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Digital Blues is often invited to submit material for inclusion in various publications and sometimes nice people write nice things about Digital Blues and on this page are available copies of some of these pieces:







English translation immediately below

Ashwyn Smyth 1 - Blues & Co nº73 Ashwyn Smyth 2 - Blues & Co nº73 Ashwyn Smyth 3- Blues & Co nº73


Blues & Co: Hello Ashwyn, how are you? We know you as the director of the radio show DIGITAL BLUES. When did you started with that project? And could you inform our readers about where they can find you on internet, please? Thanks.

Ashwyn Smyth:

Hello Montse, I started Digital Blues in 2001 and currently I produce two separate weekly radio shows. The first is two hours long and is broadcast on Gateway 97.8, the community radio station for Basildon & East Thurrock in Essex. This show can be heard on 97.8fm in and around Basildon and on the internet at (and on Tuned-In) and is broadcast on Wednesday between 21.00 and 23.00 UK time with a repeat on Sunday between 20.00 and 22.00 – UK time. This show contains a certain amount of local content – a gig guide and often features Essex bands etc.

I also produce a one hour show each week which is aired on Kansas City Online Radio, Hawaiian Pacific Radio, Geneva Community Radio (New York State), JazzJuice Radio (UK), MDORadio Blues (USA) and on Jazz & Bossa Radio (Puerto Rico). This show goes out 10 times during the week on these various stations.

Then, at the end of each week, both shows become available as podcasts which you can listen to and/or download via i-tunes and PodOmatic.

So many ways to tune in either live or listen again! For full details plus playlists and more, visit my website at

End of commercial!

B&C: We know that you live in France but that you’re originally from UK. For how long do you live in Le Buis? What did you do in UK before changing your residence?


I am originally from Brighton on the South Coast of the UK but I have moved about a bit and came to France after 20 years living in Essex where I met and married my present wife. Now I live about 30 minutes away from Le Buis on what was once a working farm with a number of buildings, some of which date back to the 1800s. We live in a small, quiet hamlet in the depths of agricultural land and we love it! My wife and I moved here when I retired in June 2008 after 40 years working as a construction insurance broker in the City of London. Life here is very different but busy, especially as we have quite a bit of land, a dog, 17 chickens and 5 ducks! We have also made a lot of effort to integrate locally and have made many good friends, both French and English.

The quality of life here is wonderful, perhaps simpler but a great deal better than that we would have back in the UK.

B&C: So, you broadcast a total of three hours a week… could you, please, explain us about how do you prepare your show, and also what do you do after it? Do you inform the bands that you program on the week song-list? What do you do to promote your show?


Preparation for each radio show usually takes at least twice as long as the actual running time of the show as I always try to make sure that the tracks I play ‘go together’ as far as possible 다운로드. That means I have to listen to lots of tracks to enable me to make my choice! I tend to play three or four tracks back to back and ensure the show is more about the music than about me!

On my Gateway 97.8 show I always have a section where I give details of gigs in the area and surrounds over the next week or so and I try to play some tracks from bands that are playing locally. Sometimes I will preview festivals, both locally and in the UK with a special feature. I also regularly run a couple of specials concentrating on the European Blues Challenge. As a member of the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association, I also try to feature tracks each week from the 4 Albums of the Month chosen by members.

Both my shows feature a lot of new releases from around the world and Digital Blues has often been the first radio show in the UK to feature many European and other overseas artists. I often do women in blues specials and also shows that feature European, Canadian and Nordic blues acts.

In advance of every show airing, I try to contact the acts that I am playing and, where relevant, their management and record label, so they are aware of the airplay and can help to promote the show. Some do, some don’t!

As for promotion, I reckon that I probably spend at least another hour for each show promoting it via Facebook and I try to make sure that I publish the playlist on Facebook after a show first airs as well as on my website.

So there is a lot more to creating and producing a radio show than just playing CDs and it is very time consuming!!

B&C: I remember that you once told me that you have brought by yourself your own mixing board, microphones, computer, etc., to be able to do the radio show. Was it a precious dream for you when you started with it? Are you happy with it now?


If they are honest, I don’t think anyone who does radio is ever truly happy with what they do. I always want to produce a radio show that the listeners are really going to enjoy listening to! I have a small studio set up in my home, basically a mixing desk, some CD players, a mini-disc player/recorder. a couple of microphones and a digital recorder. I have absolutely no technical knowledge at all so everything is a matter of trial and error! If it goes wrong then I fiddle with everything until it works again!

I first got involved with radio in the late 80s and started out on Hospital Radio where I was fortunate to be trained by an ex-BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) professional who taught me so much. Whilst involved with hospital radio I was also involved with several local community radio stations and, in my time, have presented various live shows including a classical music programme, a magazine programme with various live guests and music, rock shows, request shows – all sorts!

In 2001, I was given the opportunity to create my own blues show and Digital Blues was born!

I have always been fairly comfortable standing up in front of people talking and when I was with hospital radio we often did road shows and carnivals which meant working with a live audience 다운로드. It probably can be traced back to when I was 18 and four months spent as an entertainer at a holiday camp on the Isle of Wight in the south of England where I did all sorts including singing, comedy, calling bingo, leading dances etc.

Since Digital Blues started I have been the mc/compered at many blues festivals and weekends, a number of Battles of the Bands and I have organised and run blues festivals, promoted gigs and so on!

B&C: By doing Digital Blues, you have helped thousands and thousands of musicians to have a voice and you have supported them on their promotion. Please, tell us about some nice experiences that you’ve had with some of those musicians…


I get a huge buzz out of being in a position to give airplay exposure to bands and artists who might not otherwise get it. If that airplay helps raise their profile a bit and get them some gigs then that is great! Equally, it is wonderful when a listener contacts me to say how much they have enjoyed a show or to ask for more details about a particular track or artist.

Recently I have been instrumental in bringing certain artists to the attention of Laurent Bourdier, the ‘boss’ at the Le Buis Blues Festival and he has, as a result booked them for the Festival or for gigs he runs during the year. There is one particular artist from the US who played her first ever gig at the Festival in 2014 and is now being booked at many venues and festivals throughout France. That is so great!

Equally I am always happy when I have been able to help European artists with gig contacts (or gigs) in the UK. Recently I was delighted to help Francesco Piu from Italy on a brief UK tour.

Over the years I have been mentioned and thanked in the sleeve notes of quite a few CDs whilst some years ago I was very happy to be the co-producer, together with my good friend, the late and sadly missed Ray Bartrip, of two Essex Delta Blues compilation CDs featuring some of the great talent that abounds in Essex. These were sent out to radio stations all over the world as well to many venues and festivals in the UK and helped a number of the bands find gigs and raise their profile.

B&C: You also manage a blog and write reviews and reviews on it and for the UK magazine, Blues Matters!, recipient of a Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation and also recognised by the Blues Hall of Fame. Could you explain us about what do you do and how many hours you spend on that every week? Are you working on that as a volunteer? How many years have you been doing that job for free?


I used to a lot more of this but as my other activities in the blues world have expanded so the writing has decreased. Over the last few years most of my writing has been related to the European Blues Union and the Le Buis Blues Festival and has included reviews of the Festival and the European Blues Challenge plus two interviews with Thomas Ruf, President of the EBU and founder of Ruf Records 자존감 다운로드. I have also contributed to Blues in Britain, another UK specialist magazine and, of course, Blues & Co!

I also lead a team that has populated the UK pages of the EBU website and I have my own website – – which contains information about my radio shows including playlists since 2011 and links to help you tune in!

I have been writing for at least 10 years now and it is something I enjoy but I struggle to find the time to do that much at present and have recently had to turn down requests!

Everything I do is as an unpaid volunteer. Doing what I do costs me a not insignificant amount of money each year, something which I think people forget or simply don’t realise. Unlike the musicians who I play on my shows, I don’t have gigs for which I am paid or CDs which I can sell to bring in some money!

B&C: What is the UK INDEPENDENT BLUES BROADCASTERS? How many radio shows have joined that project? What do you exactly do help promoting your colleagues?


The IBBA currently comprises 47 independent broadcasters based in or broadcasting from the UK who between them broadcast 180 hours of blues each week on FM radio stations and internet stations around the world. When I started broadcasting nearly 15 years ago, there were perhaps half a dozen such broadcasters and I do wonder whether there is a big enough audience to justify the number of shows that there are, especially as more are starting up every few months.

We have a website – – and a Facebook page, both of which carry details of shows by members and contact details for all of the members. The membership is very varied ranging from a highly experienced former professional broadcaster to people who are still learning how to podcast. Everyone is a volunteer and we all help each other as needed. The IBBA is also a good focal point for record labels, radio pluggers, bands and artists to contact the majority of blues broadcasters in the UK, all in one place.

Each month the members nominate albums for consideration as the following month’s Picks of the Month. We vote on these and the top four are picked which means they get much increased exposure on members’ shows during the month.

We also produce and publish a monthly airplay chart which is rapidly becoming both respected and sought after!

B&C: You’re working on a Blues Federation in UK. How are the things going? Could you please tell us a little about it?


It has long concerned me, and others, that there was no real sense of working together in the UK for the benefit of blues in the UK. Each year, it frustrated me that the UK was not represented at the IBC in Memphis, especially when so many much smaller countries were. Then there was the appalling episode relating to the nomination of the UK’s representative at the 2015 EBC where the Board of the EBU acted so disgracefully.

So I decided that what the UK needed was some sort of focal point which could promote the blues in the UK and UK blues outside the UK. It has been a very hard road and taken hours of talking to people, either face to face or on SKYPE or by e-mail 다운로드. Now we have set up a not for profit company to form the legal entity that will be the UK Blues Federation or UKBlues as it will be known. We have a board of 9 people, all with different skills and we have been confirmed by the EBU Board as the party authorised to run the selection process for the UK representative at the 2016 European Blues Challenge which is a huge step forward and a big boost for us.

We also hope to be sending representatives to the IBC in Memphis although in reality, I think that is unlikely to happen before 2017.

We have a website – – which will, we hope, become a unique resource for the blues in the UK with information about venues, festivals, artists, media etc. as well as offering members the opportunity to advertise their gigs and events.

I am honoured that the board has elected me as the chair of UKBlues and I am very excited about this and really hope that this venture will prove successful.  We have a lot to do and a long way to go but it is going to be worthwhile.

B&C: You are a very active man who is also involved with Le Buis Blues Festival that is now celebrating its 10th Anniversary. So, congratulations for that! Could you tell us about the 2015 dates and schedule? Thanks.


Sometimes too active according to my wife!! As well as setting up UKBlues, I am an Active Member of the European Blues Union and France Blues and a member of the Blues Foundation.

I am also honoured that Digital Blues has been a finalist in the radio show category for the past five years in the British Blues Awards and the Blues Matters! Writers’ Poll and since their inception, the European Blues Awards.

Le Buis Blues Festival is the nearest festival to me and I have been attending for a number of years. I have also become good friends with Laurent Bourdier, the man who runs the Festival and also stages gigs in the church at Le Buis. I am particularly thrilled that, through my radio show, to which Laurent is a regular listener, I have introduced to him artists that he has gone on to book for the festival of church gigs. One in particular, Sofie Reed from the USA played her first ever gig in France at last year’s Le Buis Blues Festival and was such a success that she is now much in demand in France at both festivals and smaller gigs, indeed she played the church just recently to a full house and received a long standing ovation.

2015’s Festival took place on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of August and, as you say, was the 10th anniversary festival for which Laurent sought to invite back many artists who had played at previous years. Le Buis is a tiny village of fewer than 200 people, the majority of whom are volunteers at the festival and the atmosphere is one of the best I have experienced. Whilst the Saturday of the Festival is at Le Buis, the Thursday and Friday are staged in two other villages, this year Thouron and Nieul. At both, a stage is erected in the grounds of the local chateau and the setting is simply stunning, quite unlike anything else I have attended.

For the 10th anniversary, the acts featured were predominantly French and included Shaggy Dogs, The Honeymen, Jerome Pietri, Off Six, Bourbon Street, the Jack Bon Trio and Ronan. But, as ever, there was also a truly international flavour with Tasmanian Rob Tognoni, La Vendore Rogue, good friends of mine from the UK, and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Risager and Black Tornado relics. The Le Buis Blues Festival is very special and a highspot of my year and I am honoured and delighted to be a Club Partenaire of the Festival.

B&C: Before being a journalist, basically involved with the blues music, what kind of music did you liked? And when did your love for the blues began?


I have never really thought of myself as a journalist! I just think I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to play and write about the great and varied blues that is being made around the world. I came from a musical family. My father was a teacher but his passion was music and he was a composer, played piano, flute and piccolo and his mother played piano and violin and also wrote songs. One of her sisters was an actress and music was very important to the family despite the fact, or perhaps because, the male side of the family was military. My paternal grandfather was a decorated high ranking officer in the Royal Artillery and always looked amazing in his dress uniform!

So I grew up surrounded by music and for as long as I can remember I have loved music. One of my early memories is of my father and our Swedish au pair learning to jive in the living room to a 78rpm record of Bert Weedon’s ‘Guitar Boogie Shuffle’! At school I sang in various choirs starting off as a boy treble and as my voice changed I sang alto tenor and bass! At age 13 I played Mabel, the leading female part in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance. Whilst at school I sang on TV a number of times, at various cathedrals throughout the South of England and was fortunate enough to perform such wonderful pieces as Bach’s St Matthew Passion (in a choir that includes 60 girls from Roedean School) Handel’s Messiah etc.

Like anyone who grew up in sixties, I was surrounded by exciting new music. At a time when, in the UK anyway, you either liked the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, I was very definitely in the Stones’ camp. And, of course, through them I discovered the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry etc. I moved on and found Snooks Eaglin, John Lee Hooker, I could go on! After I left college I started running a mobile disco, quite a new idea at the time, and often ‘supported’ touring bands. I also started going to loads of gigs and discovered so much great music. My musical taste broadened hugely and I moved away from the blues. Even today, my i-pod has a playlist that includes music ranging from Baroque right through later classical, opera, big bands from the 30s & 40s and loads of stuff from the 50s onwards including ambient, trance and some electronic music. Oh, and some blues, ancient & modern!

On and off, I kept on singing. For quite a while I was part of what we described as ‘rent-a-choir’, we would often get a call to go and sing in local churches where the happy couple wanted a choir to sing at their wedding. And we did some concerts, often visiting schools and old peoples’ homes to entertain. Even last year I was part of an ad hoc choir of Brits who recorded three verses of ‘Silent Night’, on a blazing hot June day, for use at the Fresque Historique de Bridiers, a fantastic sound and light spectacular here in the Limousin with a cast of around 450 (including me – as a First World War German soldier!)

I rediscovered the blues thanks to a then work colleague of my wife’s who played sax in a blues band and invited us to a gig at a local venue which we thoroughly enjoyed 윈도우 서버 2012 다운로드. I then discovered that this venue put on regular blues gigs and within a month my love of the blues had been rekindled and a year later Digital Blues was born.

B&C: Thank you so much. It has been a pleasure to talk with you. If you want to add some other words, please feel free to do it. We are “Autrement Blues”!!! Good luck with all your projects and dreams!


Thank you Montse and thank you to Autrement Blues for this opportunity to talk at such length about myself and what I do and love so much. I have made so many new and good friends through my love for and involvement with the blues both here in France and around the world.


BLUES & CO #72 (France) REVIEW OF THE 5TH EUROPEAN BLUES CHALLENGE – 2015 – JULY 2015 (English translation immediately below)


EBC2015Blues&Co1 EBC2015Blues&Co2

English version requested by and submitted to Blues Matters! but never published.



Photos by kind permission of Monika Mansell (c) 2015



This year, the fifth Challenge took place in Brussels and saw 19 acts fight it out over two nights in the excellent Ancienne Belgique, a very good venue with plenty of tiered seating for those who, like your aging reviewer, welcome the opportunity to watch from the comfort of a seat!

Our very able compere for the two nights was Ian Siegal who, although he sometimes struggled with some of the band members’ names, was a very entertaining and amusing host. I don’t know why the organisers did not publicise the fact that he was hosting more in advance of the event!

Looking back over the previous four Challenges, it is clear to see that the winners have, generally, been those who have great originality and bring something fresh and different to the blues. And yet, many countries still enter bands who are at best rock blues, although in at least one case I would have described the band as an out and out rock band.

So this is going to be more of a look at those contestants who, for me, stood out rather than a look at all the entrants. And thank goodness there were quite a few who fall into this category!

From Denmark, the five piece Bound By Law, immediately made an impression with their vocalist, Mads K. Wilhjelm whose rich baritone was reminiscent of Johnny Cash and certainly their style was perhaps closer to country but to these ears, pretty darn good!

Croatia’s Delta Blues Gang offered up some good Texas style blues although I found that the slide resonator guitar overpowered the female vocalist, resplendent with a scarf, gloves and a walking cane.

UKLaurence JonesRogerInniss-MonikaMansellRS

The UK’s Laurence Jones Band moved things up several notches with a superb, nicely varied set delivered with great poise and confidence by Laurence. The time spent playing live with his excellent rhythm section showed and the on stage chemistry between Laurence and ace of bass Roger Inniss was very evident and most enjoyable and really brought the audience alive.

The Jessy Martens Band from Germany unusually kicked off their set with a big ballad which showed off Jessy’s very powerful voice well as did the set closer, a good take on Ray Charles’ ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ which saw Jessy singing totally acoustic at one stage accompanied solely by the audience 다운로드!

Pillac from France gave us an excellently varied set, full of soul thanks to Xavier Pillac’s soulful voice reinforced by his brass section.

And now for something completely different, and how! The Leif de Leeuw Band from Holland again lifted the audience playing a set full of original material of great quality and contrast with some stunning and passionate guitar playing from 19 year old Leif and fine singing by Britt Jansen, the band’s vocalist and second guitarist. Definitely one of the evenings’ highlights.


By complete contrast, next on stage were Switzerland’s The Two, an acoustic duo who produced a beautiful set with great harmonies which went down very well. Finishing up with a traditional Mauritian Creole song, they prompted Mr Siegal to comment ‘ I think we just heard some blues’! Amen brother Ian!

Last act of the first night were Sweden’s Lisa Lystam Family Band who gave us a nicely varied set including the excellent ‘(The Blues Make Me) Soaking Wet’, redolent of the middle-east thanks to some haunting harp from Mikael Fall. A perfect closer that sent us out into the Brussel’s nightlife feeling good!

Third on stage on the Saturday was Austria’s Herman Posch with no 1 harp player Christian Sandera who gave us a quality set of fine acoustic blues with a lovely country feel and one which even hushed the most garrulous audience members! The beautiful, slow number, ‘Cold River Blues’ was an aural gem.

Making a return visit was Finland’s Micke Bjorklof, this time with Blue Strip, and what a set they gave us. Opening with the wonderfully atmospheric ‘Jack the Black Hat’, the band played a superbly varied and original set and unusually they included a vibraphone which added an almost eerie feel to some numbers and yet on another song sounded as if there was a Hammond on stage. The band’s left handed guitarist, Lefty Leppanen was excellent and their set was over all too soon! Another of the competition’s real highlights!


Talking to Spain’s Travellin’ Brothers earlier in the day they had told me that they were coming to party and boy, did they! Opening with just a guitarist on stage then a washboard player, the band members came on stage one by one during the first song and threw down a massive gauntlet! Within a very short time the audience were on their feet whipped up to a frenzy by the presence on stage of some hugely talented musicians led by vocalist Jon Cariega Goicoechea  who, at one stage was singing without a microphone way down in the audience. Showmanship abounded but all underpinned by originality, musicianship and energy. This band had been my favourite before the competition and their set was THE highlight of the competition for me.

Following these guys was always going to be very difficult and it was not until the last two acts of the evening that we approached similar levels.

BelgiumDoghouseSam-MonikaMansell - CopyRS

Belgium’s Doghouse Sam & His Magnatones’ recent CD, ‘Knock Knock’, had been an IBBA Pick of the Month in February and this 3 piece gave us a superb stripped down set, full of energy and originality. Mixing blues and rockabilly, Sam’s versatility did him proud and even saw him playing guitar with one hand, a harmonica in the other and still singing 다운로드! For his final number he produced a three string Kelloggs’ Corn Flakes tin guitar from which he pulled off the lid and used as a microphone.

The final band of the evening was Norway’s JT Lauritsen & the Buckshot Hunters and what a great way to round off the competition. With JT on vox, Hammond, harmonica and accordion, two guitarists and a rhythm section, we had a set which featured some blues, some Zydeco and  much more culminating with the title track of his recent CD, ‘Play By the Rules’.

Before the results were announced we saw Behind the Scenes Awards being presented to, amongst others, Jay Sielman from the Blues Foundation and Blues Boulevard Records boss, Alfie Falkenback. Deliberations continued with the competition being extremely close so Ian Siegal was cajoled into playing a couple of songs on a borrowed guitar and then, to an increasingly fever pitch audience, the results were announced – third place, JT Lauritsen & the Buckshot Hunters, second place Doghouse Sam & the Magnatones –  cue audience explosion! –  first place – The Travellin’ Brothers, the announcement almost being drowned by the huge roars of approval from the more than 1000 strong Ancienne Belgique audience!

Early leavers missed an impromptu jam session which saw the Travellin’ Brothers joined for different numbers by Doghouse Sam, JT Lauritsen and Ian Siegal. Magic!

So, once again the judges went for originality, for a band that brought that extra something to the table and dared to be different. If there is any justice, you will be hearing loads more of this band and if they play near you, do not miss them.

A final few words to congratulate all those involved in so much hard work and sleepless nights to put on a really top class event that brought together more than 100 musicians over three nights as well as welcoming many blues world citizens from around Europe. A big thank you, for making us so welcome and looking after us so well.

Can’t wait for next year when we shall be in Torrita di Siena in Italy. My bag is packed already!

European Blues Union General Assembly – Brussels – 14th March 2015

The annual General Assembly of the European Blues Union (EBU) is the only occasion in the year when Active Members of the EBU have the opportunity to review and discuss the Union’s activities and make suggestions. Aside from the normal procedures of approving the Union’s accounts and budget, perhaps the three most important matters at the GA are the election of Board Members, choice of venue for the following year’s European Challenge and a general discussion, although at this year’s GA, another topic assumed considerable importance.

One Board member was due to retire by rotation and three candidates had declared themselves, existing Board member Fred Delforge, Ashwyn Smyth from the UK and Attila ‘AG’ Weinberger from Romania. Each candidate was given the opportunity to introduce themselves and seek members’ votes after which all members voted in a secret poll. Winner of this poll was Fred Delforge who was duly re-elected to serve another three year term on the Board.

There were two candidates for the honour of staging next year’s Challenge, Notodden in Norway and Torrita di Siena in Italy. Representatives of both gave short presentations to the GA highlighting why their town or city should be chosen 루시 자막. The presentation by the Italians was far more persuasive, highlighting many factors which gave them the edge and after another secret vote Torrita di Siena was chosen, a very popular choice!

Item 8 on the Agenda was described as a ‘Report on the UK Blues Challenge 2014’, a seemingly innocuous topic but one which had already given rise to much controversy. Essentially, without any real reason or justification, the Board had rejected as non-compliant the selection process operated by the UK without any query from the Board for the past four years and, ignoring the internal rules in place relating to the selection process and its management, appointed another party in the UK to make the selection, using a process which, in the Board’s own words, was ‘unacceptable’! For those who wish to read more, very full details are available at

A lengthy and, at times, heated, discussion ensued with the majority of the Board members, including the President, refusing to accept that they had done anything wrong and insisting that decisions taken had been both correct and properly taken, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. A statement from Alan Pearce, the UK’s country responsible and the person who had operated the UK’s selection process since the birth of the EBC, was read out by Board member Montserrat Pratdesaba Ribas explaining why he could not be there (due to ill health) and detailing the Board’s improper actions.

There was considerable support for the UK’s position but no satisfactory result was achieved, due chiefly to the refusal of the Board to accept that any of their conduct had been incorrect.

In the afternoon following the GA, the annual Blues Market took place giving Active Members of the EBU the opportunity to promote their activities to others, Members, musicians and blues enthusiasts. It is also an excellent opportunity for networking and meeting face to face ‘cyber friends’!

Ashwyn Smyth –





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