London Blues Festival: January 14th – January 19th

January 14th to 19th will see US blues artists return to London for the London Blues Festival to be held at the 100 Club on Oxford Street.

Kim Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds will play two nights on January 15th and 16th (the latter supported by the great US guitarist and session player Billy Flynn). Sugaray Rayford will play 17th at the 100 Club, London with additional dates on 18th Live Room – Caroline Social Club, Shipley; 19th Great British Rock & Blues Festival, Skegness. Sharrie Williams plays the 100 Club on 18th and Mud Morganfield (son of Muddy Waters) plays the festival on January 19th. He also plays the Eel Pie Club, Twickenham on 16th; 17th Shakedown Blues Club, Peterborough (Gerard Homan tribute gig) and 18th Taulouse Lautrec Jazz Club, Kensington.
Rick Estrin and The Nitecats play Stramash, Edinburgh on January 23rd and the 100 Club on the 24th. Also do not miss Cedric Burnside direct from the Mississippi Hill Country and a member of the famous R. L. Burnside blues dynesty who will play a promo gig on February 12th at Rough Trade East, Old Trueman Brewery, Brick Lane, London where he will be signing copies of a new release. Cedric will also play The Blues Kitchen, Camden on February 14th; The Cluny, Newcastle On Tyne on the 15th and St. Mary’s Creative Space in Chester on 17th.

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Stuart Cosgrove’s Soul Trilogy: In Conversation

Writer and critic Stuart Cosgrove will be at Watersone’s, 153–157 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3EW, on 21st January celebrating his latest book  – part of his three book trilogy. £5 entrance fee.

His new volume ‘Harlem 69: The Future of Soul’ is the final book in his epic 1960’s trilogy about soul music and social change in three American cities in three crucial years, following Detroit ’67 and the Penderyn Music Book Prize 2018 winner, Memphis ’68.  Stuart will be in conversation with Alison Stroak from Glasgow Music City Tours.

Cosgrove weaves a compelling web of circumstance that maps a city struggling with the loss of its youth to the Vietnam War, the hard edge of the civil rights movement and ferocious inner-city rioting … a whole-hearted evocation of people and places’ – Independent

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Doug Kershaw – “The Raging Cajun” : 100 Club, Oxford Street, London – June 16th 2019

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Accordion Revolution – Due 2019

A New Book by Bruce Triggs – Due in the Spring of 2019!

Uncover the hidden history of the Accordion in North America: from the Industrial Revolution to the Rock and Roll upheaval of the 1960’s.

  • The book features the ‘squeeze’box in Rock ’n’ Roll and the Folk Revival, and big sections about jazz (especially several women jazzers from the 1940s); Ethnic Music; African American accordion; 150 country and western accordionists; African American “windjammers”; Country & Western accordions; Irish American button-boxes; Zydeco, Klezmer; Tex-Mex, and the lost tale of the electric rock accordion.
  • With over 45 illustrations including the Accordion Family Tree and  700 Years of (combined) accordion history.

To sign up for more information and emails click here.

Posted in Americana, Blues, Books, Country/Hillbilly, Film -TV, Jazz, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Rock & Roll, Roots, Website, World Music | Leave a comment

Around The World In 80 Record Stores – Book Review

From the Morning Star November 10th, 2018

Posted in 45 rpm, 78rpm, Americana, Blues, Cassette, Compact Disc, Country/Hillbilly, Gospel, Jazz, Rare Records, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Rock & Roll, Roots, Soul, Vinyl, World Music | 1 Comment

Rudeboy : The Story Of Trojan Records

Duke Reid in front of his Trojan sound system. Photo courtesy Trojan Records

By Garth Cartwright

Running from November 1st -18th London’s Doc ‘N Roll film festival offers up 28 music documentaries that range from a study of ‘lost’ Ethiopian jazz of the 1960s through to a scholarly overview of Tunbridge Wells’ panto’ punks, The Anti-Nowhere League. Rich as the pickings are one feature stands out for its cultural resonance – ‘Rudeboy: The Story Of Trojan Records’. For the first time the little London record label that made a huge impact is getting its documentary due.

Trojan Records was founded in 1968 by two young Jamaicans determined to get the music from “back home” heard in the UK. Chris Blackwell and Lee Gopthal initially met through Blackwell renting office space in Kilburn from Gopthal in 1962. Blackwell quickly proved himself a music industry tyro, his Island Records scoring hits with The Spencer Davis Group. Gopthal, noting the profits being generated, began distributing Jamaican music and setting up record shops to sell such. In 1968 the two men combined forces as Trojan Records and helped unleash a cultural revolution.

Initially, Trojan licensed recordings from Jamaican record producers for the UK’s Afro-Caribbean community. Success meant the label was soon signing reggae artists and mentoring such maverick talents as Desmond Dekker, John Holt and Lee Perry. Very quickly reggae began peppering the UK singles charts and a new youth cult – the skinheads – chose Jamaican music as an alternative to hirsute rock bands. 1968 also saw Enoch Powell deliver his infamous Rivers Of Blood speech so firing up anti-immigrant vitriol. Trojan Records found itself a lightning rod for an increasingly divided UK, its vision of music uniting everyone on the dance floor at odds with both racists and a very white, rock oriented music industry. Trojan rose quickly then fell hard – by 1975 the label was bankrupt – yet Trojan’s since gained legendary status, both its music and Greek helmet emblem being internationally championed.

Trojan’s story is celebrated in both Rudeboy and the recently published book ‘The Story Of Trojan Records’ (Eye Books). Laurence Cane-Honeysett, the author of the aforementioned book (and an adviser to the documentary), first fell under reggae’s spell when a schoolboy in the late-1960s and recalls Trojan tunes being spun at Stamford Bridge every Saturday before kick off. When, a decade later, the rise of 2-Tone – The Specials, Madness, Selecter – reignited interest, he became the label’s most prominent print champion. As Trojan’s masters were horse traded subsequent owners needed an employee who knew what was on the tapes, thus they hired Cane-Honeysett in 1992 and he’s overseen Trojan’s reissues ever since.

“Trojan crashed in 1975,” says Cane-Honeysett, “and while that was the end of the label as a creative force there have been all kinds of attempts at reissuing some or all of the thousands of recordings it owns. Trojan’s been sold twice since I started working there but, fortunately, the new owners have always kept me on.”

The current owners are BMG, the German corporation now the world’s fourth largest record label. And it was BMG’s determination to ensure Trojan’s 50th anniversary was both properly marked – and the label rebranded in the market place as something akin to a “British Motown” – that lead to the book and film (and The Trojan Records Box Set: this contains 6 CDs, 4 LPs, 2 45s, a book of album covers, poster, patch etc).

As Cane-Honeysett worked on all three projects its refreshing to note a lack of repetition; where The Story Of Trojan Records is intensely detailed, Rudeboy takes more a big picture approach, suggesting Trojan worked as a conduit for British race relations: DJ Don Letts states in the film, “Trojan planted the seeds of our multicultural society on the dance floor.”

“Record companies don’t often get this opportunity to repackage a label,” says Cane-Honeysett, “so BMG ensured that Trojan’s fiftieth anniversary was a unique celebration. Its great that BMG have been able to portray the label as it was. Trojan’s legacy, all the things it stood for, is now being recognised.”

BMG gifted Rudeboy with a lavish budget beyond that of most music documentaries (few other Doc ‘N Roll features will have enjoyed such largesse). Thus it blends archive footage of London and Jamaica from decades past alongside scenes where actors dramatically recreate incidents at Kingston dances and London recording studios that were never filmed at the time.

British director Nicholas Jack Davies skilfully weaves old and new together, letting both the musicians and fans who experienced Trojan’s golden era carry the film’s narrative forward as they reflect on what was, for all, a defining time in their lives. Davies is caucasian and his previous documentary feature focused on Mumford & Sons (a band whose music and background is the polar opposite of Trojan’s artists). This makes him, he admits, a somewhat surprising choice to helm such an Afro-Caribbean story.

“I learnt quick by involving the people that were there, taking advice and really listening to people about it,” says Davies. “I hope that the film appeals and does justice – in it’s own small way – to the Afro-Caribbean community who place great value in that period of history and Trojan as a label. I felt it was vitally important to get it as right as possible for that reason alone.

“For the time we live in, I thought a positive story about the effects of immigration and the power of music and culture to have more effect than politics or religion was the basis of Rudeboy. The music is incredible and still not known enough but the societal impact of Trojan is an amazing thing to try and highlight. And, I feel, makes the story of the music more contemporary and vital in 2018.”

Indeed, Rudeboy stands as a history lesson of sorts that counters the Conservative government’s scandalous policy of aggressively deporting Windrush generation Afro-Caribbean citizens. The film’s underlying theme is how people from a former colony came to Britain and shared their culture so enriching the local music and youth culture.

“Trojan’s success meant, for the first time, people of Afro-Caribbean heritage were regularly appearing on TV and radio,” says Cane-Honeysett. “This not only sent out an extremely positive and inspirational message to black Britons, but also ensured a degree of respect – which up until this time had been largely lacking – from their white counterparts.”

Trojan enjoyed a great run from 1968 – 1972 but began to come unstuck after co-founder Chris Blackwell sold his share of the label to concentrate on running Island Records. Lee Gopthal, now sole owner, focused on pumping out 45s (often adding strings to sweeten Jamaican recordings) while Blackwell, having signed former Trojan artist Bob Marley to Island, developed Marley for the album market, thus launching reggae’s first superstar. By 1975 Trojan was consumed by debt and Gopthal lost his label. Post-Trojan he maintained a low profile before dying of a heart attack in 1997.

“It’s sad that Lee’s not around to see Trojan being celebrated for what it achieved,” says Cane-Honeysett. “It introduced reggae to the world, gave so many now famous musicians their first break, helped create contemporary British music and youth culture. Trojan changed everything.”

Rudeboy: The Story Of Trojan Records has three screenings at Doc ‘N Roll Festival: November 4th, 10th, 15th.

Originally published in the New European – reproduced with the permission of Garth Cartwright

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Morrison Releases 40th album – Is that Archie Andrews On The Cover?

Van Morrison has recently confirmed that he will release his 40th studio album, ‘The Prophet Speaks’, on 7th December on Caroline International. The new album will also feature jazz organist and trumpeter Joey DeFrancesco.

‘Got To Go Where the Love Is’ is one of six new originals by Morrison that will be featured along with other sides which are covers of Sam Cooke, John Lee Hooker and Solomon Burke titles.

“It was important for me to get back to recording new music as well as doing some blues material that has inspired me from the beginning,” Morrison said. “Writing songs and making music is what I do, and working with great musicians makes it all the more enjoyable.” The album also carries a distinctive photo of Van with a ventriloquit’s doll – speculated to be the 1950s radio show ‘Archie Andrews’.

This new 14-track release is also his second album released in 2018, following ‘You’re Driving Me Crazy’, which was released in April.

It also part of a recent run of back-to-back releases that started with 2017’s ‘Roll With The Punches’ and delves deep into the musical styles including blues, R&B, soul and jazz that have influenced Morrison throughout his career.

Included in this post is the official video for ‘Got To Go Where The Love Is’, the lead single from the new album.

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‘The Blues Come To Texas’ To Be Published

Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick’s unfinished 500 page book to be published on January 29th, 2019

From October 1959 until sometime in 1974, Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick collaborated on what was to be a definitive history and analysis of the blues in Texas.

Both men were prominent scholars and researchers: Oliver had already established an impressive record of publications; and McCormick was well on his way to building what would eventually become a sprawling collection of primary materials, consisting primarily of field recordings and interviews with blues musicians from all over Texas and the greater South.

But the project eventually fell apart of its own weight, a victim of ongoing disagreements between the two authors.

Despite being eagerly awaited by the blues historians and ethnomusicologists who knew about the Oliver-McCormick collaboration and being openly discussed in various interviews and articles by Oliver, the intended manuscript was never brought to completion and the book was never published.

Paul Oliver co author of  ‘The Blues Come To Texas’

In 1996, Alan Govenar, a respected ethnomusicologist in his own right, began a conversation with Oliver, whose work he had long admired, about the unfinished book on Texas blues. At Oliver’s request, he arranged a meeting with McCormick, hoping to act as an intermediary, with the goal of aiding the project toward completion. His attempts were unsuccessful.

Subsequently, Oliver invited Govenar to assist him in finishing the work. Much like the site report from an archaeological dig, ‘The Blues Come to Texas: Paul Oliver and Mack McCormick’s Unfinished Book’ provides not only a fascinating view into the results of a massive fieldwork and writing effort that is unlikely to ever be duplicated, but also affords scholars of American roots music a glimpse into the minds and work methods of two giants of blues scholarship.

The Blues Come to Texas By Paul Oliver Edited by Alan B. Govenar Contributions by Kip Lornell

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How They Got Over: Black Quartets and the Road to Rock’n’Roll

SCREENING: 17th November 2018 at 16:00
LDN – Picturehouse Central
Dir. Robert Clem, 2017, USA, 87 mins

UK Premiere + Q&A with the director and producer hosted by author Viv Brough

In the decades following the Second World War, the broad reach of radio and record sales helped black gospel quartets spread throughout African-American communities across the US. Using archival performance clips and interviews with pioneers of the genre, ‘How They Got Over’ tells the story not only of how these artists reached audiences, but went through their daily lives in a segregated society…and along the way paved the road to rock’n’roll from doo-wop and from R&B to soul and hip-hop.

Doc’n Roll Film Festival is supported by the BFI using funds from the National Lottery to grow audience appetite and enjoyment for a wide range of independent British and international films.

Posted in 45 rpm, 78rpm, Blues, Film -TV, Gospel, Rare Records, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Rock & Roll, Soul, Vinyl, Website, You Tube | Leave a comment

Robert Johnson biography due early 2019

The Bruce Conforth & Gayle Dean Wardlow biography of Robert Johnson called ‘Up Jumped The Devil’ is to be published early next year by Chicago Review Press. The book has been a longtime in preparation and should be the definitive biography of Johnson.

Interview with Bruce Cornforth on Robert Johnson is well worth listening to!

Posted in 78rpm, Americana, Blues, Roots, You Tube | 1 Comment