10+ Great Blues & Rock Songs You Must Hear

If you’re seeking a musical escape during the holiday season and are open to exploring some lesser-known gems, I’ve curated a list of my top picks for new songs. What’s refreshing is that these selections aren’t holiday-themed, allowing you to take a break from the seasonal tunes.

Whether these artists are unfamiliar or already on your radar, I’ve assembled a collection of 10 tracks to add some zest to your upcoming week and perhaps introduce you to music that could be the perfect soundtrack for your New Year’s celebration.

I’ve focused on current musicians who have released EPs or albums in the past year. Even if you’re familiar with a few of these names, I encourage you to give each included song a listen, as sometimes the hidden gems are found in the less-promoted tracks.

Blues & Rock Songs

Some of these musicians lean towards the rock ‘n’ roll side, seamlessly blending rock elements into their blues, or presenting a straight-up contemporary blues vibe. All of them are actively engaged in recording and performing, pandemic conditions permitting. A few infuse a touch of jazz or additional groove into their sound. Brief descriptions are provided for each artist to give you a glimpse into their style.

I deliberately avoided artists who didn’t make the cut for our Top 10 Blues, Rock, and Roots Albums of 2020, which you can explore in detail in this article .

1. Gráinne Duffy

Perhaps a name yet to grace your ears, Gráinne Duffy hails from Ireland and is making waves as an emerging blues sensation with her latest album, “Voodoo Blues.” Standing out as one of the most remarkable blues guitarists, vocalists, and songwriters gaining recognition in the European music scene, Duffy’s signature sound encompasses a fusion of blues, rock, roots music, and soul, enriched by her distinct Irish/Celtic influence.

The result is a captivating and immersive journey, characterized by a swampy, sensual ambiance, driven by Duffy’s powerful and soul-stirring vocals, complemented by her highly melodic guitar prowess.

2. Eric Johanson

Emerging as a formidable presence in the blues and roots/rock realm, Johanson’s musical style is truly unique—imbued with moodiness, sometimes hauntingly dark, and graced with an irresistible groove. “Below Sea Level,” his latest creation, is a testament to visual storytelling, mind-blowing guitar skills, and soulful, robust vocals.

There’s an unmistakable magic that unfolded in the studio, where the synergy of Eric’s songs and musical talents, Cody Dickinson on drums, Terrence Grayson on bass (known for his work with Victor Wainwright), and the production expertise of Luther Dickinson, conjured an enchanting musical experience. Collaborating with Luther and Cody Dickinson for the recording of “Below Sea Level” proved to be a match made in musical heaven.

3. Magnolia Bayou

Hailing from Mississippi, the blues swamp rockers Magnolia Bayou evoke the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll, infusing it with a heavy dose of unmistakable southern swagger. Led by a soulful and distinctive vocalist, complemented by a tight-knit band, Magnolia Bayou’s latest album, “Strange Place,” is a sonic journey deep-rooted in the group’s origins.

The album draws inspiration from a fusion of southern, psychedelic, funk, and blues-based rock and roll, elements that Magnolia Bayou masterfully reinvents and shapes to their own unique sound.

4. Robin Trower, Maxi Priest, Livingstone Brown

In a rare convergence of musical titans, the collaborative effort of Robin Trower, Maxi Priest, and Livingstone Brown, as showcased in “United State Of Mind,” defies expectations. Released on October 9, 2020, under Manhaton Records, this trio of artists, whose styles one might not immediately associate, seamlessly amalgamate their distinct sounds to craft an album of unparalleled beauty. The result is a harmonious blend that transcends individual genres, showcasing the collective genius of these legendary musicians.

5. The Black Moods

Infusing a modern twist into a timeless sound, The Black Moods are purveyors of raw, amplified rock and roll. Their music breathes new life into electric guitars, anthemic hooks, and percussive stomp, delivering a refreshing burst of energy. This power trio, consisting of frontman/guitarist Josh Kennedy, drummer Chico Diaz, and bassist Jordan Hoffman, creates compelling rock music with impactful lyrics.

Their latest album, “Sunshine,” pays homage to the roots of rock while staying firmly plugged into the present. The Black Moods have earned their stripes in the music industry through the traditional route of hitting the road, extensive touring, and dedicated promotion of their albums.

6. Artur Menezes

The Brazilian blues/rock maestro, Artur Menezes, showcases his prowess as a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter in his latest album, “Fading Away.” This scorching eight-song collection seamlessly weaves together blues, psychedelic rock, funk, and Brazilian rhythms, creating a sonic tapestry that captivates at every turn.

Produced by Josh Smith, the album boasts guest appearances by Smith himself and the renowned Joe Bonamassa. Menezes, a standout guitar player and formidable singer/songwriter, artfully combines vintage influences with his contemporary style. Honored with the Gibson/Albert King Award for Best Guitarist, Menezes’ musical repertoire is undoubtedly worth exploring, even if the current track doesn’t immediately resonate.

7. . Jeremiah Johnson

A virtuoso blues guitarist, accomplished singer, and prolific songwriter, Jeremiah Johnson has made waves by releasing two albums this year, with one specifically addressing the challenges posed by the pandemic. Heralded as one of the most promising talents on the blues scene over the last decade, this Mississippi native is no stranger to hard work.

Johnson’s journey has been marked by dedication, balancing a day job as a billboard laborer while concurrently recording and self-releasing exceptional blues records. Infusing his music with rocking swagger, Johnson elevates the intensity on his latest record with the prowess of his power trio.

8. The Immediate Family

Unleashing their stellar rock and roll vibes, The Immediate Family presents their latest EP, “Slippin’ and Slidin’,” released on October 16, 2020. Comprising legendary musicians Danny Kortchmar (guitar, vocals), Waddy Wachtel (guitar, vocals), Leland Sklar (bass), Russ Kunkel (drums), and Steve Postell (guitar, vocals), The Immediate Family epitomizes cool.

With a musical history spanning decades, their chemistry is undeniable, and their talents know no bounds. The term “supergroup” has been casually tossed around, but it genuinely applies here. The excellence evident in “Slippin’ and Slidin’” extends beyond exceptional musicianship to include poetic songwriting that adds an extra layer of artistry.

9. Sam Morrow

“Gettin’ By On Gettin’ Down” by Sam Morrow is a rejuvenating burst of energy, offering solace to your pandemic-weary soul. Helmed by the award-winning producer and president/label owner Eric Corne, the record is a fusion of funky country rock with a distinctly modern touch. Sam Morrow, an exceptional vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist, showcases a profound understanding of groove that permeates each of the nine songs.

The album, adorned with slinky slide guitars and impeccably tight drumming and bass, serves as a musical feast. Morrow stands as a captivating artist with a distinctive sound, supported by top-tier musicians who wield a masterful command over rhythm.

10. Cary Morin

The entrancing melody of Cary Morin’s “Prisoner” unfolds with the mesmerizing finger-style guitar work for which Morin has gained renown. Morin possesses a unique ability to make his instrument sing, moan, and speak, reminiscent of the great Robert Johnson but with a distinctive personality.

His soulful and rich vocals take center stage on his latest album, “Dockside Saints.” As Morin’s musical magic unfolds, the band joins in, crafting a slow and vibrant blues jam that adds depth and color to the overall experience.


The musical landscape is rich with diverse and dynamic artists, each bringing a unique flavor to the scene. From the blues-infused sounds of Gráinne Duffy and Eric Johanson to the swamp rock vibes of Magnolia Bayou, and the collaborative brilliance of Robin Trower, Maxi Priest, and Livingstone Brown, there’s a wealth of talent to explore.

Artur Menezes, The Black Moods, Jeremiah Johnson, and The Immediate Family showcase the breadth of musical creativity, offering everything from scorching blues guitar to superb rock and roll. Meanwhile, Sam Morrow’s funky country rock and Cary Morin’s soulful finger-style guitar work add further layers to the musical tapestry.

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