Underground Blues Artists We Think You Should Know About (No, not that kind of blues)

Not the kind of blues you're thinking of. Blues that might be more prominent now is covered enough by white baby boomers all around the U.S and beyond (nothing against white baby boomers). The guitar shredding dads are a dime a dozen, especially here in So. Cal. The way we see it, there's enough Eric Clapton cover bands and harmonica blowout festivals (If I hear another cover of Mojo Workin' i might shoot myself). We don't cover that kind of blues. Let's explore some artists out there that are doing something different and are genuine about it. 

Although it's not a secret that we love hill country blues artists like RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Fred Mcdowell, Jesse Mae Hemphill and other greats of the past, we're gonna cover the one's that are still with us.

Robert Belfour

Robert Belfour is one of the last living hill country blues men and is bad-ass. Take a listen for yourself. 

A great story I heard was about his appearance at the Muddy Roots Music Festival. Triggerman says it best, so we'll let him explain:

"If you want the best story from the 2012 Muddy Roots Festival, this one might be it. Word got out to the festival that 80-something blues legend Robert Belfour had been in a bad wreck on the highway and wouldn’t be able to perform. Right before another band took the stage as a replacement, he showed up. In a tow truck. With the tow truck driver carrying his guitar and amp. Now if that ain’t the blues, I’ll eat my hat. The tow truck driver stayed through the whole set and attended to the needs of Robert, and when he was done, chauffeured him off."

-Saving Country Music

 

 

LC Ulmer

We don't know much about 86 year old Mississippi blues player LC Ulmer, but we let the music do the talking. Take a listen.

If you wanna learn more about him, click here

 

Seasick Steve

Although he's not as underground as some of the other artists as he's huge in Europe but not as known here in the U.S so we figured we'd cover him anyway. He plays good blues so we appreciate that. 

Fun Fact: He produced a couple Modest Mouse albums back in the 90's. 

 

The Hooten Hallers

Our friends The Hooten Hallers play heavy bad-ass blues. We've had em play out here about 5 times now and I haven't talked to anyone that hasn't been blown away by them. Definitely one of the best heavy blues bands that are out there today. I turn this one up when I get tired of the police state.

 

Lonesome Shack

Lonesome Shack out of Seattle, WA play some great blues influenced by the hill country guys. Their last album was put out by Alive Naturalsounds who put out some of the greatest heavy blues and garage rock and roll in recent history. Kinda picking up where Fat Possum left off when they started going more indie.

 

Bob Log III

Gotta love Daddy Log and his slide guitar explosion. Also check out one of the big influences of the underground scene, Doo Rag which was Bob's 2 piece before he went solo spaceman.

 

Mr. Airplane Man

Gotta throw some ladies in there. Mr. Airplane Man was a great 2 piece blues act that started around the same time as the Black Keys. Named after a Howlin Wolf tune and here's a cover of a Fred Mcdowell tune. By the way, they haven't been playing for years but just announced that they're reuniting, so keep your eye out!

 

Reverend John Wilkins

There's another authentic blues artist still bringing it. You can guess which state he comes from. Let's start a blues festival with some of these guys. What do ya say?

 

Lazy Lester

Of all the blues that was prominent in the 50's, I love the Excello artists like Slim Harpo, Lonesome Sundown, Lightnin' Slim, etc. Although most are long gone, we have one of the greats still with us and that's Lazy Lester. He lives in San Francisco now and doesn't play that often but if he comes to your town, check him out and witness some history.

 

Elmo Williams & Hezekiah Early

Fat Possum recording artists Elmo Williams and Hezekiah Early have some bad ass stuff. So glad they're still doing it. Their music is raw, sometimes even punk rock. They're doing their thing and we love the hell out of that. Plus Hezekiah plays drums and harmonica simultaneously. Take a listen.

 

Charlie Parr

Minnesotan Charlie Parr plays blues influenced by the piedmont tradition ala Mississipi John Hurt. A great player, a great storyteller and a good guy. 

 

Lady Dottie & the Diamonds

Lady Dottie & the Diamonds hailing out of San Diego, CA mix Blues, Soul, Rock & Roll and 50's and 60's style r&b. Dottie, in her early 70's can belt out the blues with the best of em. She's also got a phenomenal band behind her but they'll admit they've fallen into a trap of getting stuck in the local club circuit. Although it helps keep a roof over their heads, they're not able to get the kind of recognition we think they deserve. We hope they can break away and find a way to get back on the road soon before the timer runs out because they bring it.

Jake La Botz

Our pal Jake is an actor, former semi-pro boxer, buddhist meditation instructor and a bad-ass blues artist. You might catch him in your town on his "Tattoo Across America Tour" where he plays only tattoo shops. Keep your eye out.

 

Luke Winslow King

We don't know much about Luke Winslow King other than he hails from New Orleans and has a great album out on Bloodshot Records that we're hooked on and he's got some great videos of live performances on youtube, so check him out. Thanks Dano for turning us on to him.

 

Valerie June

She's been workin like a man all her life. According to the song anyway. She's doing it right. Great song here as are most of her tunes.

 

Reverend PEyton's Big Damn Band

Hailing from Brown County, Indiana. Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band brings the country-blues to stages around the world probably over 300 days a year. They are one of the heaviest touring bands I have ever witnessed. Putting in that work has afforded them a nice living and they deserve it. We appreciate all the hard work as they've gotten themselves to where they are. Plus it shows in the music. Always super tight.

 

 

Jimmy Duck Holmes

Another Mississippi blues-man. Great playing by Jimmy Duck Holmes. Go see him live while ya still can.

 

Left Lane Cruiser

Another band from Indiana, Left Lane Cruiser are one of the biggest supporters of Hillgrass Bluebilly. Check out the anthem "Hillgrass Bluebilly" here: http://youtu.be/2fb-ZnKNKig Heavy, bad-ass blues.  

 

Ben Prestage

Great one-man band from Florida. Just take a listen. 

 

LEO "BUD" WELCH

82 year old Leo "Bud" Welch has been playing blues for over 60 years but just released his first album in 2014. Better late than never. More real deal stuff here.

 

 

Others to Look out for:

Lou Shields, Reverend Deadeye, Catl., Ten Foot Polecats, John Shooley