British DJ’s in focus: Ashwyn Smyth

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:

Blues DJ’s: Ashwyn Smyth of Digital Blues.
First, the really important stuff – how to listen to the show and other details (@2013):
Radio station: Gateway 97.8 in the Basildon, East Thurrock & surrounding areas or online at http://www.gateway978.com and to digital blues on Kansas City Online Radio at 11.00 a.m. Central US time (17.00 UK time) every Sunday at http://www.kconlineradio.com. The show is repeated at various times through the week. Please visit the website to check times.
When: every Wednesday between 21.00 & 23.00 UK time on Gateway 97.8, Community Radio for Basildon and East Thurrock. Repeated at 20.00 UK time every Sunday.

Podcast:   Podcasts at http://digitalblues.podomatic.com and on i-tunes at http://itunes.apple.com

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

Ashwyn shares with us the story of his show, below (remember, this is 2013):
“Digital Blues has been described as the voice of the Blues for Essex, both for the Digital Blues radio shows and for its presence on the Essex and UK blues scene for the last ten plus years.Whilst probably best known for producing and presenting radio programmes, Digital Blues and myself as its creator, were very active on the blues scene, particularly in Essex throughout the first decade of the 21st century.
“What started off as attempt to promote radio shows became a more than 500 strong mailing list, plus a website which was receiving more than 10,000 hits p.a. and which was perhaps best known for the Gig Guide, described at the time as the biggest blues gig guide on the web, which carried full details of blues gigs in and around Essex.
“But the website also carried blues news, local, national and international, reviews of gigs, CDs and DVDs, adverts for bands seeking musicians and musicians seeking bands as well as a large collection of useful links.
“In 2010, due to hosting problems, the website fell fallow and out of date for some time but late in 2011, thanks to a couple of great guys at Webcrate, the site was resurrected, in a somewhat simpler format, and the gig guide is back along with details of the radio shows and the all important playlists.
“The new site has drawn many very favourable comments, for example.
‘Just a quick word to say how much this particular Blues fan appreciates the time and effort you put into both these newsletters and the website – and how informative they are! We’re very lucky in this neck of the woods to have such a fund of information on local gigs and there’s certainly no excuse to miss any because no one told us!’ – MW, Billericay
“Out on the live music scene, Digital Blues organised a number of very successful charity festivals which raised substantial funds for the Helen Rollason Cancer Care Centre charity as well as promoting gigs at venues such as the famous Essex Arms in Brentwood.
“I also compered at a number of blues weekends at various locations around the UK and was for a number of years, the resident MC at possibly the premier blues venue in Essex, the New Crawdaddy Blues Club in Billericay. I am still closely involved with the Club running their mailing list and producing a weekly newsletter. I also occasionally MCs there when I am in the UK.
“I was also invited to MC the final of the 2011 and 2012 New Brunswick Battle of the Blues at the 100 Club in Central London (2011) and The Garage in Highbury, North London (2012)
“I have also been a contributor to both Blues Matters! and Blues in Britain as well as being invited to write sleeve notes for CDs for acts such as Bad Town Blues, the Shakey Vick Band and Ramon Goose. I also co-produced, with the late Ray Bartrip, two Essex Delta Blues CDs which sought to promote Essex blues acts and which were sent to promoters and radio shows around the UK and Europe and were instrumental in gaining wider recognition, and gigs, for many of the acts involved.
“Digital Blues radio shows commenced in June 2001 and, until June 2006, were produced as internet radio shows with occasional FM outings on periodic RSL transmissions on a South Essex based radio station. The shows featured many new releases, often from artists receiving their first radio airplay anywhere in the World, as well as tracks both ancient & modern.
“In particular, the shows provided exposure and radio play for Essex based bands and artists, often featuring live performances as well as publicising local gigs and venues.
“Digital Blues also presented The Blues Banquet, a live, weekly feast of blues & real r’n’b featuring studio guests playing live on two RSLs for a Basildon based radio station during this period. In March 2006, Digital Blues programmes were broadcast live on FM every week in the Brentwood & Billericay areas and were also available as podcasts. Unfortunately from June 2006 Digital Blues ceased to have an FM presence after a disagreement with the management of the station carting the shows.
“For a number of years Digital Blues also produced podcasts for Blues Matters! featuring their own label artists. These were available via the Blues Matters! website.
“Early in 2009, Digital Blues was approached by IndieTalent.ca, a well respected and burgeoning Toronto based internet radio station, and asked to produce and present periodic shows for them featuring the best of indie blues talent from around the World. The programmes were available until July 2010 when the station was sold and IndieTalent.ca ceased transmission.

“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.

“After almost 40 years working in the City of London, I have now retired and I am based in a small rural hamlet in the Limousin region of France where I record the shows in a small studio in my home set amidst rolling fields in the peace and tranquillity of a mainly agricultural region. I am still actively involved with the UK and Essex blues scene, albeit at a distance, and I am constantly scouring the world trying to find new artists. I am gradually becoming involved in a very small way in the, admittedly limited, local blues scene.
“Digital Blues produces and presents two completely different Digital Blues radio programmes totalling three hours weekly and the shows seek to offer maximum variety in every respect. The shows have a regular band of listeners around the world and this has been enhanced by the recent introduction of podcasts of all weekly shows.
“Playlists for all Digital Blues radio shows are posted on the Playlists page of the Digital Blues website and are also reported to the Roots Music Report for inclusion in their blues airplay charts.”
What they say about Digital Blues:
‘Some great sets… the world needs more shows like yours’ – Randy Chortkoff, CEO, Delta Groove Records
‘Love listening to your show, you do a great job of mixing in great blues and not just mainstream but Indie artists too.’ –  Michael Poppe, Poppyseed Promotions, Nashville
‘When I catch your show you always play such great music Ash! Indeed :)’ – KCOR listener via Facebook
‘Mr. Smyth, you are just way too cool… Lovin’ this music you are playing !!!’ –  KCOR listener via Facebook
‘Thanks for the fine programming! It really reminds me of radio in the ’60s & ’70s here in the USA. Kudos.’ – Richard Black, Musician, New York
A bientot!
ASHWYN
Sample playlist:14 August 2013 (Artist, Track, Source, Label):
Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa, See Saw, Seesaw, Provogue Records
The Slide Brothers, Praise You, Robert Randolph Presents the Slide Brothers, Concord Records
Southern Hospitality, Kind Lies & Whiskey, Easy Livin’, Blind Pig Records
Watermelon Slim & the Workers, Tomorrow Night, Bull Goose Rooster, NorthernBlues Music
Moreland & Arbuckle, The Devil & Me, 7 Cities, Telarc International
Eric Bibb, Music, Deeper in the Well, DixieFrog Records
Heritage Blues Orchestra, Don’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down, And Still I Rise, Raisin’ Music
J P Soars, Old Man Joe, Make Room at the Table, http://www.jpblues.com
Buddy Guy featuring Beth Hart, What You Gonna Do About Me, Rhythm & Blues, Silvertone Records
Buddy Guy featuring Gary Clark Jr, Blues Don’t Care, Rhythm & Blues, Silvertone Records
The Swamp Cats, Cadillac Walk, The Swamp Cats Live!, Swamptone Records
Thomas Ford, Bottle Up & Go, Breaking Everything But Even, OUF Records
Seasick Steve, Keep On Keepin’ On, Hubcap Music, Polydor
Gary Clark Jr, Ain’t Messin’ Round, Blak and Blu, Warner Brothers
Ben Smith Band, Let’s Go To Bed For A Week, Live at the High Barn, http://www.bensmithguitar.com
Pete G & the Magnitones, The Freeze, Custom Built, http://www.magnitones.com
Andre Bisson & the J-Tones, Ode to Mr Jangles, Till The Real Thing Comes Along, http://www.andrebisson.ca
Kyle & Moore, Natural Law, The Whale & the Wa’ah, http://www.kyleandmoore.com
Danny Kyle, In Another Life, Rag ‘n’ Bone Blues, http://www.dannykyle.com
Paul Lamb & Chad Strentz, The Underdog, Goin Down This Road, BluRoots
Cherry Lee Mewis & Max Milligan, Meet Me At The Station, Cherry Pickin’, Cherry Jam
Lewis Hamilton, Whiskey Boogie, Ghost Train, Lewis Hamilton Music
The Mustangs, Retail Shuffle, Speed of Love, Trapeze Music & Entertainment
Roadhouse, Gods & Highways & Old Guitars, Gods & Highways & Old Guitars, Kross Border Rekords
The Road-Kings, Fat Boy Blues, Dust & Gasoline, http://www.theroadkings.co.uk
Candye Kane, Au Revoir Y’All, Coming Out Swingin’, DixieFrog Records

Required reading

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.

British Blues Exhibition news….

Geno Washington signing an exhibition banner

News…

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

 

Women In Jazz Exhibition at the Barbican Library

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.

Website here.

UKBlues Challenge 2017 hits The Cavern, Liverpool, Sunday 10th September 2017

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.

Blue notes at the Green Note

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

 

Live Blues fading? Don’t you believe it

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 very new Hereford Blues Club in Herefordshire – Facebook page here;

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;

Older, but still very important, are regular events in tribute to the former great clubs, including the Eel Pie Club, Back to the Flamingo Club nights (poster above), and more;

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.

Wish For What You Want competition update

Recently, the British Blues Exhibition announced its first competition. If you Wish For What You Want and enter, you might just win 52 (fifty-two) CD’s, one to listen to every week of the year.

The competition closing date is midnight on the 5th of December 2015, so the lucky winner could enjoy a particularly good Christmas and a musical New Year. Most of the CD’s are, of course, Blues, but not all…. The winning entry to the competition will be drawn by award-winning British harmonica player, Paul Lamb, of Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes.

To enter the competition, title an email “BritBluesComp”. One entry per person is allowed; entrants who enter more than once will be disqualified.

The competition question and three options to choose as your answer are below. Please write your choice, A, B, or C in the body of your email. Correct answers will be in the final draw. The winner will be contacted by email and should provide their postal address within 14 days of the notification email being sent or there will be a re-draw to find a new winner. Please send entries to comps@coollocal.co.uk.

Competition question

Who was the lead singer of British Blues act The Animals, who appeared at the Lead Belly Fest at the Royal Albert Hall on 15th June?

A. Paul Jones

B. Eric Clapton

C. Eric Burdon

The CD’s selected as prizes (with 40 to follow) are:

35. The Laura Holland Band – Dare I Believe – a first originals album from the Stax-soaked British band

34. The Laura Holland Band – Smokehouse Sessions – a British take on Blues and Soul classics

33. Austin Young – Blue As Can Be – American Blues

32. The New Groove – Quit Bitchin’ – British and loud

31. Eliza Neals – Messin’ with a Fool – hefty Detroit Rock and Blues

30. Bex Marshall – House of Mercy – lively British Blues (single)

29. Ben River – Ben River – over to the folky side, from the UK

28. Daunielle – Daunielle – warm vocals from the United States

27. Frank Bang & the Secret Stash – Double Dare, entertainingly named Blues Rock from the United States

26. Du Bellows – Stir Studio Sessions – very contemporary and absorbing British music

25. Kirsten Thien – Solo Live from the Meisenfrei Blues Club – one of the more prominent Blues ladies, hailing from New York

24. The Road Kings – Dust & Gasoline – Harley Davidson inspired Southern Rock and Blues from Birmingham (UK)

23. Smokin’ John Tropea – Take Me Back to the Old School – Jazzy output from the United States

21 and 22. Savoy Brown – Songs from the Road (counts as two, CD and DVD) – Highly successful British Blues export to the United States

20. Blue to Brown – Blue to Brown – British Blues

19. D.A Foster – the real thing – American Blues

18. Ruby Tiger – Vistas – songs from a British Blues diva

17. Dudley Taft – Deep, Deep Blue – very hard Rockin’ Blues from the United States

16. Ryk Mead and the London Blues Machine – British Blues

15. The Red Dirt Skinners – promotional copy of Sinking The Mary Rose. A rare act as popular with Country fans as Blues ones.

14. The John Verity Band – Say Why? Some cracking music

13. Jamie Williams and the Roots Collective (UK). The vibrant whole of the Roots tree

12. Vargas Blues Band (Spain), From The Dark. Highly accomplished Blues Rock from the Iberian peninsula;

11. – Debbie Bond and the Trudats, US, That Thing Called Love. Properly tuneful and melodic Blues from Alabama

10. – Matt O’Ree (US), Live In Denver, CO. A hard hitting guitarist with a new album coming with quite a stunning array of guests;

9. – Blacktop Deluxe (UK), Turn Up, Be Nice, Play Hard. Guitarist Keith Howe was just getting into fine form with Blue on Black when they disbanded, here he has gone one better;

8. – Marcus Malone (UK), Let The Sunshine In (UK). One of Britain’s finest guitar slingers, thoughin fact Marcus hails originally from Detroit, USA;

7. – The Mighty Bosscats (UK), Boiling Pot. A strong mix of British songs, at times with similarities to Dire Straits;

6. – The Sharpees (UK), Mississippi Thrill, feat. Roger Cotton (Peter Green’s Splinter Group), Brian Willoughby (The Strawbs) and Richard Hayes (Bad Influence). Real Rockin’ Rhythms and a British Blues sound (akin to Dr Feelgood);

5. – The City Boys Allstars (US), Blinded By The Night, feat Tom ‘Bones’ Malone and ‘Blue’ Lou Marini of The Blues Brothers Band. Blues, Rock, Soul and more played by a big band of some of the best musicians on the New York scene;

4. – Andy Twyman (UK), Blues You Haven’t Heard Before. Superb one-man Blues Boogie from a young master of the craft;

3. – The Axis of Awesome (Australia) – an inspired comedy Rock act who tour the UK at intervals – signed copy of Cry YOURSELF a RIVER; 33 million viewers have seen their ace Four Chord Song on You Tube;

2. – The Enzymes and the Active Ingredients (US), feat. Murphy Dunne from the Blues Brothers Band. Seriously eclectic Rock ‘n’ Roll;

1. – The Billy Walton Band (US), signed copy of Wish For What You Want, out on Vizztone Records on 27th January, the new album by a fabulous New Jersey band touring the UK in April and June 2015. Feat. Southside Johnny, Tony Braunagel (Back Street Crawler, Eric Burdon, Robert Cray Band), and Mike Finnigan (Bonnie Raitt, Phantom Blues Band).

Competition winner

Mr F of Bermondsey, London, is the winner of the 100 Club competition for one pair of tickets to give away to the Laurence Jones, Laura Holland Band and Bourbon Street Revival night on Tuesday 29th September at London’s legendary 100 Club.

We still have a few tickets available for purchase on a British Blues Exhibition special offer! To get in touch for these tickets please email promusicagency@outlook.com or call 07708 712011.