Monday, 25 January 2010

STAR BLUES on 24th January 2010 at 22:00

I've long thought that every parent has a responsibility to their children to let them have good music while growing and the best legacy to leave them is the ability to then go on to choose for themselves. So on any given evening you'll find music by Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Bland, T-Bone Walker and Sister Rosetta Tharpe round at the Blue's place.

Bobby will be 80 this Wednesday and STAR BLUES had a nice opportunity to wish him well with a full sampling of his vocal gifts and show evidence of his importance in music - from the age of the 78 to the age of the download. His recent career got a boost in 2008 as the subject of Mick Hucknall's tribute album and we had Mick's go at "I Pity The Fool" by way of introduction. Bobby's classic Duke recordings were also on show with "Farther On Up the Road" and "Two Steps from The Blues", the latter being graced with meticulous arrangements from Joe Scott. His work for Malaco (where he still records) included the lovely sensitive reading afforded the Larry Addison song "Members Only". The feature was rounded out with one of the duet pieces Bland did with BB King in the Seventies: their version of Louis Jordan's "Let The Good Times Roll". Van Morrison has long been a fan of Bobby's and STAR BLUES did not pass up the chance to hear Van's live rendition of "Ain't Nothin You Can Do". Bobby has a warm, throaty style that is comforting even in the deepest heartache, a pleasure akin to lying in front of an open fire on a winter's evening wrapped in sheepskin.

At the top end of the show, Nick Curran was in the songbook of Nappy Brown for "Don't Be Angry" and we wished Nick well after his diagnosis of mouth cancer and the prognosis is good I understand. Teeny Tucker had a birthday and she wanted to hear her dad's "Hi-Heel Sneakers" while Kenn from Scotland asked for some Mick Green - I was more than happy to oblige on both fronts.

Francis Wilford-Smith died in December and in addition to being a broadcaster and champion of piano blues, he had a formidable collection of 78s. I believe he was compiling a major anthology of boogie woogie and blues that will be released later this year. STAR BLUES had a classic 1954 piece from Memphis Slim in Francis' honour. The other member of the piano pair was Mike Sanchez with a splendid romp ("Let The Loving Begin") off his "Women and Cadillacs" album. Over in the Gospel tent, Blind Willie Johnson spoke to us across the ages with "Lay Your Love On Me" with gruff vocal and deft slide playing. We had a 1940 offering from "The Guitar Wizard" Tampa Red and the two hours were up in a trice.

I couldn't have asked for better company and I thank-you as always for your hospitality and kind invitation. With God willing, we will have the chance to spend another two hours together at the Home of the 9-5 No-Repeat Workday, Cambridge and Ely's Star Radio next Sunday night at 10pm (GMT). I hope you can be there, until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Monday, 18 January 2010

STAR BLUES on 17th January 2010 at 22:00

When I first went to school I was in a class of thirty pupils and that was the whole world as far as I knew, moving to Big School had 1200 in total which was way more than I could count. At my first football match there were 19023 in the crowd all standing shoulder to jostling shoulder. Even though I'm older and wiser now I can't get my head round ten times that number just taken in an instant in Haiti.

So - at the risk of being fired for encouraging listeners not to phone or text a radio station - I asked folks instead of calling to make even the smallest donation to or the Red Cross during last night's STAR BLUES show.

We had a short musical tribute to writer and singer Bobby Charles including his original version of "Later Alligator" complete with authentic Louisiana feel. Brand new albums from Little Joe McLerran, Will Taylor and Electrofied were on offer as was an advance preview of local favourite Danny Bryant's new cd due on 8th February. On it he covers a John Hiatt song and supplies all the other songs himself. I'd like him to sound a bit more like Danny Bryant and less like Walter Trout but he is well established now with this his 7th outing. Ray Bailey has the album of the month in the new Blues & Rhythm magazine and he gave us a very fluid demonstration of his axe skill - as did Tony Fazio on "Bad Case of the Blues" by Electrofied. To prove yours truly (in his white tee-shirt) does indeed bring you blues in all shades within ten minutes we also had the bel-canto pleasure of Big Joe Turner and the deft guitar work of Robert Wilkins whose "No Way To Get Along" was converted into "Prodigal Son" by the Rolling Stones.

Over in the piano tent, Big Joe Duskin raised the tempo for his "Cincinnatti Stomp" and birthday boy Henry Gray gave us "Cold Chills". Gray made his name in sessions at Chess and twelve years in Howlin' Wolf's band (check out his playing on "Goin' Down Slow"), he will be 85 on Tuesday and still plays live in Pheonix with his band The Cats. Also in Phoenix is the KJZZ radio station that has a blues show hosted for over 25 years by Bob Corritore. There's an album "Broadcasting The Blues" that celebrates his milestone including a nice down home performance from Lazy Lester. Bob has also compiled an anthology of Phoenix acts from 50's and 60's that I'll feature on next weeks show. That one will celebrate the upcoming 80th birthday of the artist known as "The Voice", Bobby Bland. I hope you'll be able to come along for two hours more blues, news, reviews and tomfoolery (if I haven't been fired) this Sunday at 10pm (GMT) on 107.9/1 FM and from Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that care care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 11 January 2010

STAR BLUES on 10th January 2010 at 22:00

One of the few down sides to this job is having to pass on news of the deaths of artists and producers that have shaped the music we love. So it was that STAR BLUES had short musical tributes to Willie Mitchell and Earl Gaines last night. Papa Willie was a trumpet player who founded Hi Records that gave the world Al Green, Syl Johnson and Ann Peebles. It also had a very healthy roster of Blues and R&B artists particularly in the early days of the label. To mark the piece we did tracks from Big Lucky Carter, Big Amos Patten, a gorgeous version of Roosevelt Sykes' "Driving wheel" by Al Green and two from Mitchell himself. We will not see his like again.

On New Years Eve Earl Gaines died, the third major loss from the Nashville music scene in almost as many months: Ted Jarrett and Johnny Jones being the other two men. Gaines had a big sonorous voice full of heartache, he had in recent years become a live favourite on the European Festival circuit while his studio work was reactivated by Fred James (well overdue for a knighthood in my opinion for the sheer dedication to these guys and the quality of his songs and guidance). I came to Earl's music fairly late but set about acquiring everything he ever did, nothing disappoints.

By coincidence the Fred James connection extended to the exclusive plays on UK commercial radio for upcoming releases on Sam Carr and the much underrated Charles Walker - both out on Superbird in February, on STAR BLUES last night. We also had Wynonie Harris' version of "Loving Machine" that was ably covered by Paolo Nutini at New Years Hootenanny, as well as the Elvis Presley original of "Little Sister" that Ry Cooder brought to my New Years Day experiment "Another Side of Gary Blue". I'm planning another one but don't tell our Brown-Eyed Handsome Man, mighty Mark Peters. In the meantime I'll be back - God Willing - with more blues, news, reviews and tomfoolery at 10 pm (GMT) next Sunday if you'll have me. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue.

Monday, 4 January 2010

STAR BLUES on 3rd January 2010 at 22:00

Wow, first blues show in a new decade (amazingly coming up on ten years since my first for FM commercial radio too). To mark the event I chose a mixture of old and new on last night's STAR BLUES with originals and cover versions. Many folks have come to enjoy the music through Cream, Led Zeppelin, the Allman Brothers and Fleetwood Mac and are eager to discover the Robert Johnson, Sonny Boy Williamson, Blind Millie McTell and Little Willie John performances that they celebrated. Of the original pieces, probably the least well known came from Henry Thomas, his 1928 "Bulldoze Blues" was very closely followed by Canned Heat for "Goin' Up The Country" that is known as the Woodstock festival theme and was a number 1 hit in 25 countries (only #2 in Britain).

It was nice to go to the Memphis Slim 1948 song "Nobody Loves Me" to show its similarity to B B King's "Everyday I have the Blues" though in truth the song probably goes back to the early Thirties with the Sparks Brothers in Memphis. Similarly the Blind Lemon Jefferson song "Matchbox Blues" clearly worked well for Carl Perkins but had Jefferson heard Ma Rainey use the line "Sitting here wonderin will a match box hold my clothes" three years earlier..? Stevie Ray Vaughan tore through "Sky Is Crying" though you'd be a hard man to say he bested Elmore James' original. No real Gospel on the show last night but a very sensitive reading of "People Get Ready" from Paul Jones out front for the Blues Band while Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler were effortlessly sublime on the original from 1965.

Shameless vote of thanks next to everyone for the kind comments and feedback on "Another Side of Gary Blue", my humble attempt to be Bob Harris or was it Charlie Gillett. The two hours on New Years Day flew past and I hardly knew that Dr Who was on tv at exactly the same time (BBC could've have moved it doncha think?)

God willing I'll be back with some more blues this upcoming Sunday at 10pm (GMT) on Cambridge and Ely's Star Radio (the home of the 9-5 no-repeat workday) and streaming live from - until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you Gary Blue