Blues Musicians | Ray Wallen

Ray Wallen

Ray with Davide

If you’ve ever been blues dancing at The Joker in Islington on a Wednesday evening, you’ll know Ray Wallen.

If he’s not singing or playing the harmonica, he’s watching. Enjoying the music. Taking in the atmosphere.

One of the things I love about Ray’s music is that he re-works so many of the songs he sings. One of his talents is re-writing blues songs and giving them a ‘London’ spin.

My personal favourite is his Tom Waits/Ray Charles medley ‘Ice-cream Man/ Hit the Road Jack’.

Just. So. cool.

The very first time I met Ray he was playing in The Dan Nash Band at Blues Baby Blues 2013. I was still quite new at DJing and was super-nervous until Ray popped over to ask me what I was playing. (It was ‘Crawling King Snake’ by Etta James as I recall.) He told me he was really enjoying my music. (It means a lot to be complimented by a blues musician – especially someone like Ray.)

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Blues Musicians | Rufus Herbertson

Rufus

Rufus at Octoblues 2015

If you’ve ever danced blues in Southern Germany, chances are you’ll have been lucky enough to have danced to music played by the incredibly talented Rufus Herbertson, a blues musician from Mannheim.

My first encounter with Rufus was when I travelled to France for Blues in Paris, November 2014. He was playing alongside Annette Kuhnle who was teaching classes on styles of dancing to Piedmont Blues music.

Taking classes with a musician playing live is something quite special and his musicianship was very special too. Rufus also played an intimate acoustic set at the Sunday night party. We loved his music so much he had to perform two encores before we’d let him go.

More recently I was lucky enough to renew our acquaintance when Rufus came to play at Octoblues (Heidelberg, Germany). He played a late Saturday night set for us that was just beautiful. He coaxed a roomful of very tired dancers back onto the floor, and kept us long after we hoped to be asleep in our beds. His instinct for when to liven things up and keep us awake, and when to play quieter, dream-like music was just amazing.

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Blues Musicians | Dan Nash

Dan Nash playing with Marco Farris at EBI 2015

Dan Nash playing with Marco Farris at EBI 2015

If you’re a blues dancer in London, chances are you’ll have had the pleasure of dancing to the one and only DAN NASH!

The very first time I DJed at a festival (Blues Baby Blues 2013) I was scheduled to follow his set. I’ll never forget the warmth and encouragement he gave to a very nervous DJ Tracy. Dan and Ray were so lovely to me; complimenting me on my choice of music. I don’t think they realised how much I appreciated it at the time.

I’ve heard Dan play more times that I can count and he always inspires me with his energy and musicianship.

When I learned Dan would be playing at European Blues Invasion 2015, I asked if he’d have time for an interview.

On the night, I had to go outside and persuade him away from one of his famous ‘smoke-breaks’. (Luckily bribing him with Bourbon turned out to be a good strategy and we found a corner where we could chat awhile.) 

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Blues Musicians | Christoffer Johansson

Christoffer Johansson

Christoffer Johansson

One of the pleasures of being a travelling blues dancer and DJ is that I get to listen and dance to some of the best blues musicians in Europe. 

I met and heard Christoffer Johansson for the first time earlier this year at The Blues Garden in Gotebörg. I was simply blown away by his performances. Lucky for me, we were both at Blossom Blues in Zurich in May. Then, just two weeks later, we were in Oslo together at Moose Blues.

Curious to find out more about his musical roots, I persuaded him to sit down for a chat, just half an hour before he was due to play on Saturday night.

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