We were reading up recently on a DJ, his show and his story from 2013. It is worth repeating and refreshing that material here as an insight into a little history and to the DJ, Ashwyn Smyth, whose show continues today. Ashwyn has continued to be very active in British Blues since, not the least in his role in the UK Blues Federation and as a member of the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association.
Here are the words from 2013:
Blues DJ’s: Ashwyn Smyth of Digital Blues.
First, the really important stuff – how to listen to the show and other details (@2013):
When: every Wednesday between 21.00 & 23.00 UK time on Gateway 97.8, Community Radio for Basildon and East Thurrock. Repeated at 20.00 UK time every Sunday.
Podcast: Podcasts at http://digitalblues.podomatic.com and on i-tunes at http://itunes.apple.com
Honours: nominated in the British Blues Broadcast category of the British Blues Awards and recognised in the Best Blues Radio Show category in the Blues Matters! magazine Writers’ Poll
Ashwyn shares with us the story of his show, below (remember, this is 2013):
“Digital Blues has been described as the voice of the Blues for Essex, both for the Digital Blues radio shows and for its presence on the Essex and UK blues scene for the last ten plus years.Whilst probably best known for producing and presenting radio programmes, Digital Blues and myself as its creator, were very active on the blues scene, particularly in Essex throughout the first decade of the 21st century.
“What started off as attempt to promote radio shows became a more than 500 strong mailing list, plus a website which was receiving more than 10,000 hits p.a. and which was perhaps best known for the Gig Guide, described at the time as the biggest blues gig guide on the web, which carried full details of blues gigs in and around Essex.
“But the website also carried blues news, local, national and international, reviews of gigs, CDs and DVDs, adverts for bands seeking musicians and musicians seeking bands as well as a large collection of useful links.
“In 2010, due to hosting problems, the website fell fallow and out of date for some time but late in 2011, thanks to a couple of great guys at Webcrate, the site was resurrected, in a somewhat simpler format, and the gig guide is back along with details of the radio shows and the all important playlists.
“The new site has drawn many very favourable comments, for example.
‘Just a quick word to say how much this particular Blues fan appreciates the time and effort you put into both these newsletters and the website – and how informative they are! We’re very lucky in this neck of the woods to have such a fund of information on local gigs and there’s certainly no excuse to miss any because no one told us!’ – MW, Billericay
“Out on the live music scene, Digital Blues organised a number of very successful charity festivals which raised substantial funds for the Helen Rollason Cancer Care Centre charity as well as promoting gigs at venues such as the famous Essex Arms in Brentwood.
“I also compered at a number of blues weekends at various locations around the UK and was for a number of years, the resident MC at possibly the premier blues venue in Essex, the New Crawdaddy Blues Club in Billericay. I am still closely involved with the Club running their mailing list and producing a weekly newsletter. I also occasionally MCs there when I am in the UK.
“I was also invited to MC the final of the 2011 and 2012 New Brunswick Battle of the Blues at the 100 Club in Central London (2011) and The Garage in Highbury, North London (2012)
“I have also been a contributor to both Blues Matters! and Blues in Britain as well as being invited to write sleeve notes for CDs for acts such as Bad Town Blues, the Shakey Vick Band and Ramon Goose. I also co-produced, with the late Ray Bartrip, two Essex Delta Blues CDs which sought to promote Essex blues acts and which were sent to promoters and radio shows around the UK and Europe and were instrumental in gaining wider recognition, and gigs, for many of the acts involved.
“Digital Blues radio shows commenced in June 2001 and, until June 2006, were produced as internet radio shows with occasional FM outings on periodic RSL transmissions on a South Essex based radio station. The shows featured many new releases, often from artists receiving their first radio airplay anywhere in the World, as well as tracks both ancient & modern.
“In particular, the shows provided exposure and radio play for Essex based bands and artists, often featuring live performances as well as publicising local gigs and venues.
“Digital Blues also presented The Blues Banquet, a live, weekly feast of blues & real r’n’b featuring studio guests playing live on two RSLs for a Basildon based radio station during this period. In March 2006, Digital Blues programmes were broadcast live on FM every week in the Brentwood & Billericay areas and were also available as podcasts. Unfortunately from June 2006 Digital Blues ceased to have an FM presence after a disagreement with the management of the station carting the shows.
“Early in 2009, Digital Blues was approached by IndieTalent.ca, a well respected and burgeoning Toronto based internet radio station, and asked to produce and present periodic shows for them featuring the best of indie blues talent from around the World. The programmes were available until July 2010 when the station was sold and IndieTalent.ca ceased transmission.
“In October 2009, a new programme, Digital Blues on Gateway, started being broadcast each Wednesday evening on Gateway FM (later to become Gateway 97.8), the community radio station providing real local radio for Basildon & East Thurrock. These programmes can be heard on 97.8fm in the Basildon, East Thurrock & surrounding areas and worldwide on the internet at http://www.gateway978.com between 9 & 11 p.m. every Wednesday. Each week’s show is repeated between 8 & 10 p.m. UK time on Sundays. Digital Blues on Gateway 97.8 was honoured to have been nominated in the top five British Blues Broadcast category of the British Blues Awards 2011 and recognised in the top five of the Best Blues Radio Show category in the Blues Matters! Writers’ Poll 2011.
“In March 2010, Digital Blues was delighted to be invited to start producing a weekly edition of Digital Blues for Kansas City Online Radio and this is now streamed at 11.00 a.m. Central US Time (17.00 UK time) every Sunday at http://www.kconlineradio.com and each week’s show is repeated through the week at various times. Please check the schedule page at http://www.kconlineradio.com for times. All editions of both shows are available as podcasts on i-tunes and on PodOmatic.
“After almost 40 years working in the City of London, I have now retired and I am based in a small rural hamlet in the Limousin region of France where I record the shows in a small studio in my home set amidst rolling fields in the peace and tranquillity of a mainly agricultural region. I am still actively involved with the UK and Essex blues scene, albeit at a distance, and I am constantly scouring the world trying to find new artists. I am gradually becoming involved in a very small way in the, admittedly limited, local blues scene.
“Digital Blues produces and presents two completely different Digital Blues radio programmes totalling three hours weekly and the shows seek to offer maximum variety in every respect. The shows have a regular band of listeners around the world and this has been enhanced by the recent introduction of podcasts of all weekly shows.
“Playlists for all Digital Blues radio shows are posted on the Playlists page of the Digital Blues website and are also reported to the Roots Music Report for inclusion in their blues airplay charts.”
What they say about Digital Blues:
‘Some great sets… the world needs more shows like yours’ – Randy Chortkoff, CEO, Delta Groove Records
‘Love listening to your show, you do a great job of mixing in great blues and not just mainstream but Indie artists too.’ – Michael Poppe, Poppyseed Promotions, Nashville
‘When I catch your show you always play such great music Ash! Indeed :)’ – KCOR listener via Facebook
‘Mr. Smyth, you are just way too cool… Lovin’ this music you are playing !!!’ – KCOR listener via Facebook
‘Thanks for the fine programming! It really reminds me of radio in the ’60s & ’70s here in the USA. Kudos.’ – Richard Black, Musician, New York
Sample playlist:14 August 2013 (Artist, Track, Source, Label):
Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa, See Saw, Seesaw, Provogue Records
The Slide Brothers, Praise You, Robert Randolph Presents the Slide Brothers, Concord Records
Southern Hospitality, Kind Lies & Whiskey, Easy Livin’, Blind Pig Records
Watermelon Slim & the Workers, Tomorrow Night, Bull Goose Rooster, NorthernBlues Music
Moreland & Arbuckle, The Devil & Me, 7 Cities, Telarc International
Eric Bibb, Music, Deeper in the Well, DixieFrog Records
Heritage Blues Orchestra, Don’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down, And Still I Rise, Raisin’ Music
Buddy Guy featuring Beth Hart, What You Gonna Do About Me, Rhythm & Blues, Silvertone Records
Buddy Guy featuring Gary Clark Jr, Blues Don’t Care, Rhythm & Blues, Silvertone Records
The Swamp Cats, Cadillac Walk, The Swamp Cats Live!, Swamptone Records
Thomas Ford, Bottle Up & Go, Breaking Everything But Even, OUF Records
Seasick Steve, Keep On Keepin’ On, Hubcap Music, Polydor
Gary Clark Jr, Ain’t Messin’ Round, Blak and Blu, Warner Brothers
Paul Lamb & Chad Strentz, The Underdog, Goin Down This Road, BluRoots
Cherry Lee Mewis & Max Milligan, Meet Me At The Station, Cherry Pickin’, Cherry Jam
Lewis Hamilton, Whiskey Boogie, Ghost Train, Lewis Hamilton Music
The Mustangs, Retail Shuffle, Speed of Love, Trapeze Music & Entertainment
Roadhouse, Gods & Highways & Old Guitars, Gods & Highways & Old Guitars, Kross Border Rekords
Candye Kane, Au Revoir Y’All, Coming Out Swingin’, DixieFrog Records