25 new blues artists you need to hear!
30th Jul 2010 | 10:40
1. Fatback Deluxe
Style: Classic American blues
Influenced by: Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker
Gear: Gibson ES-335, Gibson Les Paul Pro, late 60s Ampeg AUB-1 fretless bass
Formed in Atlanta, Georgia back in 2001, Fatback Deluxe are made up of vocalist and harmonica player Ira Malkin, guitarist Chris ‘Tipsy’ Kramer , bassist Ben Gettys and Bob Rice on drums.
Originally known as the Georgia Jooks, the band changed its name to Fatback Deluxe in 2007, apparently because some people found the ‘Jooks’ part of the original name difficult to pronounce - and the band got tired of explaining what it meant.
Fatback Deluxe play an authentic roadhouse blues, beautifully represented by their debut album 2008 Rat Now. The album features five original tunes and eight covers of songs by the likes of BB King and Magic Sam.
Listen: Fatback Deluxe - Mercy (live in Marietta, Georgia, January 2010)
2. Matt Andersen
Style: Acoustic blues
Influenced by: BB King
Gear: Lakewood Acoustics
Find out more:www.stubbyfingers.ca
Canadian blues guitarist and singer - and prolific touring machine - Matt Andersen has released two acclaimed albums, 2008’s Something In Between and the equally excellent Second Time Around released the following year.
As Matt told this writer in 2009, in the middle of a highly successful UK tour, he was first attracted to the energy and rawness of the blues: “The blues is not about being perfect or polished, it’s about the emotion you get from the people that are playing it. B.B. King is one of my favourite singers because you feel like every line he sings, he really means it.”
Great songwriting, monster guitar chops and powerhouse vocals sums up Matt's blues recipe.
Listen: Matt Andersen - One Size Never Fits (live in Grande Cache Alberta. July 2008)
3. Danny Bryant
Style: Blues rock
Influenced by: Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan
Gear: Gibson BB King Lucille, various Fender Stratocasters, Fret-King Corona SP
Find out more: www.redeyeband.co.uk
As leader of the RedEyeBand (featuring his father Ken Bryant on bass and Trevor Barr on drums) guitarist Danny Bryant has proved himself as one of the hottest young players on the modern blues scene.
Having turned pro at the age of 18 Danny has played on bills with the likes of Buddy Guy, Fleetwood Mac legend Peter Green, Joe Cocker, Greg Allman and Walter Trout.
The band’s latest album Just As I Am features eight new original songs written by Danny and a cover of John Hiatt’s Master of Disaster.
You can preview the album of the band’s website (www.redeyeband.co.uk). It’s righteous stuff.
Listen: Danny Bryant's RedEyeBand - Blues for Buddy (The Beaverwood Club, Chislehurst, Kent in Feb 2010)
4. Aynsley Lister
Style: Blues rock
Influenced by: Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix
Gear: Handbuilt 1978 ES-335 copy, '80s Fender Stratocaster, 1990 and 2008 model Gibson Les Paul Standards
Find out more:www.aynsleylister.co.uk
Born in November 1976, Aynsley Lister grabbed his first guitar at the age of eight.
One of the most popular young British blues artists Lister has opened shows for artists like Buddy Guy, John Mayall and Bryan Adams. He also opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd on the Southern rock band’s 2009 UK tour.
Lister’s essential albums include 2007‘s Upside Down and the well-received Equilibrium set from 2009. His latest album, the 2010 Tower Sessions release, includes Aynsley’s much-loved cover of Prince’s Purple Rain (click here to watch). There’s also a version of Jimi Hendrix’s Crosstown Traffic nestling among the album’s 11 tracks.
Listen: Aynsley Lister - Time’s Up (live at the Ferry, Glasgow in Feb 2009)
5. Sue Foley
Style: Blues rock
Influenced by: Memphis Minnie, Muddy Waters, Albert Collins
Gear: Fender ‘Paisley’ Telecaster, custom Old Moon T-style
Find out more:www.suefoley.com
A professional musician since she turned 16, Canadian blues guitarist and vocalist Sue Foley has released 12 albums.
Queen Bee - The Antones Collection is a cracking place to get to know this brilliant artist but you should also check out the excellent Time Bomb. This 2007 album saw Foley team up with her fellow blues artists Deborah Coleman and Roxanne Potvin. The title track features blistering lead guitar from all three guitarists.
Sue’s latest release He Said She Said is a collaboration with roots musician Peter Karp. The album has justly received killer reviews. To get more info on Sue, eyeball this 2006 interview on the Modern Guitars website…
Listen: Sue Foley - Queen Bee (live at The Underground, Germany in 2005)
6. Chantel McGregor
Style: Blues rock
Influenced by: Joe Bonamassa
Find out more:www.chantelmcgregor.com
Much has been made of the fact that British blues sensation Chantel McGregor is a girl that can, you know, actually play guitar an’ that. In fact, an A&R man once told her that she should change her style as her guitar playing might intimidate the boys!
What really matters is that the 23 year old kicks ass on guitar. Although Chantel’s live set is predominantly made up of covers at the moment she has written some original material including the ballad Not Here With Me and blues rocker Freefalling (see audio below).
Chantel has yet to release an album but you’d be well advised to watch this space…
Listen: Chantel McGregor - Freefalling (live at the Morecombe Dome, Feb 2010)
Joanne Shaw Taylor
7. Joanne Shaw Taylor
Style: Blues rock
Influenced by: Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan
Find out more:www.pigs-ear.biz/jst
British blues artist Joanne Shaw Taylor serves up her blues with a generous side order of soul. Which is probably why she travelled all the way to Memphis, Tennessee to record her 2009 debut album White Sugar.
The album was produced by Jim Gaines, a man with a monster resume that includes Joanne’s heroes Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan, as well as such other legends as Luther Allison, Journey and, er, Huey Lewis and The News.
Joanne will embark on a UK tour in November 2010.
Listen: Joanne Shaw Taylor - Bones (live, Callahan's in Auburn Hills' MI)
8. Imelda May
Style: Blues, rockabilly and jazz
Influenced by: Billie Holiday
Gear: Killer vocal chords!
Find out more: www.imeldamay.co.uk
While Irish singer Imelda May has become the darling of the rockabilly scene, she has been a fan and performer of the blues since she was a schoolgirl.
“I heard Billie Holiday songs and went mad for that kind of stuff,” she told this writer in 2009. “Then I delved into the blues more. I got brought down to a blues club and was asked to sing onstage and I came back every week for ages after that. I would get up and sing blues. I suppose it was strange to see a 16-year old girl sing the blues in a nightclub at two in the morning!”
Imelda’s 2009 album Love Tattoo is absolutely essential. Her new album Mayhem will be released on October 4 2010. We can’t wait!
Listen: Imelda May - Smotherin’ Me (live in Southpaw, Brooklyn, New York)
9. Joe Bonamassa
Style: Blues rock
Influenced by: Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher, Jeff Beck
Find out more: www.jbonamassa.com
Joe Bonamassa has practically defined modern blues rock. His entire back catalogue is worth a blast but we’re smitten by his 11th record Black Rock.
Released in March 2010 the album is a perfect showcase for the different sides of Joe’s playing and songwriting. In addition to his sizzling duet with B.B. King (see audio below) we’re hooked on Quarryman’s Lament.
As if he wasn’t already up to his eyes in it, thanks to his recent massive success, Joe formed a ‘supergroup’ called Black Country Communion this year with ex-Deep Purple and Black Sabbath Glenn Hughes on bass, drummer Jason Bonham and keyboardist Derek Sherinian previously of, among many others, Dream Theater.
The band’s debut album will be released on September 20 2010. Find out more about Joe at his official fan site, bonamassalive.com.
Listen: Joe Bonamassa - Night Life (2010)
10. Damon Fowler
Style: Swamp blues
Influenced by: Johnny Winter, Duane Allman
Gear: Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters, Harmony Stratotone H44 (replica available from www.eastwoodguitars.com)
Find out more:www.damonfowler.com
A renowned slide guitarist, Damon Fowler has been playing blues since he was only 12 years old. Apparently not a fan of the current crop of white boys with Stratocasters brand of blues, Fowler has a more ‘downhome’ sound that incorporates elements of Southern rock, country and a slice of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The Damon Fowler Band has released four albums: Riverview Drive (1999), Roots and Branches (2000), Live At Skipper’s Smoke House (2003) and 2009’s Sugar Shack. The latter album, the band’s first release on Blind Pig Records (www.blindpigrecords.com), is available to preview and download from Amazon.
Listen: The Damon Fowler Band - Sugar Shack (live at Skippers, Tampa Fla, 2009)
11: Grady Champion
Style: Blues, R&B, soul
Influenced by: Sonny Boy Williamson, Slim Harpo
Find out more:www.gradychampion.com
Blues singer and harmonica player Grady Champion hails from Canton, Mississippi, the same town as blues legend Elmore James and slide guitarist Sonny Landreth.
Grady’s got the blues knitted into his DNA. Just check out the man and his band shimmying their way through Slim Harpo’s Baby Scratch My Back (see below). The band is so laid back they’re actually sitting down. They’re so ‘in the pocket,’ they could be covered in fluff... and old boiled sweets
This is music that gets the beer flowing and makes you glad you left the car at home. As much as we enjoy the Stevie Ray Vaughan-fuelled blues of the new breed of artists, Grady’s brand of downhome greasy goodness is the stuff that would keep us up way past our bedtime.
Listen: Grady Champion - Baby Scratch My Back (Slim Harpo cover, live at Natchez Manor, Natchez, MS)
12. Oli Brown
Style: Texas blues, blues rock
Influenced by: Stevie Ray Vaughan
Gear: Fender Stratocaster, Vanquish Legend Oli Brown Signature guitar
Find out more:www.olibrownband.co.uk
It would be easy to get annoyed by British singer/guitarist Oli Brown. Young, can sing a bit, good looking, already has his own signature guitar… Sickening, right?
However we just about forgive him as one listen to Evil Soul (download MP3 here) from Heads I Win, Tails You Lose (2010) will reveal that despite being only 21, Oli Brown already has his blues chops down.
His latest album Heads I Win, Tails You Lose, released on RUF Records earlier this year, is receiving great reviews. As did his 2008 debut record Open Road. You can expect to hear tracks from both records when the Oli Brown Band play some UK dates in October and December 2010.
To be honest, we’re not really annoyed at Oli. Maybe it’s closer to jealousy…
Listen: Oli Brown Band - No Diggity (Blackstreet cover, live at the Boardwalk in Sheffield, March 2009)
13. Ana Popović
Style: Blues rock
Influenced by: Stevie Ray Vaughan
Gear: 1964 Fender Stratocaster in 3-tone sunburst, custom Gigliotti electric
Find out more: www.anapopovic.com
Ana Popović is a Serbian blues guitarist and vocalist. Born in Belgrade in 1976, Ana took an interest in her father’s collection of old blues and soul records. By 15 she’d started strumming on her father’s guitar and formed her first band Hush at the age of 19.
Like her RUF Records stablemate, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Ana travelled to Memphis, Tennessee to record her debut album, 2002‘s well-received Hush. Her records showcase a kick ass Strat player with vocal chords to match. Ana’s most recent album Blind For Love (2009) is a more soulful affair than her previous releases but there’s still plenty of blues in those grooves.
You can get more information on Ana at her fan site, www.anapopovic.org.
Listen: Ana Popović - Blues For M (from Blind For Love (2009))
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
14. Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Style: Blues, blues rock
Influenced by: Muddy Waters
Find out more:www.kennywayneshepherd.net
In 1997, Kenny Wayne Shepherd made the number three spot on Guitar World magazine’s list of the most popular blues artists. Oh yeah, B.B. King came second and some bloke called Eric Clapton was at number one. Considering that Kenny was only 20 at the time the poll was taken it shows just what an impact he’d made on the blues scene at the time.
In 2007, Kenny released his most interesting project to date. 10 Days Out (Blues From The Backroads) was a CD/DVD package documenting his journey around the US to record with veteran blues artists both obscure and well known. When the film was completed six of the blues musicians featured had passed away. So, the film and album are valuable documents of blues history.
In 2008, Kenny was honoured with his own Fender Stratocaster signature series. We like the black one with the go-faster stripes.
Listen: Kenny Wayne Shepherd - Born With A Broken Heart (live with original KWS vocalist Corey Sterling, 1996)
15. Derek Trucks
Style: Blues, Southern rock
Influenced by: Duane Allman, Elmore James, Howlin’ Wolf
Gear: Gibson SG
Find out more:www.derektrucks.com
There are some obscure and up-and-coming artists in this feature. Derek Trucks doesn’t fall into either category.
As a member of The Allman Brothers Band and his own Derek Trucks Band, that he formed when he was 15 years old, the Truckster has enjoyed plenty of exposure and popularity over the years.
Best known for his expressive slide playing, Derek plays a Gibson '61 SG reissue which has a factory-fitted Vibrola vibrato unit, modified and a stop tailpiece. His main amp is a 1965 Fender Super Reverb.
By the way, if you’ve ever wondered how to tell a great slide player from one who should shut the feck up, point your eyeballs at this YouTube clip. The first minute is painful! Then Derek comes in to save the day…
Listen: The Derek Trucks Band - Down In The Flood (live on SSSteveTV, Jan 2009)
Wilson T King
16. Wilson T King
Influenced by: Jimi Hendrix
Gear: ’69 Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul
Find out more:www.facebook.com/wilsontking
Album reviewers have been saying some very good things about Wilson T King since he unveiled his debut album Follow Your First Mind this year. Positive reaction has been overwhelming.
Wilson has some strong negative opinions about ‘white boy karaoke blues’ artists that take the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan as their inspiration… which might mean some of the other artists in this roundup. Hey, it’s only his opinion.
Wilson himself has a sound that echoes the far-out blues of Jimi Hendrix without ever coming across as a ‘karaoke’ guitarist. His wild bends and fast runs make him stand out from the current blues crop. Hey, maybe we should give him a bad review just to mix things up a bit…
Listen: Wilson T King - Vigilante Man (from Follow Your First Mind (2010))
17. Seasick Steve
Style: Blues, folk
Influenced by: The road hard travelled…
Gear: Three-string Trance Wonder, diddley bow
Find out more: www.seasicksteve.com
Sonically, Seasick Steve comes wanders the same road that the late great Junior Kimbrough and RL Burnside did. His blues is the real deal.
Coming from a place so far away from the beer commercial vibe of some modern blues as to be a different genre altogether, Seasick Steve has lived the hard life reflected in his music. Steve doesn’t actually like to be described as a blues artist, he prefers ‘song and dance man,’ but his authentic gutbucket blues are unmistakable.
Watching Steve play his diddley bow is like stepping back to a more primitive time when what you played mattered more than the gear you could afford. Seasick Steve will be playing some UK festival dates in August and September. Check his website for details.
Listen: Seasick Steve - Save Me (live on a one-string diddley bow)
18. Susan Tedeschi
Style: Blues, soul
Influenced by: Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson
Gear: Fender Telecaster, D’Angelico NYSD-9
Find out more: www.susantedeschi.com
Susan Tedeschi was first turned onto blues by her father’s Lightning Hopkins and Mississippi John Hurt records.
Susan’s vocal style is often described as a blend of Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt. You can hear that influence clearly on Susan’s smoking version of Koko Taylor’s Voodoo Woman. As for her guitar style: Susan was influenced by Freddie King, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Tedeschi has released six albums: Better Days (1995), Just Won’t Burn (1998), Wait For Me (2002), Live From Austin, TX (2004), Hope and Desire (2005) and 2008’s well-received Back To The River.
Susan is married to slide guitarist Derek Trucks. The pair often collaborate in the band Soul Stew Revival, made up of members of The Susan Tedeschi Band and the Derek Trucks Band.
Listen: Susan Tedeschi - 700 Houses (live at the 2009 Cambridge Folk Festival)
Virgil and The Accelerators
19. Virgil and The Accelerators
Style: Blues rock
Influenced by: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton
Gear: Fender Stratocasters, Fender five-string Jazz Bass
Find out more:www.virgilandtheaccelerators.com
Virgil and The Accelerators are a British blues trio featuring guitarist Virgil McMahon, lead vocalist and bassist Tom Sansbury and drummer Gabriel McMahon. All three members of the band are in their teens, a fact not immediately obvious from their tight musicianship and Sansbury’s mature vocal delivery.
The band has yet to release an album but did put out their And So It Begins EP in 2008 loaded with three original songs (No Turning Back, What Am I To Do and Everybody) and three covers: BB King’s version of Everyday I Have The Blues, Lonnie Mack’s If You Have To Know and Couldn’t Stand The Weather by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
You can see the band in action in this collection of live videos.
Listen: Virgil and The Accelerators - No Turning Back (live at Beaverwood Club, Chislehurst, March 2010)
20. Jimmy Bowskill
Style: Blues rock, Delta blues
Influenced by: Robert Johnson, Free
Gear: Gibson Les Paul Standard, Fender Telecaster, Gibson EDS-1275
Find out more: www.jimmybowskill.com
Another blues obsessed child prodigy, Jimmy recently opened for Jeff Beck and Joe Bonamassa at a show in Bonn, Germany.
Things are going great for the young guitarist. He’s even been compared to one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Paul Kossoff, by someone who should know: “I played with him last year at this big festival in Canada called 'Nakusp',” said Free vocalist Paul Rodgers. “He's got a great feel. He reminds me of Paul Kossoff, who we sadly lost all those years ago. He's almost the spitting image of him which is incredible.”
Listen: Jimmy Bowskill Band - Diamond Ring (live at Kornbrennerei Broeleck, Germany, Nov 2009)
The Black Keys
21. The Black Keys
Style: Blues rock, garage rock
Influenced by: Junior Kimbrough, RL Burnside
Gear: Harmony H77 guitar, Ibanez ‘SG’
Find out more: www.theblackkeys.com
The Black Keys are vocalist and guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney. The band was formed in Akron, Ohio back in 2001.
Auerbach’s love for the music of the late blues legend Junior Kimbrough resulted in him dropping out of college to pursue a career in rock ‘n’ roll. "I've listened to him so much, it's just how I hear it,” he said. “I studied him so much, getting F's in college when I should've been studying, I was listening to Junior's music instead…"
The band was apparently involved in the recording of an album with Ike Turner, unfortunately cut short when the legendary R&B guitarist died in 2007. Shame, we would loved to have heard those sessions…
Listen: The Black Keys - Tighten Up (from Brothers (2010))
The White Stripes
22. The White Stripes
Style: Blues, garage punk, country
Influenced by: Son House, Robert Johnson, The Gun Club
Gear: 1964 JB Hutto Montgomery Airline, Harmony Rocket
Find out more:www.whitestripes.com
With respect to the other artists in this roundup, no contemporary band has done more to drill the blues aesthetic and beauty of lo-fi recording into the public consciousness than The White Stripes.
While guitarist and vocalist Jack White has taken on a dizzying array of musical projects over the years (The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather and the brilliant 2004 Van Lear Rose album, a collaboration with country legend Loretta Lynn), The White Stripes is still his finest hour.
The future of The White Stripes is up in the air at the moment. In an interview with MusicRadar’s Joe Bosso in May 2009 Jack claimed that a new Stripes record “won’t be too far off.” Pull your finger out mate!
Listen: The White Stripes - Death Letter Blues (Son House cover, live)
23. Walter Trout
Style: Blues rock
Influenced by: Jimi Hendrix
Gear: Fender Stratocaster
Find out more:www.waltertrout.com
Just as we were putting this puppy together a copy of Walter Trout’s new album Common Ground dropped through our letterbox. The album is Walter’s 20th.
Compared to some of the Strat-spanking blues fetuses doing the rounds these days (take a bow Tallan ‘T-Man’ Latz), Walt has an ancient soul. Of course, longevity is a good thing - great blues has all favoured the experienced - and Walter’s incendiary licks and soulful voice are testament to a life spent perfecting his craft. You can put a seal on that by watching Trout blast his way through the blues standard Dust My Broom (watch here).
Listen: Walter Trout and The Radicals - Ride Till I’m Satisfied (live in North Hollywood, California, 2002)
24. Dani Wilde
Style: Blues, soul
Influenced by: Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan
Gear: Fender Telecaster
Find out more: www.daniwilde.com
British blues artist Dani Wilde decided to become a blues singer after a visit to the Bishopstock Blues Festival when she was 14 years old.
“I saw the likes of contemporary blues singers Sue Foley, Shemekia Copeland and Susan Tedeschi perform,” she later remembered. “Before then I had only heard the old Chicago players like John Lee and Muddy Waters but to see young female artists playing the blues like that really blew me away and so I made it my mission to follow in Susan Tedeschi’s footsteps. Her performance was inspirational and had a life changing effect on me in regards to my music career.”
Dani released her debut album Heal My Blues in 2008. Her new album Shine is due for release in September 2010.
Listen: Dani Wilde Band - Little By Little (live at Village Habach, 2009)
25. Candye Kane
Style: Blues, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll
Influenced by: Classic female blues era
Gear: Vocal chords!
Find out more:www.candyekane.com
Candye Kane has had the requisite tough upbringing and wild life to qualify her to sing the blues. The fact that she does it with so much passion is a testament to her spirit.
Her new album Superhero is a cool mix of old school blues and torch songs with jazz and rockabilly flourishes. I Like ‘Em Stacked Like That (watch here) is a particular standout but the whole album is a treat for anyone sick of cookie cutter blues. Candye’s band features killer blues guitarist Laura Chavez. The two artists fit together beautifully.
Candye makes frequent references to her plus size figure (see here for proof). Her amazing voice, infectious humour and stage presence are way bigger…
Listen: Candye Kane - Superhero (live at the Oasis House Concerts, San Diego CA, Feb (2010)
Liked this? Now read: 25 greatest blues guitarists of all time
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