The last year marked more quality blues releases than
any other year in recent memory, especially by younger artists. It makes
me happy that the worldwide blues scene continues to trend stronger.
There were so many good blues albums out in 2019 that we've decided to
expand our Top 10 lists to Top 20 this 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 your support!
- Bill Mitchell (Editor/Publisher of Blues Bytes)
Mitchell (editor of Blues Bytes)
2019 was such an outstanding year for new blues releases that I'm
going to veer from my normal Top 10 and make this year's list a Top 20.
What has especially impressed me is the number of excellent albums from
a younger generation of blues artists from around the world.
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram - Kingfish (Alligator)
This young man from Mississippi is the most exciting and energetic
performer to come along in quite some time.
- Katarina Pejak - Roads That Cross (Ruf)
I've listened to Ms. Pejak's music more than any other artist over
the last year. Now if I could just get the chance to see her in
- Bloodest Saxophone - 5 Texas Queens (Dialtone /
The biggest surprise of the year with these cats from Japan backing
five female blues singers from Texas.
- The Texas Horns - Get Here Quick (Severn)
I love the big, brassy music of The Texas Horns.
- Ina Forsman - Been Meaning To Tell You (Ruf)
Outstanding follow-up to the self-titled CD by this outstanding
singer from Finland.
- Bob Corritore & Friends - Do The Hip Shake Baby! (VizzTone)
The best yet of Corritore's regularly scheduled gatherings of
- Kevin Burt - Heartland & Soul (Little Village
This one was a big, big surprise, a mixture of soul and blues.
- Mighty Mike Schermer - Bad Tattoo (VizzTone)
Creative songwriter and hot blues guitarist from California.
- Samantha Fish - Kill Or Be Kind (Rounder)
Ms. Fish is another of the rising young stars on the blues scene
- Ally Venable - Texas Honey (Ruf)
Just having turned 20 last year, Ms. Venable is now one of the
rockin'-est blues guitarists on the scene.
- Cashbox Kings - Hail To The Kings! (Alligator)
Solid Chicago blues ensemble just keeps putting out high quality
- Jimmy Carpenter - Soul Doctor (Gulf Coast)
Carpenter has been around the blues scene as a sideman for quite a
few years, but Soul Doctor cements his reputation as more
than just a sax player.
- Bob Margolin - This Guitar And Tonight (VizzTone)
Margolin could now be considered a national treasure. On this album,
it's just him and his guitar playing the downhome blues.
- The Nick Moss Band - Lucky Guy! (Alligator)
These cats are a hoot to see live, and just as good on CD.
Ben Levin - Before Me (VizzTone)
Still another of the young blues artists, this 20-year-old piano
player shows he's got a good future ahead of him with his second
- Nancy Wright - Alive & Blue (VizzTone)
I obviously liked this album a lot since I advertently reviewed in
twice, several months apart. Great sax player in a live performance.
- BB King Blues Band - The Soul of the King (Ruf)
A whole lot of special guests join forces with many of B.B.'s
longtime band members to create this delightful album.
- Toronzo Cannon - The Preacher, The Politician or The
Solid Chicago blues and some very topical songwriting.
- Billy Price - Dog Eat Dog (Gulf Coast Records)
One of Price's best, as his sojourn to the Greaseland studios added
an extra dimension to his soulful blues.
- Big Joe & The Dynaflows - Rockhouse Party (Severn)
Like the old-time blues shouters, Big Joe Maher is capable of
belting out the blues with the support of his rockin' jump blues
Clarke (reviewer from Mississippi)
My Top 20 Releases for 2019: 2019 was a fantastic
year for new blues. Some of the albums on my list haven’t been
reviewed by me just yet due to time constraints, but they will be
sooner or later……bear with me. Here’s my Top 20 in no particular
Big Creek Slim & Rodrigo Mantovani – First Born (Chico
Blues): This is a superb set of traditional blues from Danish blues
man Slim and Brazilian bass player Mantovani.
Bloodest Saxophone – Texas Queens 5 (Dialtone/Vizztone):
This Japanese jump blues unit is always cooking, but this time
around they get to back some of the Lone Star State’s finest female
blues singers. Not a bad cut in the bunch.
Willie Buck – Willie Buck Way (Delmark): Buck sings
Chicago blues the way they used to do it back in the Windy City’s
glory days of the 1950’s.
Mary Lane – Travelin’ Woman (Women of the Blues): A
marvelous set of blues from the Chicago blues legend that will make
listeners wish she’d get to the studio more often.
Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith & The House Bumpers – Drop The
Hammer (Vizztone): Drummer Smith turns in a strong set of blues
that will please traditional and contemporary blues fans, backed by
a great group of fellow second-generation blues men.
Bob Corritore & Friends – Do The Hip-Shake Baby! (Vizztone):
This set is what blues fans have come to expect with a Bob Corritore
release --- an entertaining set of blues (with hints of rock n’
roll, R&B, and gospel) from the harp master and an all-star cast of
the best in blues.
Grady Champion – Steppin’ In: A Tribute To Z.Z. Hill (Malaco):
A fine tribute to a soul-blues legend, Champion does a marvelous job
with these classic tunes.
Zac Harmon – Mississippi BarBQ (Catfood): My favorite
Harmon release to date. A fine mix of blues and soul from one of the
most dependable current record labels for either genre.
Delbert McClinton & Self-Made Men + Dana – Tall, Dark &
Handsome (Hot Shot): See review in this issue. The Texas
roadhouse legend turns in a rollicking set that captures his
reckless musical spirit as well as anything he’s ever released.
Various Artists – Battle of the Blues: Chicago Vs. Oakland
(Delta Roots): A great anthology set that features blues artists
from both cities. Some you know, some you don’t know, but all of
whom deserve to be heard.
Junior Watson (featuring Alabama Mike) – Nothin’ To It But
To Do It (Little Village Foundation): I love just about
everything that comes out of Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios, but
this was one of the best of the lot this year, with the legendary
guitarist Watson at the top of his game (with superb vocal support
from Alabama Mike and Anderson’s wife Lisa Leuschner-Andersen).
Billy Price – Dog Eat Dog (Gulf Coast): Stellar soul
and blues set from one of the finest singers currently practicing.
Ghost Town Blues Band – Shine: A potent mix of blues,
rock, and soul, these guys blow me away every time I listen, and
each album improves upon its predecessor.
Johnny Rawls – I Miss Otis Clay (Third Street Cigar):
So do I, Mr. Rawls, but I’m mighty glad that you are here to carry
on his legacy with this powerful set.
The Sensational Barnes Brothers – Nobody’s Fault But Mine
(Bible and Tire): This disc sounds like a gospel session recorded at
Stax Records. Absolutely breathtaking.
Toronzo Cannon – The Preacher, The Politician, Or The Pimp
(Alligator): As much as I like Cannon’s tough guitar work and
vocals, I really enjoy his songwriting. It makes me laugh, cry, and
think. It’s been great watching him develop his style over the past
Christione “Kingfish” Ingram – Kingfish (Alligator):
I’ve been reading about and listening to this young man since he was
12 or 13. That said, this is one of the best debut releases I’ve
heard in my 30+years of listening to the blues. A strong, diverse,
and confident set that shows the future of the blues is in good
North Mississippi Allstars – Up And Rolling (New
West): A typically strong set from the group. A deft combination of
traditional and contemporary Mississippi Hill Country blues.
Jimmy Johnson – Every Day of Your Life (Delmark):
Johnson just turned 91(!) and he sounds like he’s not planning on
going anywhere anytime soon.
The Reverend Shawn Amos – Kitchen Table Blues (Vol. 1 & 2):
Two EP’s count as one album in my book. These songs taken from Amos’
series (with assorted guest stars) are a lot of fun and show Amos’
love for the music. Check out the whole YouTube series when you have
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