Almost five months are gone in 2018 already! A lot… so much in fact, has happened this year so far, some good, some not great, but we are still here! On a positive note, music is still flowing to our ears and great bands are delivering sweet jams to get us through the year and whatever stresses we encounter. What new bands have given you hope in 2018?
Earlier this year, we released https://jbonamassa.com/blues-musicians-to-watch-in-2018/ which outlined amazing and upcoming blues musicians that are poised to make a big splash now and beyond. Today, I would like to continue this list by looking at even more musicians who are continuing our favorite musical tradition and who are putting their unique twist on things. Some of these musicians are fresh and just getting into the game while others have been out for a few years but don’t get the recognition they truly deserve. Let’s remedy that shall we?!
Welcome to Blues in 2018 and Beyond Volume 2! Let’s dive right in.
Devon Gilfillian has such a welcoming, raw, and powerful sound that is reminiscent of older blues musicians with a unique, modern twist. Ever since he picked up the guitar at 14, he has been channeling his love for Al Green soul and Hendrix-type rock that come out in his own sound. According to Devon’s website, he is “No retro wannabe. Instead, Gilfillian is a classic artist for the modern age, discovering new life in soulful sounds that have been making people dance for decades.” This sentiment is shown in this raw, solo performance of his tune “Travelin’ Blues.”
Jane Lee Hooker
Introducing, the long-lost daughter of the legendary bluesman John Lee Hooker. I am just kidding. Jane Lee Hooker is a rocking five-piece all female blues band from NYC who are bringing their hard rock nature to the blues. Formed in 2013, the quintet has released two studio albums and are playing various circuits through the US. Their cover of the Muddy Water’s blues classic “Mannish Boy” is a perfect showcase of their talents and direction. Look out for them to make a splash very soon!
Black River Delta
Sweden isn’t really known for producing well-known blues bands, until now. Black River Delta are a balls to the wall blues-rock trio from Bollnas, Sweden. They are one of many groups capitalizing on the growing popularity of the dirty-rock genre that blends rough vocals, crunchy guitar, and booming drums. This style of blues salutes the early pioneers while utilizing modern techniques and equipment. Black River Delta has released their sophomore album Vol. II in March and look to expand their popularity.
Jo Harman is a strong a commanding blues and soul singer from Luton, England. She self-released her first EP in 2011 that quickly gained the attention of the right people in the industry and ever since, she has been on the path of great success. She has been nominated for seven different British Blues Awards and recently released her second album People We Become in 2017.
The future of blues ladies and gentlemen. Toby Lee is a now thirteen-year-old unbelievable guitar prodigy hailing from London England. Lee has been into music ever since he picked up a ukulele at age 4. He started off listening to more rock music but quickly migrated to the blues side of things, copying guys like Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Joe Bonamassa (check out the Bona bobble in the video!). Toby isn’t just a rip-roaring shredder, but he plays the blues with great finesse and with a maturity that usually comes with many years of playing and gigging with other musicians. He has become a YouTube sensation, posting incredible videos of him tearing it up on blues and rock classics.
She may be small, but she has a voice that can crash through a concrete building. At only 21 years old, Hannah Wicklund is the powerhouse front woman of Hannah Wicklund and the Stepin Stones. She is a very pleasant of singer songwriter and rock superstar. Check out her debut self-titled album that was released earlier this year!
Artur is simply a killer blues player that is finally getting the recognition he needs. This Brazilian bluesman has shared the stage with notable musicians like Joe Satriani, Buddy Guy and others. He has set up a House of Blues project in Brazil, promoting blues music in the country.
The Weight Band
The Weight Band is a collection of members from the 1960’s classic rock group, The Band. With new additions made on the way, the Weight Band wanted to “carry on the legacy of the unforgettable rock group.” It is always great to hear veteran players getting back to their craft!
A.J. Ghent took influences from a very valuable and trustworthy source, his direct family. His uncle Willie Easton was the originator of an African-American music style called the “Sacred Steel Tradition.” “Forged in the congregational hotbox of the Southern Pentecostal House of God church, sacred steel music is an electrified rhythm, punctuated by sharp blasts of soaring solos, played on amplified lap steel guitar. It’s an open tuning, on an eight-stringed instrument, and sometimes it can sound like the roaring, whooping and hollering voice of God himself has joined the gospel fervor.” (reference Connect Savannah, 2013).
Now, Ghent has his own blues band with his wife, sister, and friends. The band isn’t timid in exploring new territories and mixes elements of blues, gospel, R&B and other styles into their playing. Their latest offering, The Neo Blues Project is already gaining recognition and started at number 7 on the Billboard Blues Charts.
Emily Burgess is quickly becoming a treasured guitarist in Canada. She has toured and performed with multiple blues-based bands and just released her debut album Are We in Love? In 2017.