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, Connie Lush, and Cream lyricist and poet Pete Brown, we’re Breaking Blues Again.
We were reading up recently on a DJ, his show and his story from 2013. It is worth repeating and refreshing that material here as an insight into a little history and to the DJ, Ashwyn Smyth, whose show continues today. Ashwyn has continued to be very active in British Blues since, not the least in his role in the UK Blues Federation and as a member of the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association.
Here are the words from 2013:
Honours: nominated in the British Blues Broadcast category of the British Blues Awards and recognised in the Best Blues Radio Show category in the Blues Matters! magazine Writers’ Poll
“In October 2009, a new programme, Digital Blues on Gateway, started being broadcast each Wednesday evening on Gateway FM (later to become Gateway 97.8), the community radio station providing real local radio for Basildon & East Thurrock. These programmes can be heard on 97.8fm in the Basildon, East Thurrock & surrounding areas and worldwide on the internet at http://www.gateway978.com between 9 & 11 p.m. every Wednesday. Each week’s show is repeated between 8 & 10 p.m. UK time on Sundays. Digital Blues on Gateway 97.8 was honoured to have been nominated in the top five British Blues Broadcast category of the British Blues Awards 2011 and recognised in the top five of the Best Blues Radio Show category in the Blues Matters! Writers’ Poll 2011.
“In March 2010, Digital Blues was delighted to be invited to start producing a weekly edition of Digital Blues for Kansas City Online Radio and this is now streamed at 11.00 a.m. Central US Time (17.00 UK time) every Sunday at http://www.kconlineradio.com and each week’s show is repeated through the week at various times. Please check the schedule page at http://www.kconlineradio.com for times. All editions of both shows are available as podcasts on i-tunes and on PodOmatic.
John Mayall, the late Jack Bruce, Paul Jones, Pete Townshend, Ginger Baker, Eric Burdon and Dick Taylor feature in Suburban Steps To Rockland, a feature film documentary about the Ealing Club, Britain’s first Rhythm & Blues venue. The film is heading for Sky release, but could use some income via its current crowdfunding campaign that runs to the end of August – see https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/suburban-steps-to-rockland#/. There are some tasty rewards for contributing to this commemoration of musical heritage.
Film is an important medium for celebrating the history of Blues music, with The Blues film series in the US being produced by no less a figure than Martin Scorsese.
Other British productions include Out of Time on singer Chris Farlowe and another on Alexis Korner, himself pivotal in the story of the Ealing Club.
Want to know about the early days of British Blues and the British Blues Explosion? Check out our Literature page, which has been updated to include essential reading in the shape of books by Billy Bragg and Chris Barber, both of which will appear in our exhibition.
As the image above shows, one of our banners – others have signatures from people such as Georgie Fame, Paul Jones, members of The Rolling Stones, Chris Farlowe, and more – was recently signed by Geno Washington, who is a significant figure in both Blues and Soul music.
The exhibition is planning further appearances including its longest run yet in a location in 2020.
More exhibits are coming in to be curated, including artefacts from Radio Caroline, historically noteworthy music releases on vinyl, and additions to the harmonica collection.
Two of our supporters are on tour presently. Bandleader Chris Barber has dates including 7th April at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley in London, and John Mayall appears at Ronnie Scott’s 16th-18th April (sold out).
Another date for the diary is 13th July 2019 – Rock Island Line 65th anniversary, Cadogan Hall, London, with Billy Bragg and Van Morrison
Using our various social media channels, we’ve been sharing a proportion of the images of the British Blues Exhibition collection. Over time, we will probably share one out of five of our exhibits online. Here are a few of the exhibit images shared recently. The images above show (from left to right, starting with the top row) an original 45rpm single by The Rolling Stones, Get Off My Cloud; a copy flyer for The Bromel Club with acts such as The Who and Chris Farlowe appearing in the 1960’s; a 2014 edition of Blues In Britain magazine with King King; an 8-track cartridge of Cream Live; a copy of Sounds magazine with Paul Kossoff and Back Street Crawler; a John O’Leary (Savoy Brown, Sugarkane, The Downliner Sect) Hohner Marine Band harmonica; a lyric sheet by Otis Grand amended by Curtis Salgado; and (some of) Chris Barber’s trombone donated to the exhibition. A lot more will follow in due course. That social media we mentioned?
Facebook – www.facebook.com/BritishBluesEx
Instagram – www.instagram.com/britishbluesexhibition
Twitter – https://twitter.com/BritishBluesEx
Between 16th October and 31st December 2018, there is an exhibition on Women In Jazz at the Barbican Library in London.
One of the British Blues Exhibitions supporters is Jazz bandleader and, to us, Godfather of British Blues, Chris Barber. Not only did he bring to the UK Blues greats such as Muddy Waters, he also worked extensively with Ottilie Patterson, who had a fabulous Blues voice. Check out the exhibition and be reminded of the relationship between Jazz and British Blues music.
The British Blues Exhibition will soon be introducing a new newsletter. People who sign up will have exclusive access to a page on the website with news, competitions and offers.
Alex Butler is the British Blues Exhibition Curator of Guitar. He is representative of the new, young British guitarists in the Blues. His band, Red Butler, have made a name for themselves, representing the UK in European competition, touring with overseas acts, and building a following.
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.