Monday, 23 February 2009

STAR BLUES on 22nd February 2009

Though family matters kept me off-air last night, the blog still previews the show upcoming on Sunday.

Sad news of the week was the death of Snooks Eaglin, he did not get through his recent illness, though he leaves a very rich legacy of recordings for over forty years as a solo performer and in a band setting. If a blues artist was a musician's musician, Snooks was it - a giant of New Orleans music with a warm throaty voice and a distinctive thumb-picked guitar style. He was only 73, I thought he was older than that as he always seems to have been there. You can expect a couple of his songs on the next Star Blues.

I'll also have an extraordinary track off the as yet unreleased new album from Aynsley Lister, you will not believe your ears. Along with gospel and some piano blues, I'll bring you the latest in blues news, views and reviews - until Sunday at ten on FM and online at take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 16 February 2009

STAR BLUES on 15th February 2009 at 22:00

Neil Jones' excellent Star Rock show set the tone for the opening of last night's show with guitar workouts from Walter Trout (for the Bluesbreakers) and Luther Allison. The pace didn't let up straight away, the baton was passed to the teenage Dani Wilde for a live performance captured during the Ruf Blues Caravan tour. The much missed JoAnn Kelly was along in short order with one of some previously unavailable (on cd) tracks now out on Manhaton. No matter which way you slice it, she was the real deal and her booklet photo bears a real resemblance to my old Sunday School teacher.

She'd have been proud of the Harold Boggs' offering "Lord Give Me Strength" in our Gospel spot, even if his Nashboro side came from 1958 (not 1966 as I mentioned) - my penance will be to bring you more round about the same time on next weeks show. Fans of piano blues had a treat with a couple of things taken from a ten-cd box set of Boogie Woogie: Sammy Price made his first appearance on Star Blues under his own name but both Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson had been round before. The piano was featured on that gospel track and we'd already had Eddie Boyd doing a sixties version of "Blue Coat Man" with Peter Green doing what Peter Green does well.

There's a nice set on Rev-Ola at the moment featuring the session work of guitarist Mickey Baker and I played one of the things he did with Larry Dale, I'll certainly return to this disc in future shows. Ace has just put out a survey of pretenders to Little Richard's throne - these are guys (and gals) pitched by various independent labels at the market left vacant by the Georgia Peach's exile from that nasty rock'n'roll on a couple of occasions - and the show had a couple of these.

Both Blues Grammy winners (BB King and Dr. John) got plays off their most recent albums and I was pleased to include an Ella Fitzgerald performance in response to a request from a regular listener. I'm finding most feedback comes during the week, probably meaning the show gets recorded for off-line playback - so you are possibly reading this without having yet heard the show? This evening I'll post the playlist to and (God willing) we'll have chance to be together again at ten on Sunday night, until then take care of yourself and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 9 February 2009

STAR BLUES on 8th February 2009 at 22:00

With tracks from four albums yet-to-be-released, the first hour of last night's show was very firmly in the camp of modern electric blues. Joe Bonamassa got proceedings underway with an exuberant version of Nina Simone's hit "Feelin' Good", though his new album also touches base with a fine slow blues and a moody piece done on National Steel. Alex Fields' track showed his robust style on another decent release and on the evidence of the new one from Rene Gene Hall, I'd say they would be good fun in the live environment. The fourth offering came from Greg Ashby on a lovingly crafted project to celebrate the work of James "Yank" Rachell - what this project lacks in household names it makes up for in classy playing and song selection.

Etta James is said to be somewhat put out by Beyonce Knowles' performance at the inauguration of President Obama, the erstwhile Destiny's Child sang Etta's signature piece "At Last" - apparently without recourse to Ms James. Beyonce has recently played Etta in the film "Cadillac Records" but I do think some sort of compromise could have prevailed with a two-handed version? The cynics may point out that the film needs the publicity before going to DVD.

Odetta was due to have been singing for her friend Barack, but fate intervened last December - she lived just long enough to see him elected. On television on Friday she was interviewed about her music and her political beliefs, so I thought it only fitting that the show last night should include one of her finest vocal performances on a Lead Belly song. There were also two differing approaches in the gospel feature: one a capella from Son House, the other a lavish arrangement of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Up Above My Head" from Al Green. Those fabulous 88s were represented by alcohol inspired songs from Amos Milburn and Cecil Gant, and a rambunctious go at "Boot 'Em Up" from Aaron Moore and three of Muddy Waters' ex-sidemen.

Overnight I note the success of B. B. King and Dr. John at the Grammy Awards and you can be sure I'll play tracks from both on Star Blues next week. I'll also have more concrete news on those dates in June by BB with John Mayall. All being well the full playlist will be posted by eight tonight on and don't forget we can do some more of the same (if you'll have me) on FM and on-line at next Sunday at ten. Until then take care of yourself and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 2 February 2009

STAR BLUES on 1st February 2009 at 22:00

Lady Bianca's "What Women Will Do" was the featured album last night on a Star Blues playlist very much on the distaff side. The show turned into a survey of the modern blues scene as practiced by the current crop of blues ladies: the two tracks from Lady Bianca's new release were joined by songs from Janiva Magness, Cassie Taylor and Shakura S'Aida. Add in a rambunctious boogie from Katie Webster and you're there with the girls all holding their own.

As it was the last weekend of the month, it was the last of the Buy-One-Get-One-Free promotions offering pairs of tracks by well-known players. In a difficult choice, I settled on a pair each from Robert Cray and the second Sonny Boy Williamson. The weekly gospel spot had a classic side from a group formed over seventy years ago (making Status Quo appear as mere debutants by comparison) - the Original Five Blind Boys of Alabama; their stirring contribution enough to melt the driving snow outside the studio window.

I closed proceedings with two contrasting blues guitar styles: a magnificent two-hander from a 1928 session by Lonnie Johnson (aided and abetted by "white" jazzman Eddie Lang masquerading as the "black" Blind Willie Dunn), and a 2008 slashing slide piece from Julian Sas done in the Netherlands. The night also had a fabulous solo from Hubert Sumlin on a 1966 song from Big Mac and we went a few steps off the blues highway to mark the death of John Martyn at the age of sixty. In his final interview he was pleased to have made that age with a good time and no regrets but still very much a little boy inside.

The full playlist from the show will be on my web-site from about eight o'clock tonight and I'll return (God willing) at ten on Sunday with more Star Blues both on FM and on-0line at Until then, take care of yourselves and take care of those that take of you

Gary Blue