It’s hard to believe that Blues Rock Review has been around for 10 years, but we’re still around and kicking. Blues Rock Review was founded in May of 2010. At the time I was 21 years old getting ready to enter my senior year of college. I grew up always enjoying rock music but it wasn’t until this time that I really started appreciating the blues. I was always aware of the genre growing up in a house hearing Stevie Ray Vaughan and other blues artists. My father had a large CD collection featuring music from blues and blues rock artists.
In the summer of 2010, I went on a major blues kick and dug up as much as I could on the genre and discovered so many artists. It opened up a completely new world of music to me. I thought to myself, “Why haven’t I heard of any of these amazing musicians before?” None of it was on the radio at this point. You had to seek it out and dig for it whether that’s searching on Google or browsing various forums on the internet. As a kid, I remembered hearing artists like Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jonny Lang on the radio after they scored major hits in their teenage years. I found myself discovering all these new artists thanks to the internet and various forums and I realized there wasn’t much information on the internet about them. Sure, there were some blues publications and there were some rock publications, but nothing really dedicated to “blues rock” as its own thing.
Today, there are many artists billed as blues rock artists. That really wasn’t the case so much in 2010. Back then, there seemed to be a negative connotation to “blues rock” artists and most of the blues rock artists were called blues artists anyways. If it wasn’t a certain brand of blues then it simply wasn’t blues according to some blues purists or the “blues police.” That still exists today, but I think people are more open to what the blues is and can be in today’s day and age. Artists like Joe Bonamassa are a big reason for that. Blues Rock Review began around the same time Bonamassa’s career really started to take off. Bonamassa is an artist who embraced being blues rock and several artists today embrace that billing. And that doesn’t mean you always have to fit into a certain box or criteria. Blues is the root of music and everything can be traced back to the blues, but for the genre to live on, it needs to evolve and artists should have the freedom to take that music into inspiring different directions. That’s something we’ve embraced at Blues Rock Review, artists that don’t want to be pigeonholed into one thing or told they’re not blues if they take their music in a certain direction.
In the summer of 2010, I started Blues Rock Review as a Blogspot blog and wrote around 15 reviews that summer. I’ve never looked at myself as a music critic and I still don’t. I simply wanted to create a hub for this music where it could exist on the internet because there was nothing really dedicated to blues rock at the time. I discovered so many new artists whose albums I enjoyed and I felt inspired to write about them and spread the word. I didn’t necessarily look at it as a long term thing.
Fast forward to March of 2011. I hadn’t looked at Blues Rock Review or touched the Blogspot blog in 8 or 9 months. I started looking at the website analytics and was pleasantly surprised. People were actually reading the reviews! There was no promotion or anything like that being done, but I realized many of the reviews ranked high on Google with some of them being the very first article on the first page of Google searches, so I thought there might be some potential here.
I was set to graduate from college in two months with a journalism degree and still did not have a job. The United States was in a terrible recession and the job market was not good, so I decided why not make Blues Rock Review a full-time operation? By September, we had moved away from Blogspot, got a .com, and we were off and running. Thanks to the wonders of the internet we started adding writers all over the country, and then we started adding writers in places like the UK, Canada, and Australia.
Over the next few years, the site continued to gain more and more momentum. We were producing more content and more people were becoming aware of Blues Rock Review. We expanded to interviews, videos, podcasts, artist blogs, and started building an amazing community with people all over the world.
We also wanted to bring more young people into the genre. Being in my early 20s at the time I wondered why very few people I knew personally actually listened to this music. They simply didn’t know it existed. That’s still a major issue today. What can we do to bring more young people into the genre? We started pushing many of the younger artists coming up and embraced different online platforms and wanted to push new stars. The talent is out there, people just need to know about.
A big turning point for the site was when we started our year end “Top 20 Albums” list celebrating the best albums each year. The Top 20 list started as strictly a vote by writers of Blues Rock Review and is now a 50% voting mix of our writers and our readers. One of the most rewarding aspects of Blues Rock Review is hearing that artists are getting record deals or opportunities to tour in other countries because they were discovered off the Top 20 list or reviews on the site. We’ve always wanted to make a difference and help artists in a genre that is underserved and underappreciated in the mainstream. There is very little mainstream coverage for this music, so we want to be a place that people all over the globe can come to and discover great talent.
One way we’ve been able to promote up and coming artists is through our album samplers. We’re proud to have released 11 Blues Rock Review album samplers to date. Each album sampler features artists from all over the world and is a great starting point to find awesome blues rock music from a given year. All 11 album samplers are still available for free download.
Over the years we’ve also connected with so many great people from musicians to publicists, managers, record labels, and of course the fans. These are the people that make Blues Rock Review possible and keep us going. We cannot thank everyone enough for their encouragement over the years. To all of our readers that comment on our articles, thank you, to all of our readers who comment on our social media pages and YouTube, and like our posts, thank you! This genre is very tight-knit, but at the same time is spread out all over the world. Our goal was to create a hub and bring people together in the same place.
I’m also personally thankful for all the great contributors we’ve had over the years. Blues Rock Review absolutely could not continue without them. We have such a great team of people who are passionate about this music and want to help the genre thrive and continue to grow.
As we hit this milestone we have some special content in the works to celebrate 10 years. We also look forward to the next 10 years and helping to continue to promote this great genre and the hard working musicians behind it. Thank you for your support in keeping the music alive!
Pete Francis, Founder/Editor-in-Chief, Blues Rock Review