A big Texas-sized welcome last night via birthday boy Anson Funderburgh whose go at Johnny Guitar Watson's "Red Hot Mama" started things off at a pace. We had other axemen from the same state: Lightnin Hopkins and Stevie Ray Vaughan but the focus of the show was most definitely Freddie King to coincide with the box-set of complete studio recordings just put out by the Bear Family label. He was the first of the Kings I came across (before BB or Albert) and was the one Eric Clapton tried to emulate - I really got hooked on his aggressive stance, stood tall, front and centre with guitar strap over one shoulder, endlessly inventive solos both emotive and fluid. The three tracks I chose barely did the man justice and I emphasised the Clapton connection with a seven minute version of Billy Myles "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" by Derek and the Dominoes from Layla wherein EC borrowed the arrangement Freddie used originally.
We celebrated John Hammond's birthday with the title track off his "Nobody But You" album (from the harp of Little Walter in the first instance) and that of Little Willie John with a back-to-back of his "Need Your Love So Bad" out of 1955 up against the achingly beautiful rendition done by Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac in 1969. Candye Kane was our other birthday celebrant - like John a Friday 13th babe - and I hope she'll forgive me for choosing her "Fit Fat and Fine" from her larger days complete with humour and swinging old-fashioned style. She's still a big character, one of a kind and a regular in the playlists. The term "blues-diva" doesn't sit well but if I had to use it, Nina Simone would be one candidate to most folks even though she doesent get the attention her music still deserves. A listener suggested her "Nobodys Fault But Mine" and I was happy to oblige.
We did classics from King Curtis, John Brim, Jimmy McCracklin and Willie Cobbs as well as brand new stuff from Seasick Steve and Jesse Dee. Steve was in Cambridge for a sold out gig at the Corn Exchange and we did the title track from his Top Ten album "Man From Another Time" showing the current breakthrough status of man and the music we all love. Jesse got some national exposure this week amid some ballyhoo but those of us in the know got him back in July on STAR BLUES. The final new artist comes from New York City and on the evidence of her "Everyday" we will hear more from Pat Hunter. You were very kind in your invite round to your place last night, I hope you'll have me back next Sunday at the same time - 10 pm - on the Commercial Radio station of the Year 2009. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you