Sunday, 27 December 2009

STAR BLUES on 27th December 2009 at 22:00

A special show to round off an exceptional year for blues music. I've been fortunate enough to listen to about 150 brand new albums in 2009 and to celebrate the depth of riches on offer, I've inaugurated an annual awards show There's no fancy statuette, glitzy ceremony, red carpet or champagne just recognition of the pleasure we got here at STAR BLUES.

Though the weather hampered our review show last week, I still had time to run through 20 or so of the very best new albums - in all shades. Wonderful piano blues from Irma Thomas, effortless economical guitar from Johnnie Bassett and it even sounded like Joe Louis Walker was having fun (and his album is cd-of-the month in LIVING BLUES magazine and in BLUES && RHYTHM magazine). Those were pipped at the post by "Lucky to be Livin'" by DaveRiley and Bob Corritore - if you thought they don't make em like this anymore: well here's evidence they do! Tough, uncompromising blues in the old fashioned way in tribute to Frank Frost.

Our artist award goes to Candye Kane for her tireless support of less well represented folks not normally discussed openly in polite circles (such as violence against sex-workers). She resolutely plays the hand she's been dealt and has had ten lifetime's experience already (including pancreatic cancer). Oh she also found time to make her most satisfying album too with "Superhero".

She records for Delta Groove who picked up the virtual prize for label of the year, London's Ace Records got the same prize for Reissues by dint of their presentation and scrupulous policy of ensuring all artists, writers and publishers get their dues. The full playlist is linked to the STARBLUES fb group, but the twenty or so items there only scratch the surface of what was available this year.

A shameless plug for my "extra" show on New Years Day at 7pm where we can spend two hours on Another Side of Gary Blue. I'll also be back with more blues next Sunday (next year for goodness sake) at 10pm. You've made me extremely welcome at your place every Sunday this year, its been a pleasure and a privilege to spend time with you - wishing you good health, happiness and lots of success in 2010.

Until we're together again, take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you, GB

Monday, 21 December 2009

STAR BLUES on 20th December 2009 at 22:00

The weather defeated me for just the second time in nine years last night and stopped me getting to the studio for last night's STAR BLUES and I missed your company. That wasn't the only shock of the week either ...

The glittering party / awards season started in earnest last week and I braved the daylight hours on Thursday to mingle with the great and the good. You could've knocked me down with a feather: it's as if Ryan Taylor and me are identical twins, no wonder people confuse our photos on facebook. He now has a cherished companion piece for his mantleshelf to go with his Arquiva Presenter Award and we all gave him his props accordingly. Our very own Brown-Eyed Handsome man couldn't make it but otherwise gaiety, bunting and frolics for everyone was on the menu.

I've missed the opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy Christmas (or happy holiday if you prefer), even if you've joined me on Santa's naughty list I don't suppose he'll fly past your chimney on Thursday night. Spare a thought for the young men and women serving overseas that can't get home at the moment, and remember those that won't. All being well I'll be bringing you a roundup of the years best blues next Sunday at 10pm (GMT) including the announcement of artist and album of the year. Until then on 107.9/1FM for Cambridge, Ely and the Fens - on www, for the rest of the world - take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

STAR BLUES on 13th December 2009 at 22:00

With temperature reports of minus 18 degrees coming in from a Stateside listener, the foggy climate for those contacting STAR BLUES from Cambridge, Ely and Newmarket must have seemed positively sweltering. I had a few things to say about the Grammy award nominations in the blues categories and concluded that - in this year of really good blues releases - the nominations really didn't do justice to the gems on offer. Those I've heard are decent enough with nice playing but I have yet to fathom how the selection process works. Between now and 2010 I'll play you some of the choicest cuts oy the year from my collection along with some of your nominations ...

Monday, 7 December 2009

STAR BLUES on 6th December 2009 at 22:00

Elvis Presley's earliest recordings came directly from his roots and influences - country and blues, and many of his fans came to those genres through him. STAR BLUES last night was pleased to be able to show of those seminal recordings, both from the man himself and in their original guise. There's a month leading up to the 75th anniversary of his birth on 8th January that kicks off with "Elvis:75" a box set of that number of his best known songs. We used the selection for the core of the playlist.

So the fare also gave us an excuse, if one were needed, to showcase Arthur "Big-Boy" Crudup, Junior Parker, Wynonie Harris, Roy Brown, Arthur Gunter with Chuck Berry, Big Joe Turner, Little Richard and Lloyd Price. The narrative touched on the spelling of his middle name (Aron), the truth behind "My Happiness" his first recording several months after his mother's birthday, the roles played by Dewey Phillips and Marion Keister in starting off Elvis' incredible career. I also mentioned the speculation that Elvis went to London with Tommy Steele and the importance of the January 1969 sessions that produced "Suspicious Minds".

That March 1960 stopover caused an on-air gaffe with my mixup over Ayr and Airdrionians in trying to establish why Elvis was keen to see their encounter that Ayr won 1-0 a couple of days after his stopover at Prestwick. To the loyal (and ex-pat) supporters of Ayr, I humbly apologise.

Though nominated for Grammys in Pop, Rock, Country and Gospel categories, the three he won were for the latter genre - the first of those in 1967 for the album "How Great Thou Art". That gave us the track for our weekly Gospel Spot: "Run On" sung with great fervour. During his lifetime I never really appreciated his work, perhaps for purist reasons, but the gospel he did opened my mind to his other work.

Just ahead of the closing festive Elvis piece, I gave out an invitation to an *extra* show I will be hosting on New Years Day from 7pm: "Another Side Of Gary Blue". Over the next few days, I'll post further details on facebook but I hope we can start 2010 with some rare and familiar friends not usually heard on commercial radio. Though the menu won't be blues, I hope you'll want to come along.

This upcoming week I'll have a look at the new nominations for Grammys and give a few pointers on what you can buy blues-wise for Christmas. All that and more at 10 on Sunday from the Home of the 9-5 No-Repeat workday, until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Monday, 30 November 2009

STAR BLUES on 29th November 2009 at 22:00

When Madge puts together her New Years Honours list, she surely must this time create the lifetime peer Lord Mayall of Macclesfield. The popular press are currently lobbying for Gary Barlow and Rod Stewart who's contributions to music pale compared to yesterday's birthday boy. At seventy-six he still plays live and produces fine albums and the guitar lineage he boasts cannot be nay-said. STAR BLUES last night paid our respects in celebrating his birthday through his music and his stated influences.
Just about every era of his Bluesbreakers band had a track from the earliest recording "Blues City Breakdown" (a pre-Clapton instrumental done live in 1964) through to "Palace of the King" a rambunctious run through of a Freddie King classic from 2008. Along the way we also explored his suggestions for starting a blues collection, taking his comments from the website Thus Ray Charles, Robert Johnson, the afore-mentioned Mr. King and the "second" Sonny Boy Williamson brought along some classic blues. There was also a masterclass in blues piano from Albert Ammons, Big Maceo and Cripple Clarence Lofton - the latter being a perfect example of the boogie-stride style.
On 22nd November show, I played the Bluesbreakers version of "My Time After A While" and thanks to an internet listener I was able to play the original version by Tiny Powell featuring a gospel drenched vocal and anguished guitar from Johnny Heartsman. The Pilgrim Travellers set themselves up in the gospel tent and the show was over almost before it began. The lengthy live version of JB Lenoir's "Talk To Your Daughter" from John's 70th birthday concert provided fitting finale for us with Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Buddy Whittington and Chris Barber joining in the fun.
I promised a reprise of the list of Bluesbreakers guitarists that I read out around eleven o'clock, so here goes (In chronological sequence):
Bernie Watson / Roger Dean / Eric Clapton / Peter Green / Mick Taylor / John Mark / Harvey Mandel / Coco Montoya / Walter Trout / Buddy Whittington / Rocky Athas
Thanks for your company, calls and comments, this upcoming Sunday will be a special themed around Elvis Presley to coincide with "75" the career anthology due for release on 8th December - be really good if you can make it at 10pm on Sunday at the Commercial Radio Station of the Year on 107.9/1FM for Cambridge, Ely and the Fens or on-line from Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 23 November 2009

STAR BLUES on 22nd November 2009 at 22:00

There can't be many blues radio shows that use a Henry Mancini composition for opener, but STAR BLUES had no problem with the "Peter Gunn" theme as performed by Roy Buchanan, a unique guitarist whose pain was audible in everything he played. Then we had Eugene 'Hideaway' Bridges to "Jump The Joint" with a swinging uptempo piece recorded in Norfolk a few years ago.

Arthur Adams has a tremulous vocal and lyrical guitar style - both well to the fore on his brand new album "Stomp The Floor" on Delta Groove, from which we took "Don't Let The Door Hit You". Previously best known as a writer and accompanist, this is only his third album in a decade under his own name - we hope the deal with Randy Chortkoff's imprint will bring him the reward his gifts deserve. Last Night's STAR BLUES also had tracks off the new albums by Sean Taylor, Missy Anderson, JP Soars and Samuel James. Sean's "Calcutta Grove" isn't all blues but it has tidy acoustic playing of mainly all-original pieces; Samuel James album came out earlier this year but I only just got mine and he tackles the ever-present racism still faced by many in the States; Missy Anderson's first outing has smokey-voiced covers of classic blues including her go at "Tell Mama" done first by Etta James, and Soars robust guitar went toe-to-toe with Johnny 'Guitar' Watson's "Gangster Of Love".

I'd not played Juke Boy Bonner since 2001, his lyrics written about the Vietnam conflict on "Goin' Back To The Country" having resonance today - the success that was his due never came, partly because he was forced to wear the mantle of blues poet for a generation. Elmore James was in with the original 1957 version of Tampa Red's "It Hurts Me Too" (taken off an anthology of Guy Stevens' Sue label), and the alternate take of John Lee Hooker's "Walkin' The Blues" came courtesy of the definitive four-cd "Chess Blues" box set. The equivalent retrospective on Art Rupe's Specialty outfit (on five-cd) gave us the Soul Stirrers with Sm Cooke for the gospel spot.

There's a bit of interest at the moment in the work of James P. Johnson, credited with the invention of stride piano - so I went to a 1944 recording he made helping Katherine Handy cover six of her father's songs. The Charlie Gillett anthology on Ace gave us the other piano blues last night: Amos Milburn's "Lets Have A Party" originally only a b-side. I always wanted to be Charlie Gillett, his knowledge and love of music has always made his radio work compulsive listening. We closed the show with another artist making his debut on STAR BLUES: Bobbie Oliver whose "Hex" neatly showed his harp and guitar talents.

The next couple of STAR BLUES will be specials: next week 29th will feature birthday boy John Mayall and the week after will preview the new career anthology of Elvis Presley's recordings issued to mark the 75th anniversary of his birth. I'm grateful for your company every week and I hope we can spend more time together this coming Sunday at 10 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.

Gary Blue

Monday, 16 November 2009

STAR BLUES on 15th November 2009 at 22:00

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

Gary Blue

Monday, 9 November 2009

STAR BLUES on 8th November 2009 at 22:00

Birthday girl Bonnie Raitt started last night's show with a fine version of Chris Smithers' "Love Me Like A Man" - something that showed off her vocal and slide guitar talents. We also had chance to include tracks from the new albums by Anni Piper and Nicole Hart, two further styles of blues from the Blues Leaf imprint that has hit a purple patch lately. Anni's "Texas HoldEm" has a neat lyric and a swinging old-timey feel and Nicole's sultry vocal is in contrast to the crisp guitar and arrangements on her "Heart Trouble" - we will hear more from these two artists. On the same label, Todd Wolfe went to an old classic from Leslie West's Mountain, "Missisippi Queen" and marked his conscious move back towards a down-home blues feel.

Del Taylor has been at the centre of the Blues scene for many years (Sanctuary, SPV etc), he's back with the new label Superbird and they have three debut platters due in January 2010 and on Star Blues last night as world exclusives. The one from the Sam Lay Band and the one from Homesick James come from 1990's projects arranged by Fred James and both contain many previously unissued items and will be eagerly awaited by fans of these guys. The third collection raids the 1960s archives of several small labels based in and around Nashville with several songs appearing on cd for the first time - we featured a bluesy offering from Sam Baker and we will return for more in upcoming shows.

The classic Chicago scene of the Sixties gave us Eddie Taylor, JB Lenoir, Willie Mabon and Jimmy Reed; Robert Cray followed Blind Willie McTell and Big Joe Turner was there after Ray Charles in the running order.

I recently joined the Piano Blues group on facebook, and had a rummage through the lovely gallery of photos and album sleeves over there and celebrated them with selections from Huey Piano Smith and Sunnyland Slim on Star Blues yesterday. I stretched the definition of "gospel" to include Leon Bibb in duet with son Eric Bibb on "Fields Of Gold" - this was to mark Remembrance Sunday and I hope Leon's rich tones set the right spiritual mood.

Legendary guitarist Johnny Jones death was confirmed last week and we rounded off the show with a recap of his life and tracks from two of his recent projects. His big tone from Gibson ES345 guitar will be missed, not just from his own work but for the stuff he did accompanying Gatemouth Brown, Freddie King and Bobby Blue Bland. You should check out his work on YouTube where there is also an interview he gave talking about an up and coming whippersnapper by the name of Hendrix.

Your company every week means a lot and I'm grateful for the invite to your place with my armful of music, I hope we get chance to spend another two hours together next Sunday at ten pm on the Commercial Radio station of the Year 2009 on 107.9FM for Cambridge Ely and the Fens - and streamed live from for the world. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 2 November 2009

STAR BLUES on 1st November 2009 at 22:00

A real feast for guitar students last night, National Steel maestro Bob Brozman, living legend Ramblin' Jack Elliott, the venerable Bob Margolin, a brisk Coco Montoya and the King of the Blues all showed different shades of playing at the heart of the genre. Elliott went into the songbook of Blind Willie Johnson under the stewardship of Joe Henry for our gospel offering and ample proof why his latest album got such positive comments in the latest Living Blues magazine.
Ahead of release on this side of the pond there were tracks from Keb Mo's live project released on his own label - and a beautifully controlled piece from Debbie Davies. The Blues Leaf imprint is responsible for a slew of quality releases, we recently had Albert Castiglia and last night Sandy Mack gave us a cover of "It's My Life Baby". And next week we'll hear from Todd Wolfe's new album. Hot on the news of her success as Best Female Artist at last Thursday's Blues Blast Awards, I played the title track off Robin Rogers' fine Blind Pig album.
On the piano Kenny Blues-Boss Wayne held his end up from his debut on Andy Griggs' Real Blues label and the ever-youthful Gary US Bonds provided a neat reminder of his triumph at Cambridge Corn Exchange on Saturday night as guest vocalist with the Bill Wyman Rhythm Kings - he must have a picture in his attic as the intensity level went up two notches each time he hit the stage.
Sadly we marked the death on Friday of Norton Buffalo, a name not as well known as his talent and influence deserved - his 180 appearances on albums by Bonnie Raitt, Doobie Brothers, Johnny Cash and Steve Miller also included a few of his own and the track we chose last night.
Your company was much appreciated and I hope we can spend more time together next Sunday at ten on 107.9FM for Cambridge, Ely and the Fens - streaming live from for the world. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Monday, 26 October 2009

STAR BLUES on 25th October 2009 at 22:00

News of new projects a-plenty on last night's STAR BLUES. Both Duke Robillard and Memphis Gold chosen to open proceedings will have new projects before we get too much older: Duke's will be a lovely project to showcase the late Les Paul's mastery over guitar and overdub technology and I urge you to investigate the web to find out more. The other characteristic of the first hour was for soulful singing backed with passionate guitar, Bobby Bland and Robert Cray being two cases in point. The premier exponent of electric blues guitar - T-Bone Walker - was on hand with a 1949 recording from his Capitol days and Roscoe Robinson showed off his fine vocals from twenty years after (done for Atlantic Records) and why he has a feature in the new issue of Living Blues magazine (others are available).
While on air, I learned of "Six Generations of Blues" put together by the Earwig label featuring the veteran HoneyBoy Edwards and Big Jack Johnson. It'll be screened Stateside in November and as soon as I find out the date for our side of the pond, I'll let you know. Steve Winwood used a pseudonym for a duet with John Mayall, we tracked down the 1960's rarity on Deram for the show.
Our oldest recording was done in 1930 and reproduced with pretty decent fidelity, showing why JT "Funny Papa" Smith was known as the Original Howlin' Wolf. The Pilgrim Travellers turned up with some gospel and Henry Gray and Otis Spann served us well on the piano blues front. The latter had superb harp from James Cotton, who was on duty 35 years after helping our his friend Joe Louis Walker. Elvin Bishop and George Thorogood completed the stylistic mix with a raucous run through of "Going Back To Georgia". I doubt any other radio station in the world had as much variety in two hours as we had last night. You provided me with great company, I hope you can make it again next Sunday at 10pm on FM from the Home of the 9-5 no-repeat workday and on the net streaming from Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Gary Blue

Monday, 19 October 2009

STAR BLUES on 18th October 2009 at 22:00

A few changes to the playlist were in order last night on STAR BLUES, with a number of classic Chicago style blues now in the first hour of the show. Hence we had the second Sonny Boy Williamson and Buddy Guy, both at their imperious best. Though actually a Motown recording (yes you read that right - Motown), Luther Allison had already set the tone and standard right from the off with his version of "Little Red Rooster", followed not long after with Wynonie Harris' "Good Rockin Tonight" (not the original but the best in my book). That one had one listener boogie-ing while making up the kids lunch boxes for school and then cutting a rug with piano frolics courtesy of Jerry Lee Lewis and Lloyd Price.

The back-to-back featured a rare performance on "County Jail" by Eric Clapton (an out-take from one of his Albert Hall concerts) and its original from 1941 by Big Maceo on piano and the elegant Tampa Red on guitar. Birthday girl Olga got an outing as did veteran rock'n'roller Chuck Berry and Johnnie Temple - all born on 18th October. The gospel tent held the Golden Gate Quartet with a sublime version of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" and - even though the sport is different - I dedicated it to Jensen Button a World Champion (at last). Brenda Boykin will be in Castor this coming Saturday and Bill Wyman and his Rhythm Kings will be at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on Halloween - congrats to Stephen who won the pair of tix in our competition.

Next week I'll have some more rarities and the usual classics and new releases - I hope to have your company next Sunday at 10pm on FM from the Commercial Radio Station of the Year 2009 and on-line at Until then, take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 12 October 2009

STAR BLUES on 11th October 2009 at 22:00

The second of two special STAR BLUES shows last night took another glimpse at blues classics for new listeners. There was an emphasis in the first hour on the Chess-label stars and some superb performances from Koko Taylor and Muddy Waters in particular.

By coincidence I'd just watched the DVD of "Cadillac Records", the story of Chess Records - though I remain somewhat annoyed at the missed opportunity to document a fascinating tale of such influential music and musicians. Hollywood rarely takes subjects such as this, so why - when the Chess label was run by two brothers - did the film not even mention Phil Chess? The sequence of events was wrong and there were several errors that even Wikipedia spotted. In mitigation the film does have a caption at the start that says "Based on true events" but there are captions at the end to bring the stories up to date (and those ignored Phil Chess as well). I'm only on my soapbox because films are proven to be how history is "remembered" by younger generations. The actor that played Howlin' Wolf was however quite magnificent, capturing the essence of a giant of a man - a true bluesman.

There'll be a competition this upcoming Sunday on STAR BLUES to win tix to see Bill Wyman, that plus a whole basketload of new goodies. I'll be pleased to have your company, until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 5 October 2009

STAR BLUES on 4th October 2009 at 22:00

With more new listeners finding the station and the STAR BLUES show, we took the opportunity last night to revisit some familiar blues tracks. It was a double pleasure to let some hear this great music for the first time and reacquaint others with why it made such a powerful connection originally. It's sometimes easy to take blues classics for granted and last night we all got chance to hear them afresh.

The second part of the survey will be on at ten next Sunday evening on FM for Cambridge and Ely, streaming live online from for the world courtesy of the Commercial Radio Station of the Year 2009. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 28 September 2009

STAR BLUES on 27th September 2009 at 22:00

Facebook seems to be working well for STAR BLUES at the moment with a number of playlist regular artists taking an active interest in the show and station. So it came to pass that we got the new album from Zakiya Hooker, daughter of the inimitable legend John Lee, onto last night's show. To judge her by her famous name is to do her something of a disservice, her portfolio includes both jazz and soul as well as top quality blues. We did her updated version of "Crossroads" as evidence. There's also a brand new album from George Thorogood called "Dirty Dozen" wherein he brings us 6 new songs and six rarities from 1989-1993 - from the first half dozen we took a stinging slide rendition of the Sleepy John Estes composition "Drop Down Mama". You can pretty much expect a return to this one as he's a real crowd pleaser.

Our winner of the tickets to see Maximum R&B at the Corn Exchange had to cancel through illness and generously allowed us to put his prize back into the pot. My question on the band that covered "Handbags and Gladrags" fooled no-one - congratulations to Lyn and to Roger who will see Alan Price, Maggie Bell, Zoot Money and the songs first hitmaker (Chris Farlowe) in concert. Incidentally, the song was written by Mike D'Abo but he doesn't have the gorgeous soul phrasing that Chris had and still has.

The piano spot was a welcome outing for "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie" by Pinetop Smith and I noted that within a couple of years Bing Crosby did a rather surreal and expectedly understated version. For the gospel tent, there were the Alphabetical Four sublimely supple on "I'm Gonna Walk Right In" and the uplifting lap steel mastery of Robert Randolph on the instrumental "Joyful Sound". I'd not done that one for over five years - why the Dickens not I'll never know, its not possible to hear it without smiling.

One of the satellite channels is using Freddie King's "Goin' Down" in a promo, so I played it in full on STAR BLUES to mark Freddie's upcoming birth date and that of the song's writer Don Nix. We remembered Sam Carr, legendary drummer, through his final recordings and for his partnership with Frank Frost as a "Jelly Roll King". This year has seen the deaths of number of blues giants but there are plenty of good things upcoming, of which Robert Randolph is one: in the next few weeks we'll feature a few more ... Watch this space as they say (a bit daft on radio but I didn't coin the phrase). There'll be more blues next week on Sunday night at 10 on the Commercial Radio station of the year 2009 - on FM and online at Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Gary Blue

Monday, 21 September 2009

STAR BLUES on 20th September 2009 at 22:00

Something of a piano feast got served up on last night's STAR BLUES. Leading practitioner Pinetop Perkins' session in Switzerland marked his inclusion in my make-pretend list of blues artists I'd share a car with and Amos Milburn took us down to his "Chicken Shack" for a bit of boogie. We also had Brit Carl "Sonny" Leyland over in New Orleans celebrating at the "House of Blue Lights" and German Axel Zwingenburger gracing a track from Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings. That one from their newest album and you can catch them live at Cambridge Corn Exchange on All Hallows Eve.

The other two car passengers - Guy Davis and Candye Kane - made an appearance and both would make good company with a wealth of stories to tell. Our own Blondie had a birthday so it was sort of fitting that I played "Denise" by Randy and the Rainbows (the original version of the big 70's hit for Ms Harry's band). Another birthday got marked for B. B. King (he was 84 on 16th) and I chose three up-beat songs to prove blues isn't all about depressing bad things.

Katherine Davis is playing near Peterborough on Saturday - so I played a track from her new album. Live blues music is still thriving, if you know where to look, and Katherine is the real deal. Don't forget the British R&B legends are in Cambridge on 28th complete with Alan Price, Maggie Bell, Zoot Money, Bobby Tench and Chris Farlowe. See you there?

Before then I hope to have your company again at 10 next Sunday night on FM or online at with more STAR BLUES, until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 14 September 2009

STAR BLUES on 13th September 2009 at 22:00

Summer's definitely on the way out when my drive to the studio is in the dark -still it gave me chance to ponder three blues artists to spend the week with in a car just as those three brave souls are doing to win the "Innit to Winnit" competition in Ely starting Monday 14th. There's live coverage on Star everyday from 6 in the morning.

I settled on Pinetop Perkins, Candye Kane and Guy Davis, wonderful musicians with a rich vein of life to draw upon with stories to while away the hours. Who'd be your choice, must be living and bluesy??

Plenty of classics and new stuff on the playlist: we had a UK first play of the new album from Boo Boo Davis - not in the shops until October - a live favourite hereabouts through his gigs in Castor (Peterborough). Also a selection off Bill Wyman's "Best Of" collection, it has remastered versions of his live and studio recordings and we played his Rhythm Kings cover of the Bobby Bland hit "Turn On Your Love light". it has a remarkable vocal from Gary Brooker,just one of Many well-known peripatetic members of the Kings among others there's Georgie Fame,Albert Lee,Andy Fairweather-Low and now Gary US Bonds. Neat preview to upcoming gig - and STAR BLUES tix competition - in Cambridge. Return visits to the Jeff Healey's "Legacy", Mike Zito's fresh album, and the new one from Dave Riley and Bob Corritore got made- and I suspect we'll be back again before much longer. Ruby Turner supplied the gospel and Mercy Dee Walton was imperious at the piano keys.

With a clutch of dedications the show was over and done all too soon - you made me very welcome. I hope we can be together again on FM and online at the Commercial Radio Station of the Year 2009, next Sunday night at ten. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

STAR BLUES on 6th September 2009 at 22:00

My tenth year of blues on commercial radio got off to a fine start on Sunday's STAR BLUES with UK first plays from six (yes count 'em) new albums. The real peach is the one from Dave Riley and Bob Corritore, if you thought they don't make them like that any more - they do, and here's proof. We also had a rare - previously unissued - Ike Turner track that nestles at the end of the upcoming album by the Mr. Groove outfit.

STAR BLUES celebrated the legendary gospel artist Marie Knight and big-voiced Chicago bluesman Jesse Fortune who died during the week. Jesse never recorded under his own name anywhere near as often as his gifts deserved and we played his version of "Too Many Cooks" that later inspired Robert Cray. Marie started her career in gospel with Sister Rosetta Tharpe, her rich contralto voice in counterpoint duet on a thrilling "Up Above My Head" recorded in 1947 with the Sammy Price Trio - no other radio station on the planet was playing such uplifting music at 20 past 11 on Sunday. She later sang secular music, her "Come Tomorrow" was covered to commercial and financial success by Manfred Mann. Her last recordings were on a project to celebrate Sister Rosetta and a full album of versions of Rev. Gary Davis' compositions.

Fans of electric blues-rock guitar were sated with Aynsley Lister and Mike Zito and the traditionalists got a 1947 offering from Lightnin' Hopkins. Big Maceo and Amos Milburn worked their magic over those eighty-eights and the show was done far too soon. As I wrapped up the show heading off home for thirty nine winks, Nat in Australia was just starting her housework; I am the Mighty Mark Peters with her breakfast, though just an imitation of our very own brown-eyed handsome man I'm sure.

More blues, news, reviews and tomfoolery at ten next Sunday on FM and online at - I hope we can be together, until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Gary Blue.

Monday, 31 August 2009

STAR BLUES on 30th August 2009 at 22:00

Bank Holiday STAR BLUES meant the continuation of our survey of Blues in Britain, this time from 1969 to date. The show was a lot of fun to prepare and present - it showed the ever-present quality and longevity of the music on this side of the pond.

The oldest contributions came from Rory Gallagher and Maggie Bell, two performance of power sounding as fresh now as then. The energy of punk owed much to the tough R&B to be found in the London pubrock circuit and we had Dr. Feelgood and Nine Below Zero in evidence - not forgetting the Blues Band gigging in the same venues without troubling the blues purists. Old school stalwarts Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Chris Farlowe and the Rolling Stones never strayed too far from their roots and appeared again last night just as they did in the first part of the special that we did at Easter. Flying in the face of financial common-sense, Otis Grand and Jools Holland regularly take big bands into the concert halls of Britain, ensuring the jump-style R&B lives on. Gary Moore got commercial success from his early-90s return to the blues, his outing with BB King got into the lower reaches of the charts - as did Paul Lamb in the guise of "Bravado" for Pete Waterman who took time out from playing with Kylie and trains.

Maestro Bob Hall and newcomer Paddy Milner both romped through some boogie woogie on a couple of pieces written sixty years apart. They added a party flavour emphasising how blues can be thought of as good-time party music and our spiritual well-being was taken care of by the much-underrated Ruby Turner's rousing go at the Sister Rosetta Tharpe classic "This Train". If there's any justice her single will be number 1 for 19 weeks. The show ended with a nod to the future with tracks from young guitar turks Oli Brown and Danny Bryant. In amongst it all there was a chance to win a pair of tickets to Maximum R&B in Cambridge next month and congrats are due to Ian in Sutton for his win.

I'd like to spend some more time with you next Sunday at ten with more blues on the Commercial Radio Station of the year (2009) on FM and on-line, until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Monday, 24 August 2009

STAR BLUES on 23rd August 2009 at 22:00

It's almost four years since Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area and there are still folks in straits but are now largely forgotten. The piano blues spot on last night's STAR BLUES featured Champion Jack Dupree - one of the Crescent City's finest players - with two rambunctious tracks in the finest barrelhouse tradition. The folks in the Fens in our part of the world are right to ask how the powers-that-be would react in similar circumstances here (God forbid).

Forty years on from the Woodstock festival, so it was appropriate to remember Canned Heat and Johnny Winter who both appeared back then, though strangely at a time of US commercial popularity for the music - no other acts joined them? I was in North Norfolk on Saturday, somewhat disgracefully shaking my funky butt at a new festival venture that had Cambridge cult duo Ezio & Booga share a bill with the multi-faceted (and wonderful) Spikedrivers. A few other folks hid me from too much public ridicule by similarly shaking their own funky bits. It was great weather and a lovely setting with non-stop music from 1:30 through almost midnight and I sincerely hope the organisers will do more. Look for Southrepps on the regular blues festival scene in future.

We had some Downhome Blues from the Modern label courtesy of a collection on Ace and a smidge of Gospel from the Golden Gate Quartet - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss covered the Everly Brothers to start the show and new band Elephant Shelf closed us out with a taster of their new album. In between we did classics like "Devil With A Blue Dress" and a back-to-back on "Hoochie Coochie Man". I'm putting the finishing touches to a very special show for next weekend - Bank Holiday Sunday - that follows the last special by bringing the story of British Blues from 1969 up to date. There's also a chance to win two tickets to get some Maximum R&B at Cambridge Corn Exchange from Chris Farlowe, Maggie Bell, Alan Price and Zoot Money.

You'll need to be there at 10pm next Sunday 30th August on the Commercial Radio station of the year 2009 or on line from Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Monday, 17 August 2009

STAR BLUES on 16th August 2009 at 22:00

A couple of tracks to remember two influential musicians and a couple of exclusive first-in-UK plays marked out last night's STAR BLUES on the Commercial Radio Station of the Year 2009. A stalwart of the Memphis music scene, Jim Dickinson, died on Saturday - he was a talented session player, much in demand for classic sessions on Atlantic by Aretha Franklin as well as work with the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Ry Cooder. In 2007 he won an AMA lifetime achievement gong for Production/Engineering. His sons are the core of the North Mississippi Allstars and we remembered Jim through a track he did with them in 1997, his version of JB Lenior's "Down In Missisippi". My most recent memory of Jim came through the Samuel L. Jackson film "Black Snake Moan" - if you get chance watch the dvd extras and see Jim in action.

Also lost last week was Les Paul - much was made of his part played in the development of the electric guitar but of greater importance - in my opinion - was his invention of phased effects, tape-loops and multi-track recording. Music of every genre owes him almost everything. He crafted a solid guitar from a piece of 4x4 but couldn't get Gibson interested in in in the 1940's. He worked out of hours in the Epiphone factory to refine the design by adding two hollow-body "wings" but still not able to take things further. By 1950 the Fender company had gone into the electric guitar market and Les came back into the picture as far as Gibson was concerned. This coincided with an executive at the newly launched Capitol outfit getting wind of the other-worldly effects Les had created for his records. Les teamed with his wife Mary Ford for a number of pop hits and Gibson used Les' higher commercial profile to launch the Les Paul guitar. From there the rest is where we are today with Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jimmy Page and so many others in debt to Les. To mark the passing of this innovative man, I went to his recordings for Decca (pre-Capitol) and a piece of blues genius with singer Georgia White.

The two new things came from Dennis Jones, robust and fluid - and from Rich Berry, sprightly and thoughtful. If these guys get their due rewards, remember where you heard them first. One of the Guitar magazines is featuring early recordings of Stevie Ray Vaughan so giving me the excuse to play the earliest known outing for the Austin guitar maestro from 1977. It was 40 years to the day since Fleetwood Mac released "Pious Bird of Good Omen" and so we did the definitive rendition from there of "Need Your Love So Bad". With it being 16th August it was right to do a bit of Elvis too, alongside the original of Arthur Gunter's "Lets Play House".

I'm starting to put together a special show for the Bank Holiday weekend and it'll include a competition to see the R&B legends tour in Cambridge (featuring Georgie Fame, Chris Farlowe, Maggie Bell and more). Thanks as always for the invite to your place, I hope we can be together again next Sunday at 10pm for some more STAR BLUES. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Gary Blue

Monday, 10 August 2009

STAR BLUES on 9th August 2009 at 22:00

Even if the white tee-shirt couldn't be seen last night, STAR BLUES did deliver blues in all shades - much of it from the distaff side. Lady Bianca has joined the group on Facebook and celebrated a birthday this weekend so we helped with a track from her latest album. She has a big voice and piano talent to match, her individual approach to blues is a welcome change to the many young guitarists who think the music is easy as long as it's played loud.

Candye Kane hasn't always been dealt a good hand by life but she is a straight talking feisty lady that plays the cards she has with some style. The title of her album "Superhero" indicates her overcoming recent health problems back to live and studio work - a year after she thought those things would be gone. Her project is one of the few by a female voice that the boss at home will listen to, and who am I to dare argue? Laura Chavez is on Candye's album and she turned in some stinging guitar on Lara Price's version of the Buddy Guy song "Can't Quit The Blues". At any age that'd be a challenge but from a very placid looking 22-year old, it was astonishing.

Memphis Minnie could be thought of as forebear to the genre of female blues guitar star and it was fitting to include her on the playlist too last night. Alison Krauss' pure voice went Down to the River gospel-style and Mike Kindred held up the piano blues end of things. A new artist to me, Gene Rodgers, also did some boogie work on the keys and you could hear how he held down a spot in Coleman Hawkins orchestra.

My DVD player developed some random faults last week, I fixed them and chose the DVD from Stevie Ray Vaughan's box-set to check it was all working. Hence my choice of "May I Have A Talk With You" from the Texan legend for our playlist. IN similar robust fashion, there was an unreleased live version of "Further On Up The Road" by Jeff Healey taken from a cd-set issued in very controversial circumstances. A judge Stateside has decreed the release is legal so STAR BLUES had the first UK play of the set.

Thanks to everyone who took time to chat on Facebook during the show, I will be back next Sunday at ten with two hours more blues and tomfoolery - I'd be pleased to have your company on line at and on FM at the Commercial Radio station of the Year 2009. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 3 August 2009

STAR BLUES on 2nd August 2009 at 22:00

This year is shaping up to be a bumper year for new blues releases of real quality and substance - and STAR BLUES is the place you'll hear them first in Britain. Last night I was lucky enough to play tracks from the new albums by Otis Taylor, Fiona Boyes, Woodbrain and Johnnie Bassett. Otis' album has Gary Moore in a sympathetic supporting role (free of rock-blues excess) and the project ably demonstrates the relevance of the music in the 21st century by dint of very personal lyrics. Fiona goes from strength to strength and now occupies the middle ground previously the domain of Maria Muldaur and Bonnie Raitt - anything with her name on is well worthwhile. Woodbrain are a new name on the scene and do what the North Mississippi Allstars did when they started: they take the blues form as the starting point for mixing in different styles across the ages. Not to the taste of a purist but something for when you'd like a change.

As for Johnnie Bassett, his is the cleanest most economical style of playing possible and he sings just like Lou Rawls. He's a very dapper gent in sharp suit, bowtie and pristine white shoes and he plays the most beautiful instrument - semi acoustic classic design Gibson with f-holes in a burnished cedar colour. More photos on the booklet cover next time please.

Piano came courtesy of Otis Spann and a session he did for Sam Charters at Prestige. It was actually the Muddy Waters Band - who did the date to earn enough money for coach fare home from a gig at Carnegie Hall, NY - but no-one was supposed to know as Muddy was still signed to Chess. Muddy didn't sing but you'd know his guitar (and James Cotton's harp) anywhere. My other piano blues was a pre-war item by Leroy Carr, an artist deemed most influential of all time by Living Blues magazine. Over in the gospel tent we had Blind Willie Johnson and "John The Revelator", a song known to most by virtue of Ackroyd and Belushi(2) in the Blues Brothers 2000 film.

More blues in a white tee-shirt (esp. for the webcam) next Sunday at 10 on FM and online at I hope we can spend more time together - until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Monday, 27 July 2009

STAR BLUES on 26th July 2009 at 22:00

Thursdays at the Cambridge Folk Festival is "locals" day - this year headed by Ade Edmundson's Bad Shepherds - and Sam from Foxton (plus one) will be going by dint of winning last night's competition on STAR BLUES. Congratulations to her and sorry I only had one pair of tix up for grabs. Again this week I shared breakfast with Malaya and got messages from Italy where Olga is on tour. I played her version of the Memphis Minnie song "What's The Matter With The Mill?" though I'm sure I don't know what it means.

I got invited to have pix done on Friday but couldn't make it, there'll be no excuse though for not knowing what your other fave presenters look like. Is the Mighty Mark Peters the Brown-Eyed Handsome man his fans claim?

Sometimes the show features electric guitar at the expense of other blues axes, so the balance got redressed last night with harp maestros Sonny Boy Williamson, Rod Piazza and Sugar Ray Norcia and the (then) teenage piano skills of Matt Empson with a wonderfully dexterous workout on Slim Harpo's "Shake Your Hips" - full of pep and verve. He's a fully qualified lawyer these days though he's done time in the Big Town Playboys. Last week from facebook Abdul suggested Gary Moore's album "Still Got The Blues" and I was happy to oblige this time. Gary is on the "Ultimate Blues" album still nestling in the lower reaches of the mainstream charts; Beth Rowley is also there and sung a heartfelt version of "Nobody's Fault But Mine". Eric Bibb, Rory Block and Maria Muldaur brought some gospel and John Lee Hooker's "No Shoes" got onto the playlist by being featured on the soundtrack of a film I'd recently seen: "American Gangster" with Denzel Washington set in the late Sixties.

The news section was about the new releases due under Jeff Healey's name, one sanctioned and approved by his widow and estate, the other not. I guess fans will make their own minds up - both are legit. I'm rustling up more blues, news, reviews and gossip for the next show - watch facebook for how the show will shapeup - I hope we'll spend another two hours together next Sunday at ten on FM and online at 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.

Monday, 20 July 2009

STAR BLUES on 19th July 2009 at 22:00

Unperturbed by the unflattering lighting on the webcam and the pounds it adds, STAR BLUES launched to new technological heights with Facebook during last night's show. It did allow me to converse about an accident on the M11/A10, the shuttle bus in Newmarket and about breakfast in Malaya (We are the surrogate Terry Wogan at 6:30 am over there by all accounts).

The music fare was - as previously promised - based around a lunar theme to mark the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing. I also remembered Michael Collins from the crew, he was the one who stayed in the orbiter while messrs Aldrin and Armstrong did the easy stuff. My fave track was Howlin' Wolf's "Ridin' In the Moonlight" something he recorded at Sun studios. He was there a tad ahead of Elvis who did "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" with youthful exuberance of a song chosen for his mum Gladys.

I chose another track from Lucinda William's fine album, she's here in Cherry Hinton for the Folk Festival at the end of the month. It's sold out now so the only way to see her now is via the website where you can register to win tickets. What are you waiting for?

Tracks from new albums by Roy Rogers, Big James and John Nemeth - plus an upcoming album by Jesse Dee (a new name with a sweet soul voice and gritty hard driving band). Larry Davis did a suave version of "Three O'Clock Blues" to ease us out of the show, into the night and towards the Mighty Mark Peters and the lovely Amy on Star Breakfast.

The two hours really flew past last night and I'm already planning more of the same (only different) for the next show on Sunday at 10pm - I look forward to your company on FM and online with the Commercial Radio station of the year 2009. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 13 July 2009

STAR BLUES on 12th July 2009 at 22:00

Plenty of good old-fashioned blues last night from Young Jesse, Gene Phillips and Johnny Shines, Throw in some rarities from Muddy Waters, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Taj Mahal, some Piano Blues from B&R cover star Speckled Red and a suave gospel performance from a twenty year-old Sam Cooke - and you've got a flavour of what STAR BLUES is all about.

Roy Milton came along and gave Star Breakfast a plug with his Specialty recording of "Early In The Morning" and Booker T brought his "Soul Limbo" to mark the Ashes escape and plug his upcoming appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival (the instrumental is synonymous with cricket ever since Brian Johnston likened the West Indies crowd bashing of beer tins to the percussive opening to the tune). Listeners online (and viewers of the webcam) had a good opportunity to register at for the competition to win a pair of tickets for the festival that starts on 30th at Cherry Hinton Hall.

Etta James has had to cancel some gigs Stateside due to health worries, we wished her well and played one of her Chess soulful sides. I also accidentally settled an argument for one listener who assured his young daughter that Salt-n-Peppa's "What A Man" was not original - the evidence came from Linda Lyndell whose reading of the Dave Crawford song was done in 1968 for the Stax/Volt label. (It was also used in an advert on tv a couple of years ago). Not sure if the track is on any current album, I took mine from the 9-cd set of "Complete Stax/Volt Singles Vol.2" from about 15 years ago.

The white t-shirt will be there next week with more of the same only different, I hope to share your company on the Commercial Radio Station of the Year 2009 with Britain's only commercial FM blues show at 10. Until then take care of yourselves, take care of those that take care of you

Monday, 6 July 2009

STAR BLUES on 5th July 2009 at 22:00

Most avid listeners to STAR BLUES will already know this but the free disc on the new issue of UNCUT magazine (there are others) confirms my earlier assertion on how blues is back. To mark the continuing resurgence, and the breadth of the genre, I included tracks from Jimmy Reed, Wynonie Harris, Bobby Bland and Blind Boy Fuller on the playlist last night. Surely more than enough there to please the pure at heart?

Watermelon Slim is a member of MENSA - not your average bluesman stereotype I'm sure you'll agree - and he's one of the headliners at this months Cambridge Folk Festival. As it was 4th of July weekend, his "Red White and Blues" from his first blues album from 2003 seemed appropriate. My gaffe on Lloyd Glenn from last week was atoned for with a magnificent 1949 Chicago session from Little Johnny Jones (helped out by Muddy Waters on stinging guitar). To complete the restitution for the error I also had a nice piece from Jimmy Yancey with customary off-kilter ending.

The distaff side of blues was ably represented by the earliest Lavern Baker outing for Atlantic and a sensitive reading of Dan Tyler's "When Will I?" from Candi Staten in the gospel spot. A new name to me - Catherine MacLellan - followed Candi with "Everything'll be Alright" from her sophomore project, gently played and sung. Old-timers, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and Ry Cooder turned up to do their stuff; the Robert Cray Band backed John Lee Hooker and Booker T & MGs backed Albert King, while Tommy Castro claims "You Can't Keep A Good Man Down". No argument here.

I'm making plans for a special show due August Bank Holiday Sunday and already sorting out somethings for next weeks offering on blues from the Commercial Radio station of the Year 2009 - on FM and online at starting ten pm. My playlist for this show will be on before the end of the day and I look forward to spending two hours in your company on Sunday, until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 29 June 2009

STAR BLUES on 28th June 2009 at 22:00

A rather raucous start to STAR BLUES last night with a dose of guitar blasters carrying on the tone from Neil's excellent Rock show: Danny Bryant breaks his Scandinavian tour celebrating 10 years in the business with an upcoming pair of gigs in East Anglia, and his mentor Walter Trout clocked up two decades with an album of rarities from the past and present - both got early spins on the playlist. The pace eased somewhat with a slow blues from Z. Z. Top to open the way for later tracks of classic Chess blues from Jimmy Rogers and the Excello genius of Jerry McCain.

Bobby Day's original of "Rockin' Robin" (propelled by Earl Palmer's peerless sticksmanship) was our way of marking Michael Jackson's death a few days ago and Elvis contributed his beautiful "So High" from the 1966 Grammy winning gospel album "How Great Thou Art". (Though in his career he was nominated for Country, Rock'n'Roll, Blues and Pop - he only ever won in the Gospel category). Susan Tedeschi will be at Cherry Hinton at the end of July for the Cambridge Folk festival, by way of a teaser I played a song from her brand new album - so new it's still smokin'.

I did succumb to a senior moment yesterday about one of my chosen piano blues artists, Lloyd Glenn. Rather than get a name for himself playing with Elmore James, it was - as anyone knows - Lowell Fulson. The man who did splendid work at the keys for Elmore was Johnny Jones. (By way of atonement, look for a track by him on the next show).

David Dee is on the cover of the new "juke Blues" magazine, reason enough to play his signature piece "Goin' Fishing" - inside the mag, Star Blues gets a mention too. (Other blues mags are available). I'll be compiling another submission to the radio charts tonight, then my playlist will be posted at I hope you can spare some more time on Sunday night at ten on FM or online at for more of the same (but guaranteed to be different to any other blues show on the planet). Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Gary Blue

Monday, 22 June 2009

STAR BLUES on 21st June 2009 at 22:00

Don't tell anyone but it looks like Blues Is Back, though many would say it's never been away. The download providers' now offer decent selections of the genre, including the recent addition of many items from the leading imprint for modern blues: Alligator. There can now be little excuse for not acquainting yourself with Koko Taylor, Albert Collins or Kenny Neal (to name but three) - and I had some examples on last night's STAR BLUES.

Nestling just inside the top-20 album charts is also "Ultimate Blues" a double-cd set with decent tracks from the usual suspects and a few more - I particularly note the inclusion of Homesick James and I went to his Prestige sessions in 1964 for Sam Charters to demonstrate why he deserves to be there. Imelda May also has a song on that album and I played it to mark her appearance at this year's Glastonbury and upcoming Cambridge Folk festivals. Next week I'll feature a track from another artist due at Cherry Hinton on 30th July onwards.

The gospel offering came courtesy of the marvellous vocal tone of Ollie Haskins and the Dixie Nightingales, their "I Don't Know" was originally out on the Chalice label (a susidiary of Stax) and is now on a cd "Memphis 60" with rare cuts from the city that shaped music at the turn of Sixties/Seventies. George Thorogood and Eric Clapton got outings for Fathers' Day and Carl 'sonny' Leyland paid tribute to the boogie and barrelhouse styles of Chicago with "Southside Stuff".

STAR BLUES is the only blues show in the UK to report to Living Blues magazine as part of their monthly radio charts and we're proud to be listed as a contributor to the current issue (#201 with Magic Slim on the cover) and to their web-site version. There are other blues magazines: LB is regarded as the benchmark worldwide and helps spread the good word on STAR BLUES that bit further. Don't forget all the playlists are at and they are time-coded and searchable. God willing I'll be back on FM and online at at ten pm next Sunday, I look forward to your company. Until then take care of yourselves and take take of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 15 June 2009

STAR BLUES on 14th June 2009 at 22:00

There's a new book out drawing on reminiscences of Jimmy Page and the Rolling Stones and provided an excuse - not that I need - to play tracks from both on the show last night. STAR BLUES also took an unusual look at the upcoming Cambridge Folk Festival by playing an AC/DC cover off Lucinda Williams' new album - she tops the bill at the end of July. There's a strong lineup of names of interest to avid listeners and I'll feature another one every week until the day. Disgracefully overlooked by HM Queen in the birthday honours, John Mayall supports BBKing on the short series of stadium-size dates underway this week. Henceforth known as Lord Mayall of Macclesfield he did a great run through of "Cannonball Shuffle" in evidence of his claim and Mr. King got an outing from his best cd - not for nothing, King of the Blues.

This year the boss has taken on an allotment and our first crop of spuds is small but perfectly formed - former cop Robert Brown was on hand "Diggin his Potatoes" under his nom-de-blues - Washboard Sam. No other blues show on the planet combines gardening advice of this quality. Add to the mix the very first plays of albums by John Nemeth, Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl and you've got a pretty varied two hours. That's without mention of piano blues from Dr. John and Eddie Boyd and gospel from the Staple Singers. The latter also provided a way of marking the death of session keyboard player Barry Beckett who starred on a number of classic sides from the likes of Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin. Oh to have been at those sessions, many including the much missed guitarist Duane Allman who started the show with familiar gusto in the songbook of Blind Willie McTell.

I've a couple of requests for Father's Day next week when Star Blues returns at 10 on FM and online at the Commercial Station of the Year 2009. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you
Gary Blue

Monday, 8 June 2009

STAR BLUES on 7th June 2009 at 22:00

On Wednesday 3rd the Queen of the Blues, Koko Taylor, died following complications after surgery in Chicago. Three weeks earlier she had given a sparkling performance during the celebrations at the Blues Oscars (as well as collecting her 25th award, more than anyone else). So the show last night dipped into her 50 year recording career from her earliest days with Chess to her Indian summer successes for Bruce Iglauer's Alligator outfit. If you've any doubt as to her importance and influence, just ask BB King, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi, Buddy Guy .... She has a small cameo in the movie "Blues Brothers2000" but you should also check out her natural habitat in Martin Scorsese's Blues films at a Chicago club. Already very much missed.
It was also time to start a short season of previews for the upcoming Cambridge Folk Festival at Cherry Hinton Hall on 30th July: Diana Jones will be there and her second album gave us a taster of her folk and country blues roots with her own composition "Cracked and Broken".
Both Cousin Joe and Mabel Scott are being reissued at the moment if you get your blues in download format, I showed why they are worth investigating with a track from each.
I've not played anything by Steve Howell before, which probably says more about my imperfect filing system at home than it does about him: he's a fine interpreter of classic blues with an easy to listen to manner; in contrast we did a bit of jump blues from Louis Jordan, piano tinkling from Mitch Woods and a gospel flavoured go at "People Get Ready" from Holland's Hans Theesink.
As an aside, congratulations to Ryan (our mid-morning presenter) who now needs to extend his mantleshelf to accommodate his Arquiva award as best newcomer. This will be the first of many.
God willing, I'll be back next Sunday online at and on FM at the home of the 9-5 No-Repeat workday. Until then, take care f yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 1 June 2009

STAR BLUES on 31st May 2009 at 22:00

At the centre of last night's STAR BLUES was a rare live track featuring Stevie Ray Vaughan with a guest solo from Jeff Beck. Though twenty years have passed since its recording, the piece still delights in its luxuriant playing from two guys really on form. I went to the SRV box set for the track, not available before or since. We also had something from Rod Piazza's new album for Delta Groove - "Soul Monster" is easily his best work for over a decade and his wife, Miss Honey, is understated and sympathetic throughout on keys.

I also did a first play for a guy born in the West Indies but got to be very much an Arizona bluesman at age five: Big Pete Pearson. He revelled gloriously on his own song "I Don't Know You" off his album "The Screamer". Eric Clapton started the show with something from the Robert Johnson project, he also closed the show in duet with Buddy Guy on their version of the classic piece "Early in The Morning".

The 65th anniversary of Operation Overlord will take place this week and I marked it with the Otis Redding version of Sam Cooke's "Change Is Gonna Come". We did some piano from Little Willie Littlefield and the disgustingly over-talented Mike Sanchez (he has my share as well as his own, then some). By 1963 Muddy Waters was known as the Father Of Chicago Blues with a non-pareil reputation as band leader attracting musicians of the highest calibre: he also recorded some sides that would latterly be known as unplugged, accompanied with just his own guitar his "Feel Like Going Home" from that year was quite beautiful.

I have a dilemma at the moment as to inclusion in the show of anything from the new album from a new artist - though not all of it is bluesy enough, it is his proclamation on his sexuality that gives me most trouble. The details aren't troubling, the upfront declaration is: he has made an issue of it before you can get the disc from the jewel case. For me the music and the connection it makes are what is important and that's how I want to judge if it should be on the playlist. The album from this artist changes the rules of the game and the genie is now out of the bottle, let me know what you think? You take care of yourselves and those that take care of you until we can spend some more time together at ten next Sunday on FM or online at the home of the 9-5 no-repeat workday

Gary Blue

Monday, 25 May 2009

STAR BLUES on 24th May 2009 at 22:00

I celebrated the bank holiday by taking the show to my floating ornamental duck palace on my moat: the settings are modest and a little cramped since no expense has been spent but we still managed a full rundown of the 2009 Blues Music Awards. I did something from each of the winners, all were already known to regular listeners - proving how STAR BLUES reflects the contemporary blues scene as well as stuff from the classic era.

Buddy Guy won in two categories, his "Skin Deep" album is the most complete project of his career, similarly honoured was Janiva Magness who had a style makeover about a year ago; she then joined Alligator, got some great songs and a tight little band, now her long overdue success has arrived. Nice to see recognition of Kenny Neal's songwriting talent in "Song of the Year" category and the posthumous award (in a brand new category) given to Jeff Healey's final recordings on "Mess Of Blues".

The show wasn't entirely devoted to the awards, I made mention of two women with health worries: Candye Kane marked her year since successful surgery for pancreatic cancer with her best album "Superhero" and Natalie Cole brought us a robust version of the jazz-blues standard "Since I fell For You" and we wish her well after her kidney transplant on Thursday just gone.

That Roscoe Gordon platter did turn up and the boss at home was right as it was still in my computer - I do refute the "senior" description of my mental acuity however, the portrait I have in the attic guarantees my youth (or it does according to the guy I paid nine shillings to).

The Staple Singers did the gospel offering for us and the piano blues spot had the BMA winner Marcia Ball helping out on the Soul Blues album from Irma Thomas called "Simply Grand". There's been a lot of internet scuttle-butt on how the awards only go to the usual suspects but the argument is complete nonsense: only two winners held on to their crowns and all the winners WERE the best in the respective categories: B B King, Buddy, Irma, Janiva, Jeff and the others did work at the top of their games, not just in my opinion but that of the critics and listeners through the year.

I had time to slip in a little gem from Shakey Jake with a fine guitar solo by his nephew Magic Sam - at the request of one of the loyal online listeners. You can do like wise or find us on FM at the home of the 9-5 no repeat workday and God willing I'll be back with more of the same only different at ten next Sunday, until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 18 May 2009

STAR BLUES on 17th May 2009 at 22:00

... or the (empty) case of the missing cd? There I was all set to play Rosco Gordon on last night's STAR BLUES show and the digipack was empty, zero-content, missing, bereft and deficient. A check on previous playlists at shows I've never played it before so the question is baffling in the extreme. The boss at home puts it down to a senior moment but as a mere slip of a lad she surely can't mean me?

I did find and bring new albums from Alex Dixon, Seth Walker, Sugar Pie deSanto and a double anthology of the singles put out on Goldwax - all of which come recommended in their own way: the Goldwax set is just the first of three and I for one can't wait. George Thorogood and Jeff Healey did us proud at the top of the shop and they set the stage for classic blues by Elmore James and Howlin' Wolf. There can be no other blues show on the planet willing to go to as many bases in two hours - a claim backed by tracks from Etta Baker, Big Joe Turner, The Golden Keys, the Ikettes and Jimi Hendrix. A further gospel offering came from an unusual source - Frankie Lee - and there was a sublime piece of West Coast action on the keys from Floyd Dixon. He was accompanied with Oscar Moore on guitar and life gets no better than that.

This upcoming Sunday (24th) is a bank holiday so I'm having a look at the Oscars of the blues world with bits and bobs from the runners, riders and winners. All being well I'll have one winner's cd to give away in a competition so I hope you can be with me on FM and on-line at where there is a 9-5 no repeat workday. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 11 May 2009

STAR BLUES on 10th May 2009 at 22:00

The Delaware Destroyer, George Thorogood, will be in town on Thursday 21st and STAR BLUES had a pair of tickets to give away, so the first hour of the show included a question on George's stadium theme song. That set the tone with plenty of uptempo stuff, including a debut for youngster Tas Cru with "Money Talks" - his own song about the pay to play practice prevalent for young bands in the States. His booklet artwork looked a bid dodgy - more in keeping with a rapper than a bluesman - but the content is far better than those first impressions suggest. Why is it bands don't put more effort into presentation, and why not put your best track as #1 in the sequence?

In that first sixty, we had vintage performances from Gene Phillips on Modern and the Wailers who have no connection with Bob Marley and the Chess remake of Tommy McLennan's "Bluebird" done by Howlin' Wolf. Robert Plant shared his song-title with those Wailers but entirely different pieces, his voice has aged gracefully with more timbre to his tone now than in his Zeppelin days. Buddy Guy continued the rambunctious feel into Hour-2 with his career-enhancing cut from 1991 that sparked the Blues boom of that decade: "Damn Right I've Got The Blues". No argument from me. Seasick Steve and Eli-Paperboy-Reed are up for awards from Mojo magazine, STAR BLUES celebrated this further penetration into the mainstrream with tracks from both guys.

On the awards front, this is OSCARS time in the blues world and you can expect a special show in a fortnight (Bank Holiday Sunday) with all the runners and riders. Closer than that, next weeks playlist will have something from Seth Walker's new album and a first play of one from Alex Dixon both come with glowing reviews from the States; find out why next week on line at or on FM, at the home of the 9-5 no repeat workday, Star Radio. Until we get chance to spend more time together at ten next Sunday, take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 4 May 2009

STAR BLUES on 3rd May 2009 at 22:00

By coincidence or just serendipity the last week has been good for the blues in the media with two whole evenings dedicated to British Blues on a satellite TV channel - just three weeks after STAR BLUES did a special show on the subject. Evidence that the powers in charge have their dials set or web-site streaming tuned our way on a Sunday night? Many items of my playlist were put there to compliment what was going on - one highlight was the documentary on Bobby Bland, not for nothing known as "The Voice". You owe it to your grandchildren to bring them up listening to Bobby Bland, in support of that advice I included Bobby's first recording done for Duke in 1952 "No Blow No show". Another highlight from the series of shows came from Freddie King with "Woke Up This Morning" who had last been seen in white jump suit and rainbow shirt with collars so wide he'd have lifted a 747 if the wind changed.

Talking of mornings, I had chance to mention Ely Eels and the Mighty Mark Peters - Chuck Berry's "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man" seemed to be what was required. Though in the interests of following the Ofcom regulations on honesty, taste and decency I had to point out that the webcam does not lie. The traffic and travel service he and Amy provide each weekday morning is however invaluable, not the least of which when trying to negotiate Bank Holiday Weekend roads.

Mark Lamarr has discovered a little known statute that for every Chuck Berry track, there must be one from Bo Diddley, I had no hesitation in complying with the legislation with the original version of "Who Do You Love" - I played George Thorogood's version last week and this upcoming Sunday I'll have a pair of tickets to give away for George's show at the Cambridge Corn Exchange.

The week ended on a high note with Bob Dylan at No. 1 in the album charts and another track played from his excellent album I suspect a few blues purists will have run for the hills at that and from the timeless blues riff that started the show from Led Zeppelin. I hope they made it back for the rest of the show with classic performances by Champion Jack Dupree, Fenton Robinson, Mississippi John Hurt, Fred McDowell, Little Esther and Sister Wynona Carr in the second hour of the show. I doubt there is another live blues show that covers as many styles of blues in two hours. I'm already putting together two more for you next Sunday at ten on FM and on-line at, I'll be pleased to share your company. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 27 April 2009

STAR BLUES on 26th April 2009 at 22:00

The year 2009 is shaping up for a bumper crop of new releases and STAR BLUES had more than its fair share last night. Pride of place went to the new one from Bob Dylan whose song "My Wife's Home Town" sounded as if it was made for Howlin' Wolf circa 1961 there's plenty more on "Together Through Life" for future shows. That promised outing for Sixties Brit-blues legend Gordon Smith closed the first hour of the show, his brand new album is just like being made welcome by a good friend you've not seen for a while. Hot on his heels came two very stylish ladies, Sarah Potenza rocking out on "Crush" from her debut album and Imelda May made a long-overdue return to the show with her heavily-played single "Big Bad Handsome Man" - any resemblance to our own Mighty Mark Peters is purely coincidental, or is it? She was lead voice to the Blue Harlem outfit who were a past favourite of the show in another time, another planet. Imelda will be at the Cambridge Folk festival in July and we'll get chance to do more closer to the time.

Other new albums got first plays: Joe Price, Jay Tamlin Band, Steve Howell, Insomniacs, the History of R&B survey and Roger Cotton, yet more new ones made a second showing: Louisiana Red, Omar Kent Dykes and the Aretha Franklin anthology. The live Sunday night STAR BLUES is now pre-eminent for new releases in Britain.

To balance the new ones, it was a privilege to include classic sides from Rev. Gary Davis and Bob Hall in the gospel and piano blues spots respectively. That nice Mr Darling who lives at no. 11 got his battered red briefcase out this week so it was right to include Stevie Ray's go at the George Harrison song "Taxman" that the Beatles did on "Revolver". The point of the lyrics was to protest at 95% top-rate tax and we haven't got there yet...

Gary Moore was in Cambridge on Saturday so in memory of the gig, he started proceedings off with a vigorous duet with Albert Collins and a brand new band from Italy took us out of the show into Monday morning with a bold interpretation of Presley's "All Shook Up". God willing I'll be up for some more at ten next Sunday on FM and streaming on-line at - I'll be pleased to have your company - until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

STAR BLUES on 19th April 2009 at 22:00

The British Blues special I did over Easter featured "The Greatest Electric Blues Guitar Performance EVER (EVER)" and the latest STAR BLUES show tried to top it with "The Greatest Female Vocal ..." - Lorraine Ellison's "Stay With Me Baby" was never a hit but has never been successfully covered either (though many have tried). She had the job of following a sparkling exhibition of finger-picking from Portland-based Mary Flowers on her version of "Big Bill's Blues" - Broonzy himself was no slouch on his axe.

The newer British blues scene got an outing with Jools Holland and there'll be more from the genre when I do the second part of the British Blues special later in the year (watch this space for more details). Juicy Lucy did "Who Do You Love" in the Sixties, George Thorogood did it in the late Seventies and it's since become an anthem. I had chance to recount the story of my first George Thorogood gig where my mate drove 80 miles with a broken arm and me changing gears. George is a bit closer next month, he plays at the Cambridge Corn Exchange in May.

I also included a track from the brand new album by Larry Garner to show why it has been so favourably reviewed everywhere, and I had a superb rendition of "Big Blue Diamonds" from Little Willie John off an Ace anthology that concludes the reissue of all Willie's sides he did for the King label. Memphis Slim did "Mother Earth" - something I took from Bob Dylan's Radio Hour collection as a companion to Zim's own "Someday Baby" from the "Modern Times" album. I've not seen the new one yet (his 46th in 47 years) and I don't know if it will be rootsy enough for inclusion on the playlist - we'll see.

Next week I'm going to be playing a track from the new album by Gordon Smith (Now there's a legend of Sixties British blues) - it's a good'un - until we can be together again on Sunday at ten, on FM and on-line at - take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 13 April 2009

STAR BLUES on 12th April 2009 at 22:00

To mark 40 years since the release of Led Zeppelin's debut album in April 1969, the Easter Sunday Star Blues last night celebrated the British Blues Boom of the Sixties through the best known tracks. Many bands like the Stones and the Animals got their start and it was right to pay tribute and recall some personal memories of the time. Eric Clapton's pre-eminence and influence was demonstrated with tracks from the Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith and the seminal sides with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (when he played guitar as if his very life depended on it).

My own favourite performances of this genre came from Peter Green and I was able to include a handful last night (his graceful beautiful tone is still capable of moistening my eye). Though I didn't have time to include the stint Green did with Mayall I was able to showcase the teenage talent of Mick Taylor who followed Green into Mayall's band before replacing Brian Jones in the Stones. Surely it can only be a matter of time before John is accorded his due as Lord Mayall of Macclesfield, if nothing else for his unerring ear for guitar talent (Clapton, Green, Taylor...)

Other guitar heroes included Mick Green (no relation) and Jeff Beck before telling the story of how the Zeppelin band and debut came about. If one album changed music forever this was it - though I suspect the blues purists would have a purple fit at the very thought. The piano blues spot went to a Blue Horizon session by the band Jellybread that featured Seventies hit-maker Pete Wingfield on piano. In a show that could have been twice as long it was fitting to include tracks by Jo-Ann Kelly, Steve Rye and Duster Bennett all three taken from us at early ages and each one a blues master, universally much missed.

All being well I will bring the story up to date with a "Part 2" on August Bank Holiday Sunday, for now the playlist is on my web-site and God Willing I'll be back with more Star blues on FM and online at at ten next Sunday. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue