Gettin’ Through 2018 Blues
We are a little more than half way through with 2018 already. We have had some interesting occurrences in our country, some positive and many not so spectacular. But, on the bright side, we have heard some incredible songs from renowned and up and coming blues musicians.
Let’s take a listen to twelve standout blues tunes of 2018. Don’t forget to check out the “Gettin’ Through 2018 Blues” Spotify playlist below to hear all of these gems and other great songs that will continually be added! Also, make sure to keep up to date with all of Joe’s official Spotify playlists!
1). Buddy Guy – “Blues is Alive and Well”
Buddy Guy is one of the most respected guitar players and a living blues legend. On June 15, 2018, the 81-year-old master released his 18th studio album, The Blues is Alive and Well. The title track is a typical Buddy song with a powerful horn section and tasteful guitar solo, and he tells it just like it is, “As long as I’m breathing, my heart is still beating, I got my story to tell. As long as I’m around, the blues is alive and well.” This track demonstrates why he will always be considered one of the best.
2). Joe Bonamassa – “Redemption”
The busiest player in the blues business is back at it, set to release his thirteenth studio album, Redemption in September. The title track was co-written by Dion, the prolific songwriter and front man of the famous 50’s group, Dion and the Belmonts. Joe mentions that “Musically, I hope the album meets your expectations, emotionally, I hope it encourages you to face your own shortcomings and come out on the other side happier and healthier.”
3). Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite – “The Bottle Wins Again”
One is a blues legend, the other is a multi-genre mastermind; together they form a modern, energetic duo that pays homage to old school blues vibes. Charlie Musselwhite (harmonica) and Ben Harper (guitar/vocals) released their sophomore album No Mercy in this Land earlier this year after winning the Best Blues Album Grammy Award in 2014 for Get Up! This tune follows a traditional blues form, with a catchy riff followed by a verse of lyrics, leading into a driving shuffle which is capitalized by Charlie’s sensational harp playing. They are most likely looking at another Grammy nomination with this album!
4). Danielle Nicole Band Feat. Kenny Wayne Shepherd – “Save Me”
From playing in the blues-rock band Trampled Under Foot with her brothers, to providing bass lines for the roots/blues duo North Mississippi Allstars, Danielle Nicole is proving to be a fierce and formidable frontwoman. Her second album Cry No More demonstrates her many talents as a musician and a successful band leader. The standout track “Save Me” is a beautifully raw blend of gospel, soul, and blues, complete with tasty organ riffs, attitude-filled lyrics, and a burning solo from blues guitar great Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
5). Fantastic Negrito – “The Duffler”
Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz has had a significantly difficult life, growing up in a rough neighborhood in Oakland and going through a near-fatal car accident that quite literally flipped his life upside down. Despite all of these hardships, the musician never lost faith or perseverance and continued to reach for his dreams. In 2014, at the age of 46. Fantastic Negrito returned to music and by 2017, he had a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album, released by his own label. His 2018 release Don’t Be Dead paints a vivid and sonically impressive picture of his life while commenting on current issues in our world. Fantastic Negrito is unlike any artist you have heard, integrating modern and traditional elements into his sound. The single “The Duffler” is a prime example of that, using a driving hook coupled with screaming lyrics and modern electronic techniques. The whole album is definitely worth a listen
6). Black River Delta – “Rodeo”
Recently, there has been a great influx of dirty blues-rock bands who use the roots-rock stomp method with plenty of fuzzy and overdriven guitars. But, I bet you haven’t heard many blues-rock bands coming out of Sweden; until now. Black River Delta formed in Bollnas, Sweden in 2014, and ever since has been proving themselves as a solid and entertaining trio. “Rodeo” off of their second full-length album, Vol. II is a bookmark example of a dirty-rock song, featuring lo-fi vocals, fuzz-heavy guitar riffs, and non-stop driving attitude. Make sure to check out Black River Delta as they set sail in 2019 on Joe Bonamassa’s 5th annual Keeping the Blues Alive Cruise.
7). Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin’ Stones – “Bomb Through The Breeze”
Hannah Wicklund is a 21-year old, petite guitarist, but don’t let any of that fool you; she is one of the most energetic and ripping guitarists on the scene right now. Together with the band she has been fronting since she was eight years old, Hannah Wicklund finally released her self-titled debut album in February of this year. The album as a whole showcases her immense talents as a vocalist and guitarist, especially the hard-rock anthem “Bomb Through The Breeze.” This tune will keep you at the edge of your seat the entire way through.
8). Devon Gilfillian – “Trouble Maker”
After years of tirelessly playing gigs and perfecting his own sound, Devon Gilfillian’s dreams are finally coming to fruition. Like many of the musicians on this list, it is difficult to pigeonhole Gilfillian into one category because he seamlessly blends elements of blues, roots, gospel, and soul into one tight sounding package. Now, with a partnership with the popular record label Capitol Records, Gilfillian aims to take the world by storm. Listen to his single “Trouble Maker” and you will get a sense of what I’m talking about.
9). A.J. Ghent – “Power”
Modern slide powerhouse A.J. Ghent comes from a long line of talented musicians. His family is even credited for creating the “Sacred Steel” tradition of playing, which has recently seen a spike in popularity and musicians. After touring and recording with various projects, the 31 year-old brilliant guitarist has created his own group, The Neo Blues Project that offers a pleasant mix of blues and gospel; a great avenue for Ghent to showcase his skills. “Power” is a standout gem on his most recent EP that is perfectly raw and jamming!
10). Shemekia Copeland – Ain’t Got Time For Hate”
Shemekia Copeland is like Aretha Franklin if she fronted a blues and southern-rock band. As the daughter of renowned Texas blues musician, Johnny Copeland, Shemekia grew up around music her whole life and has created her own impressive list of credentials and experiences in the blues world. On her single “Ain’t Got Time For Hate,” Shemekia layers her gorgeous gospel-soaked vocals on a background of twangy guitar riffs, and boy does it work.
11). Bones of J.R. Jones – “I See You”
Jonathon Robert Linaberry has taken the dirty blues-rock vibes to his one-man-band world. “I See You,” from his fourth album, is a non-stop fun and blaring blues tune.
12). Sue Foley – “Ice Queen”
Sue Foley has been on the blues scene since 1992 and has released fifteen stellar studio albums that showcase her outstanding guitar and vocal chops. “Ice Queen” is a slow-burning, high-intensity blues tune that shows what the Canadian blues slayer can do.