• 1961-??-??
  • This is Peel's first ever radio appearance, from the period when he was living in America, between 1960 and 1967.
  • The audio consists of the first 25 minutes of the show where host Bill "Hoss" Carroll introduces John Ravenscroft (Peel's real name) to talk to him about his blues record collection.
  • The audio I received mentioned the title coming from 1962. I have no idea whether that is true, as it does not give clues on the year, but according to Peeling Back The Years, it was 1961.
  • A small excerpt of this was broadcast on Radio Radio.
  • The interview after the Lightning Hopkins track was played by John on 16 August 1981 (BFBS). The sound quality is brighter but contains the same scratchy "played off a '78'" background sound. By 1961 WRR was broadcasting on both AM and FM, but Kat's Karavan went out on WRR-AM only, hence the background noise.
  • Peel mentioned on his 07 October 1986 show that one of the early records he played on his debut was by Washboard Sam. Nothing by the artist is included on the available recording, as it is only the first 25 minutes of the show. Perhaps a track by him was included in the later part, which doesn't seem to have survived. 


  • None


(Theme tune to Kat's Karavan starts, which is a version by an unknown artist of Duke Ellington's (or Jimmy Forrest's) Night Train)

(BC: 'We aren't gonna let the theme song play for you until a minute and five seconds tonight, because we have alot of very very good music and a very special guest I mentioned before because I borrowed some of his records and he has a very nice collection, John Ravenscroft, is that correct?')

(JR: 'That's right')

(BC: 'I always chew up your name and John is from England originally, although he's been in Dallas for a little while, just recently he's received his record collection shipped over to him and he has some fascinating records about who we invited over to talk about, so I let him talk about the records and I just read the commercials. John, what are you going to open the show with tonight?')

(JR: 'I'm gonna start off with Lightnin' Hopkins doing Hello England, which is appropriate start to the show'.)

(BC: 'Alright and after Lightnin' sings, we will discuss more about where these records came from and how you got a hold of them and how much they're appreciated in England. Right now, Lightnin' Hopkins and Hello England')

(BC: 'Sam Lightnin' Hopkins with a number titled')

(JR: 'Hello England')

(BC: 'Hello England. Sam mentioned and was reporting 77, I like to take this moment here to mention this letter I received just Saturday from Larry Brown in San Antonio who was asking about the album Rooster Crowed In England and this is from that same album, so you know the label is 77 Larry Brown, if you're listening in San Antonio. Can you tell us more about the 77 label and how you came to get it John?')

(JR: 'Well yes there is a small record shop in London that caters for collectors of these sort of records and it is at 77 Charing Cross Road, which is the reason it has the name. And they just put out 99 copies of each record they make, because otherwise if they made it 100 it would make it a regular release and they would have to pay tax on it. Just 99 copies and it counts as a club release')

(BC: 'You were lucky to get one of the 99's')

(JR: 'Yes I had to pay regular, well in fact slightly over regular price without tax, so it would have been a club release, I mean the regular release, would have cost a lot')

(BC: 'Well I had notice from the notes on the album that it was not recorded in England but was recorded in Houston, specifically for the London label'.)

(JR: 'Well that's right yes, Lightnin' Hopkins I don't think he's been to England, he hadn't been when I was at home in Christmas and I don't think likely he will go, because he doesn't like to leave Houston')

(BC: 'That's true. Are most of your albums which you brought along with us the club membership thing?)

(JR: 'Well no, a lot of them I got I was I went very deeply into debt when I was in the army in fact to pay for a lot of these ones that came across from France, with sleevenotes in French. And they were released in France. They may be released in England by now, I don’t know. I think there is very little chance of them being released over here, because there isn’t a big enough market for them. In Europe, they take this sort of thing very seriously and they go into the sort of cultural and ethnic background of blues music, which they don’t do over here really.')

(BC: 'I would mention that some of the older records that you have for instance the Boogie Woogie, those were taken from masters, they were recorded in this country and evidently the English people bought the masters and so of course the masters will no longer be available in this country.')

(JR: 'No, RCA and Columbia particularly have enormous catalogue, they could re-release you know everything which would be a great advantage. It wouldn't be worth their while doing it because there's so few people to buy the records'.)

(BC: 'Right I think there's a great up surge in blues in this country with the release of Lightnin' Hopkins is selling lot of albums over here. What have you got for us next?)

(JR: 'The next one we have is Backwater Blues by Huddie Ledbetter who is kind of difficult to fit in the blues programme in that, a lot of it stuff with folk music and some of it has slight hillbilly tendencies in a way, so hillbilly influence in the thing but this is a blues one anyway. Backwater Blues')

(BC: 'Backwater Blues. A lot of listeners will be probably familiar with it from at least Lonnie Johnson's recording that I play so much')

(BC: 'Huddie Ledbetter. Could you tell us something about the instrumentation in that? I think it's unusual')

(JR: 'Yeah Huddie Ledbetter plays a 12 string guitar and also in there, there is a zither. I think that's the name of the fella who plays it. You don't often hear blues records with zither on it')

(BC: 'It's remarkable to hear blues records with 12 string guitars anymore')

(JR: 'That's true')

(BC: '...Leadbelly, he is called in this country was tremendous on that instrument. Not too many people play that anymore. What's next?')

(JR: 'Next one we have is called Rub A Dub by Sonny Boy Williamson, that's the original Sonny Boy Williamson and was recorded on 12th of November in 1947 with Blind John Davis on piano, Willie Lacey or Big Bill Broonzy on guitar, Ransom Knowling on bass and Judge Riley on the drums. This is the same tune as Lightnin' Hopkins very popular Mighty Crazy'.)

(BC: 'I'm sure the listeners will know Mighty Crazy from the Lightnin' In New York album. This probably well predates that at least. Recorded in what year did you say?')

(JR: '1947')

(BC: 'Certainly after World War 2. Well let's hear it, Sonny Boy Williamson and this is the original harmonica singer player, harmonica player singer, and here's Rub A Dub')

(BC: 'I think I should do another commercial or perhaps a station break. This is WRR in Dallas. This is part 2 of The Karavan, the old houseman Bill Carroll and our guest John Ravenscroft)

(Bill Carroll does a commercial advert)

(BC: 'What's next?')

(JR: 'The next, this isn't exactly the blues but it's an offshoot of it. We got Detroit Rocks by Montana Taylor. Barrelhouse Piano I think is what they describe it as and Rocks is the right word certainly moves along')

(BC: 'This is what happens when the blues gone downtown')

(JR: 'It is exactly')

(BC: 'After all it is a little hard to carry a piano in the field that Lightnin' Hopkins would had to do')

(JR: 'Picking cotton')

(BC: 'Let's try Detroit Rocks')

(BC: 'And there's one piano style that is an offshoot of the blues and the album says Big Maceo, another of the French RCA / Victor releases right?')

(JR: 'That's the next one yes, the next one is Big Maceo yeah')

(BC: 'I was a little amused by this because the album spells Merriweather which is Maceo's last name, spelt it with a 'y'. On the album they spell it with an 'i', but not only that, but on the record label they also have it hyphenated.')

(JR: 'I didn't notice that actually')

(BC: 'As if it was two different people')

(JR: 'Three different people')

(BC: 'Could you figure out the French there who plays with Big Maceo on this one?')

(JR: 'Yes on this one, we just have Tampa Red who's well known to the blues... and guitar and Charles Sanders 'a la batterie' which means on the drums and that's it, just the three of them on this one')

(BC: 'Now Maceo plays piano of course and has written tremendous number of tunes, this one is titled')

(JR: 'Big Road Blues')

(BC: 'Big Road Blues')

(Audio cuts off at the end of the record)


  • WRR - Kat's Karavan 1961
  • 0:25:51
  • Historical considerations outweigh quality. Many thanks to the American listener who recorded this show.
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