The British Blues Exhibition is a hub for British Blues history and for the contemporary scene. That includes musicians of all ages in British Blues; overseas acts who tour the UK; wider culture such as theatre, art, and literature; and the people behind the scenes. We have many exhibits and our travelling exhibitions are making appearances at events. We are working towards establishing a permanent exhibition celebrating British Blues. With support from Chris Barber, John Mayall, Mud Morganfield, Huey Morgan and Connie Lush, we’re Breaking Blues Again.
Document Records is an independent roots music label based in the United Kingdom. They have been newly awarded one of the annual ‘Keeping the Blues Alive’ Awards by the Blues Foundation in the US. The British Blues Exhibition would like to congratulate the label on this significant achievement and what they have done to earn it.
Document Records are famous for specializing in the issue and reissue of a vast catalogue of early recordings of American blues, gospel, spirituals, jazz, and roots music, covering the complete recorded works of numerous artists who have influenced subsequent generations. They also have extensive tracks and albums from the early careers of many of the most famous Blues artists. Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters, Blind Willie McTell, ‘Ma’ Rainey… the list is enormous and the company is celebrated by such famous artists as Jack White.
The Document Records website is here.
On 4th November 2017, the Doc’ n Roll Film Festival 2017 at The Barbican in London launched with a showing of Suburban Steps To Rockland: the story of the Ealing Club. With a Q and A with Director, Giorgio Guernier and Dick Taylor of The Pretty Things, we’ll review the film in our blog.
Amongst those interviewed in the film are:
GENO WASHINGTON (Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band)
JEREMY SPENCER (Fleetwood Mac founder member)
ERIC BELL (Thin Lizzy founder member)
NICK SIMPER (Deep Purple founder member)
MIKE VERNON (Producer – David Bowie, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Fleetwood Mac)
JACK BRUCE (Cream)
GINGER BAKER (Cream)
JOHN MAYALL (John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers)
PAUL JONES (Manfred Mann)
ERIC BURDON (The Animals)
DICK TAYLOR (The Pretty Things, first Rolling Stones bassist)
In other news, two Blues awards are making waves.
Pete Feenstra (centre, above, with Carvin Jones left and Bluesman Mike Francis to the right) has just received his award from the European Blues Awards. Voting on the next round of awards is open until 12th November.
In addition, the UK Blues Federation has announced its UK Blues Awards which commence in 2018.
The UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) has announced that the 4th UKBlues Challenge will take place on Sunday 10th September 2017 at the world famous Cavern Club in Liverpool. The UK Blues Exhibition is as thrilled as UKBlues is in making this announcement. The late George Harrison said, “No Lead Belly, no Beatles”, as clear a proof as could be needed of the Folk/Blues influences on the greatest pop band in the world, ever, and the one most closely associated with The Cavern.
The selection process to choose the bands/acts that will be taking part in this year’s Challenge is currently underway with a panel of more than 250 people from across the UK blues spectrum having been invited to nominate three bands/acts who they believe would best represent UK blues at the International and European Blues Challenges in Norway and Memphis in 2018. This stage of the process closed on 15th March 2017 and the four bands/acts who amassed the most points will be invited to take part in this year’s Challenge.
In an exciting innovation, a fifth band will also be invited to take part in the Challenge, their selection being completely unrelated to the process currently underway. More details in this respect will be announced in the near future.
Jon Keats – Director of Music & Events at The Cavern Club said:
“We are delighted to be hosting this year’s UKBlues Challenge here at the Cavern Club. Whilst people will always associate the venue with The Beatles and Merseybeat era, blues has also played a huge part in our history.
Many blues giants have played here including the likes of Big Bill Broonzy, John Lee Hooker, Alexis Korner, Eric Clapton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Bo Diddley…This is our 60th Anniversary year and it’s great to welcome the blues back to the Cavern!”
For UKBlues, Chair Ashwyn Smyth commented: ‘’ We are excited to be bringing the UKBlues Challenge to Liverpool this year, and especially so given that we will be staging it at such an iconic venue. We have always made plain our desire to ensure that the UKBlues Challenges are staged in different parts of the UK as part of our commitment to blues throughout the UK.
We thank the management of the Cavern for making this event possible and look forward to the 4th UKBlues Challenge being bigger and even better than the first three!’’
NOT A MEMBER? JOIN NOW!
If you are not already a member of UKBlues, why not join now? Check out the UKBlues website here.
What’s cool in British Blues, I hear you ask? Who’s young and can maybe rise to the stratospheric levels of Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, who used to grind out gigs and play Blues (and a lot of other music) on his way up? And where’s cool? Are there any iconic places out there?
Not easy questions those, at all. So rather than seek an elusive, definitive answer, let’s take one act, one gig, and one place as a focus.
Blues-Boogie one man band and humorous eclectic eccentric Andy Twyman, who appeared with Rag ‘n’ Bone Man in the past, plays the Green Note in Camden on Saturday 18th February. Andy recognises it as a “top, top venue” as does Time Out in it’s awards (those awards hang proudly on the wall of the venue).
Andy is thrilled about this date and has shared his excitement in the video above. We’ve been to the venue and seen a couple of really good acts squeezed in to the cosy, veggie food-smelling place with its warm atmosphere and excellent welcome. Not just Blues either, though Ruth Theodore and The Goat Roper Rodeo Band certainly have Blues in their souls. No, this is a music venue. Don’t worry about the genre, this is a place that draws in good music like a magnet draws iron filings. Beware, Blues lovers, this place has something you’re not used to, queues outside ahead of opening time. If the good people at the Green Note say ‘Book early to avoid disappointment’, it is actually true.
So, an exciting place. Andy’s finest, or certainly most famous, hour so far has been with the song and video ‘A Naked Noel’, but for those who love Blues with a fresh twist, he’s your man, as the video to ‘Stand Up’ proves. An apt choice to end on as The Green Note can be standing room only at times.
The Green Note – www.greennote.co.uk
Andy Twyman – www.andytwyman.com
A triple blast of news from the British Blues Exhibition to wrap up 2016. Firstly, we have a display at Cranleigh Arts Centre in Surrey for the two weeks ending on 21st September, featuring our latest exhibits, a 1956 Skiffle-era washboard and an even older African one. The display, the first in a fixed location for a period of days, was put in place in honour of Chris Barber and Nicky Moore.
Second, we are working more closely with the UK Blues Federation and some of our online history is being migrated to their website so we can concentrate on being a physical exhibition. Finally, we are working more closely as well with the British Blues Archive, now incorporated into the UK Blues Federation, and which loaned the exhibition the Alexis Korner album in the display pictured.
The news release by UK Blues Federation is as follows:
UKBLUES WELCOMES BRITISH BLUES ARCHIVE
The UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) is delighted to announce that with immediate effect the British Blues Archive (BBA) is to amalgamate with UKBlues and come under the organisation’s ‘umbrella’ with BBA’s online archive material being incorporated into the Education section of the UKBlues’ website (www.ukblues.org) .
In addition UKBlues and the British Blues Archive are working with the British Blues Exhibition (www.britishbluesexhibition.co.uk) and Early Blues.com (www.earlyblues.com) who have agreed to migrate some of their relevant online content to further enhance the brand new and comprehensive resource afforded by this new venture.
This unique partnership will create an unparalleled central resource and reference point for historical material relating to blues in the UK online and forms part of UKBlues’ stated aim to seek to provide educational material and facilities to widen knowledge of the blues in the UK and to assist those also seeking to do the same.
Ashwyn Smyth, Chair of UKBlues said: ‘We were thrilled and honoured when Peter Harvie, joint founder of the BBA, approached us to suggest an amalgamation. The BBA has a wealth of material of all sorts and Peter’s approach came as our webmaster, Alan White, was in the process of setting up an Education section of our website following our decision to seek to develop this aspect of our activities. So this was a great idea that arose at the perfect time. To then have the British Blues Exhibition and Early Blues offer to work with us to further enhance this was the icing on the cake and we thank board members Darren Weale and Alan White for their generous co-operation.
The Board of UKBlues is hugely excited about the possibilities that these new partnerships and co-operations afford us as an organisation but, more importantly, the blues as a whole in the UK. They also serve to reinforce our mission to become a focal point for the blues in the UK.’
Peter Harvie of the British Blues Archive said; ‘We at the British Blues Archive are delighted to be joining UK Blues. The work being done by the British Blues Archive and UK Blues complement each other and the bringing together of our strengths has created in one place a tremendous resource, the place to go to for information, history, interviews and insights on British Blues. We at the British Blues Archive are tremendously excited about the amalgamation and are looking forward to new projects ahead with UK Blues’.
We also welcome this development and the certainty that with three of the main bodies in UK Blues joining forces will be good for the future of the music in this country.
For the third time in 2016, the British Blues Exhibition is putting on live music, this time with a difference. This show, on Thursday 15th September, is the Burlesque and Blues Revue.
Jazz trombone player and bandleader Chris Barber has been performing for well over 50 years. His Jazz band included notables such as Ottillie Paterson, Skiffle legend Lonnie Donegan (Chris played double bass on Lonnie’s smash hit ‘Rock Island Line’), and Alexis Korner of Blues Incorporated and co-founder of the first electric Blues club in the UK, the Ealing Club, which continues to this day.
Chris was also instrumental in the arrival in the UK of American Blues greats including Muddy Waters and Big Bill Broonzy. His interactions with the Blues have continued, including his appearance at the Lead Belly Fest at the Royal Albert Hall in 2015, and interactions with artists such as Dave Kelly from The Blues Band and Eric Clapton.
Here, in his dressing room at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley, London on 19th April 2016, two days after his 86th birthday, Chris talks about his career from his earliest days until now, listen via this link for content including:
– Why he didn’t play the Eel Pie Island Hotel or Chislehurst Caves (which he passed on the way to his Bromley venue) and why he liked playing Gaumont theatres
– The “fantastic” Muddy Waters – and his being compelled to play acoustic guitar – and Otis Spann
– Eric Clapton
– The Beatles and Billy Preston and The Cavern Club
– Howlin’ Wolf
– Sister Rosetta Tharpe
– Jools Holland and Ruby Turner
– His father and his introduction to music, rationing and wartime evacuation and his first 78rpm records. Plus reading a book on the Blues found on a USAAF rubbish dump
– Amy Winehouse and Tony Bennett
– The trombone that he briefly plays during the interview, after unzipping it from its case
– The album ‘Memories Of My Trip’
Chris Barber’s website is here. Go and see him and his band!
As 2016 begins, the heyday of the Blues in the 1960’s and the proliferation of venues hosting live Blues and Rock seems a long way away. Instead, stories hit the press about venues closing down and the costs of added security on doors and noise limitation and other legislation, however well-intended, make life hard for people presenting music. However, if you look for them, there are numerous stories of people defending and reviving venues, resurrecting festivals, and creating new venues and festivals. Here is a sample of live musical hope at the start of 2016:
One recently formed body is the Music Venue Trust. We’ll see what plans they have and share them;
The new Blues nights at The Tuesday Night Music Club at The Comrades Club in Coulsdon in south west London, which will feature the outstanding one man band Andy Twyman on 19th January (poster above);
Just six gigs in and soon on 21st February to host Devon Allman, son of Gregg Allman and nephew of Duane Allman of The Allman Brothers and member of The Royal Southern Brotherhood, Blues Rock Aberdeen at The Tunnels, Aberdeen, Scotland;
The new Mid Wales Rhythm and Blues Club;
Also new – As the organisers say, “Come and join Little Devils and special guests at Last Thursday Blues Club, Carpenter’s Arms, Bethnal Green, London, on the last Thursday of every month kicking off January 2016 – loads of great music from the whole blues spectrum – and there’s a lot of colour in there!! ” Facebook page here;
The campaign to revive The Half Moon at Herne Hill in London as a music venue, not to mention the attempt to keep The Greyhound in Beeston, Nottinghamshire, as a live music venue.
More venues and quotes from people at them to follow.
Still reading? Why not create a venue or a music night or a festival yourself? You can. We will be.
A question was asked on BBC Radio London’s Robert Elms Show this morning (in his new morning slot) for the British Blues Exhibition. Could listeners recall the Iron Curtain Club in St Mary Cray, Orpington? Well, yes, some could. Two even met their (ex) wives there, while watching the likes of The Moody Blues, John Mayall and more.
This link shares the show for the next month www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03cg3jz
Thank you to Robert and his team for asking the question. The result will be added to the history on this website.