Skip to main content
Publish date:

Blues Lounge: Feeling blue? Find a soundtrack for your mood

New blues discs and books shine a light on the genre’s full range.

Chris Barber Presents Lost & Found: The Blues Legacy (Blues Legacy/MVD Audio; three volumes) delightfully offers English radio broadcasts— mostly 1957-64 — by harpman Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller), gospel boogie guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Jimmy Witherspoon and Louis Jordan, as well as Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters and Otis Spann and Howlin Wolf and Hubert Sumlin, often with Barber’s frolicsome Dixieland band, which was hardly their usual context.

The sound quality is always at least decent.


The blues’ role in The British Invasion is obvious on The Yardbirds’ 27-song Happenings Ten Years Time Ago 1964-1968 (Raven), including young Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.

“Good Morning Little School Girl,” in particular, transforms rough blues into upbeat Brit pop foreshadowing “Over Under Sideways Down.”


Steve Winwood’s ninth solo album, nine-track Nine Lives (Columbia), gleams with low-spark sophistication.

Eclecticism, of course, has long been a Winwood trademark. The opener, “I’m Not Drowning,” has a hypnotic basic riff reflecting Africa as cradle to the blues.

After only a few notes, we know “Dirty City”’s guitar solo is from his 1969 Blind Faith mate, Eric Clapton.


“I wanted to do an entire album featuring some of my favorite players as guests without it being yet another chichéd ‘duets’ album. Then I got the idea to write songs specifically for each artist,” says emotive slide guitarist Sonny Landreth.

Weathered yet hopeful, his From The Reach (Landfall) pulls it off cohesively with Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Robben Ford, Dr. John and others, while maintaining the swampy aura of Landreth’s southwestern Louisiana.


Like his work in Cajun mainstay Beausoleil, fiddler/accordionist Michael Doucet’s solo From Now On (Smithsonian Folkways) blithely waltzes from blues to classical.

An imaginative “Saint Louis Blues” calls to mind Stephane Grappelli’s gypsy jazz violin work. Doucet’s disc is both scholarly and fun.


“For me, there is a very thin line between what was originally called jazz and the blues. All the early jazz and big band players were adept and often great at playing the blues,” guitarist/singer/bandleader Duke Robillard says in the notes to A Swingin’ Session With Duke Robillard (Stony Plain).

Robillard and his windy troupe bring mature joie de vivre to standards like “Deed I Do” and “The Lonesome Road.”


Twenty-track Classic Piano Blues From Smithsonian Folkways (Smithsonian Folkways) is exactly that — post-1940 blues piano developing from earlier ragtime and barrelhouse styles.

Memphis Slim, Meade “Lux” Lewis, Champion Jack Dupree and Roosevelt Sykes are among the soloists and c