WINNERS OF UK BLUES CHALLENGE ANNOUNCED
LaVendore Rogue were declared the winners at the 4th UK Blues Challenge which took place at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool on 10th September 2017.
Read more here
UK BLUES WELCOMES NEW BOARD MEMBERS
The board of the UK Blues Federation has announced four additional members of the Board – Kaz Hawkins, Rosy Greer, Francesco Accurso and Rick Palin.
UKBLUES WELCOMES THE 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 came 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 UKBlues 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’.
OW AVAILABLE – DIGITAL BLUES ON EX-PAT RADIO FRANCE Tune in every Friday at 15.00 Europe, 14.00 UK – Listen at www.ex-patradio.fr
On May 4, 2016 five legendary blues performers, two individuals who were instrumental in the creation of blues music, five single blues recordings, one blues album and an important piece of blues literature will be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Elvin Bishop, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, John Mayall, The Memphis Jug Band will each take their places beside performers who have been deemed by a group of blues scholars and industry veterans to be the Best in the Blues. Each of these musicians has carved his place in blues history. Bishop’s beginnings with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to his more recent recognition for the 2015 Blues Music Awards “Song of the Year” have elevated him to the highest stature in blues music. Clearwater, Johnson, and Mayall each boast careers that have spanned more than a half century, and their talent has not waned as they each continue to produce music and to perform for devoted audiences, yet each are distinguishable by their stage presence and musical talent. The Memphis Jug Band’s music crossed the racial divides of the first half of the twentieth century and inspired many musicians to follow in their footsteps. Non-performer individuals to be recognized by The Blues Foundation for their behind-the-scenes contributions are Malaco Records partners Tommy Couch, Sr. and Wolf Stephenson, whose label’s first big hit was Dorothy Moore’s “Misty Blue” in 1976, and who then went on to produce such blues greats as Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Z.Z. Hill, Denise LaSalle, Latimore, Johnnie Taylor, and Tyrone Davis. The business foundation they built has allowed Malaco to remain an active player in the music world today. The book Early Downhome Blues: A Musical and Cultural Analysis, by Jeff Todd Titon is the literature entry into the Blues Hall of Fame this year, and is one of the most important analytical studies of the blues to have been published. The classic album Blues in the Mississippi Night (Nixa, 1957: United Artists, 1959) is being honored as are the singles, “Crazy Blues” by Mamie Smith (OKeh, 1920), “That’s All Right” by Jimmy Rogers (Chess, 1950), Billy Boy Arnold’s “I Wish You Would” (Vee-Jay, 1955), Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers’ (Charles Brown, vocal and piano) “Merry Christmas Baby” (Exclusive, 1947), the first Yuletide song inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, and “Blues Before Sunrise” by Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell (Vocalion, 1934). The induction ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 4, at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown in Memphis, Tennessee, the night before the 37th Blues Music Awards. With living musicians like Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton, and legends like Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor, the Blues Hall of Fame consists of blues music’s best and brightest stars. The Blues Hall of Fame induction ceremony will coincide with the one year anniversary of the opening of the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, also located in Memphis, TN at the home of the Blues Foundation. This state of the art facility celebrates the lives and the music of each Hall of Fame individual as well as the history of the music and the literature produced through the blues timeline. These newest inductees will be added to the museum’s permanent exhibits and interactive displays in conjunction with their induction this May. On May 5, the night after the Blues Hall of Fame inductions, The Blues Foundation will present the Blues Music Awards for the 37th time. Performers, industry representatives, and fans from around the world will celebrate the best in blues recording, songwriting, and performance from the previous year at the Memphis Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis. For tickets and more information, visit This link. Major funding is provided by ArtsMemphis and the Tennessee Arts Commission. The 37th Blues Music Awards and The Blues Foundation are also supported by BMI, the First Tennessee Foundation, the Hyde Family Foundation, the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. The Blues Foundation is Memphis-based, but world-renowned as THE organization whose mission is to preserve blues heritage, celebrate blues recording and performance, expand worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, The Blues Foundation has approximately 4000 individual members and 200 affiliated local blues societies representing another 50,000 fans and professionals around the world. Its signature honors and events–the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame, International Blues Challenge and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards–make it the international center of blues music. Its HART Fund provides the blues community with medical assistance. Blues in the Schools programs and Generation Blues scholarships expose new generations to blues music. The recent opening of the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, in Memphis, TN, now adds the opportunity for music lovers of all ages to interact with the music and the history. For more information, log onto www.blues.org. MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE February 16, 2016.
TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR 2ND UK BLUES CHALLENGE
Tickets are now available for the blues event of the year, the 2nd UK Blues Challenge which will take place on Saturday 24th October 2015 at the Pete Feenstra’s renowned Boom Boom Club, The Borough Sports Ground, Gander Green Lane, Sutton, Surrey SM1 2EY. Tickets are £10.00 in advance and can be pre-booked here. If available, tickets will be £12.00 on the door. The Challenge will see four top acts chosen by a selection panel of nearly 200 members of the UK blues community in a process organised by the recently formed UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) and approved by the European Blues Union, compete to represent the UK at the 6th European Blues Challenge which will take place on 8th & 9th April 2016 in Torrita di Siena, Italy. The four bands are, in alphabetical order, Brothers Groove, the Katie Bradley Band, Malaya Blue and Red Butler. For more information visit Pete Feenstra’s website at http://www.feenstra.co.uk UKBlues: Four acts chosen to participate in the UK Blues Challenge on 24th October The UK Blues Challenge A selection panel created by UKBlues formed of nearly 200 musicians, writers, promoters, venues, festivals, radio presenters, PR/promotions, agents, record labels, and fans, including all UK Active Members of the European Blues Union (EBU) and representatives of the UK’s previous European Blues Challenge (EBC) contestants has chosen four artists to compete in the latest UK Blues Challenge. The top four acts available to compete have been invited to take part in the UK Blues Challenge, which is being jointly promoted by EBU Active Member Pete Feenstra and UKBlues and which will take place on Saturday 24th October 2015 at the Boom Boom Club in Sutton in front of a panel of judges drawn from within the blues community, but who, for obvious reasons, will remain confidential until after the Challenge. The acts are:
- Malaya Blue
- Red Butler
- The Brothers Groove
- The Katie Bradley Band
UKBlues congratulates the acts on their selection to take part in the UK Blues Challenge. The panel of judges will be selected by UKBlues and Pete Feenstra, the co-promoter, and they will use the same criteria to award points to the contestants as is used at the EBC. The winner of the UK Blues challenge will represent the UK at the 6th European Blues Challenge, organised by the EBU, and which will take place in Torrita di Siena, Italy on 7-8-9th April 2016.
UK BLUES FEDERATION LAUNCHED
After months of hard work behind the scenes, the UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) is now up and running and you can find out more about the organisation and what they are doing on their recently launched website – www.ukblues.org This is the text of a recent Newsletter issued by UKBlues: We are happy to announce that UKBlues is now an active Member of the European Blues Union (EBU). The EBU promotes Blues music, in all its forms, supporting the many long standing efforts of musicians, organisations, associations, venues, companies, and individuals in Europe. UKBlues is taking on that role for the UK and working with the EBU and stakeholders worldwide in the interests of British Blues music. Our work is supported by our patrons, British Blues legends Paul Jones and Mike Vernon. We aim to to build on the great history of the British Blues music, creating greater co-operation and interaction between stakeholders both here and abroad to facilitate, amongst many other things, greater opportunities for artists and bands internationally, not least in terms of airplay and gig/festival outreach. We also aim, through our website and newsletters and other communications, to be an important information resource. One immediate priority, within these broader aims, is the 6th European Blues Challenge (EBC) organised by the EBU, and which will take place in Torrita di Siena, Italy on 7-8-9th, April 2016. UKBlues is honoured and delighted to have been appointed by the EBU to operate the selection process for the UK, the UK Blues Challenge. UKBlues acknowledges with great gratitude the support and co-operation of Alan Pearce of Blues Matters! who had, for four of the last five years, run this process. As a result, UKBlues is running the 2015 UK Blues Challenge. A selection panel has been created by UKBlues comprising nearly 200 musicians, writers, promoters, venues, festivals, radio presenters, PR/promotions, agents, record labels and fans, including all current UK Active Members of the EBU and representatives of the UK’s previous EBC contestants. Each member of the panel has been asked to nominate three suitable artists/bands for the challenge as the first stage of the selection process. They have been asked to place their three selections in order (first, second, third) and UKBlues will award points according to the position in which the acts are placed. This first stage of the selection process closes on 21st August. Soon after, the top four acts will be invited to take part in the second UK Blues Challenge which is being jointly promoted by EBU Active Member and well known promoter Pete Feenstra and UKBlues and which will take place on Saturday 24th October 2015 at the Boom Boom Club in Sutton in front of a panel of judges drawn from within the blues community, but whose identities will, for obvious reasons, remain confidential until after the Challenge. The panel of judges will be selected by UKBlues and Pete Feenstra and they will use the same criteria to award points to the contestants as is used at the EBC. The winner will be invited to represent the UK at the EBC in 2016.
The voting is secret and safeguards have been put in place to ensure that there can be no unauthorised or multiple voting and the members of the selection panel have been asked not to nominate any acts with whom they are involved.
The process being operated by UKBlues has been fully disclosed to and approved by the board of the EBU, who are happy that it is transparent and maintains the required integrity for the EBC. We will be revealing details of the four participants in the 2nd UK Blues Challenge soon after the voting closes on the 21st August. Soon, we will be releasing details of how you can join UKBlues and support its work and help us move forward and achieve our aims.
MORE STATIONS TAKE DIGITAL BLUES!
I am thrilled to announce that Digital Blues will now be available on two more radio stations around the world – Jazz and Bossa Radio in Puerto Rico and MDORadio Blues in the USA. Full details of how, when and where you can listen to Digital Blues are on the Radio page of this site. On Wednesday 12th November 2014, I have been invited by the organisers of the European Blues Awards to announce, exclusively, the results of the 2014 European Blues Awards on Digital Blues on Gateway 97.8. The show will start at 21.00 UK time and you can listen on 97.9fm in Basildon, East Thurrock & surrounds as well as online at www.gateway978.com. I look forward to your company. UK EBC 2015 REPRESENTATIVE ANNOUNCED As in previous years, the winner of the Best New Artist category in the Blues Matters! Writers’ Poll 2014 has been invited to represent the United Kingdom at the 2015 European Blues Challenge in Brussels. This jubilee competition – organized by the Brussels Blues Society in cooperation with the Brussels Capital Region – will take place on March 13 and 14, 2015 at the Ancienne Belgique theatre. photo by Ron Hill The management and act have been notified and are happy and proud to accept the nomination to represent the UK. The act is Brighton based band, Red Butler – www.redbutlermusic.co.uk BAND BIOGRAPHY With a burning desire to entertain and pursue a serious music career, at the age of 18 Alex Butler decided to form a band. April 2012 saw the beginning of the blues/rock band Red Butler with Alex butler (guitar), Charlie Simpson (drums), Jane Pearce (vocals), and Steve Eveleigh (bass). July 2014 saw Mike Topp take over from Steve Eveleigh on bass. Drawing upon influences from Stevie Ray Vaughan, Etta James, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Moore, Free, King King, Santana and Derek Trucks, the band have developed their own style of writing and have begun producing thoughtful, light hearted and melodic compositions. The band have already been mentioned by the blues media (Alex for his subtlety, flair, passionate and accomplished playing, Jane for her soulful, vibrant and powerful voice, Steve for his fluid bass lines and Charlie for his driving rhythms) and their debut album Freedom Bound (released July 2014) saw the start of serious attention from the music industry – see ‘reviews’ section on website. The results of the voting in this year’s awards were announced at the Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival at Colne. In eachcategory the winner and runners-up are shown in descending order.
|Male Vocalist of the Year – Sponsor – Blues In The South|
Alan Nimmo – King King, The Nimmo Brothers Marcus Bonfanti – Jawbone, Blues Boy Dan Owen Aynsley Lister David Migden – Dirty Words / Twisted Roots Hugh Coltman – The Hoax Female Vocalist of the Year – Sponsor Digital Blues Jo Harman Lorna Fothergill – Northsyde Zoe Schwarz Connie Lush Dani Wilde Kyla Brox Blues Band of the Year – Sponsor – WeeDan Music King King Larry Miller Band The Hoax Brothers Groove Northsyde The Nimmo Brothers Acoustic Act of the Year – Trent Navigation Brewery Marcus Bonfanti Babajack Blues Boy Dan Owen Half Deaf Clatch Kyle and Moore Wooden Horse Guitarist of the Year – Sponsor – Sarah’s Sussex Blues Chantel McGregor Aynsley Lister Alan Nimmo – King King, Joel Fisk – LaVendore Rogue, Tima Aves Wolfpack Jon Amor – The Hoax, The Boom Band Jules Fothergill – Northsyde Harmonica Player of the Year – Sponsor – Wall2Wall Blues (7 due to a tie) Paul Lamb Trevor Steger – Babajack Will Wilde Alan Glen Giles King Giles Robson Steve West Weston Keyboard Player of the Year – Sponsor – New Crawdaddy Blues Club Steve Watts – Jo Harman and Company Paddy Milner – Jawbone, The Boom Band + Others Charlotte Joyce – Ron Sayer Band Dale Storr Bennett Holland Paul Jobson Bass Player of the Year – Sponsor – GMH Promotions Lindsay Coulson – King King Derek White – Larry Miller Band, Storm Warning John Dawson – Russ Tippins Band Ian Mauricio – Northsyde Roger Inniss Trevor Turley – Bare Bones Boogie Band Drummer of the Year – Sponsor – Striped Shark (7 due to a tie) Wayne Proctor – King King plus Others Sam Kelly Mark Barrett – The Hoax, The Blues Boy Kings Dave Raeburn Hayden Doyle – Northsyde Martin Johnson – Jo Harman and Company Stephen Cutmore – LaVendore Rogue plus Others Instrumentalist of the Year – Sponsor – Raven & Blues Sarah Skinner – Sax – Red Dirt Skinners Becky Tate – Percussion – Babajack Yoka Qureshi-Kuiper – Flute and Sax – Little Devils Carla Viegas – Percussion – Rabbit Foot Kyla Brox – Flute Simon Anthony Dixon – Sax – The Stumble Young Artist of the Year – Sponsor – Randall Photography Laurence Jones Blues Boy Dan Owen Lucy Zirins Alex McKown Lewis Hamilton Tom Gee Blues Festival of the Year – Sponsor – Nugene Records Hebden Bridge Blues Festival Great British Rhythm And Blues Festival Colne Blues On The Farm Broadstairs Blues Bash Carlisle Rock and Blues Festival Ealing Blues Festival Overseas Artist of the Year – Sponsor – Bentworth Blues Festival Walter Trout Royal Southern Brotherhood Buddy Whittington Henrik Freischlader JJ Grey And Mofro Paul Lamb And The Detroit Breakdown Independent Blues Broadcaster of the Year – Sponsor – Sunday Morning Soul Dave Watkins – Blues And Roots Gary Grainger – The Blues Show Dave Raven – Raven And The Blues Ashwyn Smyth – Digital Blues Kevin Beale – Blues On The Marsh Tim Aves – The Blues Is Back Blues Album of the Year – Sponsor – Sedgefield Rock & Blues Club Standing In The Shadows – King King Home – Aynsley Lister Band Shake The Walls – Marcus Bonfanti Big City Blues – The Hoax Independence – Trevor Sewell Band The Storytellers Daughter – Northsyde Blues Song of the Year – Sponsor – Brussels Blues Society Home – Aynsley Lister A Long History Of Love – King King Cheap Whisky – Marcus Bonfanti Hipslicker – The Hoax Just One More Day – Mark Pontin Group Train – Trevor Sewell Kevin Thorpe Songwriter of the Year Award – Sponsor – Shetland Blues Festival Aynsley Lister Jo Harman And Mike Davis Lucy Zirins Half Deaf Clatch Richard Townend Trevor Sewell Emerging Artist of the Year – Sponsor – Blues in Britain King Size Slim Brothers Groove Half Deaf Clatch Gary Grainger Mark Pontin Group Thomas Ford Blues Greats – Sponsor – BBA Donations Victor Brox Blues Greats – Sponsor – BBA Donations Eric Burdon For more information visit www.britishbluesawards.com
DIGITAL BLUES SUCCESS IN BRITISH BLUES AWARDS
As you will see above, the results of the 2014 BBAs have been announced. I am particularly chuffed that Digital Blues came 4th in the Independent Blues Broadcaster category and I would like to than everyone who voted for Digital Blues. At times, it is difficult to motivate oneself, particularly when feedback is sparse! However, such a vote of confidence is very invigorating so, once again, thank you! Especially given that some 36 shows were nominated originally in this category. So all six finalists are, in some way, winners! DIGITAL BLUES JOINS THE SCHEDULE ON HAWAIIAN PACIFIC RADIO 1 Sadly, Network Radio 4 has ceased streaming but you can catch Digital Blues on Hawaiian Pacific Radio 1 twice a week. Visit the radio page of this site to find more details DIGITAL BLUES BECOMES A CLUB PARTENAIRE OF THE LE BUIS BLUES FESTIVAL I am delighted to tell you that Digital Blues in now a Club Partenaire of the excellent Le Buis Blues Festival which takes place in France near where I now live. The Le Buis Blues Festival takes place on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th August 2013 with 2 very varied nights of blues from both France and abroad. On Friday Mr Bo Weavil amd Loretta & the Bad Kings play a free concert in the park beside the chateau and lake at Nieul starting at 19.00. On Saturday at Le Buis just 5 euros per person (under 18s free) gets you a ticket to catch four acts , starting at 19.00. Jesus Volt from France have recently supported ZZ Top on their French tour whilst from Scotland comes Dave Arcari who has just returned from his first, highly successful, USA tour. 24 Pesos from England were the winners of the 2011 New Brunswick Battle of the Blues and are in demand visitors to festivals around Europe as well as in the UK and ‘Canada’s darling of the Blues’, Layla Zoe, is often compared very favorably with Janis Joplin and is highly regarded both sides of the Atlantic. All this plus food and drink, exhibitions, a wonderful convivial atmosphere plus a special event for the children in the afternoon. Find out more at www.lebuisbluesfestival.com or call Laurent on 06 08 33 79 93. Listen to a podcast, in English, featuring all six acts and with Laurent talking about the festival with multi British Blues Awards nominee Ashwyn Smyth on PodOmatic (http://digitalblues.podomatic.com/entry/2013-05-10T22_00_00-07_00) and on i-tunes (search for Digital Blues on KCOR – 5th May 2013 – Le Buis Blues Festrival Special). Or follow the listen links on the Welcome page of this site.
DIGITAL BLUES NOMINATED IN 2013 BRITISH BLUES AWARDS
I am thrilled to learn that, for the third year running, Digital Blues has been nominated in the Independent Blues Broadcast category of the British Blues Awards. To say I am chuffed is putting it mildly and a big thank you goes out to all those who thought to nominate Digital Blues.
The full list of nominees is:
Ashwyn Smyth – Digital Blues Dave Raven– Raven and Blues Gary Grainger – The Blues Show Martin Clarke – The Blues Session Paul Stiles –UKBlues Today Tim Aves – The Blues is Back
Congratulations go to all fellow nominees.
EUROPEAN BLUES CHALLENGE 2013 – TOULOUSE
On 8th & 9th March 2013, I was fortunate enough to attend a great event in Toulouse,France featuring 19 very different blues acts from 19 different European countries.
What was this event I hear you ask? It was the European Blues Challenge, the third such annual event organised by the European Blues Union (who I hear you ask?)FranceBlues and theToulouseBlues Society. Still confused?
Well, the UK was represented by BabaJack and they went down an absolute storm but sadly, did not win. They did, however, get a number of European Festival and gig offers. I also understand that they covered the costs of their trip with CD sales!
Very popular winners were Veronica Sbergia and Red Wine Serenaders from Italy and two acts tied for second place. Chino and the Big Bet, a very good blues and swing trio from Barcelona and a lovely, rootsy acoustic trio from Romania, Soul Serenade, the youngest competitors. What is so worrying to me is that probably the vast majority of you reading this will be wondering what is the European Blues Union? What is the European Blues Challenge? This lack of awareness is probably the reason why, at 1st March 2013, there are just 3 active members of the EBU from the UK whilst there are 20 from France, 16 from Italy, 11 from Belgium, 7 each from Norway and Switzerland, 6 from Germany and even the USA has 2 members! Founded in 2010, the main goals of the European Blues Union are: ■to promote blues in Europe; ■to promote the global significance and reputation of European blues and roots music across the world, and in particular in Europe; ■to encourage international exchanges and co-operation among the European blues festivals or other similar organisations; ■to set up educational programs and to promote blues in schools; ■to organize events, awards, etc. With members in more than 28 European countries, an annual Assembly takes place alongside the European Blues Challenge and the EBU’s goal is to recruit large numbers of members throughout Europe who are interested in supporting and promoting the work of the EBU. The Union’s ultimate goal is the establishment of a permanent office to handle the Union’s work professionally, to coordinate activities, take charge of communication and organize EBU events. This year, the EBU supported Austrian artist Meena at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, an event which also saw entries from many other European countries including Holland and France whilst Spain’s Suitcase Brothers came second in the solo/duo category and Germany’s Michael van Merwyk and Bluesoul came second in the band category. Oh, and since you ask, there was no entrant in either category from the UK! We must change this. We should not be happy to accept that the UK is not really active in the EBU, that the UK is not represented at the IBC. If you care about this and want to do something, join the EBU and support those of us trying to change things. Visit the European Blues Union site at www.europeanbluesunion.com to find out more and to see how you can join. I am part of a group looking at how we can spread the word, raise awareness and populate the UK pages of the website. The Independent Blues Broadcasters Association (IBBA) is looking to try to raise awareness of the EBU so support the members of the IBBA and tune in to their radio shows. For more details visit www.bluesbroadcasters.co.uk Support the blues in the UK and help us to put the UK on the European Blues Union map!
DIGITAL BLUES LOOKS BACK AT 2012
And so 2012 is over and it is onward into the unknown that is 2013. Before closing the door completely though, I thought it might be fun to have a look back at what 2012 brought us. What I thought would be a brief wallow in nostalgia turned out to be a marathon such was the volume of great stuff that I got to hear and play during the year. Before laying my neck on the block with a selection of my favourites, I thought it might be interesting to bore you with a few facts and figures about Digital Blues! With 3 hours of radio a week broadcast on two stations, one on each side of theAtlantic, that’s 156 hours in a year. That, in turn, converts into around 2000 tracks from at least 600 albums from just about every continent. And all this comes to you absolutely free!! I won’t mention the downloads which I have to say are really hard work for reasons set out on the Music Submissions page of this website. A lot of music then but has it been good? Has 2012 been a stand-out year? When looking back at the music received during the year, I found myself facing an ever growing pile of CDs which were ones I believed should be considered amongst the ‘choices’ for the year. I was then faced with choosing from all of those CDs a number which had really impressed. Another incredibly difficult task which took on Herculean proportions as time passed. In the end, I came to the conclusion that, unless I was going to have a top fifty or similar, it was inevitable that some CDs/artists would not appear in my ‘list’. So apologies to those many, very fine acts whose names do not appear here and thank you to everyone whose music contributed to making 2012 not just the year of London 2012 and not just the Queen’s Jubilee but also one of the best years for blues based music that I can recall. As you will have gathered, there have been quite a few albums which I have really enjoyed and, this year, perhaps more than ever, it has been about variety. I believe blues is an incredibly broad church; indeed there are those who accuse me of playing too much that ‘is not blues’ on Digital Blues. I am very much inPapa George’s camp – blues is a feeling – so the following list of great CDs that reached me this year may well upset the purists (am I bothered?) but I think it serves to demonstrate what wonderfully varied offerings saw the light of day in 2012. Let’s start with Dutchman, Big Pete, and his debut Delta Groove CD, ‘Choice Cuts’ which definitely does what it says on the tin. With a load of great guests including fellow gob ironistas Kim Wilson, Paul Oscher and Al Blake as well as some wonderful harp playing from Pete, this is a smashing CD that, inexplicably, did not get the attention it should have. The Dutch connection continues with a band that made the finals of the 2012 New Brunswick Battle of the Blues despite being accused of not being a blues band, Little Devils. Fronted by Yoka the diva (a Dutch lady with a great voice) the band play all original material with thoughtful and contemporary lyrics. Possibly my favourite track is their magnificent song about the now virtually extinctUKcoal mining industry, ‘Black Diamond’ from their CD ‘Diamonds & Poison’. This is a song which (not just from a radio point of view), sits perfectly alongside the glorious title track of CanadianMatt Andersen’s very fine 2012 CD, ‘Coal Mining Blues’, a CD which showed the breadth and depth of Matt’s guitar playing, song writing and singing skills and was, in my humble opinion, his best yet. Both the songs, though very different in many ways, share thought provoking lyrics, haunting melodies and arrangements plus great vocals. Great lyrics are the stock in trade of Clare Free, a talented guitar toting, bustier wearing singer/songwriter who departed the UK to live in Holland earlier this year but with her CD, ‘Dust and Bones’, definitely one of ‘the’ CDs of the year, produced a great collection of thought provoking original songs which were underpinned by her individual voice and fine guitar playing, none more so than the moving ‘Small Miracles’ which tells such a heart-warming but personal story. Another British female who produced a 2012 highlight is Sandi Thom. Her August release, ‘Flesh & Blood’, served to enhance her reputation as a lady with the blues but not stuck in the blues and saw her building upon the foundations laid with her first ‘blues’ CD. It also featured a great duet with Buffy Sainte Marie on the latter’s ‘Big Ones Get Away’ as well as 11 other very varied tracks. Likewise Dani Wilde whose Ruf Records release, ‘Juice Me Up’ saw her widening her musical horizons with funky soul tracks such as ‘Crazy World’, the topical ‘The Burning Truth’ whilst never forgetting her blues roots with songs such as ‘Mississippi Kisses’. There was also a lovely taste of Dani in acoustic mood with the bonus track, ‘I Will Be Waiting’. Another ‘woman in blues’ who deserves a higher profile is the lady who was third in 2011’s USversion of The Voice. The striking Beverley McClellan’s CD, ‘Fear Nothing’ very much lives up to its title, offering some great original material alongside some fine covers, all demonstrating the power and range of her great voice. Sadly, Beverley had to cut short her tour ofEuropesupporting Steve Vai at the end of the year. There have been two other newcomer women in blues this year who have created quite a stir, Jo Harman andKatie Bradley. Jo has a considerable musical pedigree along with a load of talent but has only recently turned her talents to the blues. The results are best described as stellar! With a live CD and well managed promotion, Jo has become the name on many people’s lips and has won many fans at every live gig as well as garnering loads of airplay. Her EP, ‘Worthy of Love’ released late in the year, together with a full studio CD in the offing, should see Jo banging very loudly on the door of the premier league in 2013. Her beautiful and touching song, ‘Old Man Moses’ was also one of the songs of the year for me. Katie Bradley is an undiscovered gem! Her debut CD, ‘She’s Ready’, combines a very talented band with great vocals from Katie, whether she is putting her own mark on great covers or performing superb original material including possibly the song of the year, ‘I Hear the River’. Katie has also been very effective in marketing herself and her music. She could teach many other acts a great deal about promotion and raising ‘brand awareness’. Definitely someone to watch! There have been some very enjoyable CDs from duos and trios playing acoustic style, stripped down music. FromAustraliaandIrelandcame Hat Fitz and Cara with a new CD recorded in Oz with Jeff Lang and featuring a glorious mix of Celtic instruments with stomping guitar and vocals. ‘Wiley Ways’ is a CD that should be in everyone’s collection and typifies the wonderful variety that is avalable. Undoubtedly the stellar act of 2012 is the much in demand and unique Babajack for whom 2012 has been an amazing year, not least due to what is probably my CD of the year, the very varied and highly infectious ‘Rooster, an absolute cracker again bringing to the mix unusual instrumentation such as the cahon, African drums and Trevor’s wonderful winebox guitars. 2013 promises much for Babajack as they represent the UKin the European Blues Challenge in Franceon March 8th & 9th when they compete against 19 other acts from aroundEurope. They also have plans for a new CD during the year for which, I for one, cannot wait. One of the totally below the radar outfits that came into Digital Blues’ world this year was the superb Heritage Blues Orchestra, an enigmatic collection of musicians whose CD, ‘And Still I Rise’ is a joy and a pleasure to listen to again and again, mixing gospel with blues with Americana and field hollers. And all covers breathing new life into old songs and giving them a bit of HBO magic! Why this CD did not do more I know not! Certainly appearances at events such as the Cognac Blues passions festival helped! This year has seen Giles Robson & the Dirty Aces very much establishing themselves as an in demand act, even receiving airplay on a certain BBC Radio 2 breakfast show the day after being aired on Paul Jones’ Blues Show! This has been backed by extensive touring in the UK and Europe and I can tell you that their superb new CD due to be released in 2013 makes great listening and will, deservedly, only push their star even higher. Big Boy Bloaterhas spent much of the last few years touring with Imelda May. However, the release of his second CD with the Limits, ‘The World Explained’, on the back of extensive touring has confirmed his position as one of the premier British blues shouters as well as being a fine songwriter with a great way with lyrics including the wonderful bump & grind of ‘She Gets Naked For A Living’. Last but by no means least is Johnny Mastro & Mama’s Boys. Who, I hear you ask? Their recent CD, ‘Luke’s Dream’ is another gem which is regularly on my playlist and is packed with variety showcasing Mastro’s harmonica playing and vocals, none more so that the wonderfully moody ‘Thunder Roll’. And yet, inexplicably, this was a CD which was hardly seen on many playlists despite the quality tracks. In the interests of keeping you reading (if you have got this far) I must call a halt! A list of 15 of my favourite CDs which, I hope, demonstrates what a great year 2012 has been. They are not in any order so there are no ‘number one’ or ‘best’ CDs. And no sight of 2012 releases from Ian Siegal & the Mississippi Mudbloods, Rabbitfoot, The Cadillac Kings, the Royal Southern Brotherhood, the Mannish Boys, Rachelle Plas, the 24th Street Wailers,Paddy Milner, Sofie Reed, the two Jock’s Juke Joint compilations – I could go on! And that was before the arrival of the CD from David Migden & the Dirty Words! Choosing a favourite from amongst this galaxy is difficult but for me the song of 2012 is the aforementionedKatie Bradley original, ‘I Hear the River’, a song that gives me that spine tingle every time I hear it and features such lovely guitar from Katie’s co-writer, Dudley Ross. My act of the year is unquestionably Babajack who seem both surprised and modestly delighted by their own very much deserved success and rise in popularity and who seem destined for greater heights in 2013. Good luck at the EBC. I will be there, will you?.
DIGITAL BLUES LOGO
Huge thanks go to Dave ‘Werewolf’ Richardson for creating a shiny new logo for Digital Blues as above. Dave has captured the retro look I was aiming for and I would like to record my most sincere thanks to him for giving of his time and talent to Digital Blues. Thank you Dave.
BABAJACK TO REPRESENT UK AT THE EBC 2013
It has just been announced that the wonderful Babajack are to represent the UK at the 3rd European Blues Challenge which takes place in Toulouse, France in early March. The winners of the Best Newcomer from the UK section of the Blues Matters! Writers’ Poll are nominated to enter the European Blues Challenge organised by the European Blues Union. Last year Ben Poole did the UK proud in coming in 3rd out of 19 countries. On the back of this success, Ben has been booked to play at several prestigious European Blues festivals, gained a European promoter and a record deal with Ruf Records…….so not a bad result all round. All this thanks to the Writers’ voting him the winner in last year’s Poll. This year the very talented Lucy Zirins has been declared the winner of the best newcomer category in the Blues Matters! Writers’ Poll. Sadly she has decided that she cannot accept entry to the EBU Challenge as she is recording her album for release early in 2013 and all her efforts are directed to this as priority. Lucy has agreed that the act achieving 2nd place should take the nomination and, therefore, the excellent BabaJack willl represent the UK in France on 8 & 9th March 2013. BabaJack also won the Best Band category in the Poll and this success comes on top of Becky Tate’s success in the British Instrumentalist category of the 2012 British Blues Awards. More details about the EBC can be found on the EBU’s website. You can find the full results of the Writers’ Poll below.
BLUES MATTERS! WRITERS’ POLL 2012
BRITISH BLUES AWARDS 2012
The results in the British Blues Awards 2012 were announced on 9th September at the Newark Blues Festival abd you can see a full list of all the winners and runners up in all categories on the Awards website – www.britishbluesawards.com. Thank you to everyone who voted, especially if you voted for Digital Blues and for our nomination in the Kevin Thorpe Original Song category, Guy Tortora’s wonderful, ‘Prodigal Song’. Congratulations go to all involved, whether as winners, runnesr-up, nominees or on the organisation side.
DIGITAL BLUES WELCOMES STIX SANDERSON
I am delighted to welcome Essex musician, Stix Sanderson to Digital Blues where he will be reviewing CDs for publication on the website. To introduce himself, Stix writes: ‘I’ve had a love for music from a very early age, thanks to my Dad introducing me to bands such as Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash and Whitesnake when I was a young kid in the mid to late 70’s. In fact the first live gig I attended was in 1980 at the age of 9 when my Dad took me to see Wishbone Ash at the Chelmsford Odeon. So rock music was always my favourite genre, and I’ve never really followed’popular’music. Then I started discovering the Blues courtesy of Eric Clapton’s albums’24 Nights Live At The Albert Hall’and’From the Cradle’which led me to Robert Johnson, Muddy Walters, BB King, John Lee Hooker etc. Then it was Freddie King, Albert Collins, SRV, Gary Moore etc. I think there’s some real quality Blues artists on the scene at the moment so with acts such as Joe Bonamassa, Simon McBride, Matt Schofield and Oli Brown, the future for the Blues is looking very positive! In my late 20’s ‘I decided I wanted to play the drums, and since then I have played in 3 or 4 rock and blues bands in pubs and clubs around Essex, and a few further afield. I’m on a sabbatical at the moment but I fully intend getting back behind the kit in the next couple of years! I used to regularly attend the Bottleneck Blues Club gigs in Kent, and saw some amazing acts such as The Lee Sankey Band (with a young Matt Schofield on guitar!),Geoff Achison and the Souldiggers (with the superb Sam Kellyon drums, and a genuinely nice guy too!), Taka Boom (Chaka Khan’s sister), Jim Crawford, the list goes on! I listen to music on average 1-2 hours a day, and my i-Tunes music library takes up over 150gb! As well as many Blues acts, my library includes other favourites of mine such as Black Country Communion, The Answer, The Union, Led Zep, the Stones, Chickenfoot and Metallica! I’m married (the band I was in in 2003 auditioned a female singer – she’s now my wife!), with 2 beautiful daughters (4 years old and 18 months old), live in Tiptree (nr Colchester,Essex) and work in the financial services industry. As well as music, my interests are Formula One and (dare I admit it!) West Ham.’ So, once again, welcome to the team Stix (there are two of us now!) and you can read his first review here.
33rd BLUES MUSIC AWARDS
RESULTS ANNOUNCED BY THE BLUES FOUNDATION
The Blues Foundation have published the results and recipients of the Blues Music Awards (BMAs) following the awards ceremony in Memphis on Thursday 10th May 2012. The big winners are Tab Benoit and the Tedeschi-Trucks Band. Tab took home both three awards and Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks combined for five awards. Tab took top honours in Contemporary Male Artist and Album and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year. The Tedeschi Trucks Band took Band and Album of the Year Awards, while Susan is the top Contemporary Female Artist and Derek is the Gibson Guitarist of the Year winner. Both Ruthie Foster and Charlie Musselwhite garnered two Awards. The complete list of 2012 Blues Music Award winners by category are: Acoustic Album: Conversations in Blue – David Maxwell & Otis Spann Acoustic Artist: Eric Bibb Album: Revelator – Tedeschi Trucks Band B.B. King Entertainer: Tab Benoit Band: Tedeschi Trucks Band Best New Artist Debut: Runaway – Samantha Fish Contemporary Blues Album: Medicine – Tab Benoit Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Susan Tedeschi Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Tab Benoit DVD: Live at Antone’s – Ruthie Foster (Blue Corn) Gibson Guitar Award: Derek Trucks Historical Album: Chess Records – Smokestack Lightning/The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960 (Howlin’ Wolf) Instrumentalist-Bass: Biscuit Miller Instrumentalist-Drums: Chris Layton Instrumentalist-Horn: Terry Hanck Instrumentalist-Other: Sonny Rhodes, lap steel guitar Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female): Ruthie Foster Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Marcia Ball Rock Blues Album: Dust Bowl – Joe Bonamassa Song: “The Lord is Waiting, the Devil is Too” – Johnny Sansone Soul Blues Album: Show You a Good Time Bobby Rush Soul Blues Male Artist: Curtis Salgado Traditional Blues Album: Chicago Blues A Living History the (R)evolution Continues – Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch, Lurrie Bell, Carlos Johnson Traditional Blues Male Artist: Charlie Musselwhite
NEW BRUNSWICK BATTLE OF THE BLUES
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS
The winners of the New Brunswick battle of the Blues where crowned at an excellent evening at the Garage, Highbury Corner, London on the 27th March, their prize being a trip to Fredericton in New Brunswick, Canada to play the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, probably the premier Canadian festival, in September.
The line-up for the final was Chris James (making his second consecutive appearance in the finals), Little Devils (winners of the New Crawdaddy Blues Club heat), Paint It Blue (a runner-up in last year’s heats and winners at Bristol this year), The Groove-A-Matics (featuring Johnny Whitehill), the winners at the Newcastle-upon-Tyne heat and winners of the popular vote, How Askew.
This was a really wonderfully varied line-up with something for everybody but there could only be one winner and very popular they were too. From Gateshead, the Groove-a-Matics featuring Johnny Whitehill, were declared the winners, a very popular choice.
The evening was rounded off with a great set from last year’s winners, 24 Pesos, who showcased tracks from their brand new CD, ‘When the Ship Goes Down’.