Multi award winning Kaz Hawkins is Northern Ireland’s very own blues and soul darling. The Belfast born singer-songwriter is fast becoming a performing icon across UK & Europe with the United States temptingly beckoning her over. Her high energy, original shows with her 1950s style swing-dress-meets-Dr Martens look and ability to closely connect with her public contribute to make Kaz one of today’s most popular blues artists in the UK and Ireland, as she continues to play to full houses. Kaz has been compared to Etta James & Janis Joplin to name but a few. Mixing through the genres of music for over 20 years, she finally found her niche in roots and blues, bringing a fun, inspiring & hopeful message with her new debut album Get Ready self-released in August 2014, featuring Kaz’s deep, powerful voice, original song-writing and soulful tracks, Get Ready wooed both the public and the critics, winning the Blues Matters Magazine’ Writers Poll Best Studio Album of 2015 in September. In a hat trick feat during the same month, Kaz accepted the prestigious Barry Middleton Award for Emerging Artist at the British Blues Awards (the first ever Northern Ireland recipient) and also received the Pure M Award for 2015 All-Ireland Best Female Act at a ceremony in Dublin.
Kaz’s stellar rise to success will be no surprise to the Northern Ireland’s music fiends and blues fans over the world she has been wooing for years with her deep, powerful voice, original song writing and soulful tracks. No mean feat for the 43 year-old funky grandma, who owes surviving a life of physical and emotional hardship to music and a larger-than-life personality that doesn’t take setbacks lying down! Kaz has worked tirelessly for different charities and is Arts Ambassador for EastSide Arts in which she lectured students at Boston University on how she used music to survive trauma. Adding another string to her bow, Kaz has just created Blues Sisterhood UK hoping to bring sisters together under one roof.
When explosive natural ability collides with fiery, emotionally charged compositions, the result is Aynsley Lister; an incredible guitarist whose brand of blues-based rock delivers contemporary song writing fueled with the kind of heart and soul that’s missing from so much modern music. Whether passionately writing and recording his own material or mesmerising audiences at his live shows one thing is abundantly clear: music is hard-wired to his DNA and flows from his fingertips like sonic bolts of lightning. With over 86,000 albums sold, lashings of critical acclaim and years of high profile touring, Lister’s resumé speaks for itself and firmly secures his position as a leading light in the resurgence of British blues-infused music.
In hindsight, it's clear Aynsley was born to be a musician. As a child he was hypnotised by his dad's old guitar and at the age of eight was finally gifted his very own. The moment he held that first six-string the outcome was inevitable; he was going to be a guitarist. Blessed with the coolest dad in town, regularly spinning Hendrix, Cream, Fleetwood Mac and a whole host of bewitching blues for his spellbound son, Aynsley taught himself to play with relentless dedication and a precociously attuned ear, spending hours copying his favourite records note for note. Peter Green, Albert King, Clapton and Kossoff weren't just his heroes; they became his teachers.
Blazing a trail in a bar band from the age of 13 honed his skills. By 18 he'd started singing and had also formed his first group, during which time he landed a dream support slot with Buddy Guy and released two low key CD's featuring his earliest original material. In 1998 those self-penned titles caught the attention of Ruf Records owner Thomas Ruf, who immediately signed Aynsley and hooked him up with Stevie Ray Vaughan's producer Jim Gaines. With a maturity that belied his years, the self-titled debut announced Aynsley Lister as a major new talent and kicked off a successful relationship with Ruf Records, releasing 7 albums and 2 DVD's in ten years. Their influence, coupled with his dynamite live shows and intense touring schedule, earned high profile support slots with established artists like Walter Trout, John Mayall and Robert Cray, whilst rousing festival appearances alongside artists like the Fun Lovin' Criminals cemented his standing as an artist whose work, although rooted in blues, transcended the genre with a fiery modern sound that was eagerly embraced by fans of rock, pop, soul and acoustic music alike. In 2007 Aynsley was the only British artist to be named in Classic Rock magazine's "Top 10 Contemporary Blues Artists", alongside John Mayer, Derek Trucks and Joe Bonamassa.
In 2008 Aynsley's huge crossover potential saw him sign to Manhaton Records, where he released the best two albums of his career to date. Produced by Steve Darrel Smith and featuring Paul McCartney guitarist Robbie Macintosh, 2009's 'Equilibrium' exposed Lister in his best ever form, throwing all his musical influences into a delicious melting pot that delivered sultry melodies, full throttle hard rock riffage and introspective ballads. 'Equilibrium' received fantastic reviews and stormed into Classic Rock’s Top 50 Albums of 2009. The subsequent tour saw Aynsley playing to sold out shows to over 16,000 people whilst opening for the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd, after which he and his band relocated to the Tower Arts Centre and with the tape rolling, nailed a cracking rendition of their high-octane live set to produce the storming 'Tower Sessions' record, which was consequently voted ‘Best Live Album’ in the 2011 Blues Matters Writers Poll.
“Music is a release for me. When I play I get lost in it and it's a very happy place to be” - Aynsley Lister
Becky Tate (BabaJack)
BABAJACK – a band who is fast becoming one of the most sought after acts on the UK and European gig and Festival circuits! Their unique blend of roots/blues/folk fusion described by Classic Rock magazine as “an intoxicating brew of blues, folk and roots music” make for a scintillating show combining great musicianship, passion and energy that is guaranteed to wow any audience.
Becky Tate and Trevor Steger are the song writing core of BabaJack. The band have released four albums in the last five years with each one gaining greater media attention and sales figures from the music loving public as their reputation continues to grow.
Launched at the end of 2013, RUNNING MAN brought them attention at the top of their field and is considered one of the finest albums of its genre to be released in recent years and deservedly won coveted slots in the Top Ten Albums Of The Year in not only CLASSIC ROCK but also in CLASSIC ROCK BLUES and GUITAR & BASS magazines. Their appearance in October 2014 at The Royal Albert Hall and recorded for Radio 2 has given them ever greater attention from the media and the music loving public.
What sets BabaJack apart from others is their approach to their music – it is recognisably infused in part by early blues but is in no way bound by that. Becky brings roots/funk/African rhythms to the band’s sound. Trevor brings his own mixture of ‘Punk meets Ry Cooder’ to his slide guitar style and harmonica on his growling homemade ‘Winebox guitars’. Add to this Becky’s beautiful, lyrical vocals and the driving rhythm section of Tosh Murase and Adam Bertenshaw and you have a band destined for great success!
"BABAJACK Live" released in October 2015, showcases not only their creativity and talent, but also their passion and energy in delivering a really dynamic live show - all of which are captured in abundance on this latest album.
Looking to the future, the next studio album will be in collaboration with Pete Brown, best known for his remarkable song-writing with Cream and lifetime collaboration with Jack Bruce, as well as fronting a number of his own bands, and producing several albums. The plan is to record the album early in 2016. Exciting times ahead!
'The UK Blues Federation are true ambassadors of the genre in all its forms. The blues lives on in Britain! I am greatly honoured to be asked to join them and do my bit to help realise this great vision for British Blues.'
- Becky Tate
Kyla Brox photo courtesy Phil Melia
Kaz Hawkins photo courtesy Kaz Hawkins
Aynsley Lister photo courtesy Alan White
Becky Tate photo courtesy Becky Tate