Alongside the most obvious people in British Blues – the musicians – there are other significant people. One such group is the live Blues DJ’s and MCs. The few who take their voluminous record and CD collections to events and parties, spin some discs, and who entertain people. Some also introduce acts at festivals.
One such DJ and MC was at Butlins in Skegness in 2015 for the Great British Rock and Blues Festival. Chris Powers is, literally, the sharp dressed man, to be found providing continuity and a string of tunes on request or from his own imagination between acts. Sharp dressed because Chris changes his suit and hats regularly as he performs, in suitable gaps. Chris is a vinyl-only man and (on receiving a new record by The City Boys Allstars) he said “It’s good to play new vinyl and not just the 60’s stuff.” Chris did so immediately, playing a track from the new vinyl, God Bless The Child, to the audience as they awaited the next act. This is one man who will be welcoming the recent rise of vinyl. Chris has been active in the British Blues scene since its 1960’s heyday, as his bio on his website shows:
“My deejaying started back in the mid-sixties, just after I realised that after being in numerous groups in the early sixties I could neither sing nor play an instrument – I guess playing tunes is a sort of substitute.
“I’d always bought 45’s and before too long I’d amassed a fair amount – without realising I was becoming a collector. I deejayed occasionally without any desire to become heavily involved but when the early 70’s arrived and “Glam Rock” was being promoted by “white” music Radio One I decided to go “mobile” and play “black” music. The majority of the time it was 1960’s R&B, Soul and Mod stuff at local clubs and when Jazz Funk arrived in about 1976 I got into that – mainly because it was black and you could dance to it – I still believe that all this “white” guitar stuff (rock to you and me) is really “lad” music, strictly for the blokes who can’t dance.
“This lasted until about 1981 when Jazz Funk went out of favour and the New Romantics came in – Oh Dear. This coincided with me having a young family so for about 12/13 years my music involvement went on the back burner.
“In 1995 I decided to go for deejaying in a more concentrated way. In the space of six months I was working at Rochdale Jazz and Blues Club, The Blues Shack, Oldham and The Blues Club, Glossop. The gigs at these three venues incorporated a bit of emceeing – although I must admit I was being protected by the barrier created by my decks.
“1996 saw me at the Great British R&B Festival, Colne for the first time, deejaying down on the British Stage. This developed into me combining the emceeing and overnight I was exposed – nothing to hide behind.
“At about the turn of the new millennium I started to emcee at the Burnley National Blues Festival and so it was time to develop more of my stage persona than just a hat – time to start wearing a different outfit to introduce each different band – this has now become a bit of a calling card.
“For the last few years more gigs have come my way and the desire to do what I do has not diminished. The passion I have for Blues, Rhythm and Blues, Soul, Swing, Jump Jive and Boogie-woogie will always be reflected by the 45s I have in my box. CDs … what’s that all about?”