The Thrill is now: 30 + 1 contemporary blues artists that deserve our attention
15/02/2012 @ 13:13
By ?????? ????????
As we note down annually in each year's retrospective article, the Blues/ R&B genre in general is alive and well. But what happens with the Blues itself? Are they, as most people believe, buried twelve meters under in music's own graveyard? Is the scene still alive or are we left with only a bunch of great old bluesmen? What lies beyond the 3 or 4 well known names that have surpassed obscurity?

This article's purpose is to gather some of the genre's artists of the present day, which I believe deserve the attention of the music fans.

The menu is rich and it contains of: Americans who find their audience in Europe, British searching their sound in the U.S., women, men and youngsters, aged from 12 to 71, underground musicians and established artists, well experienced and newcomers, playing from folk & jungle up to hard rocking blues. Oh, there are Greeks too...

So, whether you indulge in this style or either meeting it for the first time, I hope that herein you will find music that will keep you company for a while or even longer.

Additions and complaints are always accepted on the familiar complaint box: the social networking space at the bottom of the page (just scroll twelve meters down).



1. Black Diamond Heavies



The style: Blues, Soul, Garage, Punk

The story: Children of priests and bourbon producers, this duo (keyboards, drums) from the southern U.S. states plow the globe by punking out and growling the blues.

The album: Every Damn Time (2007). Sweat, noise and spirit recorded in just two sessions.

Jam with: The Black Keys

The website: www.myspace.com/blackdiamondheavies

The sample:





2. The Black Keys



The style: Blues Rock, Garage, Indie

The story: Two pals from Ohio conquer the world by playing raw and powerful blues. One guitar and one drumkit were enough.

The album: Brothers (2010). Concerts around the world till exhaustion, awards and TV appearances. Welcome to the mainstream side of life.

Jam with: Dr. John, Booker T

The website: www.theblackkeys.com

The sample:





3. Joe Bonamassa



The style: Blues rock

The story: Former child prodigy transforms -with the help of producer Kevin Shirley- from blues workman to the genre's king and guitar hero. One of this list's very few who has visited Greece.

The album: Sloe Gin (2007). A key album that showcases Joe maturing both lyrically and synthetically, while also putting his voice forward.

Jams with: Jethro Tull, Eric Clapton, Gov't Mule, Pat Marino, Walter Trout, Paul Rodgers and countless others.

The website: www.jbonamassa.com

The sample:





4. Marcus Bonfanti



The style: Delta Blues, Folk

The story: Boarded on the British blues revival chariot that's driven by Seasick Steve, he tries to place himself in the music scene with a relentless live presence.

The album: Hard Times (2010). This qualitative second album reveals his influences and paves the way to recognition, which he seems to deserve.

Jams with: Paddy Milner, Paul Jones

The website: www.marcusbonfanti.com

The sample:





5. Oli Brown



The style: Electric Blues

The story: In 2002 he grabbed a guitar for the first time, in 2008 he inked a deal with Ruf Records and in 2010 he was presented as Britain's new hope to oppose USA's bluesmen.

The album: Heads I Win Tails You Lose (2010). Everyone was waiting for the past-Mike Vernon takeoff that, despite all the awards, has not yet arrived.

Jams with: John Mayall, Walter Trout

The website: www.oliselectricblues.co.uk

The sample:





6. Danny Bryant



The style: Blues Rock

The story: British guitar player with a live experience of many miles and a back catalogue of great quality, he signs with a major label and slowly gains recognition. Alternatively: Do you see any Kevin Shirleys around?

The album: Live (2010). His first release with Rounder/Continental puts him on the European map, opening the road to success.

Jams with: Walter Trout, Eric Steckel, Popa Chubby

The website: //www.dannybryant.com

The sample:





7. Candye Cane



The style: Jump Blues, Jazz, Rockabilly

The story: Having a CV that every record label would kill for, this obscene bisexual American gives an average of 250 concerts per year at the age of 46, while she records consecutively for 25 years, awaiting recognition.

The album: White Trash Girl (2005). The title track says it all and her voice is better than ever.

Jams with: Both men and women. Former member -along with Dani Wilde and Deborah Coleman- of Ruf's Blues Caravan.

The website: www.candyekane.com

The sample:





8. Popa Chubby



The style: Blues rock

The story: An orphan since he was 7 years old, he tangles with heroin at 18, gets clean at 20 and devotes himself to music ever since, playing blues which he often mixes up with punk, country and hip-hop music.

The album: The Good, The Bad And The Chubby (2002). The album that displays it all. A songwriter that doesn't prefer covering others' songs, a lyrical diversity, a guitar player who's got it in him, but also the typical production that keeps the project from taking off.

Jams with: Walter Trout, Ron Sayer Jr and anyone else who likes bad boys.

The website: www.popachubby.com

The sample:





9. Sena Ehrhardt



The style: Blues, Soul, Funk

The story: Not only she follows the footsteps of her bluesman father, she is also involved in a band with him, plowing the U.S.

The album: Leave The Light On (2011). Under Blind Pig Records' roof, she releases a debut album filled with beautiful compositions that makes a strong impression while leaving much promise.

Jams with: Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King

The website: www.senaehrhardt.com

The sample:





10. Damon Fowler



The style: Louisiana Blues, Swamp Rock

The story: He plays everything (slide, Dobro, pedal steel) in the price of one. Having made a name for himself in Florida, U.S.A. since he was a young kid, he impresses Rick Derringer and then Blind Pig Records, who has him since 2009 in its catalogue.

The album: Sugar Shack (2009). The album that places him at the forefront of the Blues world. The best is yet to come.

Jams with: Shawn Kellerman, JJ Grey

The website: damonfowler.com

The sample:





11. Beth Hart



The style: Blues, Soul, Jazz

The story: Troubled childhood, addictions, music studies, talent shows, contract with a record company, more addictions, imprisonment and a new beginning in the mid 00s for the great Californian singer.

The album: Don't Explain (2001). The collaboration with Joe Bonamassa in soul standards covers highlights her amazing voice, which can stand in any comparison with the great ladies of the genre.

Jams with: Slash, Jeff Beck

The website: bethhart.com

The sample:





12. Warren Haynes



The style: Soul, Blues, Funk, Jam

The story: One of the greatest guitar players in rock history, he divides his talent between The Allman Brothers Band, Gov't Mule and the new Warren Haynes Band.

The album: Man In Motion (2011): After excelling in the rock / jam / southern scene for many years, he returns to his 'black' childhood with a remarkable, qualitative and soulful release.

Jams with: Just about everyone: from Eric Clapton to Coheed & Cambria.

The website: www.warrenhaynes.net

The sample:





13. Wilson T King



The style: Really modern Electric Blues

The story: He has served Indie rock, studied Physics and Bukowski, and listened to Hendrix and Jeff Beck before returning to the blues, which he revives through his great debut album.

The album: Follow Your Mind First (2010). He states: "My record is a reaction to what I can only describe as appalling white boy karaoke blues albums by so called guitar greats that have been polluting the airwaves since Stevie Ray Vaughan died".

Jams with: With statements like the above...

The website: wilsontking.bandcamp.com

The sample:





14. Karen Lovely



The style: Blues, R&B, Soul

The story: She started professionally in 2007, reached the blues community surface in 2009 and seems to be ready to launch. As from 2012, Europe will also enjoy her.

The album: Still The Rain (2010). The title track revealed a great, "lovely" new voice that's probably here to stay.

Jams with: Eric Robert

The website: www.karenlovely.com

The sample:





15. Imelda May



The style: Rockabilly, Blues, Jazz

The story: Been in Dublin's bars since her 16th year of age, in 2002 she founds her own band and since 2010 she's rocking Europe (for now) in style.

The album: Mayhem (2010). The ultimate return to retro. Humor, fun and great excitement in an attractive package that contains a variation of styles, from Rockabilly to Dixie jazz.

Jams with: Jeff Beck, Wanda Jackson, Meat Loaf

The website: www.imeldamay.co.uk

The sample:





16. Meena



The style: Blues, Soul

The story: This Austrian is a discovery of Ruf's owner, who was captivated by her potential and persuaded her to sign a record deal, offering to her the artistic freedom she had sought but not found since 1977.

The album: Try Me (2010). Her unique voice boosts the compositions, with the assistance of highly qualified guitar players such as Montoya & Sadinas.

Jams with: Coco Montoya, Joanne Shaw Taylor

The website: www.meenacryle.com

The sample:





17. Ana Popovic



The style: Blues rock

The story: Hailing from Serbia, she started professionally in Northern Europe in the late 90s and has been consistent ever since, with quality albums and a constant live presence on both sides of the Atlantic.

The album: Unconditional (2011). Ana seems ready to fly. She's inspired by New Orleans, the music tradition of which is obvious in this release.

Jams with: Buddy Guy, Walter Trout

The website: www.anapopovic.com

The sample:





18. Giles Robson



The style: Blues

The story: A discovery of some BBC producers, this British has come to revive the blues' scene.

The album: Crooked Heart Of Mine (2011). If we listen carefully, we can see the prospect in this harmonica player, although we don't like hasty deifications.

Jams with: Steve Cropper, The Animals

The website: gilesrobson-thedirtyaces.co.uk

The sample:





19. Philip Sayce



The style: Blues Rock

The story: He was grown up in Canada where he joined Jeff Healey Band. The 00s find him relocated in Los Angeles together with Uncle Kracker and Melissa Etheridge.

The album: Innerevolution (2010). Guitars on fire, balance between commercial and noisy - ideal for hard rocking blues fans.

Jams with: Deep Purple, Melissa Etheridge.

The website: philipsayce.com

The sample:





20. Kenny Wayne Shepherd



The style: Blues, Blues Rock

The story: A son of Louisiana, didn't content to only listen to the greats but also managed to get into their world, recording his experience in the significant "10 Days: Blues From The Backroads".

The album: Trouble Is (1997). At the age of 20 and before he rocked his blues completely, he forced the music world to bow to his talent and the rest to run massively to the record stores.

Jams with: B.B. King, Hubert Sumlin (R.I.P.)

The website: www.kennywayneshepherd.net

The sample:





21. Seasick Steve



The style: Blues, Boogie, Folk

The story: A peddler since he was 13, the now 72-year old Steven Wold entered a studio for the first time at 63 and saw success coming through Jools Holland's TV show at 65.

The album: You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks (2011). The transitions between uplifting boogie and emotional folk sounds is the -more successful here than ever- recipe that brings the desired combination of commercial and artistic success.

Jams with: John Paul Jones, Jack White

The website: seasicksteve.com

The sample:





22. Small Blues Trap



The style: Blues, Delta Blues

The story: These great laborers of the genre started in 2004 from the province of Greece and are plowing the country ever since, playing their own music in their own standards.

The album: Red Snakes & Cave Rats (2010). Karapiperis' deep a la Cambell voice and his harmonica blend harmoniously with Daras' guitar and the result is a remarkable, world-class release.

Jam with: Blues Wire, Blues Cargo

The website: www.smallbluestrap.gr

The sample:





23. C.W. Stoneking



The style: Blues, Jazz, Jungle

The story: An Australian with a strange sense of humor, he plays pre-war blues and divides his time between his brass band and his solo career.

The album: King Hokum (2006). The banjo and the guitars that sound like the 20s, the comic element and his unique style are transcending his country's borders, bringing him even in Greece.

Jams with: Collard Greens and Gravy

The website: cwstoneking.com

The sample:





24. Joanne Shaw Taylor



The style: Blues Rock

The story: The white British girl who at the age of 16 blew Dave Stewart's mind, signs and records for Ruf in Memphis at 23.

The album: White Sugar (2010). Based on the standards of Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan, her debut album impresses and puts her on the map, starting from her own country.

Jams with: Danni Wilde, Cassie Taylor

The website: www.pigs-ear.biz/jst

The sample:





25. Susan Tedeschi



The style: Blues, Soul

The story: The voice that carries all the important legacy of the American music tradition. Since 2010 she joined musical forces with the great guitarist Derek Trucks (Tedeschi Trucks Band), with which they go hand in hand in life since 2001. The greatest have not yet arrived.

The album: Just Won't Burn (1998). The successful combination of commercial and artistic success that is so rarely found in this genre.

Jams with: Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes

The website: www.susantedeschi.com

The sample:





26. Sandi Thom



The style: Blues, Folk, Pop

The story: She convinced (or so the world believes) a major label to sign a contract with her, by using her successful concert webcasts. After 2006's hit song, "I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker", the system practically washed her out.

The album: Merchants & Thieves (2010). A turn towards the blues and quality after two lightweight, easy albums and a rejection from her label. With this voice and this repertoire, she can only see better days.

Jams with: Joe Bonamassa (on and off the stage)

The website: www.sandithom.com

The sample:





27. Walter Trout



The style: Blues Rock

The story: Played with Canned Heat, matured in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and by the end of the 80s he opened his own wings, generously offering the blues with a continuous presence in the studio and the stage. A real worker, a great guitar player.

The album: The Outsider (2008). Texas, Chicago, SRV and everything you love about this genre is in this album, via his ever impressive guitar playing.

Jams with: Joe Bonamassa, Oli Brown and many, many others

The website: www.waltertrout.com

The sample:





28. Derek Trucks



The style: Blues, World, Jazz, Jam

The story: A nephew of an Allman Brothers member, he jams with Buddy Guy at the age of 13, starts recording with his own band at 18, while at 20 joins in his uncle's band, which he serves till this day. One of the greatest guitar players around (with or without the word slide in front of "guitar").

The album: Songlines (2006). Influences from India to the American south, dreamy guitar playing and controlled jamming in a feast of sounds and colors.

Jams with: Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and anyone that asks for a touch of slide in his music

The website: www.derektrucks.com

The sample:





29. Virgil And The Accelerators



The style: Blues rock

The story: Classic power trio from Britain, with a 20-year old Virgil McMahon that's putting guitars on fire.

The album: The Radium (2011). A great sensation in England and highly acclaimed reviews for an album full of energy, talent and solos.

Jam with: Joanne Shaw Taylor, Otis Grand

The website: www.vataband.com

The sample:





30. Dani Wilde



The style: Blues

The story: Having Susan Tedeschi as a role model, she began her musical journey from England and is impressing with the extent of her voice (mainly) as well as her potential on the guitar.

The album: Heal My Blues (2009). The release that manages to capture her capabilities in singing, guitar playing and also composing.

Jams with: Will Wilde, Joanne Shaw Taylor

The website: www.daniwilde.com

The sample:





For last, I've saved the future...

30+1. Quinn Sullivan



The style: Blues, Blues rock

The story: Born a few months before the Millennium, grabbed the guitar at the age of 5 and at 8 he is the official Buddy Guy's protege. At 12, he is working on his second album!

The album: Cyclone (2011). Already technically robust in voice and guitar playing, he makes you wonder how far he'll get when he literally experiences the blues and his voice and himself mature. A Bonamassa in the making.

Jams with: Buddy Guy, B.B. King

The website: www.quinnsullivan.me

The sample:


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