By Rick Stuart
Credit Where It’s Due.
Roots & Fusion has just passed a huge milestone, one that I find a little difficult to get my head around to be honest. The first show was Friday, 9th Jan 2009 – 10 years ago… That’s half my kids’ life time; they were 9 and 10 and still in primary school.
I thought I would take this opportunity to thank some of the people who have helped Roots & Fusion over the years, because it’s true to say that without the help & support of a goodly number of folks, I wouldn’t be doing this thing.
While the foundations were put in place back in the 90’s when I was working for Decoy Records in Manchester, promoting gigs, DJing at Band on the Wall, The Roadhouse, Atlas Bar – the moment R&F was born, in thought if not in deed was when a colleague at my day job said, “Ask Rick, he likes jazz…”. So, thank you to Dave Roscoe, without whom…
Salford City Radio were looking for someone to do a jazz show for them, but as I didn’t live in Salford, they wouldn’t take me on. Which was okay really, as I didn’t want to do a single genre show anyway, I’d get bored. So, next thank you, to Penny, my wife, not only for the suggestion of getting in touch with Stockport’s Pure Radio, but also for the years of love & support without which I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
Roots & Fusion became a reality thanks to Paul Holloway, volunteer co-ordinator at Stockport’s Pure 107.8fm, who looked at my idea and gave it the green light. I really liked the way Pure was set up regarding its programming. Through the day it was full of community shows and general chart music, past & present – but from 7pm, it opened the airwaves to a hoard of volunteers, each with their own great specialist shows.
R&F started as a one hour pre-recorded show in the graveyard shift, then eventually to two hours live on Wednesday nights, and it ran all the way through to when Pure closed its doors in May 2017, winning some awards along the way.
One of the most exciting moments of R&F was when Jason Powell came on the scene. He was someone who Penny met while she was working at Stockport College. He’d heard the show, liked it, and had a specific idea he wanted to share. For the first couple of years, I had invited a number of artists into the studio to record sessions. Jason was a sound engineer & wanted to get involved.
The first few sessions he recorded were in the studio – then he put forward his idea. He wanted to record the sessions out of the studio, in “places of interest and interesting places” around Stockport. I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t understand what he was on about – this was radio, with listeners. They wouldn’t be able to see, and probably wouldn’t care, where the sessions were recorded.
I’m pleased to say he proved I had no idea what I was talking about.
Sean Taylor was the guinea pig. We recorded him (I say “we”, all I did was drive & shift gear) in Vernon Park in Stockport in March 2012, and just in case it didn’t work out, we went back to the studio for a few tracks too. Sean enjoyed it, the listeners enjoyed it – and the sessions became a regular feature of Roots & Fusion for the next five years.
Thanks to Jason arranging places in advance, we recorded sessions in exhibition rooms, in pubs, in churches, museums, cafés, Stockport’s Air Raid Shelters and even the boardroom of Robinson’s Brewery.
Jason moved on to become a minister in late 2013, and in that wonderful way that happens sometimes, within a couple of weeks Aaron Hixon started to work for Pure. Another sound engineer who liked the show. Another “without whom”. And the sessions continued though to the end of Pure.
Both Jason & Aaron were marvellous additions to R&F – they had their own ideas & their own ways of recording, and Roots & Fusion now has over 80 sessions available to listen again via Mixcloud (www.mixcloud.com/rootsandfusionsessions)
This would be a good time to bring Neil King into the story, as he has been a supporter of Roots & Fusion since about 2011. I first came across Neil thanks to the late, lamented Bob’s Folk Show.
Neil “Fatea” King has recommended Roots & Fusion to a multitude of artists over the years, advising them to send their music in and I have discovered a whole host of artists thanks to the Fatea magazine reviews (www.fatea.co.uk ), free quarterly Showcase Session downloads and his Along The Tracks show (also on B&RR). Another huge thank you goes out to Neil for recommending the Roots & Fusion sessions to James Tugwell from the British Library Sound Archive, where they are all now stored in perpetuity.
The next thank you & without whom goes to Dave Watkins. He had a radio show on Blues & Roots Radio back in 2013 and he suggested to Stevie Connor that maybe he should give R&F a listen. The rest, as they say, is history. In June 2013, R&F became one of B&RR’s syndicated shows and then after Pure closed shop, Roots & Fusion became the first of Blues & Roots Radio’s live shows.
A huge thank you to Stevie & Anne Connor and the team at Blues & Roots Radio for believing in Roots & Fusion and allowing the R&F journey to continue…
Finally, there are two fundamental components of a radio show – music and listeners. So to all the myriad artists who have sent me their music throughout the years and to all the listeners who have given their time and allowed Roots & Fusion to be the soundtrack of their lives for a couple of hours, thank you all very much.
Without you, there is no show.