I grew up in the "classic rock" era, but I love music of every genre. I love sharing my old favorites while still discovering new artists.
Best Blues Albums of 2017
- Keb’ Mo’ and Taj Mahal: TajMo
- Supersonic Blues Machine: Californisoul
- The Rolling Stones: Blue & Lonesome
- Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Lay It On Down
- Walter Trout: We're All In This Together
- Van Morrison: Roll With the Punches
- Tommy Castro: Stompin' Ground
- Mitch Woods: Friends Along the Way
- Coco Montoya: Hard Truth
- Tedeschi Trucks Band: Live From The Fox Oakland
In my estimation, the blues is the roux of the American musical gumbo. Whatever genre you might name, the blues is in there somewhere, from way back to doo-wop all the way up to hip-hop. It came from the cries of the people that worked in the cotton fields, it grew out of pain, but now it can heal, and the more I sing it, the better I feel.
— Cyril Neville
1. Keb’ Mo’ and Taj Mahal: TajMo
Keb’ Mo’ and Taj Mahal together—they're a match made in blues heaven. The old master and the young, on a musical journey together.
The self-produced, 11-track album runs just over 45 minutes. If there is anything to complain about, it’s that it is over way too soon.
Guest artists Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, Sheila E. and Lizz Wright come along for the ride.
My favorite track is “That’s Who I Am, ”but the whole album is great. I also love “Don’t Leave Me Here,” and “Shake Me In Your Arms.”
2. Supersonic Blues Machine: Californisoul
Supersonic Blues Machine is a rockin' blues band made up of Lance Lopez (guitars/vocals/songwriter), Fabrizio Grossi (bass, producer, songwriter), and Kenny Aronoff (drums).
On their second album, Californisoul, they are joined by Walter Trout, Steve Lukather, Billy F. Gibbons, Eric Gales and Robben Ford.
The idea behind the album was to make a soundtrack for an imaginary road trip up the California coastline in the early 70s.
They released their first album, West of Flushing South of Frisco, in early 2016; it is definitely worth a listen too.
3. The Rolling Stones: Blue & Lonesome
Even though Blue and Lonesome was technically released in December of 2016, I could not resist including it here. It is all covers, and the Stones' first straight blues record ever. It takes the band back to their roots and the passion for the blues that was always the driving force behind The Rolling Stones.
They wanted the sound of the album to be spontaneous; they played it live in the studio without overdubs and I think that really comes through on the recording. The Stones got a little assist from their old friend Eric Clapton on two of the songs.
Blue and Lonesome
4. Kenny Wayne Shepherd: Lay It On Down
Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s new album, Lay It on Down, delivers a fresh take on blues roots music. This all-original album is packed full of new and exciting music. It's a little countrified, but the ten-track recording still delivers the blues-rock that earned him his reputation.
Lay it on Down
5. Walter Trout: We're All In This Together
Walter Trout included many of the blues’ best performers on this studio album: Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Sonny Landreth, Charlie Musselwhite, Mike Zito, Robben Ford, Warren Haynes, Eric Gales, Edgar Winter, Joe Louis Walker, John Nemeth, Jon Trout, Randy Bachman, John Mayall and Joe Bonamassa. Trout wrote most of the songs on the album, each with a particular musician in mind.
We're All in This Together
6. Van Morrison: Roll With the Punches
At the age of 72, Van Morrison has just released his 37th album, Roll With the Punches. This new album is just over an hour long and it is 100% blues.
The 16 tracks include eleven old blues numbers and five originals, highlighting the diversity of the genre.
Even though he could easily just coast on his reputation, Morrison attacks these songs with energy and attitude. The album includes cameos from Georgie Fame, Jeff Beck, and Chris Farlowe.
Roll With the Punches
7. Tommy Castro: Stompin' Ground
Stompin’ Ground includes 12 tracks, including six originals and six revamped versions of great old songs.
Castro features an all-star cast on this album, including Charlie Musselwhite, Mike Zito, Danielle Nicole, and Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo.
Castro draws on his musical roots inspired by his coming of age in San Jose during the late 60s and early 70s. He mixes blues-rock and soul music with socially conscious messages.
8. Mitch Woods: Friends Along the Way
I just love this album!
Guests include Van Morrison, Ruthie Foster, John Hammond, Maria Muldaur, Charlie Musselwhite, Joe Louis Walker, Taj Mahal, Cyril Neville, Kenny Neal, James Cotton and Marcia Ball.
With such a star-studded line-up, it would be easy to think of this as a “various artists” album, but that would be a mistake. Mitch Woods and his piano are the common thread in the luxurious tapestry of this album.
At the age of 66, Woods has devoted his life to the blues. “Friends Along the Way” is the culmination of his life’s experience. It takes a true musician to assemble a group of talent like this.
Friends Along the Way
9. Coco Montoya: Hard Truth
Coco Montoya plays a blistering blues guitar, and has a sweet, soulful voice I just can't get enough of. He brings an incredible fire and intensity to his live shows. My expectations are always high for Coco Montoya, and his new album, Hard Truth, does not disappoint.
This is his tenth album since breaking with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers in 1995. Of the 11 tracks, most are an eclectic selection of covers.
His backing band features some renowned musicians including bassist Bob Glaub, keyboardist Mike Finnigan, guitarists Billy Watts and Johnny Lee Schell , with Braunagel on drums. Leroy Parnell and his slide guitar guest on the song "Lost In The Bottle."
10. Tedeschi Trucks Band: Live From The Fox Oakland
Between Derek's slide guitar, Susan's smoking guitar and vocals, the sharp horns and driving rhythms, the Tedeschi Trucks Band is arguably the best blues-rock band around. They are classic, yet contemporary.
As the name implies, Live From The Fox Oakland was recorded at a show at the Fox Theater in Oakland, California. I think it captures the intimate vibe of the live performance. It's the next-best thing to seeing the band live.
Live From The Fox Oakland
Thanks for reading and listening. I hope you enjoyed the music on my list as much as I enjoyed choosing it for you.
© 2017 Sherry Hewins
Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on July 21, 2020:
I'm glad you enjoyed my article Kevin Deon. I guess I didn't go too far wrong if that's your only complaint. Actually, the numbers are not necessarily a ranking. I just made a list of 10 as they occurred to me.
Kevin Deon on July 20, 2020:
#1 was perfect. I agree with your list for sure....well maybe the Stones should have been #2 lol.
Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 11, 2018:
I sure did enjoy these selections, Sherry. I'll be listening and moving to more blues by these musicians and singers. That'll be my incentive to get aerobic exercise at home in snowy weather.
Sherry Hewins (author) from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 29, 2017:
Thanks Peggy, I enjoy making them.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 29, 2017:
I always enjoy the lists of songs you assemble in the different categories. Will have to come back and listen to more of the blues videos another time.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on November 15, 2017:
I enjoy listening to music and your choice is unique.