Haunting vocals and complex melodies all mesh together in one amazing effort. Well done, Otis!

Walter TroutBattle Scars (Provogue). Walter is definitely back and happy to be performing for all of us again. I’m a huge fan of Walter’s and followed closely his efforts to regain his health and get back onstage. “Gonna Live Again” is his anthem these days and was nominated for song of the year.

Anthony Geraci & the Boston Blues All-StarsFifty Shades of Blue (Delta Groove Productions). Anthony is an excellent songwriter who surrounded himself with some of Boston’s best to produce one of the great records of 2015. The title track is an interesting discourse on romance and I loved Anthony’s tribute piece to David Maxwell.

Sugaray RayfordSouthside (Nimoy Sue Records). Sugaray surprised me with this one, but it just goes to show how multi-dimensional he is as a performer with his amazing band behind him. Definitely one of the most entertaining performers in Blues today.

Bettye LaVetteWorthy (Cherry Red). Nominated for Soul Blues Female Artist and Soul Blues album of the year. Another great disc from one of my favorite artists.

Jackie PayneI Saw the Blues (Blue Dot). Jackie dealt with a variety of health issues this year and still gave us a record that saw him nominated for two BMA’s. Loved what he recorded here.

Tommy CastroMethod to My Madness (Alligator Records). I think this is the record Tommy envisioned making when he brought Randy McDonald back into the band and formulated the Painkillers. Rough and ready and always Tommy.

Karen LovelyTen Miles of Bad Road. Karen’s music got me through some really tough times and this disc was released toward the end of the year. Producer Tony Braunagel worked his magic in the studio and coaxed a great record out of Karen.

Wee Willie WalkerIf Nothing Ever Changes (Little Village Foundation). A forgotten soul singer in the Bay Area brought to us courtesy of Rick Estrin and Kid Anderson. Kid worked his magic in the studio and Wee Willie Walker is a name to look for in 2016.

There were a number of other records that easily could have made my top 10 list and it was hard to get it down to 10. Kudos to Tad Robinson, Albert Cummings, Mr. Sipp, Steve Earle & the Dukes and Guy Davis for releasing their outstanding discs as well



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