A Blues & Soul Playlist That’s Cooking

Yesterday, my streaming music service suggested the enclosed great playlist of blues-oriented tunes. To be clear, this isn’t some hidden advertising. While I’ve acknowledged Apple Music on previous occasions as an inspiration for some of my posts, not all of their listening suggestions, which are supposed to reflect your previous music choices, are great; in fact, sometimes I find it outright bizarre what they serve up because I like genre X or have listened to artist Y. While overall their music selection algorithm works pretty well, there’s clearly some room left for improvement. I guess this proves algorithms, which also have started to be utilized in other creative fields like journalism, can never fully replace actual human beings, which is a good thing!

Here’s how Apple Music describes the playlist that features 26 songs: Blues is tradition, but it’s also evolution—the sound of hard times and healing, then and now. Filled with gritty, Howlin’ Wolf-style throwbacks, progressive hybrids, and sophisticated soul, this mix represents the best of the blues right now—with a few old favorites thrown in for balance. We regularly update these tunes, so if you hear something that rips you up or breaks you down (in that good way, of course), add it to your library.

Following I’d like to highlight a few of these tunes. I’m deliberately leaving out tracks I already featured in previous posts, such as Leave The Light On (Beth Hart), Too Cold To Cry (Lindsay Beaver) or Cognac (Buddy Guy with Jeff Beck and Keith Richards). But in case you haven’t listened to these songs and like blues and soul, you definitely should. On to some music clips!

Got To Go Where The Love Is, Van Morrison

Van Morrison may no longer release another Astral Weeks or Moondance, but at age 73, the Belfast Cowboy surely isn’t done yet with music. In fact, if anything, for the past two years, he seems to be on some sort of recording spree! Here’s Got To Go Where The Love Is, a great soulful Morrison tune from his most recent album The Prophet Speaks, his 40th studio release, which appeared last December.

We Made It, Cedric Burnside

Frankly, I had never heard of Cedric Burnside before. Wikipedia describes him as an American electric blues drummer, guitarist, singer and songwriter. He definitely has blues in his genes. Burnside is the son of blues drummer Calvin Jackson and grandson of blues singer, songwriter and guitarist R. L. Burnside. Since his 2006, he has released eight albums. We Made It is from his most recent record Benton County Relic that came out in September 2018. I really dig the rough sound and the energy of this tune.

Whipping Post, Nakia

Nakia, another name I hadn’t heard before, is a musician, singer-songwriter and actor from Austin, Texas. From his website: Before he was on “The Voice” [semi-finalist on the first season of the NBC singing competition], Nakia was a Blues Grifter. Named for the age-old concept of stealing from the greats, the Blues Grifters formed in 2010. In August 2018, Nakia released his latest album appropriately called Blues Grifter, a smoking hot compilation of blues covers. Instead of Double Trouble, which the Apple Music playlist features, I decided to highlight Nakia’s soulful take of Whipping Post. While taking an Allman Brothers Band classic and changing it up is a gutsy move, I like the outcome!

Home, Janiva Magness (featuring Cedric Burnside)

Janiva Magness is a blues, soul and Americana singer-songwriter from Detroit. Apparently, she has been an active artist since the 1980s. Between 1991 and February 2018, she has released 14 albums. In 2009, Magness became only the second woman after Koko Taylor named B.B. King Entertainer of the Year by the Blues Foundation. She has also received seven Blues Music Awards from the foundation and other accolades. Here’s Home, a powerful duo with the above noted Cedric Burnside. It appears on Magness’ most recent album Love Is An Army from February 2018.

Cry No More, Danielle Nicole

Another great soul-oriented tune is Cry No More by Danielle Nicole, a blues and soul musician from Kansas City, Mo. I previously included her in a post about ladies who excel at singing the blues. Written by Nicole, Cry No More is the title track from her last album, which was released in February 2018.

Here’s the entire playlist:

Leave the Light On (Live), Beth Hart

Got To Go Where The Love Is, Van Morrison

Too Cold To Cry, Lindsay Beaver

We Made It., Cedric Burnside

Double Trouble, Nakia

Another Mule, Elvin Bishop

Cognac (feat. Jeff Beck & Keith Richards), Buddy Guy

Revolution, Eric Lindell

Rock and Stick, Boz Scaggs

Ain’t Got Time For Hate, Shemekia Copeland

Shine Bright, Marcia Ball

Plastic Hamburgers, Fantastic Negrito

Soul Shake, Tommy Castro

Things Have Changed, Bettye LaVette

Home (feat. Cedric Burnside), Janiva Magness

Damn Your Eyes, Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa

Blue No More (feat. James Bay), Buddy Guy

Upper Hermosa Mountain Blues, Casey Wickstrom

Sound of a Broken Man, Tinsley Ellis

When I Go, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite

Come Together, Gary Clark Jr. & Junkie XL

I Want My Dog To Live Longer (The Greatest Wish), Curtis Salgado & Alan Hager

Cry No More, Danielle Nicole

The High Cost of Low Living, Nick Moss

Cannonball (feat. Fantastic Negrito) [Acoustic], ZZ Ward

We’re All In This Together (feat. Joe Bonamassa), Walter Trout

If you have access to Apple Music, you can find the playlist at https://itunes.apple.com/us/playlist/the-a-list-blues/pl.a9faca07cf8f47e19f1819b0f5a2e765

Sources: Apple Music, Wikipedia, Nakia website, YouTube


10 thoughts on “A Blues & Soul Playlist That’s Cooking”

  1. Magness is another I did on, I think, a blues revue. I’ve had my eye on going to see her at some point as she tours and comes around her fairly frequently.


      1. I’m cutting back a little on shows this year. It’s not money per se but I find I’m going more, enjoying it less. Don’t know why, maybe too much of a good thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Since I only really started going to concerts more frequently 3-4 years ago and ramped up activities over the past two years, I still feel in “catch-up mode.” In my case, the limiting factors are mostly family and, yes, also budget, especially for bigger acts.

        I already got a ticket for the Stones. I’d like to see Paul McCartney one more time, so I’m watching for more U.S. dates, since currently none are logistically feasible. I’m also thinking John Mellencamp – just dig that dude. And then today I saw The Who are doing another tour.

        Previously, Daltrey was pretty candid that touring is getting harder with increasing age, so who knows, this may be their last tour. I’ve seen them twice. Both great shows!

        That being said, I hear you about overdoing it. I’m not gonna deny it, last year there were moments when it started to feel a bit overwhelming, especially on the tribute band front!


      3. Yeah, see, that’s the thing. I’ve been going to concerts (literally) for 50 years. I has been my thing for so long now that I cannot remember when it wasn’t. Don’t misunderstand me – there is nothing I love better than live music. But I’m starting to think less is more. (That said, the show I saw just a few days ago was fantastic and I’ll be writing about that soon.)

        I only saw the Who once. Much as I loved it, I’ll pass this time. If McCartney comes to town, I’d love to take Sonny Boy. The idea of actually seeing a Beatle would blow his mind. My wife and I saw him a few years back and it was fantastic. Of course, different rules apply to Sir Paul. Were he to ask me to marry him, I’d have no choice at all in the matter. 🙂

        But I’m actually thinking more about the smaller shows which I think I may see more of more than you. The great majority of the shows I see these days are in smaller venues. I just jump in my wheelchair, put on my oxygen mask, pick up the nurse and away we go! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Totally hear you. And there’s definitely something about concerts at smaller venues. I went to one Friday night – a much more intimate atmosphere than in some giant stadium! The problem is many people I’d like to see don’t or very rarely play such venues.

        Can you imagine how cool it must be be to catch the Stones at a small place for a warm-up gig ahead of a big tour? Or perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to have experienced that.


  2. Good tunes. Just realized I also did a Danielle Nicole song not too long ago. Weirdly, “Whipping Post” has been a perennial favorite on these singing competitions since the days of “American Idol.” I like the cover. Check this guy out too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cool, that was from the last season of The Voice. That Gibson SG is one badass guitar I’d love to own!🎸

      BTW, the guy with the long blonde hair in the background is a pretty solid guitarist as well, who played some cool blues, rock and soul stuff on the show. He ended up in the finale but didn’t win it.


      1. I’ve never really sat down and watched that show. I used to love ‘Idol’ back in the day, even to the point of videotaping it when I was out. Then I slowly lost my taste for not only that but also much of reality TV. That said, I wish ‘The Apprentice’ was still on and Trump had never run for office and was still its host. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The Voice has its flaws (I feel all of these talent shows do), so I have mixed feelings about it. But, as you know, I like vocals, and some of the vocalists competing on the show are really outstanding. During the more recent seasons, I feel they have also gotten more musicians, as opposed to folks who just sing – like that guitarist I pointed out in my previous comment.

        Liked by 1 person

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