Funk Blues: When The Blues Got The Funk

If you’ve ever wondered what it sounds like when the blues kicks off its Sunday shoes and gets downright groovy, you’re in the right place! We’re talking Funk Blues! This is where soul meets improvisation, where the groove is king, and where we let our blues get a little… funky.

What is Funk Blues?

Hold up a sec! Before we go all in, let’s define what we’re dealing with. Funk Blues is a subgenre of blues that incorporates elements of funk. We’re talking about syncopated rhythms, groovy basslines, and a whole lotta soul. It’s blues, alright, but it’s blues you can dance to. Think of it as the life of the party in the Blues family.

The Roots of Funk Blues

Alright, history buffs, gather ’round. Funk Blues didn’t just spring outta nowhere. You gotta go back to the ’60s and ’70s, when funk was born out of soul and R&B. James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, laid the groundwork. Soon, blues musicians started mixing these funky elements into their music. Before long, a new genre was born, equally rooted in the traditions of the Delta and the dancefloors of Motown.

The Pioneers and Influencers

Who do we owe this groovy blend to? Artists like Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Freddie King, and Albert Collins got the Funk Blues ball rollin’. Even the iconic B.B. King dabbled in it. Fast-forward to modern times, and you’ll hear folks like Robert Cray, Susan Tedeschi, and Derek Trucks blending funk into their blues. Oh, and let’s not forget the Tedeschi Trucks Band. That’s Funk Blues for a new generation!

The Instruments of Funk Blues

You’ve got your usual suspects from the world of blues: the guitar, the harmonica, and the occasional horn section. But Funk Blues often adds in the electric bass, congas, and other percussion instruments to keep that groove alive. The instruments are only half the story; it’s what you do with them that gives Funk Blues its unique flair.

Must-Listen Tracks

So you’re ready to get funky but don’t know where to start? Here are some iconic tracks to get you in the zone:

  1. “Ain’t That a Bitch” – Johnny “Guitar” Watson
  2. “Don’t Lose Your Cool” – Albert Collins
  3. “Phone Booth” – Robert Cray
  4. “Midnight in Harlem” – Tedeschi Trucks Band

Where to Experience Funk Blues Live

Festivals like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival often feature Funk Blues acts. Dive bars, juke joints, and modern clubs that specialize in blues or soul music are also good places to get down with this groovy genre.

Funk Blues Today

The new generation is keepin’ it fresh! Artists like Gary Clark Jr. and Joe Bonamassa are incorporating elements of funk into their brand of blues, ensuring that Funk Blues remains as vibrant as ever. Social media platforms like YouTube are also making it easier for emerging artists to share their take on this ever-evolving genre.

Funk Blues: Quick Tips for Musicians

If you’re a musician looking to get into Funk Blues, here are a few quick tips:

  1. Timing is Everything: The groove is king. Work on your timing to nail those syncopated rhythms.
  2. Get Loose: Funk Blues calls for a relaxed playing style. Less tension, more groove!
  3. Listen and Learn: Immerse yourself in the classics to get a sense of how to blend blues and funk seamlessly.

Alright! That’s it for today’s lowdown on Funk Blues. If you’re looking for a genre that makes you tap your feet as much as it tugs on your heartstrings, you’ve found your match in Funk Blues. Keep it groovy!


What Exactly is Funk Blues?

Funk Blues is a subgenre of the blues that incorporates the groove-centric and rhythmic elements of funk. It’s like if blues and funk had a baby, and that baby loved to dance!

Who are the Big Names in Funk Blues?

Think Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Albert Collins, Freddie King, and modern giants like Robert Cray and Tedeschi Trucks Band. Even some classics like B.B. King dipped their toes into Funk Blues waters.

What Instruments are Common in Funk Blues?

Guitars, bass, harmonicas, and drums are standard. But don’t be surprised to find congas, keyboards, and brass instruments making appearances to kick the groove up a notch.

Can You Recommend Some Funk Blues Tracks?

Start with “Ain’t That a Bitch” by Johnny “Guitar” Watson or “Don’t Lose Your Cool” by Albert Collins. And if you’re into modern tunes, “Midnight in Harlem” by Tedeschi Trucks Band is a must.

What type of harmonica should I buy to play Harmonica Blues?

If you’re new, start with a diatonic harmonica in the key of C. Once you’ve got the hang of it, feel free to explore chromatic harmonicas or harps in other keys.

Where Can I Experience Live Funk Blues?

Funk Blues is often featured in blues festivals, and you’ll also find it in dive bars, juke joints, and clubs that specialize in blues and soul music.

I’m a Musician. Any Tips for Playing Funk Blues?

Remember, the groove is king. Work on your timing, keep your playing style relaxed, and immerse yourself in the classics to understand the nuances.

Funk Blues Still Alive Today?

Yeah! New artists like Gary Clark Jr. and Joe Bonamassa are keeping the genre fresh and exciting. Social media and music platforms also help spread the groove to new audiences.

How is Funk Blues Different from Regular Blues?

It’s all in the groove and rhythm. Funk Blues has a syncopated, danceable beat, unlike traditional blues, which often focuses more on storytelling and emotional expression.

Are There Any Funk Blues Festivals?

One of the best places to catch Funk Blues acts is at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, but you’ll find Funk Blues artists at various other blues and jazz festivals too.