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