It's time for the traditional end-of-the-year Top Ten list for 2010. This year has seen a lot of great music released. Some of these I reviewed earlier this year, and some of them are newly listed--anyway, in my humble opinion, this is the best of the good stuff. Support your favorite blues artists, and go buy these cds. Furthermore, if you have the chance, go see these artists live.
1. Ronnie Earl -- Spread The Love. Ronnie Earl is the most important blues guitarist alive, and this is his most beautiful release in a career of making great music. Fits equally well on Saturday night or Sunday morning. On Stony Plain Records. Any Top 10 Blues List that doesn't include this cd by Ronnie Earl is completely bogus.
2. Grant Dermody -- Lay Down My Burden. See my review September 12.
3. Cee Cee James -- Seriously Raw (Live at Sunbanks). See my review July 12.
4. Retro Deluxe -- Watermelon Tea. Featuring Bobby Joe Owens on vocals, Zach Sweeney on lead guitar, Jimbo Mathis on drums and songs written and/or arranged by Robert J Thompson, this one is more fun than anything else I heard all year. On the Rinkled Rooster label.
5. Peter Parcek 3 -- The Mathematics of Love. This one is for all you rock 'n blues lovers--a fantastic release, from a top-notch guitarist who has paid his dues for a long time in Boston. Starts off with a burning "Showbiz Blues" and never lets up. This one has turned up on several other Top 10 lists. No problem. It really is that good. On Vizz Tone Records.
6. Moreland and Arbuckle -- Flood. See my review Feb 23. Includes my favorite song of the year "Don't Wake Me," which will teach your soul everything there is to know about the blues in less than 4 minutes. Don't believe me? Listen to it again.
7. Jay Gaunt -- Harmonicopia. I am shocked that I did not review this earlier this year. A fantastic journey through the world of harmonica styles. Harmonica played with taste and chops, and the band surrounding Gaunt plays as well as he does. Includes a cool bluesy version of "Greensleeves." Yeah, that Greensleeves, the classical song. I love it, but I'm pretty sure than Jay could do a version of Kermit the frog's "Rainbow Connection" and I'd love that too. On JBG Music.
8. Albert Castiglia -- Keepin On. See my review August 19. Runner up for my favorite song of the year is "My Baby Is Now On My Mind," which is so good it reminds me of the late great Sean Costello.
9. Jim Byrnes -- Everywhere West. See my review December 15.
10. Studebacker John's Maxwell Street Kings -- That's The Way You Do. A great big Valentine to the early days of Chicago Blues on Maxwell Street. Studebacker John Grimaldi wrote all the songs, and he plays slide guitar and vocals and harp, with Rick Kreher on guitar and backing vocals, and Steve Cushing on drums. This three piece brings the classic Chicago Maxwell Street blues scene to throbbing greasy life. On Delmark Records.