Monday, 26 December 2011

STAR BLUES on Christmas Day 2011 at 22:00

According to their bass player Gary Fletcher, the Blues Band don't trouble the press and the press don't trouble the Blues Band; and if interviews or comments are required Dave Kelly or Tom McGuinness will oblige. So a rare opportunity to talk to the front man Paul Jones was our Christmas Day treat. I took some recording gizmos to the Maddermarket in Norwich and we sat down for a chat while the Blues Band set up for that night's gig.

We started by talking about the new album "Few Short Lines" and - as the project was intended to mark their 30th anniversary - the choice of guests: Linda Lewis and Southside Johnny having a chance to stretch out on some new songs and some less obvious cover versions. Paul is much more than their singer, he's a working musician that hosts Britain's flagship weekly blues radio show for BBC Radio2, something he's done for twenty five years. That's a heck of a feat for an unfashionable genre of music and it shows that Britain still has a very passionate love for blues. Over the years the show has had some fine sessions and Paul talked about some of his favourites: Eric Bibb, Robert Cray and Ruthie Foster  At the start of 2011 he was given international recognition with a "Keeping The Blues Alive" award, as well as winning "Blues Broadcaster of the Year" and the Harmonica player trophy for a second time.

The year has had some sadness with a number of significant blues players passing over: Pinetop Perkins, Honeyboy Edwards, Willie Big-Eyes Smith, Big Jackson Johnson, Eddie Kirkland and sadly too many more. Paul remembered the Legends tour from a few years ago and also talked about the talent coming through, his discovery of Giles Robson and his admiration of Joe Bonamassa, he admitted to listening to Stephen Dale Pettit in the car! 

He and Brian Jones played together before Brian set off for London to form the Rolling Stones, Paul stayed behind as "Paul Peterson" singing pop covers in a dance band all the while learning invaluable lessons in stagecraft and musicianship from the trained jazz players in the same outfit. After that he went to join Manfred Mann and briefly put together a "Supergroup" for an album on Elektra that included Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Steve Winwood (Ginger Baker turned him down!!!). When punk rejuvenated the live music scene with an anyone can make a record attitude, Paul spoke to some old mates about some sporadic gigs using an anonymous name "the Blues Band" with a limited edition album to sell at gigs. They had to bootleg their own album when they ran into cash flow hurdles, the disc was a triumph and their gigs sold out.

Paul was candid about the influence his father had and how he juggles everything to fit in playing in four different groups as well as doing sessions, leading the British Harmonica League and an award winning weekly radio show. Early in 2012 the Blues Band back catalogue will be spruced up and reissued with as many rarities as he can find, and the Manfreds will celebrate 50 years since formation. You can expect something special.It was a pleasure to chew the fat with Paul, it was all over too quickly.

From everyone here at STAR BLUES, wishing you a safe, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year, Until our next live STAR BLUES on 8th January take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Monday, 19 December 2011

STAR BLUES on 18th December 2011 at 22:00

2011 was an eventful year for blues with the Robert Johnson Centenary in May and the passing on of so many influential blues artists - we marked as many as we could during our Awards night show. Now in a third year we recognise an artist and album of the year as well as a label and a reissue label. For a second time you've picked an artist too.

The choices weren't easy and you'll have you own; here's how it worked out last night on STAR BLUES with a few words on each.

ALBUM: "Let the Blues Speak for Itself" by Chick Willis (Benevolent Records)

There is a down-home relaxed feeling to the album, especially on the cuts he does with Travis Haddix. Songs are front and centre not instrumental dexterity, the project shows Chick in a fresh light given his reputation as the Stoop Down Man.

ARTIST: Willie Big-Eyes Smith

Almost a joint prize with Pinetop Perkins I have to say. They both won a Grammy together on their "Joined At The Hip" album but the revelation for many was the return to his first instrument - the harp - by Smith. He defined the rules for blues drummers everywhere and it must have given him immense pride to have his son Kenny in the traps on that album. Big grin on the cover photo and a gentle gentleman universally loved by everyone.

LABEL: Delmark

By far and away the label every artist wants to be discovered by at the moment with a real set of quality albums put out by folks doing their first or second projects: Sharon Lewis, Quintus McCormick, Toronzo Cannon and so on. Add to that a top notch reissue programme that includes things like Junior Wells' "Hoodoo Man Blues" with bonus unissued cuts. Hearty congrats to a worthy winner showing that our music has a solid future.


For the 3rd year running the compilers have come up trumps time and time again with sumptuous packaging stuffed with photos and memorabilia. The 3 disc set on Fame Studios is but a recent example as is the first anthology of an under-appreciated player: Barbara Lynn. Ace also put out a tasty issue of Lazy Lester and the list goes on. The reissue market is as ever crowded with folks looking at recordings over fifty years old but Ace soldiers on focusing on the music and going that bit further to ensure artists and families get their dues.


Huge reactions at the festivals this Summer - including guesting John Paul Jones - made him a favourite with you in 2011. Its amazing to think of a down-to-earth guy with a homemade three string guitar drawing crowds in the tens of thousands and playing them raw blues. No argument from me when Steve topped your list.

Next week on STAR BLUES, my guest is rival blues-dj Paul Jones. We sat down together in conversation and left the tape recorder on. He talks about the Blues Band, his radio show and some hair raising tales of the Sixties. I hope you can come along, we';ll be pleased to have your company. Until then - from my family to yours - please have a safe, happy and healthy Christmas and 2012. Take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Christmas Date Boogie Big Joe Turner 81 All The Classic Hits Big Joe Turner JSP Records
Please Come Home For Christmas Johnny Winter 4 Hey Where's Your Brother? Johnny Winter POINTBLANK
Stay A Little Longer, Santa Shemekia Copeland 13 Deluxe Edition Shemekia Copeland Alligator Records & Artist Management, Inc.
Put On A Buzz Catfish Keith 6 Put On A Buzz Catfish Keith FISH TAIL
Frisco Blues Bayless Rose 23 Broke Black And Blue Various Artists PROPER
Sweet Home Chicago Honeyboy Edwards 23 Let Me Tell You About The Blues: Memphis Various Artists Fantastic Voyage
Love That Burns Gary Moore 10 Blues For Greeny Gary Moore VIRGIN
Foggy Monday Eddie Kirkland 6 Movin' On Eddie Kirkland JSP Records
Red, Black On Blues Pura Fe 2 A Blues Night In North Carolina Pura Fe Dixiefrog
All My Love's In Vain Big Head Blues Club Featuring Big Head Todd & The Monsters 9 100 Years Of Robert Johnson Big Head Blues Club Featuring Big Head Todd & The Monsters
We're Gonna Boogie Chick WillisTravis Haddix 9 Let The Blues Speak For Itself Chick WillisTravis Haddix Benevolent Blues
Two Trains Running Marquise Knox 12 Here I Am Marquise Knox APO Records
Sadie Quintus McCormick Blues Band 11 Put It On Me! Quintus McCormick Blues Band DELMARK
Leaving Mood Toronzo Cannon 8 Leaving Mood Toronzo Cannon DELMARK
I Ain't Stranded - Buddy Guy Buddy Guy 1 Hoodoo Man Blues Junior Wells' Chicago Blues Band DELMARK
Christmas Boogie Sugar Chile Robinson 18 Mark Lamarr's Rhythm And Blues Christmas Various Artists ACROBAT
Merry Xmas Little Willie Littlefield 12 Rhythm & Blues Christmas Various Artists ACE
Dig That Crazy Santa Claus Oscar McLollie & His Honey Jumpers 19 Rhythm & Blues Christmas Various Artists ACE
Without A Woman Kip Anderson 4 The Fame Studio Story 1961-1973 Home Of The Muscle Shoals Sound Various Artists Kent
Eyesight To The Blind Pinetop Perkins & Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith 13 Joined At The Hip Pinetop Perkins & Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith TELARC
Plow My Mule Memphis Gold 10 Pickin In High Cotton Memphis Gold
You Can't Teach An Old Dog New Tricks Seasick Steve 2 You Can´t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks Seasick Steve Play It Again Sam
Woman Loves A Man That Can Play The Slide Drink Small 5 Hallelujah Boogaloo Drink Small MUSIC MAKER
Can't Be Satisified Toby Walker 11 Shake Shake Mama Toby Walker ltw
People Get Ready Hans Theessink 16 Jedermann Remixed - The Soundtrack Hans Theessink BLUE GROOVE

Created: 19/12/2011 08:29:01

Monday, 12 December 2011

STAR BLUES on 11th December 2011 at 22:00

Hubert Sumlin was in our thoughts last night with some examples of his solo sides as well as his work for Howlin' Wolf. There's a lovely contrast in how he took on the solo in "Hidden Charms" for Chester and the down home playing with Annie Raines for the Telarc project over thirty years after. Sumlin was regarded as a son to the Wolf and it could be argued that neither was at their best when apart. The Rolling Stones sprung for funeral expenses so there was a sense of giving back to such a well-loved guitarist.

Dobie Gray was another to pass over this week and I've earmarked "Driftaway" for the next show: it's not that bluesy but it has a cracking solo and the song marks a time and place for many blues lovers. Johnny Winter is back with a new project designed to poke blues purists in the eye - it got a good review in Living Blues magazine so it ain't half bad. We've had ten years since JLW and Otis Grand cemented their Guitar Brothers relationship and the wily John Stedman will reissue that album to coincide with Joe's upcoming debut for Alligator: "Hellfire".

Christmas came with the smooth styling of Johnny Moore and from Albert Collins' ferocious workout "Thaw Out". I mispronounced Louis Armstrong (should have said "Lewis") but his "Cool Yule" couldn't be beat at any time of year. Gorgeous.  Our distaff side had some big hitters too: Sister Rosetta Tharpe (gospel) and Jessie Mae Hemphill to name but two. The Pilgrim Travelers joined the good sister in the gospel tent and we effortlessly slid back to the Thirties golden age for boogie woogie with Messrs Smith and Davenport.

The young Lonnie Brooks recorded as Guitar Junior and his "Crawl" ensured we fulfilled our assignment in Pip-ology homework. Then in a trice it was gone. Next week we'll run through the STAR BLUES awards and then in two weeks on Christmas Day (when other blues shows sleep) it'll be "WHEN GARY MET PJ". I hope you can bring your fine self around to my place at 10pm (GMT) Sundays, looking forward to it until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Rude Women Joe Louis Walker & Otis Grand 7 Guitar Brothers Joe Louis WalkerOtis Grand JSP Records
Done Somebody Wrong Johnny Winter & Warren Haynes 3 Roots Johnny Winter Megaforce
Your Lies Lucky Peterson 2 Triple Play Lucky Peterson Alligator Records
Hidden Charms Howlin' Wolf 3 Complete Recordings 1951-1969 Howlin' Wolf CHARLY
Got The Blues Hubert Sumlin 1 Heart & Soul Hubert Sumlin
Jinx Blues Alvin Youngblood Hart 4 Down In The Alley Alvin Youngblood Hart Memphis International
Hound Dog Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, Kansas City Bell & orchestra 12 The Johnny Otis Story Volume 1 Volume 1: 1945-57 Midnight At The Barrelhouse V A Johnny Otis & His Orchestra ACE
There It Is Darrell Nulisch 3 The Whole Truth Darrell Nulisch SEVERN
Cool Yule Louis Armstrong 14 Mark Lamarr's Rhythm And Blues Christmas Various Artists ACROBAT
Merry Christmas Baby Mari Jones & Johnny Moore Orchestra 4 Rhythm & Blues Christmas Various Artists ACE
Thaw Out Albert Collins 13 Blues Guitar Box Various Artists SEQUEL
The Red Rooster Howlin' Wolf 17 Complete Recordings 1951-1969 Howlin' Wolf CHARLY
Blue Shadows Hubert Sumlin 8 Healing Feeling Hubert Sumlin BLACK TOP
This Is Hip John Lee Hooker 2 Masterworks Sampler Vol. 1 Various Artists CHARLY
Black Cat Bone Jessie Mae Hemphill 1 She-Wolf Jessie Mae Hemphill High Water Music
Up Above My Head Sister Rosetta Tharpe 15 Gospel Greats Various Artists PLANET
Straight Street Pilgrim Travellers 6 The Sound Of The City - Los Angeles Various Artists Emi Records Ltd
Pinetop's Boogie Woogie Clarence 'Pinetop' Smith 2 The Best Of Boogie Woogie Various Artists DOCUMENTS
Cow Cow Blues Cow Cow Davenport 7 History Of Rhythm And Blues Part One Various Artists Rhythm and Blues Records
Come Back Baby Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin 9 Legends Various Artists TELARC
Rock Me Baby Hubert SumlinAnnie Raines 4 A Taste Of Blues Harmonica Various Artists TELARC
Cadillac Jack Andre Williams 2 The Sound Of The City - Chicago Various Artists Emi Records Ltd
Back Door Santa Clarence Carter 1 The Original Soul Christmas Various Artists RHINO
Short Dress Woman Carey Bell w. Lurrie Bell 6 Second Nature Carey BellLurrie Bell Alligator
The Crawl Guitar Junior 4 Masterworks Sampler Vol. 1 Various Artists CHARLY
Created: 12/12/2011 09:00:03

Monday, 5 December 2011

STAR BLUES on 4th December 2011 at 22:00

Real sad news at the end of last night's STAR BLUES with confirmation that Hubert Sumlin had died. I did have "Smokestack Lightnin'" to hand but that somehow didn't seem enough. Never a flashy lead guitarist his work with Howlin' Wolf made Hubert a central figure in the way electric Chicago Blues sounded. When Wolf came to London in May 1970, the sessions included various members of the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton - with Eric being really embarrassed to be there asking "Why do you need me, you've got Hubert?".

We also lost Howard Tate on Friday to a battle with Leukemia a somewhat underrated singer who got famous though the covers Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and BB Kind did of his originals. He and Jerry Ragavoy worked well together and it was ironic that Tate has gone so soon after Ragavoy. Tates stuff isn't easy to come by but will repay the effort if you try.

Big birthday celebrations for Larry Davis (our 1001 blues), Pop Staples, Little Richard, Junior Wells and the second man calling himself Sonny Boy Williamson. In January Alligator will release Joe Louis Walkers debut for them called "HellFire", on his performance during the Blues Cruise its not hard to hear why Bruce Iglauer wanted JLW on board (pun!) Robert Ealey clearly enjoyed playing blues, why he wasn't better know is one of blues mysteries...

Mojo Magazine (there are others) has a cover mount disc from the latest breed of soul singers, each doing a cover of a track from the Rolling Stones' "Sticky Fingers" - we went to its Naomi Shelton cut for our gospel spot a Stax horn soundalike version of "You Gotta Move" by Gary Davis / Fred McDowell (perm any one from three). Sonny Thompson did piano on an unissued side from 1947 when he was with Miracle Records in Chicago. To round out the full flavours of blues we did the title track from Seasick Steve's chart album retrospective "Walking Man" - and "Scratch My Kat" With Cedell Davis. A new approach to "Barefootin" from Joe Medwick was all we had time for my white tee-shirt - hope we get another chance to chinwag, gossip, natter and peruse on Sunday night at 10pm (GMT) until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Track_Title Track_ArtistSort Index Album_Title
Crusin' for a Bluesin' Ray Bailey 5 Cruisin' for a Bluesin'
Hottest Thing In Town Andy Poxon Band, The 1 Red Roots
I Got My Eyes On You (Featuring Al Blake & Alex Schultz) Big Pete 6 Choice Cuts
Nickels & Dimes Fiona Boyes 1 Blues For Hard Times
Walkin' Man Seasick Steve 2 ...Songs For Elisabeth
John Henry Pop Staples 22 Ultimate Staple Singers: A Family Affair
House Calls Bob Kirkpatrick 9 Going Back To Texas
Texas Flood Larry DavisFenton Robinson 5 Dave's Dukes
Midnight In The Barrelhouse Johnny Otis Orchestra Feat. Pete "Guitar" Lewis 5 The Johnny Otis Story Volume 1 Volume 1: 1945-57 Midnight At The Barrelhouse V A
Nothing's Impossible Solomon Burke 4 Nothing's Impossible
Stop Howard Tate 25 The Pomus And Shuman Story
Ain't Nobody Home Howard Tate 12 This Time It's For Real
Barefootin' Joe Medwick 1 Voice of Americana: Joe Medwick
It's A Shame Featuring Joe Louis Walker Joe Louis Walker 4 Tommy Castro Presents The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue -- Live!
All My Worries Robert Ealey 7 Turn Out The Lights
Don't Start Me Talkin' Sonny Boy Williamson (Aka Rice Miller) 11 The R'n'b Hits Of 1955
Slippin' And Slidin' Little Richard 11 The E.P. Collection
Hoodoo Man Junior Wells 15 Down Home Blues Classics - Chicago (1946-1954)
My Dog Can't Bark Johnny Dyer 10 Rolling Fork Revisited
You Gonna Win Mike Sanchez 5 Women And Cadillacs
Walking Sonny Thompson 7 Jam Sonny Jam
You Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond Hans Theessink 11 Jedermann Remixed - The Soundtrack
You Gotta move Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens 5 Sticky Soul Fingers
Smokestack Lightnin Howlin' Wolf 19 Smokestack Lightnin'
Keep On Snatchin It Back Cedell Davis 1 All Men Are Liars
Barefootin' Joe Medwick 1 Voice of Americana: Joe Medwick
Created: 05/12/2011 08:22:49