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5 Of My Favorite Blues Artists

Updated on February 29, 2020
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Kari fell in love with the blues many years ago. She enjoys all variations of the genre.

I Love The Blues

House of Blues
House of Blues | Source

I love the blues. In the beginning, I never realized the songs I loved were blues. I just knew they moved me and made me want to listen to them. Then I worked in a hospital and one of the General surgeons loved the blues. He loved my music, which led me to the understanding that I love the blues.

Another surgeon loved the blues, but hated when anyone sang along. He was always telling me to "put on something no-one knows". I was able to oblige due to the fact that I do not have much pop in my collection. I always thought I liked rock and roll, but I guess the rock I like rolls with the blues.

There are so many different types of blues, Chicago blues, electric blues, Texas blues and several more.  I could not tell you exactly what makes each unique and different.  The blues have a certain beat that makes my feet tap.  They have an overwhelming bass that moves my soul.  Some songs soothe me, while others make me want to move.

The Vibrancy of the Blues

The blues color my life.
The blues color my life. | Source

The Animals

The Animals with Eric Burdon made some great music in the early 1960's.  Becoming a force on the music front by 1963, they hit London early in the year of 1964.  Later that same year they were in New York, playing on the Ed Sullivan Show.  The first of the original band left in 1965. The dissolution continued, and in 1966 was complete.  Eric Burdon attempted to keep the name alive with new players, billing themselves as "Eric Burdon and the Animals".

During the few short years they were together, the Animals made history.  Their rendition of the song, "House of the Rising Sun" topped the British and American charts.  This was the second time a British band had topped the American charts, the first time was the Beatles with "Can't Buy Me Love". 

Coming from the coal-mining town of Newcastle-on-Tyne, they strongly identified with the average working man.  Their songs exemplified this affiliation with a bawdiness and passion that was new to the world.  Songs like, "We Got to Get Out of This Place", engaged the average person, giving voice to the growing disquiet of the times.

The Animals-"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"

The Animals-House of the Rising Sun

Johnny Lang

Johnny Lang was a kid of 15 when he released his first album. His second album, "Lie to Me", was released the day before his 16th birthday and went multi-platinum. His third album, "Wander this World", released when he was 17 earned him a Grammy nomination. This kid was the wonder of the blues world.

His voice, at the tender age of 16, had the grit and emotion of a more experienced age. His guitar skills rival many of the great masters. He is also an accomplished song writer, and writes many of his songs. He co-authored my favorite, "Walking Away". When I first heard his music, I could not believe he was so young.

Johnny Lang-"Walking Away"

Johnny Lang-Lie to Me

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan, known for his fabulous guitar riffs, had a hard time starting off in the music world. His rise from poverty to superstar was accented by his addiction and recovery. He is recognized as one of the greatest blues guitarists ever and a statue in Austin, Texas stands as a memorial to him.

Austin did not always love Stevie as much as it does now. When he first arrived in Austin he struggled. At age 17 he played with Albert King in a club in Austin, and although Albert King was impressed, Stevie Ray still had many years to wait for stardom. He was 29 when his first album was released. He became a success overnight.

The album, Texas Flood, was recorded in 2 days in a studio owned by Jackson Browne in Los Angeles, California. This recording resulted in Epic Records signing the band and the rest became history. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble toured the world for the next 7 years until Stevie Ray's untimely death.

Stevie Ray Vaughan with Albert King-Texas Flood

Stevie Ray Vaughan-Little Wing

Kenny Wayne Shepherd

I first heard Kenny Wayne Shepherd while watching Austin City Limits in 1997. This was the same year he released his second album, "Trouble Is...". I was so pleased with his music that I went the next day and bought the only album I could find of his, "Ledbetter Heights". Ledbetter Heights had been released in 1995 and was every bit as good as what I had heard the night before.

Like many other blues artists, Kenny Wayne is self taught.  He was seven when he began.  He emulated Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King and other great blues artists.  He ended up with an eclectic style all his own.  His albums contain varied styles that can be considered rocking blues, Texas blues, acoustic blues and Louisiana blues.  He is a true blues virtuoso.

Kenny Wayne Shephard-Blue on Black

Kenny Wayne Shephard-Born With A Broken Heart

George Thorogood and The Delaware Destroyers

George Thorogood may not be one of the classics, but I love his style. He is energetic and amusing. And he is great to see live. I remember when I was in nursing school I had my two best friends go with me to see him. He was playing in a bar in Virginia and we drove out. Neither one knew who he was, nor was either one was a blues fan but I convinced them to go.

One of the women was married to a lawyer and the mother of two. The other was the mother of one and had grown up in New York. Now, while I had a wonderful time, I think their opinions differed. The next day both vowed they would never go to another concert with me...never...ever...ever. This taught me that he may be an acquired taste.

In New Mexico, I still listened to George. My friend from Puerto Rico always called "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" the "Clint Song" after a rather raunchy individual we worked with. She would always tell me, "Hey, play that Clint Song." I must say, she always made me laugh.

George Thorogood and The Destroyers-One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer (The Clint Song)

George Thorogood and The Destroyers-Bad to the Bone

I could go on, but these are some of my favorites. I would have included Buddy Guy's "Heavy Love" album, but there were no YouTube links for the songs I wanted. I also would have included some Debbie Davies and Sue Foley, but for the same reason.

There is some really good acoustic blues to be found also. I am rather fond of acoustic blues and maybe that will be another hub. The blues are fun, and sad, and moving...I thank the doc who alerted me to the fact that I loved the blues! It made my searching for new music so much easier.

All this talk of the blues reminded me of a movie I saw. Here is a great movie to see with your kids, called "Adventures in Babysitting". What reminded me is there is one part of the movie where they are stuck in New York and end up in a blues bar. The singer tells them "no-on leaves until they sing the blues." They make up a song called "The Babysitting Blues" that I actually find quite amusing! It gives you a good idea of how a blues song comes to be.

The Babysitting Blues

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Kari Poulsen


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