Ashwyn Smyth’s broadcasting history goes back to the 80s when he became a regular presenter on Orsett Hospital Radio in Essex presenting a variety of programmes including a classical music show. Ashwyn also served as the stations public relations officer.
Ashwyn was also involved with a number of restricted service licence transmissions with Mayflower FM in Billericay and Brentwood during the 90s presenting a live magazine show, rock shows and various other genres..
However it was the start of the new millennium that saw Ashwyn rediscover his love of the blues and the creation of Digital Blues, once described as the voice of the Blues for Essex both for the radio shows and for its presence on the Essex & UK blues scene for the last twelve or more years.
Whilst probably best known for producing and presenting radio programmes, Ashwyn and Digital Blues were very active on the blues scene, particularly in Essex, throughout the early years of the 21st century.
What started off as an electronic newsletter to promote radio shows became a more than 500 strong mailing list and a website which was receiving more than 10,000 hits p.a. and which was perhaps best known for the Gig Guide, described at the time as the biggest blues gig guide on the web, which carried full details of blues gigs in and around Essex.
But the website also carried news, both local, national and international, reviews of gigs, CDs and DVDs, adverts for bands seeking musicians and musicians seeking bands as well as a big collection of useful links.
Due to hosting problems the website lay fallow and out of date for some time but late in 2011, thanks to a couple of great guys at Webcrate, the site was resurrected, in a somewhat simpler format, and is back along with details of the radio shows, the all important playlists, news and reviews.
Out on the live music scene, Digital Blues organised a number of very successful festivals which raised substantial funds for the Helen Rollason Cancer Care Centre charity as well as promoting gigs at venues such as the famous Essex Arms in Brentwood.
Ashwyn also compered at a number of blues weekends at various locations around the UK and was, for a number of years, the resident MC at possibly the premier blues venue in Essex, the New Crawdaddy Blues Club in Billericay. He is still closely involved with the Club running their mailing list and producing a weekly newsletter. He also occasionally MCs there when he is in the UK.
He was also invited to MC the final of the New Brunswick Battle of the Blues in London for the three years it ran. In 2013 he was also invited to be a judge at the heat held at the Brunswick in Hove.
Ashwyn is a contributor to Blues Matters! and has contributed to Blues in Britain and Blues & Co in France as well as being invited to write sleeve notes for CDs for acts such as Bad Town Blues, the Shakey Vick Band and Ramon Goose.
He also wrote the sleeve notes for and co-produced, with the late Ray Bartrip, two Essex Delta Blues CDs which sought to promote Essex blues acts and which were sent to promoters and radio shows around the UK and Europe.
Digital Blues radio shows commenced in June 2001 and, until June 2006, were produced as internet radio shows and then FM shows on a South Essex based radio station. The shows featured many new releases, often from artists receiving their first radio airplay anywhere in the World, as well as tracks both ancient & modern.
In particular, the shows provided exposure and radio play for Essex based bands and artists, often featuring live performances as well as publicising local gigs and venues.
Digital Blues also presented The Blues Banquet, a live, weekly feast of blues & real r'n'b featuring studio guests playing live on two RSLs for a Basildon based radio station during this period.
Between March and June 2006, Digital Blues programmes were available as Podcasts and were broadcast live on FM every week in the Brentwood & Billericay areas.
For a number of years Digital Blues also produced podcasts for Blues Matters! featuring their own label artists. These were available via the Blues Matters! website and were the forerunner of the what is now Blues Matters! Radio.
In October 2009, a new programme, Digital Blues on Gateway 97.8, started each Wednesday evening on Gateway 97.8, the community radio station providing real local radio for Basildon & East Thurrock. Programmes can be heard on 97.8fm in the Basildon, East Thurrock & surrounding areas and worldwide on the internet at Gateway 97.8 FM between 9 & 11 p.m. every Wednesday. Each week's show is repeated between 8 & 10 p.m. UK time on Sundays.
Digital Blues has been a finalist in the British Blues Broadcast/Independent Blues Broadcast category of the British Blues Awards every year since their inception 2011 and 2012 as well as being a finalist in the Best Blues Radio Show category in the Blues Matters! Writers’ Poll since its inception, both in 2011. Digital Blues has also been a finalist in the European Blues Awards in the Best Radio Show category 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016.
In March 2010, Ashwyn was invited to start producing a weekly edition of Digital Blues for Kansas City Online Radio and this is now streamed at 11.00 a.m. Central US Time (17.00 UK time) every Sunday at KCOR and each week's show is repeated through the week at various times. Please check their schedule page at KCOR for times. This show is now syndicated on eight further stations around the world.
Now retired from his ‘day job’ after almost 40 years in the City of London, Ashwyn is based in the Limousin region of France where he records his shows in a compact home studio in his house in a small hamlet in the midst of a rural, agricultural region. He is still actively involved with the UK and Essex blues scene, albeit, at a distance and is constantly scouring the world trying to find new artists. He recently founded the UK Blues Federation of which he is Chair to create a focal point for the blues in the UK – www.ukblues.org.
Digital Blues produces and presents two completely different Digital Blues radio programmes weekly and the shows seek to offer maximum variety in every respect and have a regular band of listeners around the world. This has been enhanced by the introduction of podcasts of all weekly shows which are available on iTunes, Mixcloud and PodOmatic. In 2016, the shows were downloaded/listened to in more than 100 countries around the World.
Playlists for all Digital Blues radio shows are posted on the Playlists page of the Digital Blues website and are also reported weekly to the Roots Music Report for inclusion in their blues airplay charts.