DAY 44: Sun 26 April

Chicken action and DJ chores kept me inside today

Today’s the day I become an online DJ. Such fun. That may explain why I was up by 6am!

The #BristolsDJsUnite initiative is the brainchild of journalist Neil Maggs, founder of It has caught on during Lockdown and about 40 DJs have taken part – journalists, radio and TV presenters politicians, community workers, sports coaches, and even DJs. Each is allocated an evening on which to upload their playlists onto Twitter,

It has a fundraising purpose too – supporting food banks through The Trussell Trust <> and has so far raised £1,000.

Neil Maggs explains  “I think in these difficult times it’s a chance to be nostalgic and to connect with yourself. There is no better way to do that than through music. And it’s healing and all that. Also it’s built a bit of an online community. What’s been amazing is seeing people in a different light. People who you are used to seeing in some formal capacity suddenly smashing out amazing tunes. There have been some surprising disc lists.

“Local Labour MP Kerry McCarthy went for punk; TV Sports presenter Damien Derrick gave out gangster hip hop; and there was Jazz from Adam Tutton, the community manager at Bristol Rovers FC”.

The DJs have to chose and present three sets of 10 tracks from different genres. My three genres were Jazz & Blues; The Women In My (musical) Life; and World Tour, featuring music come across in my travels.

My day had been fairly hectic because I still had half the tracks to find, time and write up. Plus the bloody BT internet service kept collapsing, despite having three home hubs in place. And when I tried to work on the patio the chickens decided I was secretly eating so they started flying up onto the table. That meant I spent most of a very nice day hiding indoors.

Apart that is for a brief sojourn in the road with my neighbours for a distance drinking session, and reading two more chapters of The Master with grandsons 1 & 2. Then, from 8pm, it was on with the show. 

I will leave you with my playlist and script, so you can take your pick and enjoy at your leisure.

8pm: Good evening, folks. My ageing hack’s set tonight has three segments – Jazz & Blues; The Women in My Life; and A World Tour. Some mellow moments and a few surprises. I like Free Jazz but it’s a bit frenetic and current circumstances favour the cool. So we’ll start there and work our way up. My first few tracks date back to my childhood introduction to jazz. I’ve been haunted by Petite Fleur it since it was used as the theme tune for ‘Until The Day She Dies’, a scary radio series by Julian MacLaren Ross. Here’s Monty Sunshine with Chris Barber’s Band in 1959. (2.55)

8:06 Now for something so cool it will give shivers. Starless and Bible Black is one of the most atmospheric tracks from the Under Milk Wood suite by the Stan Tracey Quartet, inspired by Dylan Thomas. Listen carefully.  (3.50)

8:11 Thelonious Monk introduced me to be-bop which in turn led me to free jazz, I suppose. Here is the master with one of his most unforgettable numbers Blue Monk. Settle down. It’s a long one. (10.15).

8:21 I thought Jaques Loussier was the smoothest dude on the ivories until I came across the more subtle, witty Swedish pianist Jan Johansson; listen out for the sly twists in his Old Wedding March (Gammal bröllopsmarsch) (3.45)

8:25 Dave Brubeck was always one of the coolest cats who could bring any old standard to life. But Unsquare Dance is one of his more unusual fun numbers. As kids we always tried to clap in time. Why not see if you can match it at next Thursday’s #ClapForNHS (2:01)

8.28 And so to the Blues, But where to start? There is so much to choose from. Do I stick with originals for go for British Blues? Here’s a mixture. I Put A Spell On You has become a standard, but how many people have ever seen or heard it as it was supposed to be sung, as voodoo blues, by the man who wrote it – the inimitable Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.

8.35 Chris Farlowe had a great British blues voice and, like Long John Baldry, could do a mean ballad too. Here is his only No.1, one of my particular favourites – and it’s better that the Stones’ version. – Out of Time  (3.13) 

8:39  I’ve been a Rolling Stones addict from the outset so it felt disloyal; to single out track. Instead here is Mick Jagger’s Memo From Turner [with Ry Cooder on slide] part of the amazing soundtrack from my favourite film Performance. (3:48)

8:44 I’m sneaking this one in as ‘Bristol Hip Hop Blues’ but really it’s an amazing track by my son’s old outfit Se Fire. The fantastic In Every video by Chris Lucas includes every member of the family, including me! (6:07)

8:51 Here’s a first taste of Irish blues, as a neat segue into Part 2, The Women in My Life. Do Me Justice was a heartfelt 19th century ballad about anti-Irish racism in the UK, sung here by Rosie Stewart, Traditional Singer of the Year, 2004. (3:58)

8:56 Next up are ten tracks that reveal my musical taste for the powerful voices of powerful women. As an angst-ridden teenager I could not believe Francois Hardy would find no-one to love her. I was not the only one enchanted by Tous les garçons et les filles  (3.05)

9:01 I’ve been in love with Dusty Springfield since Island of Dreams with The Springfields. Her voice is so delicious. How do you choose from her life’s work? I went for something upbeat. Son of a Preacher Man (2.25)

9:04 When everyone else was hooked on HAIR, I was into Peter Brook’s extraordinary Marat / Sade, and loved the look and sound of Judy Collins. Here they are both combined. (5.35)  And you can watch the out of print film here <>

9:10 I was a Stones rather than the Beatles fan,, but Jazz singer Keely Smith convinced me they could write a good song. Here she breathes felt life into A Hard Day’s Night (almost as evocative as Peter Sellars’ hilarious version). (3.07)

9.14 I first heard the great Joan Armatrading in the East End, on the soundtrack of Tunde’s Film. Then I met her in 1976 when she was on stage with Riche Havens in New York’s East Side. Her In These Times is an anthem for today. (3:11)

9:18 On the same trip to the USA I met Queen Ida and her BonTom Zydeco band in a club in Haight Ashbury (SF). She got me up dancing! Twenty years later her I met her again in Amsterdam.  Here’s fun video with a Zydeco Taco recipe for lockdown – (3.04)

9:21 I’ve never managed to see the incredible Grace Jones live, more’s the pity. But her performances are a work of art. But what IS Pull Up To The Bumper really about? (3.58)

9:26 Nor have I seen Marianne Faithfull in the flesh, but I love her body of work and resilience. She is hardly a Working Class Hero but she give John Lennon’s classic some welly. (6.00)

9.33 I have seen Mary Coughlan at work and she is as witty, honest and shocking as her auto biography ‘Bloody Mary’, and another great cabaret singer. Ain’t Nobody’s Business says it all. (3.40)

9:38 How to end this segment? #BristolDJsUnite I was going to go with Heather Small’s ‘Proud’, but opted for the M People song that first turned me onto her incredible voice. Search For The Hero is another anthem for these days. (4:10)

9:43 Don’t for get to Support #BristolDJsUnit by donating to @TrussellFund I have worked in more than 40 countries over the last 20+ years and collected music as I went. Here’s a small selection of my favourites. Far too much has been left out – next time perhaps? I love the Portuguese tradition of fado. On a trip to Bristol’s twin town a colleague introduced me to Helena Sarmento and we spent a fruitless evening trying to find a bar with a slot free where she could sing for me. Here she is singing Porto-porto.

9:49 Anyone who has seen the Trio Joubran, impossibly handsome and talented Palestinian brothers now based in Paris, can tell you just how mesmerising the oud can be. Here they are with percussionist Youssef Hbeisch playing Laytana (4:57)

9:55 The wonderful Jacques Brel was from Belgium. His songs tell colourful stories and I love the passion in his singing and song-writing. Here is short example of how callow youths turn into those they mock. Les Bourgeois (are like pigs). (2:49)

9:59 I came across much amazing music in the Balkans at the time of the conflicts there, but none more extraordinary that the Live in Belgrade concert by guitarists #VlatkoStefanovski and #MiroslavTadic. Here is the closing track  Oj, ovcarce (Oh, sheep) (3.50)

10:04 Joey Ayala was popular when I worked with Fr Shay Cullen of PREDA <> in the Philippines. Like President Duterte Joey is from Davao in Mindanao, but he’s a very different person – a national treasure singing Karaniwang Tao (The Common People) (4.42)

10:10 I fell in love with the kora in Mali. Traditional to West Africa it usually played by men. Sona Jobarteh from a grot family in The Gambia, is the first woman to break the mould. Here is her version of Jarabi (Beloved) a classic love song of the region. (5:36)

10:16 Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan a #PunjabiMuslim from #Pakistan took #Sufi sacred music (qawwali) to the world. It was a tradition in his family that went back 600 years! i Mast Nazron Se (with Drunken Eyes) is one of his shorter pieces. (5:08)

10:22 Something secular now. I never made it to Australia, but the Spooky Mens Chorale came here singing stunning multi-part harmonies from Georgia (one of my favourite countries). But they also insisted We Are Not A Men’s Group   (3:16)

10:26 After that we need to calm down with a beautiful instrumental from the Macedonian film Gypsy Magic. This is Gypsy Song  (4:25)

10:31 I will leave you with The Parting Glass sung by the beguiling Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh whom I first heard at the Irish story-telling festival on Clear Island off the West Cork coast. (4:11)

10:36 Thanks for listening. I’m sorry if I left you with a sad song, but I have to tell you I have shed many a tear in compiling this playlist. I hope you enjoyed the evening and will feel able to donate to @TrussellTrust  And I hope you will want to explore some of artists you’ve never heard before. Keep safe; stay home, and listen to the music. Thank you #BristolDJsUnite for allowing me to wallow in nostalgia,

There were some vey positive comments about individual tracks but also the diversity of the playlists too. Indeed one Herefordshire Councillor perked up at the Filipino set since it brought back memories from when she worked there 30 years ago! Good night.

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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