The Board

 

Ashwyn Smyth - Chair
AshwynMusic has always been a very big part of my life and in my time I have sung, played trumpet and piano. But now I play CDs!

A child of the ‘60s, I originally discovered the Blues listening to the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Manfred Mann etc. which in turn led me to the likes of Snooks Eaglin, John Lee Hooker and Slim Harpo. Then life got in the way and my musical horizons burgeoned leading to a present day collection that ranges from early baroque music through big band, 60s, 70s, 80s trance, ambient, some rock and much more!

In 2001 I rediscovered the Blues by chance after attending a gig at the invitation of a work colleague of my wife and soon after started Digital Blues, initially being broadcast solely via the internet. 14 years later, there are three hours a week of Digital Blues shows being broadcast on 7 stations around the world as well as being available as podcasts.

Before I retired, I organised festivals, promoted gigs, co-produced two Essex blues compilation CDs, compered at blues festivals, weekends and national Battles of the Bands where I have also been a judge. I am an occasional contributor to Blues Matters! Blues in Britain and Blues & Co (France) as well as running my own website – www.digitalblues.co.uk

I am very much involved in the Blues, particularly in supporting and promoting the artists and the music in any way I can whether it be by taking part in crowd-funding campaigns, playing new, and established, artists on my radio shows, publicising gigs, festivals, events etc. writing about the music, putting artists and venues together and so on.

A member of the Blues Foundation, European Blues Union and France Blues, for some years I have been concerned that there was no national blues body in the UK so I set about creating the UK Blues Federation along with like minded individuals to whom many thanks for supporting and sharing my goals.

You can email Ashwyn at: info@ukblues.org

 

Liz Aiken - Secretary

LizAikenI have listened to the Blues and blues inspired music all my life thanks to my Dad and as he was serving in the Army we often went to American bases and heard lots of live music -  if only I was aware of who they were.

This early influence shaped the music I listened to as a teenager and young adult so it is not surprising that, following a career of two halves in Engineering then in the voluntary sector, following redundancy I ended up writing and photographing bands and artists that play the music I love.

Initially submitting reviews to Blues Matters! and Blues In Britain this led to establishing an independent music site www.Bluesdoodles.com  a place where reviews, interviews and a selection of my photographs can be found; I have been described as the person who dabbles in all things connected with the Blues right through to what is now a trade mark blue fringe.

I have long accepted that blues is a broad spectrum of musical form from acoustic through to Electric Rock/Blues and all things in between and this should unite lovers of live and recorded music not divide. I was delighted to be asked to be involved in the establishment of the UK Blues Federation to make sure British bands have their musical voices heard far and wide.

You can email Liz at: secretary@ukblues.org

 

Dave Raven - Treasurer

DaveRavenMy love affair with Blues and R'n'B started in my teens when Newcastle's leading beat club, the Club A'Gogo was my regular haunt. There, local bands like The Del Vikings, The Invaders, The Gas Board (lead singer, a young Brian Ferry!) and The Animals all played their versions of the great blues numbers of the 40's, 50's and 60's.

Other groups from around the UK; John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, Manfred Mann, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, all played the Club A'Gogo and all of them playing R'n'B and the Blues.

American bluesmen also visited and there I saw Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, B B King, Bo Diddley, Eddy Boyd and many more.

Those early influences set me on a career of playing music on stage and on the radio. I’ve had many blues shows over the years and the current Raven’n'Blues has been on air across the world since 1997.

I’ve been lucky enough to be the winner of the British Blues Awards Independent Broadcaster of the year in 2013 and runner up on two other occasions. The show was the first 'listen again’ UK Blues radio programme in 1998 and the first UK Blues podcast in 2004.

www.ravenblues.co.uk

You can email Dave at: dave.raven@ukblues.org

 

Alan White – Membership Secretary and Website Manager

AlanWhiteBlues and gospel researcher, freelance photographer, exhibitor and website publisher.

Originator of www.earlyblues.com, probably the Internet's longest (and largest) continuously running blues site dedicated to broadening awareness and understanding of the blues and encouraging and supporting current blues music. Comprises a vast and diverse range of blues material including: the 'UK and European Blues Festival Guide', blues festival photographs and reviews, tours and gigs, artist and band interviews, history of the blues in essays, articles, poetry, art and in-depth research projects, blues clubs, forums, lectures and courses, recommended blues books, magazines CDs, DVDs, and radio stations, blues travelogues, blues news, and blues resting places. A myriad of blues related material!

Also originator of www.earlygospel.com concentrating on the origins and early advocates of gospel music and www.undergroundrailroad.org.uk concentrating on the origins, development and work of the anti-slavery Underground Railroad movement.

Freelance photographer specialising in blues music festivals, tours and gigs across UK and USA. Curator of photographic exhibitions and related talks, many with a blues theme. Producer of blues photobooks.

European Blues Awards Lifetime Contribution Award 2014 winner.

On a personal level, I am now retired after a career in IT and live in the North of England.

You can email Alan at: alan.white@ukblues.org 

 

Rosy Greer

My first introduction to the blues was while I was at art college in Stourbridge in the mid 60's listening to John Mayall and the guitar work of the young Eric Clapton. I had time hanging out with Robert Plant and John Bonham and going to gigs with The Band of Joy, as my boyfriend was in the band, this cemented, my interest in electric blues, moving into the realms of progressive rock. I was an active gig goer and had contact with many bands.

On moving to London I was involved in the Students Union social scene at NELP and party to booking and promoting bands for the main college gigs into the mid 70's with my now husband. These included Captain Beefheart, ELP, Airforce, Love, Pink Floyd and many more. From the late 70's, music was put on a back burner because of family commitments and we moved to Lancashire.

My interest was rekindled in blues based music when I became involved with a local blues club in 2007. I was co-opted into the British Blues Archive as a local rep and began to write reviews which were published on Blues in the North West website. I now publish in Blues in Britain monthly magazine and on my Lancashire Blues Archive web page with news, reviews and gig information.  My festival reviews also appear on the Early Blues website along with various gig reviews.

Now retired, I am working with new and up and coming blues venues in and around Lancashire and provide help and support for emerging bands and artists who are stretching the boundaries of blues music per se.

I was honoured to be asked to join the board of the UK Blues Federation, helping to keep British Blues at the fore and 'Keeping Live Music Alive'

http://www.facebook.com/lancsbluesarchive

 

Francesco Accurso

I grew up in a small Italian town called Modena, a relatively beautiful and welcoming place where people meet, work, raise families and enjoy those comforts which seems to make everybody's life bearable. Like every other kid in town, I loved listening to music and going to concerts, but I was raised believing in dreams and pretty soon I picked up an instrument and started wondering at the world outside my door step. My pragmatism led me to study engineering at University, but a performance by Clarence Gatemouth Brown offered me a glimpse of a different life, certainly much harder that the one I knew, but rich in raw sounds and beautiful, soulful melodies; little I knew that that performance would have change my life. A few years later I was completing my musical education at the Musician's Institute in California with great teachers such as Scott Henderson and Carl Schroeder (Jimmy Reed, J.L.Hooker, Sarah Vaughan). I never looked back, I always kept following my call, moving from country to country in search of a sound while writing, playing and producing music and finally I made London my home.

When in 2011 I met Kathleen Pearson, an Afro American blues singer whose family traditions go back to the cotton fields of rural Tennessee, I saw once again a glimpse of those same roots I was sold many years before by Clarence Brown. Kat asked me to create a new sound, something urban and contemporary which could make the Blues once again relevant in the 21st Century, and this is what my work is all about with Kat&Co being now an internationally recognised act. I since shared stage with great artists such as Joe Louis Walker, Deitra Farr, Lurrie Bell but also Mud Morganfield, Lil Jimmy Reed and our very own Paul Lamb, Chad Strentz and Bob Hall.

It seems like the Blues has always shown me the way and it was an honour to be asked to join the UKBlues Federation board.

francescoaccurso@tonetrade.co.uk

www.tonetrade.co.uk

www.katandco.co.uk

 

Rick Palin

Good music has always been my primary passion in life be it Rock or Blues. It was during my time in America that through working with a FM station there I saw how badly up and coming artists were treated that upon my return to the UK I decided to do something about it and in October 2010 I set up the first part of my organisation which is now known as Firebrand Radio.

Skyfire Interactive soon followed and has developed from a small PR company into a one stop shop solution for the music industry. Everything from Production right through distribution, video production and every other aspect of the music business can now be done under one roof. The reason I have created this solution is to save bands money and keep the cash where it belongs , firmly in their pockets.

I am looking forward to working as a PR consultant for this wonderful organisation and relish the challenge of helping them reach their goals.

www.skyfireinteractive.co.uk

www.firebrandradio.co.uk

www.framemusic.net

e-mail - rick@skyfireinteractive.co.uk  

 

Kaz Hawkins

Kaz needs little introduction as she will already be very familiar to most in the blues world. She and her band were the winners of last year's UK Blues Challenge and became the UK's first representatives in the history of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis where they progressed to the semi-finals in early 2017. In April 2017 they went on to win the European Blues Challenge in Horsens, Denmark, the first time the UK has won this competition involving acts from 21 countries around Europe.

Kaz also works tirelessly for different charities and is Arts Ambassador for EastSide Arts in which she lectures students at Boston University on how she used music to survive trauma and depression. For the last year or so, Kaz has been an Honorary Member of UKBlues and served in an ambassadorial role promoting the work of the UKBlues Federation wherever & whenever!

Speaking of her invitation to join the UKBlues Federation Board Kaz said: 'I am very excited to be joining the UK Blues Federation as it moves forward in celebrating the wide range of music within the genre. I hope my own experiences can help the amazing work already being done.'

www.kazhawkins.com

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Peter Harvie - Emeritus

I first heard the blues in 1963, when I was 14. There was a documentary on TV and I immediately knew this was my kind of music. Seven years later I was staying at George Melly's house and driving him to his gigs, and met so many blues artists, and this inspired me to play blues saxophone. In 2007 I tried to find out about British Blues but there was very little information, just a few stalwarts. I set up a British Blues web site and Facebook page and overnight I was swamped with British Blues enthusiasts, it turned out there are many people like me wanting to know more. I spent the early days arguing that British Blues is not just the British playing American music but a genre in its own right, now it is accepted that is the case.

 

www.britishbluesarchive.org.uk