I'm delighted to announce that The Blues Exclusive is now airing every Saturday afternoon on CORE FM Radio www.corefmradio.co.uk from 4.00 till 6.00 pm. I'm intending to make this a little more 'local' in content as the studio is just a few miles from my home. Part of this will be the introduction of a local Gig Guide to the version of the show broadcasting from this station. If you're a Blues performer or band with gigs in this area (west Wales) drop me an email with details to email@example.com
The current intention is that the show will remain pre-recorded as it beds in to the station but the probability is that it will be Live-to-air from early Summer. Watch this space!
This week I broadcast Blues Exclusive #100. This is a bit of a personal milestone as I did not know how things might evolve when I walked away from my long-time FM radio spot two years ago.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about my contribution to the airwaves in recent months, taking note of comments I've received from my listeners and examining the output from other broadcasters in detail. The thing that I've come to realise is that, if you compare different broadcasts in the Blues genre, you will find a lot of the same albums being played day in day out. This makes me uncomfortable. Why?
Well, think about your 'normal' FM radio broadcast where a banality of repetitive sound greets your ears whichever station you tune to. Whilst I'm not suggesting that dedicated Blues shows have reached this point, there is a grave danger that by devoting the bulk of our shows to new releases, we are actually ignoring the Bluesic (and its contributors) which have brought us to the current moment. Add to this that the bulk of the new releases are guitar-led Blues/Rock and it might seem to the casual listener that this is all that Blues music is and all that it has ever been.
Whilst I love some Blues/Rock, I also love Delta Blues, Country Blues, Hokum, Gospel, Zydeco and Chicago Blues (and more!) but with the plethora of new releases dominating shows across the spectrum it is difficult to visit the historic pathways to today's music. (And, for me, that's in a two-hour weekly show. How the hell people broadcasting for one hour a week - or sometimes less - can do anything more than pay lip service to the past escapes me).
My first Blues show which began life in 2003 declared its aim as 'to show people that Blues music wasn't just a "dee dah dee dum, My wife left me, dee dah dee dum, the dog died..."' I think this aim has remained unchanged in my fifteen years of weekly broadcasting. I'm thinking that a Blues show should be offering a diversity of styles, instrumentation and periods - a show which is substantially Blues-Rock does not fit this criteria in my view. Each Blues broadcast should offer an opportunity to the listener to hear something which adds to their knowledge and helps develop their interest.
Because of all of the above, I've decided to make some changes to my show. Blues Exclusive #101 will be the first new, improved version of the show. From then on, I will be delving into my personal archive for most of the music which I will play. There will be new offerings every week too but I will be becoming even more selective; maybe only visiting an album once rather than on a couple of occasions (or more) as has happened in the past. I hope that you will remain with me on the new adventure and welcome any comments you may have.
Incidentally, don't forget that voting in the inaugural UK Blues Awards runs only until the end of February. To register to vote visit: www.ukbluesawards.com/register
That's a bit of a given really and I'm fortunate to live within a short walk down a leafy lane to the beach. But, my current reason is that I'm anticipating this weekend's Tenby Blues Festival. Once again, I'll be involved as the host of the free Blues Trail which sees many individual performers and ensembles playing sets in the cafes, bars and restaurants of Tenby during the daytime on Saturday and Sunday. This year, my new friend Bud will be sharing the duties with me. He's another great Bluesic fan and we often jam together at a local pub. The Blues Trail is a really popular part of the weekend experience and brings the faithful to the streets of the town migrating from venue to venue following the performers. See the Tenby Blues Festival website for full details.
In the run-up to the weekend, I went to Radio Pembrokeshire's studio earlier this week to record an interview with B.B. Skone for his Sunday night show. It was a true déjà vu experience as the studio equipment was very similar to that which I'd used for over thirteen years at GTFM. I have to confess that I still miss the Live-to-Air experience which brought with it particular challenges. Speaking directly to the audience dictated that you had to really concentrate on what you were saying and doing whilst getting timings spot on so you didn't appear like a bumbling fool. Receiving emails whilst 'on air' was also a part of the Live show experience. Pre-recording a show, with the ability to edit and amend, just doesn't carry the same level of edginess. I was recently offered the chance to do a weekly live broadcast by one of the stations already airing the Blues Exclusive but the downside of living in a rural idyll is that the wifi signal is unreliable so wouldn't guarantee continuous transmission for a two-hour show. I didn't feel able to take the risk.
Back to the weekend: The festival runs from Friday night (November 10) through to Sunday night (November 12) with a programme of top acts offering Blues in its many forms; acoustic, piano, harmonica-led Chicago-style, Blues-Rock and even what is described as 'World' music, a fusion of Blues and African music - a really creative and entertaining sonic delight. I'm really looking forward to the whole programme in what will be, I'm certain, another superb weekend. Take a look for yourself. Better still: take a look at the website, get out your credit card and book some tickets. I hope to see you there.