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All Blues host John Kessler discusses this year's top 10 blues albums

blues ablum covers

All Blues host John Kessler recently released his annual top 10 list of blues albums. He sat down with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick to discuss the music — a mix of old and new sounds. Listen to their chat and some of the tunes now.

:12 — First up, Marcia Ball and a clip of her title track, “Shine Bright.”   

“She’s an amazing piano player, composer, really a pioneer of Louisiana swamp rock,” Kessler says of the artist, celebrating her 50th year in show business.

1:17 — Then, they discuss a true legend, Buddy Guy, and ponder who will be responsible for carrying the torch after the aging legends are gone.

“Buddy Guy is a true legend. He’s 82 years old and still going strong,” Kessler says, adding that other great artists are featured on the album. Among them, another legend — Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger — and rising singer-songwriter, James Bay. Kessler echoes the message of Guy’s title tune, “The Blues is Alive and Well,” stressing that there are “some wonderful younger groups coming up making blues in some surprising ways.”

2:55 — One of those bands, he says, is Ranky Tanky — the title of the band (song and album, too) that also made Kessler’s end-of-year roundup. The artists' unique sound is a modern interpretation of Gullah music, which arose among descenants of slaves in coastal Georgia and the Carolinas.

4:38 — And finally, Larkin Poe made Kessler's list again. The band performed in the KNKX studios earlier this year, in July. “I’m not saying they are the future of the blues,” he says, “but it will be groups like this that will take the music forward.” Hear some of the band’s song, “Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues.”

Kendrick said she’s a big fan of Larkin Poe, and was thankful the band made it onto Kessler’s list once more. She also said she was pleased to see a mix of old and new sounds in Kessler’s top 10. Listen to the full conversation above, and join Kessler for his show, All Blues, Saturdays and Sundays 6-midnight.

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KNKX since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KNKX “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.
Kari Plog is a former KNKX reporter who covered the people and systems in Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties, with an emphasis on police accountability.