I love the Blues. I think it feel it live it every minute of every hour of every day of my life. It is my life blood, my first and last resort It keeps me sane when everything else round me is going crazy.
My interest in the blues was never academic, and I have never formally studied Music.
My first encounter with the Blues was when I was just 14 years old when a student teacher at my school in London heard me playing a Hohner harmonica in the playground. I was just vamping, fooling around, playing straight melodies. This guy took a harp out of his pocket and played a wailing searing blues. I wanted to do that too, to bend the notes mimicking the cry of a human voice. I was addicted to the blues from that day on.
Although I started to play acoustic guitar when I was 18, my first big inspiration was aged 16 when I hitch-hiked to Liverpool to see Bob Dylan play, and his first albums “Bob Dylan” - 1962, “The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan” - 1963, and The Times They are a-Changin'” - 1964.
Later my frenzied foraging of London's Charing Cross Road record shops unearthed the the mind blowing - and for me game changing - records of Big Bill Broonzy, Josh White, Sonny Terry & Brownie Mcghee, Blind Boy Fuller, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie McTell and Elizabeth Cotton.
I was also at the same time deeply influenced by Peter Seeger who embodied radical political ideals, the fight for equality and human rights for everybody on a global scale, and a was also a first rate musician whom I could identify strongly with as a Socialist and political activist in my late teens.
I was also inspired and influenced by Folk Blues revivalists like Dave Van Ronk (The “Blues Project” album) and Stefan Grossman in America, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Davy Graham. I used to play frequently at a lot of pubs and clubs during the folk boom in the UK in the late 60's and 70's, including Les Cousins, The Troubadour and Don Quixote.
My current playing styles are most influenced by Bill Broonzy, John Hurt , Dave Van Ronk, and Elizabeth Cotton.
This year I have been playing out in a few pubs and local venues in Hampshire to meet and play with local musicians. Most recently I sat in with John Walsh at the Weyhill Fair Ground charity Gig , The Shooting Star and The Platform in Southampton with celebrated and highly popular acoustic blues musicians like John Wands, Bob Long and Peter Harris.
I also play regularly at the Welcome Stranger Fyfield Andover and shortly to spread out to clubs and other music venues in Salisbury, Basingstoke and Whitchurch.
My Top 10 Albums
I have been influenced and inspired by a lot of folk and blues players and singers in my life, many of whom are not represented here in my top ten albums of all time.
My choice’s here have been determined by personal signposts in my life’s experience of the blues, discovering the music for the first time, and from people and friends I have met and known, loves lost and won and places I have been.
1 - Remembering Big Bill Broonzy - Mercury Records 125 333MCL. All songs recorded in 1951. Side 2 is outstanding - Stump Blues, Get Back, Willie Mae, Hey Hey, Tomorrow and Walking Down a Lonesome Road.
2 - The Blues Project - Elektra Records EKL-264. A compendium of Urban Blues by Dave van Ronk, John Koerner, Geoff Muldaur, Dave Ray, Danny Kalb, Ian Buchanan, Mark Spoelstra and Eric Von Schmidt.
3 - Scrapper Blackwell Mr Scrapper’s Blues - Xtra 5011. A Prestiege Records USA production - Outstanding tracks include Nobody Knows When You’re Down and Out, and Blues Before Sunrise ( with Leroy Car on piano)
4 - Conversation with the Blues - A Documentary of Field Recordings by Paul Oliver. Decca LK4664. Summer 1960. Transcriptions of speech and singing of blues singers and musicians.
5 - Dave Van Ronk Sings the Blues - Verve Folkways VLP5007. Most memorable tracks Yas Yas Yas, Hesitation Blues, Sweet Substitute, Come Back Baby and Standing by the Window.
6 - Blue Guitars Eddie Lang & Lonnie Johnson - EMI Parlophone PMC 7019. Stand out tracks featuring Lonnie Johnsons signature style 6 string and 12 string, especially Guitar Blues, BullFrog Moan and A Hand Full of Riffs.
7 - Trying to Get Home Blind Willie McTell - Biograph BLP12008 1949 Recordings. Honey It Must Be Love, You Can’t get Stuff No More and Pal of Mine.
8 - Mississippi John Hurt - Fontana TFL6079. Most memorable tracks I’m Satisfied, Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor, Corrinna Corrinna, Coffee Blues, Louis Collins and Spike Drivers Blues.
9 - Jesse Fuller Working on the Railroad - Topic 10T59. Specially printed and made in England. Check out Railroad Work Song, San Francisco Bay Blues and Railroad Blues.
10 - Little Brother Montgomery Farro Street Jive - Xtra 1115 Translantic Records. Not a guitar player but a ‘genius’ piano player ‘the Little Blues Giant’ a ‘musicians musician’. Lonesome Mama, I Don’t feel Welcome Here (Stingaree Blues) No Special Riders Blues and Vicksburg Blues.