Thursday, December 26, 2019

Looking Back on 2019

Blues in Britain. Photo by Leif Laaksonen.
In 2019, Andres Roots played 60 concerts in four countries: in Estonia (Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Haapsalu, Viljandi, Võru, Põlva, Toila, Kadrina, Palivere, Kohila, Muuga), in Finland (Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Rauma, Pieksämäki, Loimaa), in Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Milton of Buchanan) and in the USA (Clarksdale, Mississippi; Memphis, Tennessee; Helena, Arkansas). 50 out of the 60 shows were solo performances, but Roots also appeared with Ismo Haavisto (vocals, guitar, harmonica) & Matias Partanen (drums), with Peeter Piik (bass) & Les Wilson (percussion), with Anneli Kadakas (drums), with Robert Floyd Stevens (drums) and with James Dalton (vocals, guitar, harmonica) & Les Wilson (percussion). There were mini-tours with Dave Arcari and Black River Bluesman, a 3-month residency at Von Krahl in Tallinn, a set for the international jury that would go on to declare Tartu, Estonia as the European Capital of Culture for 2024, a live-on-the-air set on Uuge Kojola's radio show on Finland's Roll FM, etc. etc.

With Dave Arcari in Milton of Buchanan. Photo by Alistair Mulhearn.
Altogether, the year included appearances at 18 festivals: Deep Blues Festival (Clarksdale, Mississippi), King Biscuit Blues Festival (Helena, Arkansas), Rauma Blues (Rauma, Finland), Savonsolmu Winter Blues Party (Pieksämäki, Finland), Sügisjazz (Tartu, Estonia), tARTuFF Film Festival (Tartu, Estonia), Pärnu Bluusipäevad (Pärnu, Estonia), 7 Linna Muusika (Toila, Estonia), Prima Vista Literature Festival (Tartu, Estonia), Vanalinna Päevad (Tallinn, Estonia), Munarock (Põlva, Estonia), The Blue Icicle (Pärnu, Estonia), Underground Blues (Põlva, Estonia), Metsiku Lääne Päev (Palivere, Estonia), Viljandi Õllefestival (Viljandi, Estonia), Pandivere Muusikafestival (Muuga, Lääne-Virumaa, Estonia), 20/20 Film Festival (Tartu, Estonia), and Tartu Bluusikuu (Tartu, Estonia), which included an exhibition on the first 15 years of Tartu Blues – the first Estonian blues society founded by Roots, Alar Kriisa and Üllar Kärt in 2003.

With Black River Bluesman in Clarksdale. Photo by Jeff Eaton.

There were two Andres Roots EP's released on Roots Art Records in 2019: the limited edition live CD "Loch Lomond Blues" and the 7" vinyl "Waiting Around" – the first 45 ever pressed on location in Estonia. Roots also appeared on several recordings by James Dalton (USA), adding guitar to "When It’s Midnight Somewhere in the World" which appears on Dalton's spoken word release "Words" and is also included on the CD version of his "Troubadours" EP, and playing on all tracks on the live "Tartu Jämm", recorded at the Sügisjazz festival in Tartu with Les Wilson on percussion. In addition to an abundance of live footage from 2019, Asko-Romé Altsoo directed a music video for "Waiting Around", filmed at Genklubi in Tartu and featuring dancers from the Tartu Swing club.

Roots' 2018 album "Breakfast in September" reached #10 in the IBBA airplay charts for December 2018 and made it to #8 in the French-speaking blues radio association's airplay chart in January 2019. The press continued to be kind throughout the year – in addition to favourable album reviews, there was the Blues in Britain cover story by Jeff Eaton and longer pieces in Blues Matters! (UK), Blues Again! (France), Turun Sanomat (Finland), (Finland), Jazzrytmit (Finland), KesKus (Estonia), Sakala (Estonia), Tartu Postimees (Estonia), etc. Incidentally, the current issue of Blues in Britain also features an in-depth review of the "Loch Lomond Blues" EP by Norman Darwen, and while the limited edition EP itself is sold out, there's a live album coming in 2020 that features those six acoustic tracks from Scotland PLUS recordings from the Deep Blues Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi and from the Endla Jazz Club in Pärnu, Estonia. Thank you all very much and see you in 2020!

Turun Sanomat. Photo by Asko-Romé Altsoo.


  1. It was great to receive your cds Andres, will be spinning them for a long time on XROADS