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.

Samples of our exhibits being shared online

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?

Blog – http://blogoftheblues.blogspot.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/BritishBluesEx

Instagram – www.instagram.com/britishbluesexhibition

Tumblr – http://britishbluesexhibition.tumblr.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/BritishBluesEx

You Tube – www.youtube.com/channel/UCUqnhOMpz-aC-HBlwyA7jfw/featured

 

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.

Ealing Club movie, awards and more awards

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.

Exhibition display at Cranleigh and working with UKBlues and British Blues Archive

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.

 

Chris Barber interviewed at 86

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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!

 

New audio interview: Bernie Marsden and DJ Alan Hare

marsden_shine

Bernie Marsden, guitarist with Whitesnake and UFO and others, is one of those Blues-loving British musicians who have made their mark at the heavier end of music. Here he is interviewed at the Ramblin’ Man Fair 2015 by DJ Alan Hare of Hospital Radio Medway and talks about his life and influences and his latest album, Shine.

Alan is himself interviewed about his own show following Bernie’s interview.

Bernie Marsden’s website: www.berniemarsden.co.uk

Hospital Radio Medway: www.hospitalradiomedway.co.uk

Ramblin’ Man Fair: www.ramblinmanfair.com

More interviews are on our Exhibition Audio page here.

Nicky Moore announced as fifth exhibition curator/spokesman

NickyMoore18_10_07_1

Left, Timmy Moore; right, Nicky Moore

Nicky Moore, the man known as ‘The Voice’ in British Blues, is the fifth Curator announced by the British Blues Exhibition, following Andy Twyman (one man band), Paul Lamb (harmonica), Roger Inniss (bass), and Jamie Pipe (keyboards).

Aspects of the British Blues Exhibition have Curators with particular relevant experience and expertise. The role of a Curator is to help build relevant content in the British Blues Exhibition and to act as a spokesman in their field of knowledge. It can have an additional aspect, to venerate the individual chosen, and Nicky Moore deserves that recognition as a premier vocalist.

Former Hackensack, Samson and Nicky Moore’s Blues Corporation frontman, Nicky is now in duo Kyle & Moore with guitarist Danny Kyle.

Check out his page here.