Best Of Dallas

Fifteen Blues Artists to Watch in 2014

Every generation has an underground music scene that only an elite group of fans and the NSA know of. In the '60s, psychedelic music, for example, exploded onto the hippies' counterculture scene with music by The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd. (And let's not forget the Velvet Underground.) In the '70s, the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Ramones dominated garages and small venues across England and North America until bands like Anthrax, Slayer and Metallica accepted the mantle in the early '80s, with rappers N.W.A., Public Enemy and Run DMC emerging out of Compton, Long Island and Queens to carry on the underground tradition when the headbangers moved into the arenas.

And yet the earliest incarnation of the underground music scene actually occurred as far back as the '20s when Delta bluesmen such as Freddie Spruell, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson crooned "Milk Cow Blues," "Honey Bee" and "Crossroads" in small smoky shacks that served homemade whiskey and deals with the devil for that perfect tone.

So in honor of the new year, we here at the Observer have consulted with the wisdom of the blues' seers at KNON, blues artists from across the DFW area and the Net to generate a list of blues artists that doesn't include John Mayer (although he's an amazing guitarslinger), to watch in 2014 (and hopefully inspire a few program directors to change their formats). Here it is in no particular order. Enjoy.

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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.