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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Blues & Roots Radio Announce Rick Stuart As Their Radio Presenter Of The Year 2023

As a teenager Rick Stuart was a rock kid – AC/DC, Motorhead, Rush, Todd Rundgren, Rory Gallagher, etc . In fact he was given a thorough talking to by the management of Woolworth’s, where he had a Saturday job on the record counter, for playing Queen’s Flash too loud !

Rick was 17 when a friend played him Billy Cobham’s Stratus – and that was him done. Mahavishnu Orchestra, Stanley Clarke, Return To Forever, Al Di Meola, ECM, Windham Hill – which led him to Michael Hedges…

His early twenties saw Rick with a job at Our Price Records – by this time he was listening to Steve Hillage, Tangerine Dream, King Tubby, Linton Kwesi Johnson, as well as Miles Davis, Marcus Miller, Ben Webster, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock and King Sunny Adé

In 1989 Rick started work for Decoy Records – a specialist record shop on Deansgate in Manchester. At this point he lost himself completely in the music – jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass, reggae, Cajun, zydeco, country, African and more and he started to make connections. There were similarities between the kora & the banjo for instance, between African & Appalachian. Turns out the actual link is the ngoni, but Rick didn't know that then.

Rick started DJ-ing at Band On The Wall, Atlas Bar, Night & Day, The Roadhouse – trying out how these different genres of music fitted together - there was graffiti on the wall of The Roadhouse, "Rick is an interesting DJ"... guess he wasn't everyone's favourite. He also started promoting live music, putting gigs on. Ozric Tentacles (1991, their 1st Manchester gig, at International One - there were campfires on the street afterwards), didgeridoo band Outback, Martin Simpson, Chris Smither, Terry Allen... he almost put Emmylou Harris on at The Royal Exchange... Music became almost 24/7.

In 1997 it all became too much and Rick left it behind…

Fast forward to 2008 – he had a “proper” job, the madness of the 90’s was long past. Rick was walking past a couple of work colleagues having a conversation when one said, “Ask Rick, he likes jazz…” Turns out Salford City Radio was after a presenter for a jazz program they had. Rick went to talk to them, but because he didn’t live in Salford they wouldn’t take him on.

But that started Rick thinking – what sort of radio show would he want to present…? Not a single genre show, he’d get bored. So, something like he used to play out, something that joined different types of music together.

He put a proposal together and sent it off to Stockport’s Pure Radio and thanks to his wife, Penny for the idea and Paul Holloway at Pure for taking the chance, Roots & Fusion was born, with the first show going out on 9th Jan 2009. Since 2014, Roots & Fusion had also been syndicated out to The Sound Cafe's sister platform, Blues & Roots Radio.

In May 2017, Pure Innovations (the parent company of the charity that ran Pure Radio) decided to let the broadcasting licence go, but not to worry, the station would keep running just with different ownership. The radio hosts were told the building they were broadcasting out of was going to be demolished, so the new owners were looking for new premises & the station would be off air until the move. This was only supposed to be for a couple of weeks. After this extended into a couple of months Rick decided to have a re-think.

Rick approached Head Of Programming at Blues & Roots Radio, Stevie Connor, and asked if he'd like Roots & Fusion as an exclusive. He agreed and Rick started to work out how to do it live - with him at home and the station in Canada.

He bought a laptop & microphone, loaded Play It Live software, hooked up to the Canadian server and off they went. From November 2017 Roots & Fusion has been broadcasting live & exclusive on Blues & Roots Radio.

Blues & Roots Radio's Head Of Programming, and Editor of The Sound Cafe, Stevie Connor said, " I have been a huge fan of Roots & Fusion right from the first time I heard the show, it has such an eclectic mix, and mirrored our philosophy at the station, if it's good music no matter the genre, play it ! Rick has shown such dedication to the artists that he presents and his loyalty to Blues & Roots Radio is inspiring. Rick is a well deserving winner of this year's award."

On winning the award Rick said, "Huge thank you to the team at Blues & Roots Radio, for taking on and having faith in such an eclectic show as Roots & Fusion. Thank you so very much for the award, and all the support over the years. I feel like I've come home. The journey continues..."



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