Welcome to Week 2 of what is trying to become a recurring feature here at Blogcritics with a special look inside the world o' blues. In addition to reporting the Billboard Blues Albums Chart, I've added the Roots Music Report, which tracks what's going on at blues radio. They track internet and terrestrial stations from around the globe and while they might not be familiar to you, they are familiar to people in the blues universe. I became familiar with them by seeing them referenced by different labels and publications, so I've added them to our mix to give you a little more information.
It's interesting to take a look at some of the differences between Billboard and RMR. I don't have empirical evidence or proof to back my theory up but I do have a theory as to why these discrepancies might exist. Billboard is a big, heavy, lumbering giant and it picks up the largest blips. It's most likely to find the trends among the larger labels and in the larger retail chains. There's nothing wrong with that. Their methodology does track what is being bought and sold. The problem with their method, though, is that blues has become a specialized, niche genre. Many of the top acts on the blues circuits are on small independent labels and few of their sales are likely to happen in places where Billboard keeps score. RMR might not have the same reach, but they seem to be better connected to some of the smaller radio stations around the world who are actually playing the music to the fans who have gone to the trouble to find them. Both charts teach us something and that's why I've presented both.
Let's start with album sales and the Billboard charts. Joe Bonamassa's year-old Ballad of John Henry bounces all the way back to #1, possibly due in part to his new CD being readied for release next week. The Holmes Brothers remain strong but slip back to #3. Guitar Shorty has been out promoting his latest CD throughout Texas and his album remains in the Top 10 but has fallen to #9.
I still haven't heard the latest records from Eric Bibb or Moreland & Arbuckle, but both albums continue to do well on Billboard and that success can likely be attributed, in part, to the success both are having at blues radio according to the Roots Music Report charts. Bibb's Booker's Guitar is #4 with Billboard followed by Moreland & Arbuckle's Flood.
Moving over the RMR report, we see The Holmes Brothers, Guitar Shorty, Moreland & Arbuckle, and Eric Bibb all doing very well. There are instances where Billboard and RMR will have crossover. These artists are doing well at radio and retail. The middle and lower portions of the chart are where we start to see some differences. Nick Moss' brilliant new record Privileged vaulted 20 spots to break into the Top 5 this week. The CD was officially released Tuesday but I've been listening to it for months. I fully expect songs from Privileged to keep the album in the Top 10 at radio for a long while. Also making a big leap is the collaboration between Peter Karp & Sue Foley. I've only gotten to listen to this album once but I liked what I heard and am eager to spend some time digging in to what I imagine are some lovely subtleties. Karp is a masterful lyricist and you need to pay close attention to digest what he's saying.
The Holmes Brothers – Feed My Soul
Guitar Shorty – Bare Knuckle
Moreland & Arbuckle – Flood
Eric Bibb – Booker's Guitar
Nick Moss – Privileged
Zora Young – The French Connection
Super Chikan – Chikadelic
Peter Karp & Sue Foley – He Said She Said
Pokey Lafarge & The South City Three – Riverboat Soul
Travis 'Moonchild' Haddix – If I'm One, You're One, Too