Monday, 27 September 2010

STAR BLUES on 26th September 2010 at 22:00

We had what we believe is a UK blues first last night with a track from legend James Cotton's new Alligator album, one from label-mate Charlie Musselwhite's new one, music to mark the 40th year since the early death of Janis Joplin and a competition to win the "Band of Joy" album by Robert Plant. Top that heady brew up with a deep trawl through the blues heritage and you're about on the money for the new version of STAR BLUES.

Congrats to Rupert who not only knew it was Alison Krauss who did "Raising Sand" with Mr. Plant, his email entry came out of the hat first. Thanks to everyone who took part (no-one got it wrong); sorry we only had one copy to give away. Janis Joplin was a colossal talent who's best work was only fully realised on the posthumous "Pearl" album; one of the two songs I chose ("One Good Man") was covered on a YouTube submission during the week and Janis' original was described as mediocre. We hope that new ears will be the order of the day to that contributor as his current pair clearly don't work.

James Cotton is a mite older than BB King at 85 but his harp chops are still supple and commanding on "Giant" that'll be out in October. His voice isn't up to singing these days but that gorgeous rich harp tone pervades the whole project up there alongside his best work with Muddy Waters. The cover of Muddy's "Sad Sad Day" was both fitting and superb. One of my fave harp players - Charlie Musselwhite - will struggle in the critical stakes in the shadow of "Giant". His "The Well" album has the ill-fortune to be released during the same cycle as Cotton's. The playing is graceful and subtle with a maturity and stoicism in the self-penned songs Charlie has put together. Repeated plays will however show you all the treasures in that one.

Other newly issued gems include a fabulous gospel collection of stuff on The Gospel Truth label that Al Bell created when he took over at Stax. Our sampling was done by Joshie Jo Armstead, a former Ikette with extraordinary pipes. Similarly through Ace, there's a set of "Deep Shadows" soul ballads including a powerful vocal rarity by bluesman L V Johnson. Our other gospel piece came courtesy of the Fairfield Four in their time at Ted Jarrett's Champion label - the piano blues went to the brand new album by Pinetop Perkins with Willie Big-Eyes Smith, and a reworking of the Avery Parrish standard "After Hours" by Jimmy McCracklin.

Birthday boys Chick Willis and Jackie Payne provided two more tracks and we wallowed in some blues classics by Eddie Taylor, Tarheel Slim, Jimmy Anderson and Jimmy Nelson. The new STAR BLUES is proud to celebrate the full heritage of our music with just the cream of the newest releases. In that vein the next four shows will look back over 40 years one decade at a time, being guided by Living Blues magazine selections (they are 40 this year). I'm thrilled skinny by the opportunity to do this (ok, ok not as slender as Mark Peters). Please bring your good self along to your place next Sunday at 10 and until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Gary Blue

Monday, 20 September 2010

STAR BLUES on 19th September 2010 at 22:00

More taboos shattered on last night’s STAR BLUES with Furry Lewis, Bette Midler and Jimi Hendrix on the same show: possibly a world first? We marked Hendrix’ early demise 40 years ago with a magnificent version of “Red House” from 1966; Furry Lewis was on board with some rare and unissued recordings discovered by Fat Possum, and by request the Divine Ms Midler lead us through “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” cut during her time as a sauna attendant in New York. Put a rap song with BB King into the mix and you’ve got a typical feast from the man in the white tee-shirt.

Davis Coen, Ian Siegal, Gary US Bonds and Duke Robillard brought new wares to the party with the Duke’s “Text Me” coming right off the tabloid headlines. Its ok I didn’t mention any footballers or comedians. The Alligator label is starting to make its back numbers available for download so if you’ve heard names like Carey Bell and Raful Neal, there’s now little excuse for not finding some of their best work. To set you off running, both men got an outing last night. From the same imprint, Corey Harris and Henry Butler romped through some piano blues, I just can’t fathom why their duet hasn’t been repeated these past ten years?

Hendrix always gave props to Guitar Slim so we included one of his 1958 Atco pieces and then a landmark London appearance by Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee from the same year. BB King’s 85th gave us reason to do his 1954 songs like “You Upset Me Baby” and “Everyday I Have The Blues”, I’d have done “Thrill Is Gone” too if the left-hand cd deck had played ball as we closed the show – promise I’ll do better next time. That’ll be ten pm on the same channel – your Star Radio – next Sunday; I’ll just ask you to bring your best ears. Until then, take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Monday, 13 September 2010

STAR BLUES on 12th September 2010 at 22:00

Every so often you come across a song that has a good vocal and splendidly adept guitar playing that says a lot about hope and humanity. Case in point "Jesus and Mohammed" by Candye Kane with lyrics about the similarities of the many over the differences of the few. Given the hoo-ha Stateside this weekend, I wanted to include some common-sense from one of our favourite artists.

The slice of serious was matched with slabs of new stuff from former gospel star James Nixon and nascent soul star Charles Walker - both on SPV later this month, both helmed by the really wonderful Fred James from Nashville (knighthood must only be a formality Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg). The Spikedrivers now have "Seven" issued and their take on "Easy Money" says more about our economic woes than any MP or banker. Best of the bunch is the Telarc project by Pinetop Perkins and Willie Smith - good old fashioned blues befitting two veterans at the top of their games. Smith made a name playing drums for Muddy Waters, on this one he just plays harp - and - get this - the inside booklet has a photo of Pinetop without hat. Rarity value in that alone, this dapper man is known for his titfer and love of the ladies. The Band Of Joy album by Robert Plant is out now too but I won't go further except to say his voice has markedly improved with age, a national treasure no less.

B. B. King is 85 on Thursday 16th so I included lesser known pieces from the Sixties and one from the essential "LIVE AT THE REGAL" album, and there'll be more next Sunday. Erja Lyytenen and the Golden Gate Quartet turned up with some nimble vocals in our sacred spot, Albert Ammons did his boogie woogie piano thing fronting a combo as tight as a ducks hind quarters. We topped and tailed with two guitar maestros: Albert Collins and Lowell Fulson (pronounced Fulton) - it was all over too soon.

Your invite was very kind and you were great company, I hope to do it all again this Sunday at 10 for two hours more white shirted tomfoolery: you're very welcome. Until we get together again, take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Monday, 6 September 2010

STAR BLUES on 5th September 2010 at 22:00

Lady Blue wasn't keen on my idea for last night's STAR BLUES. She said "You can't talk about cricketers and what they do in their spare time, you'll get arrested". I said "Wanna bet?" And I did.

Mark Butcher played for Surrey and England up until 2009 and scored 8 centuries at Test level. He has an album showing off good writing, singing and guitar skills - some of it quite bluesy. If you like Paul Weller as well ...

We had tracks from brand new outings by Dani Wilde, Gerry Jablonski and Tom Jones - the boy from the Valleys doing a nifty update to a John Lee Hooker piece exciting good reactions from the throng. Just a smidge under forty years since Hendrix died in London and we marked the date with a track off the 2010 rarities set "Neptune" (it will be worth your while tuning in early to Neil's Rock show if you're a Hendrix fan over the next couple of weeks). Similar sadness because we lost Lil Dave Thompson earlier this year but JSP has now reissued his classy set "Cmon Down To the Delta" that gave us a chance to showcase his work last night.

Robin Rogers is very ill and we sent her our love and best wishes as she battles her liver disease, "Nobodys Gonna Hurt You" has a soulful groove and a feisty vocal that indicates shes putting up a heck of a fight and the blues world is right behind her. Facebook friend Janiva Magness has provided updates and we included the title track off "The Devil Is An Angel Too", her latest project.

Now I'm into a second decade of commercial FM blues, I've decided to tweak the second hour of the show and in the coming weeks I hope you'll find it has moved to another level by looking at the classic blues eras. To start things off I went back to the track that started me off ten years ago from the second Sonny Boy Williamson (in truth him plus Muddy Waters band). We won't be abandoning the newest artists and releases but other stations do that so much better, you can rely on STAR BLUES to be that bit different. In fact you can bet on it.

If I can keep myself out of mischief I plan to be back on Sunday at ten for two hours more white shirted tomfoolery I hope you can come along. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those thast take care of you.