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Music Mentor Books



Nominated for the Association for

Recorded Sound Collections

2016 Award for Excellence

in Historical Recorded

Sound Research.







Caroline Beecroft & Howard Rye


ISBN-13: 978-0-9562679-5-5

Paperback, 404 pages, 187 illustrations, 2015

Availability:  In print / In stock



For many years, Francis Wilford-Smith led a parallel existence as an internationally respected cartoonist/illustrator ('Smilby'), and also as one of the world's foremost collectors of blues records and an acknowledged expert on blues piano.  While both sides of his life are celebrated in this memoir, it focuses mainly on the latter.

First bitten by the bug in 1939, when his brother returned home from the USA with a clutch of boogie-woogie records, Francis pursued a lifelong interest in the blues and over time amassed an enviable collection of rare 78s.  These would later form the backbone of his highly regarded BBC radio broadcasts between 1970 and 1995, in which he examined various aspects of blues and gospel music. Fully annotated scripts of all these programmes are included in this volume, along with dozens of label shots of the records played.

Motivated by a desire to preserve as much as possible of the music that he loved, Francis also privately recorded several visiting blues pianists at his home, Trumpets Farm, in 1960 and 1961.  Unfettered by commercial or time constraints, his guests had free reign to play whatever they wished and produced some truly unique and outstanding performances.  The intriguing story behind these groundbreaking recordings is likewise to be found within these pages.


"An excellent read on a number of levels - getting to know the man through his witty observations and the wealth of information offered in the broadcast scripts.  By all means get and enjoy this book."  VJM's Jazz & Blues Mart (Winter/Spring 2016)

"A definitive tribute."  Blues & Rhythm (February 2016)

"A worthy tribute to its subject, and to his enthusiasm for and deep knowledge of blues and gospel music, which found fruitful expression in his home recordings, his broadcasts, and the albums he compiled."  Names & Numbers (April 2016)


To accompany this book, vintage jazz and blues reissue label Frog Records

have released a special 27‑track companion CD, Trumpets Farm Blues,

containing previously unissued material from these legendary sessions:


Copies can be purchased from Frog Records Ltd,

The Paddock, Waverley Avenue, FLEET, Hants GU51 4NW, England.


Telephone: 44 (0) 1252 620814       




Trade enquiries welcome.    All major credit cards accepted.


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