What is a blues album in 2011?
If you believe the gang over at the Grammy Awards, it's whatever sort of music is being made by anyone who happens to be a member of The Allman Brothers Band.
Earlier this month, new albums by Gregg Allman, Warren Haynes and the Tedeschi Trucks Band (featuring Allman Brothers Band guitarist Derek Trucks) were nominated for Best Blues Album Grammys. Of course, only one of those releases -- Gregg Allman's Low Country Blues -- was a straight-ahead blues record.
But, to be honest, we like the Grammy approach because it opens the door to blues, roots-rock and blues-rock albums -- and it makes for a more interesting and dynamic list that highlights blues in all its ever-evolving forms.
Looking ahead, it's safe to say we're looking forward to a full album by Gary Clark Jr., who made it onto this top-15 list with just a promising four-song EP.
And, of course, no talk of blues in 2011 would be complete without remembering two true legends of the genre who passed away this year: Delta bluesman David "Honeyboy" Edwards, who died in August at age 96; and Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's storied guitarist, who died earlier this month at age 80.