If you are a bluegrass lover outside of the United States or Canada, you don’t have as many options for hearing new bluegrass as we do here at home. There are a number of Internet-based networks that broadcast 24/7 worldwide, but convenient listening times for UK and European fans often leave them only the automated, non-hosted programming that US services schedule for overnight. And they don’t have access to the many syndicated radio shows we enjoy, nor the satellite service from SiriusXM.
One source for listeners near London is the weekly show, The Roots Collective, which airs on Sunday evenings from 6:00-8:00 p.m. local time, hosted by co-presenters Martin Clarke and Heather Harrison. The show is broadcast by Wycombe Sound 106.6 FM in High Wycombe. Listeners can tune in over the air if they are in the vicinity, listen live online, or visit the web site to hear previous programs which are archived for 5 weeks after the initial broadcast.
Martin and Heather both trained for radio in Liverpool, and share a passion for all sorts of roots music – bluegrass, folk, blues, Americana, and country – and made the decision to create a show based on this sound when they moved from Liverpool a few years ago. To get started the couple made a trip to Kentucky in 2017 where they visited as many live music venues as they could find, and not a few bourbon distilleries, returning home with a suitcase full of bluegrass CDs to add to Martin’s already extensive collection. This was their second trip over to the States.
Heather is the producer and primary voice of The Roots Collective, while Martin serves as engineer and co-host, and selects the music for each week’s show. A regular guest is their cockapoo, Bertie, who only rarely makes his presence known. He typically spends the show under the desk, enjoying the bluegrass music that he loves as well.
They typically focus on a one or two new releases each week, mixed with other contemporary bluegrass and roots albums. Both US and UK artists are supported on the show, and the team is always eager to receive new projects for consideration.
Now at Wycombe Sound, Martin and Heather feel that they have a better platform to reach a wider audience. The station has won a good many awards among community radio stations, and has the facilities to allow for live performances as well as pre-recorded music. Any artists touring near London, or willing to make the trip to High Wycombe are invited to reach out to Martin by email.