BBC Radio 2 is to broadcast coverage of jazz, blues and folk music festivals over the summer months, and has also announced details of new specialist music programmes.
Reggae man David Rodigan and former Pulp and Longpigs musician Richard Hawley are among those doing their own series.
Dave Pearce’s Dance Years continues on Saturday nights, while Guns N Roses guitarist Slash is also currently presenting a six-part rock music series produced by indie Somethin’ Else. Slash said: “You’re going to hear the songs that inspired me to pick up a guitar and join a band; the greatest rock n’ roll riffs, solos and power chords ever committed to wax for an hour a week.”
A new 8-part series starts tonight (Thursday) on rockabilly, presented by Sheffield musician Richard Hawley. He delves into his own collection of vinyl to celebrate the genre’s inspirations including R&B, country, blues, hillbilly, honky tonk and rock n roll. The series is being produced by TBI Media. Richard says: “It’s such a great pleasure to be given the opportunity to play these truly wonderful records to a wider audience and not just the faithful. I hope folks enjoy the music as much as I have all these years. It’s amazing that they were recorded as long ago as 60 years, they still sound so good.”
Meanwhile Radio 2 goes to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival this week, which is directed by the station’s own Jamie Cullum for the second year. Tomorrow’s Friday Night Is Music Night celebrates the music of Ray Charles with a special concert, and on Saturday afternoon Jamie covers Dermot O’Leary’s slot with a live broadcast from Cheltenham. There’s also a set from Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist Melody Gardot this Bank Holiday Monday at 6pm, while Jamie’s own Radio 2 Jazz Show features highlights of the festival on Tuesday. He said: “I’ve been heading out to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival for years and always enjoyed its great programme and wicked vibe. I can’t wait to have the opportunity to showcase that for listeners at home – sessions, interviews, music and buzz from the festival!”
Former Capital and Kiss reggae DJ David Rodigan returns to Radio 2 again this summer for a 13-part series. It follows his ten-week stint on the station last summer. “I absolutely loved being on Radio 2 last year so I’m chuffed to be returning,” he said. “I promise more Lovers Rock, more Ska and Rocksteady and of course I promise to dig to the bottom of my record box to produce more classic roots and reggae tracks.”
Radio 2’s Paul Jones will be at BluesFest, an 11-day blues, soul and jazz festival, taking place in London and Manchester in June. Highlights will air on his show – this year’s acts include Van Morrison and George Benson. Paul said: “I’m excited that BluesFest will soon be upon us again – with a huge and starry line-up in London AND Manchester from June 25th for two weeks. I’m also thrilled about BBC Radio 2’s involvement. The Rhythm & Blues programme is already previewing some of the major blues acts with CD tracks, and on Monday July 9th we’ll have a two-and-a-half-hour special, full of live music from across the whole fortnight of BluesFest 2012.”
And once again the station wil be at the Cambridge Folk Festival from 26th to 29th July, with specialist presenter Mike Harding leading the coverage. “Cambridge fully deserves its status as one of Europe’s greatest folk festivals,” said Mike. “The laid-back atmosphere, coupled with a line-up full of the finest folk and roots artists, makes it one of my annual musical highlights. This summer I’ll be back at Cherry Hinton Hall, bringing you backstage interviews and brilliant live tracks from top acts including two of my favourites: Nanci Griffith and John Prine.”
Jeff Smith, Head of Music, BBC Radio 2 and Radio 6 Music says: “Radio 2 shows another side to the summer festival season with our continued commitment to the top jazz, blues and folk festivals in the country highlighting the broad range of music we cover all year long.”