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