Another year of Blues Bytes and we just keep rolling
along. As with every previous year, 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
Sadly, we lost one of our long-time reviewers
in 2018 as Mark Gallo passed away. RIP, Mark.
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 2018. OK, I couldn't stop
at ten so I am giving you an even dozen. Don't read too much into the order in
which I've listed my 12 faves. They are all great albums and I could
shuffle them in just about any order. Enjoy!
Kara Grainger - Living With Your Ghost (Station House
This Australian expat based in Los Angeles gets better with each album.
Now if we could just get her a gig in Phoenix!
David Julia - Inspired (VizzTone)
Still just in his teens, Julia may be the next guitar prodigy in the
Katy Guillen & The Girls - Remember What You Know Before
I ordered this album right after reading Graham Clarke's review of it
and have since picked up two more discs from this Kansas City trio.
Marcia Ball - Shine Bright (Alligator)
Ms. Ball is arguably the most consistently excellent blues artist on the
scene today, so of course anything she releases has to be on my Top Ten
Bob Corritore & Friends - Don't Let The Devil Ride (VizzTone)
Typical album from the Phoenix blues impresario with many guest artists,
but Corritore's harmonica playing is at its best on this one.
Vanessa Collier - Honey Up (Phenix Fire)
Impressive young sax player on the rise, also shining on vocals and with
Nick Moss Band with Dennis Gruenling - High Cost of Low Living (Alligator)
One of my favorite live shows from 2018 occurred when these Chicago cats
came to Phoenix.
Johnny Tucker - Seven Day Blues (High John)
Raw blues with a touch of soul recorded on vintage of equipment takes
the listener back to the golden era of blues.
Michelle Malone - Slings & Arrows (SBS)
She's been around for quite some time, but this album served as my
introduction to Malone's very fine vocals and guitar playing.
Bob Margolin - Bob Margolin (VizzTone)
Bob has been playing the blues for a long time and has the credentials
to now be labeled a veritable legend. This is just a nice album coming
from the heart of one of our treasured blues artists.
Whitney Shay - A Woman Rules The World (Little Village
Another fine female singer that I learned about from a Graham Clarke
review. Within minutes of my first listen to A Woman Rules The World,
I was ordering Ms. Shay's previous album which is our
Billy Price - Reckoning (VizzTone)
I own most if not all of Price's extensive discography and have always
been a big fan, but a trip west to Kid Andersen's Greaseland studio to
record Reckoning helps to make Reckoning one of his best.
Other interesting 2018 CDs came from Rockwell Avenue Blues Band (Back
To Chicago), Dana Fuchs (Loves Lives On), Mud
Morganfield (They Call Me Mud) and Ally Venable (Puppet
NOTE: I did not realize until compiling this list what a great year
the VizzTone group of labels had this past year ---- five of my
top 12 CDs were released by them. Pretty impressive!
(reviewer and freelance journalist from Canada)
2018 was a year of highly memorable releases for Chicago’s Alligator
and Delmark Records. Here is my top ten list of 2018 in no particular
Ellis - Winning Hand (Alligator)
Kirk Fletcher - Hold On (Self-Released)
Lurrie Bell and the Bell Dynasty - Tribute to
Carey Bell (Delmark)
Nick Moss Band w/Dennis Gruenling - High Cost
of Low Living (Alligator)
Curtis Salgado and Alan Hager - Rough Cut
Elvin Bishop - Something Smells Funky ’Round
Various Artists - Tribute - Delmark’s 65th
Rockwell Avenue Blues Band - Back To Chicago
Shemekia Copeland - America’s Child
Billy Price - Reckoning (VizzTone)
Clarke (reviewer from Mississippi)
My top 10 releases for 2018 (in alphabetical order)
Bell & the Bell Dynasty - Tribute To Carey Bell (Delmark
An excellent set that showcases all four of the Bells brothers,
along with guests Charlie Musselwhite and Billy Branch. Though
Lurrie Bell is the best known of the brothers, harmonica player
Steve, singer/drummer James, and bassist Tyson bring plenty of
talent of their own to the table as well. Dad would be proud.
Big Apple Blues - Manhattan Alley
(Stone Tone Records)
I listened to this one an awful lot these past few months. This was
a really cool all-instrumental set that combined the blues with
soul, rock, and funk with a great retro feel. Anybody who digs
Booker T or Jimmy Smith will find a lot to enjoy here.
Barbara Blue - Fish in Dirty H2O (BIG
I've been listening to “The Reigning Queen of Beale Street” for a
long time and this one is easily her best with a super mix of blues
and R&B, and an all-star cast of supporting musicians. If you're new
to Barbara Blue, it's time to get on board.
Kirk Fletcher - Hold On (Kirk Fletcher
It's been fascinating to watch this brilliant young guitarist
develop not only with his chosen instrument, but also as a singer
and songwriter. He says this is truly his first "solo" record. It's
certainly his best one. Some of the best guitar work you’ll hear
this year, or any other.
Ghost Town Blues Band - Backstage Pass
(Ghost Town Blues Band)
Without a doubt, one of the best live albums I've heard in a long,
long time. Matt Isbell and the band are at their absolute best on
this superb set. This is a must-have for their current fans and a
great introduction for new fans. Get this now!!
Dave Keller - Every Soul's A Star (Catfood
I have to admit that I was thrilled to hear that Keller had signed
with Catfood Records because I knew that he would be a perfect fit
for their catalog of soul-blues artists, and he certainly didn't
disappoint with this release. It has a great Memphis feel with the
Rays providing stellar backing, and Keller is one of the best
soul-blues vocalists out there right now.
Trudy Lynn - Blues Keep Knockin'
(Connor Ray Music)
Ms. Trudy seems to have found a home with Connor Ray Music and an
excellent band led by harmonica ace Steve Krase, and she just blows
the doors off on this album. Every Trudy Lynn album is a treat, and
this one is awesome.
Brigitte Purdy - Still I Rise (Dirtshack
Wow! This stunning release blew me away late in the year. Ms. Purdy
can sing it all --- blues, rock, soul, jazz, R&B, and even classical
--- seemingly without breaking a sweat. She covers a lot of ground
in a short time on this release and it all sounds great. Blues fans
are advised to keep tabs on this great new talent!
Boz Scaggs - Out of The Blues (Concord
I've really enjoyed Scaggs' recent trio of albums that pay tribute
to his musical roots. This third set focuses on the blues with a
great mix of classics from Bobby Bland, Jimmy Reed, Jimmy McCracklin,
and Neil Young(!), along with several original tunes that blend
seamlessly with the classics.
Walter "Wolfman" Washington - My Future Is
My Past (Anti/Epitath)
I never got around to reviewing this one last year, but it
definitely belongs on the list. This album is unlike any of the
Wolfman's previous soul/blues/funk releases. This is pristine
after-hours blues and while Washington has always been highly
regarded as a guitarist, his vocals are his secret weapon and he's
done marvelous work previously with the ballads on his earlier
albums. Check out his incredible duet with the great Irma Thomas on
“Even Now,” one of my all-time favorite songs from one of my
favorite songwriters, the late David Egan.
Deibler (Regular Blues Bytes reviewer now living in
In no particular order, here are my top 10 discs.
Buddy Guy - The Blues is Alive and Well (Silvertone)
Buddy keeps on aging gracefully just like the Cognac he sings
about. Another gem from Buddy and kudos to Tom Hambridge for all of
his work ad Buddy's producer.
2) Billy F. Gibbons - The Big Bad Blues (Concord)
Loved the vibe of this whole record from Billy. I keep on coming
back to it and that's a good thing!
3) Shemekia Copeland - America's Child (Alligator)
Just a wonderfully crafted contemporary record from Shemekia.
4) Anthony Geraci - Why Did You Have to Go (Shining
More amazing work from my friend in the Northeast. Anthony has
been involved in a number of great projects in the past couple of
years and this disc is no exception.
5) The Love Light Orchestra featuring John Nemeth -
The Love Light Orchestra (Blue Barrel)
John has been telling me about this big band project of his for a
couple of years now and I was fortunate to see them last May when I
was in Memphis for the BMA's. Just a masterpiece that clearly shows
John is at the top of his game.
6) The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling - The
High Cost of Low Living (Alligator)
Nick and the band tore it up at Blues From the Top last summer and
Dennis brings his unique harp talents to the mix in this release
7) Danielle Nicole - Cry No More (Concord)
This record impressed me from the first listen. Looking forward to
her next visit through Colorado.
8) Joe Louis Walker/Bruce Katz/Giles Robson - Journeys To
the Heart of the Blues (Alligator)
Loved this acoustic project from Joe, Bruce & Giles. Highly
9) Kevin Burt - Heartland and Soul (Little Village
Kevin took the honor's in the solo/duo category a year ago at
the IBC and released a gem of an album here.
10) Brigitte Purdy - Still I Rise (Dirtshack)
One of my personal favorites of the year is this disc from
Brigitte Rios Purdy, an emerging artist from Los Angeles. Soulful
writing and her amazing vocals brought this disc to the attention of
the good folks at XM and yielded three singles in the top 50 RMR