My name is Robbie Reay, I am a blues musician based in the Scottish Borders, originally from the North East of England. You may have seen me perform throughout the UK and overseas as a solo performer, as a duo with harp player Willie Cran, or with my band The Killer Cats.

This was an incredibly difficult task for me; because there are so many phenomenal blues songs and artists past and present, so trying to narrow, it down to just 10 tracks is not easy. The more I hear blues music, the more I want to hear. My only regret in life is that I should have found it sooner. Simply put, blues is life. You live it, you breathe it, its organic, real, its truth, love, longing and yearning all rolled into one with so much feeling and soul through it, it becomes you.

I write record and perform my own songs, which I class as contemporary blues because I wasn’t brought up in the early 1900s in Mississippi and don’t profess or pretend to be Robert Johnson or anyone else for that matter. What I do achieve is blues music with truth and feeling from real-life experiences in my life. Just as Steve Wold said, “you can’t write a song about red wine if you haven’t drunk red wine”.

To be true to the roots I had to visit the place where it all began to experience the delta, staying at the Hopson plantation and playing at many places along the way. Blues music has taught me more about life and opened up many more facets of life than anything else but has also put many things into perspective. Here are 10 of the blues songs that have inspired and influenced my journey so far, with a brief description.

1 – Rollin’ and Tumblin’ – Hambone Willie Newbern

Recorded in 1929 and is one of my favourites because it is a delta blues classic, combining vocal and slide-guitar. Like a lot of delta blues music, it is simple but very effective. The song is real; it has feeling soul and conviction. This song inspired many blues musicians including RLJ ‘If I had possession over judgement day’. Many other musicians, including modern blues bands, also covered this song. I believe it is a timeless classic.