When I heard that Blues & Roots Radio..well, Stevie ( I’ll blame Stevie ) came up with the idea of having blogs I replied ‘Great idea! - an opportunity for listeners to hear more from their favourite show hosts as well as hearing from the hosts of shows in different time zones that we might not be able to catch.’
‘So you’ll write a blog then ?’ came the reply. I instantly went into a sub-standard Robert De Niro impersonation asking ‘You talkin’ to me ?’ that led me here, tapping away at the keyboard wondering what to say.
Whenever I think about writing a blog, I immediately think about my good friend Ted Lehmann who writes Ted Lehmann's Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms as well as writing for No Depression. Meeting up with Ted is always a pleasure; his boundless enthusiasm and astute observations on Bluegrass music have resulted in him being an IBMA nominee on several occasions - so when I think about writing a blog, I think of the standard that Ted maintains…and wonder why (once again) I didn’t keep my big mouth shut!
Let’s start with the name of the show - Hillbilly Boogie.
I am a big fan of The Delmore Brothers and when I was thinking of a name for my multi-genre show (a fancy name for ‘I play all sorts of things’) I was looking at the CDs on my shelves and then Alton and Rabon came out of the speakers and the name Hillbilly Boogie seemed appropriate for a show centred on Bluegrass, Old Time, Americana and occasionally something ‘rough & rowdy’.
Before I go any further, let me make a confession… I did not study radio production and college, I did not ‘serve my time’ in a study working my way up from making tea, running backwards and forwards to the music library and so forth… I am just a music fan who spends a lot of time listening to music, who enjoys sharing good music with others via my radio shows.
A frequent question is ‘How do you choose the tracks?’
The simple answer is that I listen to a lot of music! However, I am sent links and CDs (for which I am always grateful) but sometimes…well…
Disclaimer: if you have listened to Hillbilly Boogie you will know that, from time to time, I drag out my soapbox and have a little grumble about things. Here is a little blog-grumble that is meant as sincere advice for any artist or band wanting some grey-haired old codger to play their tracks.
…sometimes a band will send a message via Facebook that is inviting me to give them a ‘Like’ with view (presumably) to playing a track on the show but here’s the thing… if you are a singer/duo/band, what I care about most is your music. It probably sounds silly to have to say that but, so often, I see Facebook music pages where there is neither a link to an uploaded track nor a video. Having a bunch of photographs that show how good looking you are and how the sunlight glints in your hair at sunset is irrelevant to me - what do you sound like?
While a website can be fairly inexpensive to produce and maintain it still costs money; as does uploading tracks to Soundcloud or Spotify but nearly everyone has a phone which will take a video of decent quality to demonstrate the beautiful sounds that you make! Wherever it is recorded, an informal practice, or a bit of ‘live’ footage from a friend, if you have a band/artist page then let us listen to you.
Here’s an example; a simple setting and a song:
… (puts soapbox away)
There is some good music being made & played at a grassroots level and I imagine that the days of the A&R men are long gone so make social media work for you and make sure that this grey-haired old codger gets to hear about it!
Anyway….what am I looking forward to next?
I am writing this blog in mid-June and next week I am looking forward to the musical bonanza that is known as the Northampton Music Festival.
This event is now in its ninth year and is free to attend. That Northampton (or Shoe Town) should give over the town centre to a day of music is the stuff of dreams; better still there are five - sorry FIVE - stages.
The Main stage in the Market Square has a schedule including rock, a gospel choir and jazz. Just three minutes walk away in the Guildhall Courtyard there will be a stage dedicated to jazz including Tad Newton’s Jazz Friends who have been entertaining Northampton (and elsewhere) for at least 30 years. The Umbrella Stage includes poetry from the Bard of Northampton, Flamenco and African dance. The historic All Saints Church will be the place to enjoy classical music in the most beautiful building in town. The ‘Y Factor’ Stage is currently a mystery to me so I shall hope that the artists’ respective Facebook pages give me a clue and entice me up Abington Street to listen!
Photographs will also be taken and shared in my next blog.
As I say as Hillbilly Boogie concludes…Be good & bye-bye.