British Blues music has a rich history. It has a very important place in the history of the Blues worldwide. In the early days, legendary bandleader, and official supporter of the British Blues Exhibition, Chris Barber was pivotal in bringing American stars like Muddy Waters here. Then the Rolling Stones took the British Blues torch to re-ignite the Blues in its own homelands and fellow acts such as The Animals blazed out a British brand of Blues. In current times, there is a crop of great young British Blues acts and Americans who regularly tour the UK. The British Blues has great stories, great places, great music, and it is time for an exhibition to celebrate it. Preparations have just begun, but items from iconic and still broadcasting radio station Radio Caroline, British Blues groundbreakers The Downliners Sect, the Original Blues Brothers Band from the US, and more are already being curated for display. The ties between British and US Blues are strong to this day, as the photo above of Mud Morganfield, official supporter of the British Blues Exhibition and eldest son of Muddy Waters, and British Bluesman Hugh Laurie shows. Thus the hands in the header photo are Pete Feenstra (UK) and Albert Castiglia (US). Albert’s fellow American musician and BBC Radio DJ Huey Morgan is also a supporter of the British Blues Exhibition.
The exhibition will do more than display historical items. It will excite, involve and inspire visitors. We are currently looking for sponsors and advertisers to help fund something really special.
This project, the brainchild of Blues writer, podcaster and PR Darren Weale, is dedicated to Jim Sexton, the music teacher who didn’t particularly communicate the Blues, but whose love of music was so intense that it rubbed off.
This is where we share some of the highlights of the history of the British Blues Exhibition.
More work is being put into curating the collection, which as material up to approximately 100 years old, with items from across the world. Preparations are now going into a first serious public display to take place in 2019.
The exhibition has been behind two live music nights in 2017 featuring Beki Brindle (US), JFK Blue, Saiichi Sugiyama, Lonnie Donegan’s son Peter, Dave Thomas, and Jamie Williams. The exhibition website is being updated and the collection curated with a view to putting on our biggest display yet, with the three signed John Mayall harmonicas and Chris Barber’s trombone in pride of place. We are also blogging about contemporary Blues around the UK.
December – two week British Blues Exhibition display at Cranleigh Arts Centre, Surrey.
12th May – British Blues Exhibition Live music night 2 in Camden, Transatlantic Blues, feat. the right Reverend Swifty LeZarre, Sister Cookie, and Laura Holland
19th April – Met and interviewed Chris Barber at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley, London. He made a special donation to the exhibition
17th March – British Blues Exhibition Live music debut night in Camden, St Paddy’s Blues, with Laura Holland, Saiichi Sugiyama Band, and Pete Brown. This marked the first appearance of one of John Mayall’s signed harmonicas for the exhibition
14th October – The British Blues Exhibition interview with supporter Pete Brown is published, here.
3rd September – The exhibition’s Briefcase Full of Blues is on show at the Boisdale Canary Wharf on a night when Mike Vernon and the Might Combo are playing. Mike signs the exhibition banner.
30th-31st August – The British Blues Exhibition appears at the venue for the British Stage at the Great British R & B Festival in Colne for two days.
29th July – Exhibition supporter Chris Barber signs the Exhibition banner – and his own record, Chris Barbers Blues Book Vol 1 – at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford. The Exhibition ‘briefcase’ edition makes an appearance
21st July – The ‘briefcase’ edition of the Exhibition is shared at an event in Committee Room 4 of the House of Lords
12th July – The British Blues Exhibition takes up the invitation to guest DJ on Jukin’ Jenn’s Bucket of Blues – you can listen here. The playlist:
John Mayall – All Your Love
Junior Wells – Come on in This House
Laura Holland Band – The One and Only Jimmy Reed
Alexis Korner – Leaving Blues
The Yardbirds – For Your Love
Willie Dixon – Little Red Rooster
Big Joe Turner – Roll ‘Em
Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes – Jumpin Judy
Chris Thomas King – Hoodoo Party
Mavis Staples – See That My Grave is Clear
The Animals and Sonny Boy Williamson, live – Let it Rock
The Blues Brothers – B Movie Box Car Blues
Long John Baldry – Sunshine of Your Love
Otis Grand – Between Heaven and Hell
BB King – Blues Man
9th July – The Eel Pie Club in Twickenham hosts its annual tribute to the late Art Wood, fundraising for The Prostate Cancer Charity. It also hosts the debut of the smallest travelling British Blues Exhibition format, the ‘briefcase full of Blues’. Musician Don Craine commented, “I think your exhibition in a suitcase is excellent and a fine way to represent the nature of the Blues.”
7th July – Jamie Pipe, keyboard player with young British Blues-Rock act The Mentulls, named as the keyboards Exhibition Curator.
29th June – British legends Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames appear in Sevenoaks, Kent, and Georgie signs the first British Blues Exhibition banner.
28th June – Katie Bradley and Dave Ferra perform at the Sevenoaks Summer Festival and are joined by the first ever appearance of a live British Blues Exhibition showcase as the ‘suitcase’ edition is on display.
June – R2 magazine carries an interview with the founder of the British Blues Exhibition.
19th April – Andy Twyman named as one man band Exhibition Curator.
26th March – Roger Inniss named as bass guitar Exhibition Curator.
5th March – Paul Lamb named as the first Exhibition Curator. Paul is to contribute items for display at exhibition events. Asked, ” What do you think of the fact that an exhibition celebrating the history of British Blues music is being put on?” Paul replied, “It’s about time….”
8th February – Fresh interview on Vinny Marini’s Blues On The Couch in the US, together with Paul Lamb from Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes – listen here (talk begins at 1 hour 16 minutes into the show.
29th December – John Mayall agrees to be named as an official supporter of the British Blues Exhibition.
23rd December – Interview on Vinny Marini’s Blues On The Couch in the US, together with Paul Lamb from Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes
8th December -Interview on NWCZ Mighty Mouth Blues broadcast in Seattle, USA. First airplay for adopted Exhibition anthem Blues For The Lost Days by John Mayall and Nicky Moore’s Blues Corporations Hog On A Log
20th November – The new one page British Blues history and links leaflet created for venues and festivals and anyone to download is used for a page on the Making A Scene website in the US, here.
6th November – The first public notice of the Exhibition comes when the brand is shared on Facebook by Mick Kolassa, Vice-Chair of The Blues Foundation in the US, a cool way to start
August – the idea of creating a British Blues Exhibition starts to become reality as planning begins and website domains are purchased….