Monday, 29 March 2010

STAR BLUES on 28th March 2010 at 22:00

Probably more blues in two hours than any comparable show anywhere last night. Chicago blues certainly ain't dead when we've got Magic Slim in such commanding form - his only problem is "Cold Women with Warm Hearts" (I used to dream of problems such as that). Eddie Burns and the late Lil Dave Thompson showed two other flavours of modern blues without straying too far from the purist path. Dave was killed on Valentines Day in a van accident and we lost Marva Wright this week, her "Bluesiana Mama" was more than enough proof of her claim as Blues Queen of Louisiana on STAR BLUES yesterday.

When I first heard "Naggin'" I was sure it was a Jimmy Reed piece, similar vocal mannerisms and harp technique pointed me that way - in fact it was a recording on Excello by Jimmy Anderson who was in a studio far less often than his gifts deserved on this showing. Another mystery in the Unknown Male vocalist who brought us a version of Fats Domino's "Every Night About This Time", one can only guess that Johnny Vincent was too busy to make a note of the session men for the outing on his Ace label. BB King was on hand for the Gospel Spot, Thomas Dorsey's "Precious Lord" was opening track on B's fourth album for the Crown imprint but the first with all new material (previously the albums were collections of single hits). On the distaff side we had Esther Phillips, Peggy Scott and the imperious tone of Jo Ann Kelly who was accompanied by genius the British pianist Bob Hall. Amos Milburn and Chuck Berry both did versions of our piano blues choon: "Down the Road Apiece" by the Will Bradley Orchestra. We had all three.

All that wrapped up with T-Bone Walker's "Bobby Sox Blues" where he set the pinnacle of electric guitar playing that few have even come close to, though many still try. The next STAR BLUES will be on Easter Sunday, next week, at 10 pm (GMT) but I'll be back behind the mic on Good Friday for something a little different. I'm swapping t-shirts from white to black and bringing in some rarities and old favourites for "The Dark Side of Gary Blue". I hope you'll be able to be there too at 7 pm on Good Friday. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

STAR BLUES on 21st March 2010 at 22:00

My blog helping is a bit late this week, I hope the wait was worthwhile as I've some news about the show on Easter Sunday. First let's talk about this show where we looked back at the music brought to us by writer, producer and radio presenter Charlie Gillett who died last week. I'd make a case that he was more influential than John Peel though much less well known. To support the view we had J.J. Cale, an early track by the Band, Big Al Downing, the Pilgrim Travellers, Frank Frost and more on the playlist. You shouldn't forget he discovered Dire Straits, Graham Parker and Elvis Costello and managed Ian Dury. Latterly he championed World Music as he thought the traditional centres of American music had started to sound the same by the mid-80s each having lost the individual identities: World music put the sense of place back into music.

We also had new music from April Pantheress Winn and Steve Howell who has a deft light touch and a real passion for country blues, he gave us a version of a Mance Lipscomb classic. Mississippi John Hurt was in with his 1965 recording of "Since I Laid My Burden Down" and Victoria Williams updated the song for a Vanguard project to showcase contemporary artists (such as Beck) covering John Hurt compositions. That was a back-to-back feature where previously we had two goes at "Stagolee" so it was fitting that this week we included Titus Turner's "Return of Stagolee" he issued in answer soon after the original hit in 1959. Titus didn't write it but later on his was the pen for "Leave My Kitten Alone" that label-mate Little Willie John did for us.

That special show on Easter Sunday has (all being well) an interview with Fran Leslie, editor of Blues In Britain magazine. They've got to #100 under her stewardship so we are going to mark the milepost in two Sunday's time. Your next (regular) STAR BLUES will be this upcoming Sunday at 10pm (GMT), I've got my white tee-shirt lined up - you just need to be where you are right now tuned into Cambridge and Ely's STAR RADIO. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Gary Blue

Monday, 15 March 2010

STAR BLUES on 14th March 2010 at 22:00

I've been a bit worried lately that the playlists for STAR BLUES have been filled with guitarists plying their version of electric blues/rock and I've neglected the other styles of blues. So I set myself a task last night of showing as many sides of our music as I could in the couple of hours I'm allowed. Judging by the feedback I've had so far, we did ok with some great choons. We still did some modern stuff with Sean Chanbers but we also had classics from Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James and John Lee Hooker. Our piano blues spot covered both bases with Mike Kindred from 2004 on "Bankable Boogie" and the ever reliable Jimmy Yancey from 1951 at one of his last sessions for his "Bugle Call".

Pick of the crop - in my humble - was the imperious Cleo Gibson whose Ford Movements made this happy man very old (she wasn't talking about her car when offering a 10,000 mile guarantee). Georgia White and Marion Williams completed a formidable trio of great female blues voices. Marion's "Can't No Grave" is covered by Johnny Cash on the final set of unreleased recordings he made with Rick Rubin at American studios and she provided a neat comparison in approach that gave each version a different spin. As for the Gospel tent, the Blind Boys of Alabama came along with Robert Randolph and Ben Harper for a robust go at Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready".

The other trips through blues were done with Kelly Joe Phelps, deft of finger and warm of voice, Eric Clapton , who with practice could make a name for himself, Arthur Adams , back in great form and on Delta Groove, and two very different versions of recorded fifty years apart of "Stagger Lee". Van Morrison, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore were on hand as the Irish contingent to bring an early celebration of St. Patrick's Day even though Mr. Moore had help from a certain Mr. King.

I'm planning a black-tee shirt outing on Good Friday as an extra but I'll be back clad in white next Sunday at 10pm (GMT) with more blues, news, reviews and tomfoolery. You can wear what you like, nothing at all if you really want because its radio - until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Monday, 8 March 2010

STAR BLUES on 7th March 2010 at 22:00

The hot new ticket billed for the show was the duet of Joe Bonamassa with B.B.King an album still a fortnight in the future as far as the shops are concerned, yet on STAR BLUES last night. Their go at Willie Nelson's "Night Life" started the second hour of the show, by which time we'd already had great music from harp maestro Little Hatch and Messrs Pink and Floyd. I also had the chance to listen to Roy Buchanan's "Sweet Dreams" at decent volume - in my youth I'd heard it at low amps through a transistor radio underneath the bedclothes from Radio Luxemburg (208).

I guaranteed that 95% of the audience would hate the cover of "My Babe" that Dr. David Evans discovered on a field trip to North Mississippi courtesy of the Napolean Strickland Fife and Drum band. The track is blues in its purest form,played from the soul on the simplest of instruments - hugely ripe for sampling by Moby (but thankfully not yet). Memphis Minnie and Lucinda Williams both sang "Me and My Chauffeur" but fifty years apart, Chuck Berry let it rock and JB Lenoir let it roll then from 1966 Al King captured a timeless theme with his "Money's Not Long Enough". Buddy Guy and the second Sonny Boy were in Chicago and one third of the Boogie-Woogie trio held up the piano end on six wheels. I can't think of another show on radio anywhere in the world last night with all those blues and a white tee shirt.

By the way come Good Friday I have a little something extra for you - in a black tee-shirt. Meantime come next Sunday (Mothers Day) I'll be back with more blues and tomfoolery, I hope you'll be able to share those two hours at ten p.m. (GMT) - until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue

Monday, 1 March 2010

STAR BLUES on 28th February 2010 at 22:00

A different pace to STAR BLUES last night came about by taking the chance to include a couple of names not previously played on the show - and some old favourites. In the first group, Eric Lindell's new album for Alligator (more bluesworthy than his previous) and the incredible vocal gifts of Shaun Murphy. I'll admit to thinking it was a guy's name when a listener suggested I check out the music. Boy did I feel silly when I saw her clips on her web-site. Her first full recording under her own name is a goodun.

For the second group we chose Drink Small (erstwhile raconteur extraordinaire) and Walter Brown who's best works are to be found on a couple of cds compiled by Dave Penny on the Classics imprint. (Actually there's a good place to start for any investigation of the R&B greats immediately post-war). There was also an opportunity to go back to some great anthologies of the past couple of years - not that you need an excuse to play B. B. King etc as well as gospel and piano blues in their normal spots.

I'm planning another venture outside the blues for the Easter weekend as well as a big interview and competition (fingers crossed) on Easter Sunday. Meantime, I'll be back next Sunday at 10pm (GMT) in another white tee-shirt for more blues, news, reviews and tomfoolery - I look forward to spending the two hours with you. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue