Saturday, January 24, 2015

Robert Burns - a tribute to the Bard

This week on the Teller and the Tale, I pay tribute to the Scottish bard Robert Burns. January 25th is, of course, the anniversary of the birth of the "Ploughman Poet". Born in 1759 in the village of Alloway, near Ayr, Burns grew up in a poor tenant farming family. Nevertheless, his parents saw that their son received a good education.

Perhaps to ameliorate the hardships of ploughing fields, Burns developed a taste for reading. It wasn't long before he turned his hand to writing poetry, inspired by the likes of Robert Fergusson and others. As he grew older, Burns also found pleasure in drink and women. He fathered two children with Jean Armour, a woman he would later marry, but not before having a fling with "Highland Mary", with whom he nearly emigrated to the West Indies. However, her sudden death and the popularity of Burns' first volume of poetry convinced him to stay in Scotland and develop his talent.

By the age of 27, Burns was famous throughout the land. Writing in both English and Scots, Burns had a keen sense of how to best reach a wide audience in both countries. However, like many young celebrities, Burns soon spent his money on women and drink and pub pals. Broke, he returned to Dumfries and took up a job with the Excise Department, not one of the best-loved jobs among ordinary rural folk. Nevertheless, a little more security gave Burns time to write and collect songs and renew his relationship with Jean Armour.

Sadly, Burns died--worn out from his hard life--in July 1796. He was buried with the honours befitting a national bard. Today, his reputation seems to know no bounds. Burns Night is celebrated not only in Scotland but all over the world, from Argentina to Zanzibar.

Join me this week as I feature Burns Night contributions from actors Gordon Kennedy and Alex Norton, storyteller David Campbell, folksinger Dougie Maclean, comedian and actress Karen Dunbar, and Mairi Campbell and David Francis (as the Cast).

Our tribute to Robert Burns begins at 12 noon GMT on Sunday January 25th. And if you sleep in and miss it, catch it again on Tuesday/Wed at 1am GMT and Thursday at 9pm GMT. Check for times in your area.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Blues and Roots Radio launches branded UK website; Dr Michael Williams to facilitate

In Port Credit, Ontario, Canada, Blues & Roots Radio (BRR) personnel sat back to look at their listenership and came to the conclusion that a vast number of listeners were tuning in from the UK. With the Canadian station's numbers and acquisitions having more than doubled since its launch and a growing number of hosts based overseas, it became very obvious to owners Stevie & Anne Connor that the next step was to launch Blues & Roots Radio UK ( And, the face and voice to do it with was that of Michael Williams.
Michael Williams, Head of Operations in UK & Europe

Michael will take on the role of solidifying BRR’s growing reputation within the UK and Europe. He has a background in media, music and corporate team building. Michael has been hosting the popular storytelling programme, "Teller & the Tale" on BRR for nearly two years and was quoted as saying, "The success of Blues & Roots Radio can be attributed to its mandate to support the artist first. Without them, we have nothing. I believe in the station's philosophy to support independent artists across the globe and to provide our listeners with the best music and story emerging from the grass roots."

As part of the station's objective to stream 24/7 globally with current offices in Port Credit, ON, Canada and Melbourne, Australia, it's become clear that listeners wanted and needed more in the UK and Europe. With a growing listener base and musical offerings, it was time to offer hub pages with targeted time-zone based landing pages, schedule pages as well as local up-to-date news.

Stevie Connor, CEO Global Operations, is truly excited by this next step for Blues and Roots Radio and after repeatedly saying, " Can we launch yet?" was quoted as saying, "This cements our growing reputation for since the 4th quarter of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 we have gained a tremendous amount of listeners from the UK; it's time to grow together and the launch of a global website with localised sites inside will benefit the listeners and more importantly the artists who will have a global platform."

We welcome the UK and Europe to the Blues and Roots Radio worldwide family.