2017 UKBLUES CHALLENGE TO BE HELD AT ICONIC LIVERPOOL VENUE
The UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) is thrilled to announce that the 4th UKBlues Challenge will take place on Sunday 10th September 2017 at the world famous Cavern Club in Liverpool.
The selection process to choose the bands/acts that will be taking part in this year’s Challenge is currently underway with a panel of more than 250 people from across the UK blues spectrum having been invited to nominate three bands/acts who they believe would best represent UK blues at the International and European Blues Challenges in Norway and Memphis in 2018. This stage of the process closes on 15th March 2017 and the four bands/acts amassing the most points will be invited to take part in this year’s Challenge.
In an exciting innovation, a fifth band will also be invited to take part in the Challenge, their selection being completely unrelated to the process currently underway. More details in this respect will be announced in the near future.
Jon Keats – Director of Music & Events at The Cavern Club said: “We are delighted to be hosting this year’s UKBlues Challenge here at the Cavern Club. Whilst people will always associate the venue with The Beatles and Merseybeat era, blues has also played a huge part in our history.
Many blues giants have played here including the likes of Big Bill Broonzy, John Lee Hooker, Alexis Korner, Eric Clapton, Sonny Boy Williamson, Bo Diddley…This is our 60th Anniversary year and it’s great to welcome the blues back to the Cavern!”
For UKBlues, Chair Ashwyn Smyth commented: ‘’ We are excited to be bringing the UKBlues Challenge to Liverpool this year, and especially so given that we will be staging it at such an iconic venue. We have always made plain our desire to ensure that the UKBlues Challenges are staged in different parts of the UK as part of our commitment to blues throughout the UK. We thank the management of the Cavern for making this event possible and look forward to the 4th UKBlues Challenge being bigger and even better than the first three!’’
For more information browse this website and visit www.cavernclub.org
33rd INTERNATIONAL BLUES CHALLENGE (IBC), MEMPHIS - IBC FEEDBACK
Kaz Hawkins Rising to The Challenge, Memphis and More
Liz Aiken, UKBlues Board Member from Bluesdoodles, talks to Kaz Hawkins after her trip to Memphis representing the UK at the 33rd International Blues Challenge (IBC).
LIZ: Hi Kaz, the last time we chatted it was after the release of your last album….So much has happened in the Kaz world since then. Festivals, airplay and winning the UKBlues challenge. The rise of Kaz Hawkins Band continues since the launch of Feelin’ Good, the title reflecting the atmosphere that you create whenever and wherever you stamp your boots. Let’s rewind to the night of UKBlues Challenge run by UKBlues Federation. Describe what it was like to be announced the winner.
KAZ: We didn’t expect to win because as much as I am bluesy the songs aren’t 12 bar blues. We went in not realising what was wanted, that was the frightening part. Then there were all the judges some I knew others I didn’t and no one was giving anything away. It was pretty daunting, it was run strict and I didn’t dare put a foot out of place so that added to the tension because everyone knew their place and what to do. We done the performance, I kinda burnt myself out with nerves, I am not a good one for these kind of things so I came out fighting fire and pretty much exhausted myself by the third song. So when I did the ballad I had to pretty much kick myself up the arse and say get a grip you have two songs to go calm down if you want this you have got to fight for this. We went into the ballad there was so many things happening, I remember afterwards Nick saying, not experienced anything like it his hands started to sweat up and couldn’t play the guitar, well he did obviously. I had never sweated as much. So when it was announced we had scattered out for a smoke, hanging round the merch table, the bathroom really pretty much decided we weren’t winning. When Ashwyn, called out Kaz Hawkins I physically punched Janny, on the back of his neck just a reaction of disbelief (Kaz laughing as she recollects the night). I honestly didn’t think we would get through. The competition was tough, I really thought Wille and The Bandits were going to win they had put up such an outstanding set. As were Rebecca and Lauren we were all so nervous. So when it was announced I really couldn’t think anything at all other than except I haven’t got my belt on and I was being called to the stage. I run up as you know I depend on looking my best off stage with my hourglass figure chuckling and there I was just after a smoke lippy hanging off me. Then next minute had to make my way to the stage it was a surreal moment. Then trying to get from the merch stall to the stage when my name was called out, people just launched on me, pulling me and it was just crazy. Then we got on stage and we had to do all the procedures, me and the boys kept looking at each other in disbelief. Once I started singing it dawned on me what had just happened we opened up with Feelin’ Good that just set it off. I could let it rip, let go of all the tension and just perform. We had already got through, I can remember dropping down at one point I was still scabbed on one knee two months later because I had dropped that hard, I think it was just exhaustion.
Don’t forget we were mid-tour when the challenge this was happening, so we had been on the bus for week/two weeks before we were exhausted but match fit.
LIZ: What were the challenges following the win, Crowdfunding and organising the band to play first in Memphis with all the added expectation of the first British Band to play at The Blues foundation International Blues Challenge (IBC) with all that expectation and the forthcoming European Blues Challenge (EBC) in Horsen Denmark. Getting the band into competition rather than touring mode etc.
KAZ: Having already done the UK Blues challenge we were in that competition mindset. It was only then we realised that there would be different timings. We thought we would do in Memphis exactly the same as in Wolverhampton but found out the quarter finals were only Twenty-five minutes then if you got through the semi-finals were thirty minutes and if made it to finals it was a twenty-minute set. When we got home it was rehearsals and plan three different sets so that was the hard thing trying to give our best in that space of time. Thirty minutes is a great time it’s perfect don’t need anymore but any less and you have to start to sacrifice your great songs. The crowdfunding was running alongside the rehearsals and we were constantly thinking about it. We were in the zone for it. We were all raising money as well, begging the fans. The problem with the crowdfund was that it became, I felt I like I was begging I came up against a few rows on Facebook about bands should pay for themselves and do stuff like this. I don’t think people understood the gravity of what we were about to do, the pressure that was upon our shoulders. When you go somewhere like that, we had no idea what we were walking into in Memphis no one had been before. What I did was contact a load of people that I already knew had performed. I went into obsessive research mode, which is what I do on any challenge. So I chased up people who I had known over the years which came in handy, lots of contacts that I had, lots of blues sisters who had performed gave me great insights from Lucy Hammond to Hatz Ftiz & Cara Robinson and everybody who were giving me tidbits of information. Then I went into radio mode and sourced out lots of radio shows that were promoting the IBC’s around the world. I ended up listening to Vinny on The Couch who runs his radio show from Rum Boogie Café on Beale Street. What was freaky, about three weeks before we were due to go he bought on about four/five of the IBC judges on this two hour show I am sat listening to it over and over again and I hooked up on Beale Street when this woman said Dave Raven said to get in touch with you, I am Suzanne Swanson. I just screamed in the middle of Beale Street and just said oh my God! You saved my life because you are the reason I could plan this trip. Everything she had said on the radio interview, because she has been a judge and has just got a blues award from the foundation for her photography. I had no idea who she was, how well known she was how much she contributed to the Blues Foundation, in the end me and her became best friends during the IBC. When I told her how I had listened to the interview she started crying in the middle of the street. I can’t believe it, I am just so glad I put it out there and someone took heed. This was what it was constantly about, the after effect of all my research. For whoever wins next UKBlues challenge, the advice I would give them is hunt down anything and anybody who knows about the IBC. You can get it from the most unlikely places. Because when we landed there I realised that there were a lot of bands that didn’t have that information. We were streets ahead with knowledge, we hit the ground running. It was thanks to all that research I had done. BD: You will have to write a book Kaz: Ha Ha Jesus Christ Liz, A friend wants to do a documentary I say to her if you got a ten hour day.
LIZ: Tell us about the Memphis experience and reaching the Semi-finals. Was the Blues different in Memphis and how many other Europeans were competing in the heart of the roots of Blues.
KAZ: I think we are full on ready, if anything it has prepared us definitely. I wasn’t really nervous, not even nervous I was apprehensive about Memphis because everywhere we went we could hear twelve-bar blues and I was kinda worried Oh! I was kind of worried, my god we are not going to go down here you’re not Blues. But I had a good talk with David, he is my rock, for the first time felt a little bit inadequate, as we artists do, these are my songs and about to go into a competition. I never wrote these songs to compete with David said to me “Kaz you just have to keep the end in sight, and the end is exposure to further your career. If you don’t win it doesn’t matter”. We did go over there to fight for it, but we didn’t think we had a hope in hell of winning and to make it through to the semi’s was unreal. The talent was just off the scale but I think it prepared us, a lot of it was a shock of what happened. So we are definitely given us heads up for the European Blues Challenge.
LIZ: Is the Blues scene over there stronger and deeper than here, you were saying the people playing were stupendous
KAZ: We have it too but there on a much bigger stage it is much larger it is just so daunting over there with 288 acts from around the world. It is not just up and down England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland. This is the Best of the Best of Blues around the world. What we did realise was so many societies say California had maybe twenty Blues Societies sending acts there were so many. In one of those interviews, I listened to one of the judges said some societies will send a band that is not of the calibre of touring bands. We knew going in there were different levels, the local band that jams for the sake of blues, then you have a proper gigging circuit bands, then you would have the professional bands who are touring like us. We were confident we knew our stuff. How it worked it was about the music, the blues not about talking. I heard a great quote “If you want to be a favourite on the next Justin Bieber jump into the audience with your guitar. If you want to impress the Judges stay on the stage”. So I stayed on Stage!
LIZ: Kaz Hawkins and your Band did do Well taking UKBlues Federation Challenge winner to Memphis and leaving a semi-finalist
KAZ: The start was with two-hundred & eighty-eight bands at the beginning. With Forty-Four making it through to the Semi-finals. With twelve competing in the challenge final. So reaching the semi’s was massive I am so proud of us. People got what we were about. There were two quarter-finals, on the second night how many in for us. On the first night we were one of the bands from about one-hundred miles away filled the room with their fans they were loud and rooting for them So when we came on afterwards I was sort of oh hell and just did our stuff. On the second night, I didn’t even realise until I got off stage and went outside for a smoke apparently they had been queueing down the frigging street to get in. The doorman went to me didn’t you see the queue I said no I told you last night people would want to come back and see you so word had spread really really fast. We were branded we had our coats on, we were giving out badges and business cards, CD’s to everybody we met. That is what each society was doing handing out freebies. People got to know and recognise us by what we were wearing.
LIZ: How Many European societies were over in Memphis, if you know?
KAZ: Not sure I know there was bands from, France, Norway, Germany, Sweden Met bands from Switzerland and Germany who we will be up against at the European Blues Challenge so have an insight. We are now going to the Europeans as Semi-finalists having met the Challenge in Memphis
LIZ: Memphis itself as an experience must have been amazing
KAZ: I cried Liz. We went to Hard Rock Café, you know it takes a moment to get your bearings. We were heading down to Beale Street Hard Rock is first. I didn’t realise it was Beale Street that I was looking at. We went into the Café sat down it was empty except for another man and his wife who was in the Challenge. You must say challenge not competition I was corrected when I said Competition. I am going for a smoke, went out the other door, and there was a horse and carriage I looked to my left and saw Beale Street I was wow actually here. I ran back in and said come on guys we can’t just sit here, Beale Street is right there. They laughed and said we know Kaz. Why didn’t no one tell me, it was one of those stupid blonde moments. We then walked out crossed at the lights and hit Blueside Café first one on the left as you know I had written Hallelujah, Happy People about Memphis so for me to hit that street. I had been singing about happy people who sing the blues It was just surreal to actually to be there. We arrived there two days early and it was empty there really wasn’t many people no really anybody from the IBC. They had blocked the street off in preparation for the IBC. ‘Cos they open it in the week but close it at weekends, so it was all closed down street was empty you could walk down the middle of the road. It was surreal everywhere you looked it was merchandise and tourist stuff it was early afternoon and music was blasting out onto the street so you instantly knew you are in Blues Mecca.
LIZ: Denmark is round the corner the last of the three challenges that started back in Wolverhampton last November.
KAZ: We are ready, the fans have been so on board that pushes us forward. I am comfortable I sort of got the nod from Blues Foundation you did all right. That gives you so much. Flights and hotel are all booked so organised for Denmark. Have a nice hotel directly facing the venue. The only thing in Memphis we were about twenty minutes outside so we had to hire a car etc. all eats into the cost. In fact takes us longer to get to Denmark we have an eighteen hour layover! All crazy but will be fine. We have a great slot and feeling very positive playing on the Saturday line-up half way through the evening. We do feel that we are going over with a real chance to bring the trophy home for UKBlues Federation and blues fans across the UK & Northern Ireland.
LIZ: So once you have finished the trio of Challenges, what is planned for the rest of 2017 for Kaz Hawkins.
KAZ: New solo album away from the band. It is just because things have been so hectic I can get kinda manic with it all so taking time out for me and my music. I am doing couple of dates here in Northern Ireland in July, one massive one, a dream come true for me, singing in Belfast Cathedral. Release date for solo album is 22nd July. Will be performing with Sam York and the band is off the road July. We hit the road with a big European Festival still a secret and Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival which look so exciting the new look for the festival. Then UK and European tour with the band. I am off to Nashville next month to play the Bluebird Café then back for weekend touring in England then back and the next day off to Boston lecturing at Boston Uni, as I am still doing my own stuff.
LIZ: So glad you had a good and successful time in Memphis and now off to Horsen, Denmark good luck and be wonderful if Kaz Hawkins can bring the trophy home.
Bluesdoodles and UKBlues thanks, Graham Whittington of Lens Art Photography for sending a selection of the superb photo diary of Kaz and the band in Memphis.
Ditty TV (Americana & Roots Music Television) with Amy Wright:
Post-IBC radio show with Vinny Bond:
UKBLUES WELCOMES BRITISH BLUES ARCHIVE
The UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) is delighted to announce that with immediate effect the British Blues Archive (BBA) is to amalgamate with UKBlues and come under the organisation’s ‘umbrella’ with BBA’s online archive material being incorporated into the Education section of the UKBlues’ website (www.ukblues.org) .
In addition UKBlues and the British Blues Archive are working with the British Blues Exhibition (www.britishbluesexhibition.co.uk) and Early Blues.com (www.earlyblues.com) who have agreed to migrate some of their relevant online content to further enhance the brand new and comprehensive resource afforded by this new venture.
This unique partnership will create an unparalleled central resource and reference point for historical material relating to blues in the UK online and forms part of UKBlues’ stated aim to seek to provide educational material and facilities to widen knowledge of the blues in the UK and to assist those also seeking to do the same.
Ashwyn Smyth, Chair of UKBlues said: ‘We were thrilled and honoured when Peter Harvie, joint founder of the BBA, approached us to suggest an amalgamation. The BBA has a wealth of material of all sorts and Peter’s approach came as our webmaster, Alan White, was in the process of setting up an Education section of our website following our decision to seek to develop this aspect of our activities. So this was a great idea that arose at the perfect time. To then have the British Blues Exhibition and Early Blues offer to work with us to further enhance this was the icing on the cake and we thank board members Darren Weale and Alan White for their generous co-operation.
The Board of UKBlues is hugely excited about the possibilities that these new partnerships and co-operations afford us as an organisation but, more importantly, the blues as a whole in the UK. They also serve to reinforce our mission to become a focal point for the blues in the UK.’
Peter Harvie of the British Blues Archive said; 'We at the British Blues Archive are delighted to be joining UK Blues. The work being done by the British Blues Archive and UK Blues complement each other and the bringing together of our strengths has created in one place a tremendous resource, the place to go to for information, history, interviews and insights on British Blues. We at the British Blues Archive are tremendously excited about the amalgamation and are looking forward to new projects ahead with UK Blues'.
SUPPORT THE UK’S REPRESENTATIVE AT THE INTERNATIONAL & EUROPEAN BLUES CHALLENGE
WINNER OF 3RD UK BLUES CHALLENGE ANNOUNCED
Photo courtesy Alan White
The Robin 2, Bilston, West Midlands played host to the 3rd UK Blues Challenge on Saturday 12th November 2016, organized by the UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) and sponsored by Upton Blues Festival.
At stake for the four contestants was the opportunity to represent the UK at the 33rd International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis in the USA at the end of January/early February 2017 and at the 7th European Blues Challenge (EBC) in Horsens, Denmark in April 2017. This will be the first time that the UK has been represented at the IBC.
The four bands participating in the Challenge were selected by a panel of more than 250 people involved in and with the blues in the UK and came from across the UK exhibiting the breadth, quality and individuality that exists in the blues in the UK.
From Cornwall, Wille & the Bandits, a trio whose reputation is being reinforced by their most recent CD release.
Photo courtesy Graham Munn
from Norfolk the individual and combined talents that are the Dove & Boweevil Band
Photo courtesy Graham Munn
from Northern Ireland the powerhouse that is the Kaz Hawkins Band
Photo courtesy Graham Munn
and from Birmingham, multiple British Blues Award winner, Rebecca Downes
Photo courtesy Graham Munn
Each of the bands delivered an exciting and varied thirty minute set featuring mainly original music which demonstrated how broad a church the blues is in the UK, much to the delight of the large audience at the event.
Photo courtesy Ashwyn Smyth
Deciding upon a winner was a tough job for the panel of seven judges, drawn from across the blues spectrum:
Alex Butler of Red Butler who represented the UK at the 2015 EBC,
Oliver Carpenter - Trustee - and Ruth Etheridge - Secretary - Upton Blues Festival,
Mark Horsley, the Promoter and Director of the Scarborough Secret Blues Festival,
Peter Noble, boss of Noble PR,
Becky Tate* of Babajack, EBC contestants in 2013.
*Honorary Members of UKBlues
After much deliberation and in a tight contest, the Kaz Hawkins Band were declared very popular winners and were presented with the UKBlues Challenge trophy and Winner's certificate.
Photo courtesy Liz Aiken
As well as competing at the International & European Blues Challenges, the winner will also be offered slots to play at Blues on the Farm, the International Blues Review Mini Cruise and the Upton Blues Festival in 2017.
Kaz said after the announcement: ‘My band and I are so humbled to be chosen to represent the UK Blues Federation in the USA & Europe. It's exciting to be pushing our own boundaries in the blues genre. We would like to thank the UK Blues Federation for giving us this opportunity to showcase our music on behalf of the UK. ‘
In addition to representing the UK at the International and European Blues Challenges and the massive exposure this will offer, the band will also be offered the opportunity to play at four top blues festivals/events during 2017 and they were presented with a trophy on the night.
Previous UK representatives at the EBC have included Red Butler, Laurence Jones, Babajack and Ben Poole. Becky Tate of Babajack, said of their participation in the EBC:
‘For us it was immensely important. We got to go to Europe, it was our window into Europe and we met an enormous number of people. We had a whole year’s worth of festival work offered us from that one twenty minute slot we played.
We didn’t win, we came close, but you know what, what we won was an amazing opportunity for us as musicians and I can honestly say that our European work is what has kept us on the road.
It’s an amazing thing to do for that individual band but it is also an amazing thing to do for British blues. That’s why what these guys (UKBlues) are doing is so important‘
Another of the judges, Peter Noble of Noble PR commented:
’The UK Blues Challenge was wonderful. It gave me the opportunity to see Wille & The Bandits live who I felt were the most original artist of the night. I particularly loved the pedal steel guitar and Wille’s harrowing vocals. Kaz Hawkins touched a nerve with the judges and after her performance you felt a definite emotional connection. The biggest reaction of the night went to Rebecca Downes who really impressed everyone with her incredible powerhouse vocals and dynamic stage presence. Dove & Boweevil were also impressive with their entertaining blues repertoire. All in all a great evening.'
Ashwyn Smyth, Chair of UKBlues said:
‘ This was an excellent evening and our thanks go to everyone involved, the bands, the judges, the sponsors and all the team at the Robin 2 who made us so welcome and worked so hard to make the event such a success. The feedback we have received has been great and it is clear that those who attended thoroughly enjoyed the very fine musicians who played for them. I hope that we have laid the foundations for future UK Blues Challenges and that it will become one of the must attend events of the blues year.
This was a night that celebrated the best in UK blues and demonstrated only too clearly the quality and range of the talent that is all too often unsung in this too frequently ignored musical genre. The event also raised funds which we, UKBlues, can use to further our aims and to make a contribution towards the Kaz Hawkins Band’s costs attending the two Challenges.’
UKBlues will be setting up a crowd funding page soon to raise additional funds to help the UK’s representative attend both the European and International Blues Challenges. Details will be announced shortly.
REMINDER TO MEMBERS
Don't forget that, as a Member of UKBlues you can post details of your gigs and/or those gigs with which you are involved on the Events page of the UKBlues website. There are already a few gigs posted here and we hope that over the next few months this page will become ever more populated.
If you are already a Member or Friend of UKBlues and want to avail yourself of this facility, please contact our Webmaster who will sort out access and log ins for you - firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOT A MEMBER? JOIN NOW!
If you are not already a member of UKBlues, why not join now? Click here to join.
By doing so you will be able to help us support & promote the blues in the UK and you will enjoy a range of benefits including being on the panel of those invited to nominate artists for the annual UK Blues Challenge.
UK BLUES ANNOUNCES MAIN SPONSOR FOR THE 2016 UK BLUES CHALLENGE
The UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) is delighted to announce the Upton Blues Festival as the main sponsor of the forthcoming 3rd UK Blues Challenge which takes place on 12th November 2016 at The Robin 2 in Bilston, West Midlands.
This event will see Wille & the Bandits, Dove & Boweevil, Kaz Hawkins and Rebecca Downes competing for the opportunity to represent the UK at the European and International Blues Challenges in 2017.
In addition, the winner of the UK Blues Challenge will be offered the opportunity to play at a number of top UK festivals including the Upton Blues Festival. This additional support by the committee of the Upton Blues Festival.
For Upton Blues Festival, Oliver Carpenter said:
‘The Upton Blues Festival is proud to sponsor the UK Blues Challenge night. Britain’s biggest free blues festival and Festival of the Year 2015 & 2016 in the British Blues Awards, Upton attracts over 20,000 visitors from across the country and contributes almost £1M to the small Worcestershire town’s economy. It shows how live blues can be mainstream and attract all ages and types of people to revel in the atmosphere created by the broad spectrum of this important type of music.
The volunteer organisation team wants to support the UK Blues Federation in all its activities to bring together the performers, venues, clubs, festivals, and media interested in blues music and to promote all aspects of blues, from the traditional to the new, the familiar to the unexpected and the intimate to the vibrant, to new audiences and new people across the country. ‘
For UKBlues, Ashwyn Smyth, Chair, said:
‘We are very appreciative of and grateful for the support being given to UKBlues, both financial and general, by the multi-award winning Upton Blues Festival. Their sponsorship of the UK Blues Challenge will help considerably with the costs thereof and mean that we will have more funds available to support some of the other activities of UKBlues, including providing some financial assistance to the winner of the Challenge towards their expenses representing the UK at both the European and International Blues Challenges in 2017.
With this support, Upton Blues Festival is demonstrating the kind of co-operation and support we are seeking to encourage and develop within the UK blues community and demonstrates the benefits of different areas of that community working together to facilitate and achieve similar aims.’
Tickets for the 3rd UK Blues Challenge at the Robin 2, Bilston priced £10.00 (plus booking fee) can be booked online at www.therobin.co.uk or by calling 01902 401211. Tickets £12.00 on the door.
The top raffle prize at the UK Blues Challenge at the Robin 2 in November is 20 CDs.
Not just any CDs, but some of the top releases so far in 2016.
Joe Bonamassa, King King, Red Butler, Royal Southern Brotherhood and Layla Zoe are just 5 of the 20 artists in the prize.
The picture shows all 20 (in fact here are 22 CDs because Joe B and King King are doublers)
If you can't make it to the event but want a chance to win then click the donate button above and make a donation of £5 or £10 or £15 or more.
Tickets are £1 each and are sold in strips of 5.
In the purpose box put RAFFLE and your full name
The Judges at the event will adjudicate the raffle to ensure fair play.
Hurry! This offer ends at midnight on Thursday 10th November 2016.
Here are video messages about the Challenge from the contestants:
Dove & Boweevil Band
-- Video coming soon
Kaz Hawkins Band
Wille & The Bandits
-- Video coming soon
UKBLUES FEDERATION T-SHIRTS
Check out the fantastic designs and buy our new UKBlues Federation official t-shirts here
UKBUES FEDERATION FUNDRAISER
BRITISH BLUES AWARDS 2016 RESULTS ANNOUNCED
Congratulations go to all the winners and runners up in the 2016 British Blues Awards, the results of which were announced at Newark Blues Festival earlier today (Sunday 11th September 2016)
Male Vocalist of the Year Sponsored by Blues in the South
1) Alan Nimmo
2) Aynsley Lister
3) Marcus Bonfanti
Female Vocalist of the Year Sponsored by Digital Blues
1) Rebecca Downes
2) Connie Lush
3) Kaz Hawkins
Band of the Year - Sponsored by The Tuesday Night Music Club
1) The Nimmo Brothers
2) The Laurence Jones Band
3) Red Butler
Acoustic Act of the Year - Sponsored by Blues is the Truth
1) Ian Siegal
2) Marcus Bonfanti
3) Joel Fisk and Jon Amor
Guitarist of the Year - Sponsored by New Crawdaddy Blues Club
1) Laurence Jones
2) Alan Nimmo
3) Aynsley Lister
Harmonica Player of the Year - Sponsored by Wall2Wall Blues
1) Mark Feltham
2) Will Wilde
3) Trevor Steger
Keyboard Player of the Year - Sponsored by G99photography
1) Paul Long
2) Paddy Milner
3) Steve Watts
Bass Player of the Year - Sponsored by The Blues and Soul Show.com
1) Lindsay Coulson
2) Roger Inniss
3) Matthew Brooks
Drummer of the Year - Sponsored by The Hat Reviews
1) Andrew Naumann
2) Sam Kelly
3) Mark Barrett
Instrumentalist of the Year - Sponsored by Raven and the Blues
1) Becky Tate
2) Kyla Brox
3) Karena K
Young Artist of the Year - Sponsored by Pablo and the Blues Show
1) Laurence Jones
2) Alex Butler
3) Matthew Long
Blues Festival of the Year - Sponsored by Blues and Roots PR
1) Upton Blues Festival
2) Blues on the Farm
3) Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival Colne
Overseas Artist of the Year - Sponsored by Sunday Morning Soul
1) Buddy Guy
2) Dan Patlansky
3) Dana Fuchs
Independent Blues Broadcaster of the Year - Sponsored by The Roots Collective
1) Paul Long
2) Dave Raven
3) Gary Grainger
Blues Album of the Year - Sponsored by Sedgefield Rock and Blues Club
1) Reaching for the Light - King King
2) Renaissance - Connie Lush Band
3) Big Blues - Jesse Davey
Blues Song of the Year - Sponsored by GMH Promotions
1) Rush Hour - King King
2) Believe - Rebecca Downes
3) Walk on Land - Chantel McGregor
The Barry Middleton Memorial Award for Emerging Artist of the Year - Sponsored by Blues in Britain
1) Rebecca Downes
2) The Voodoo Sheiks
3) The Della Grants
The Kevin Thorpe Memorial Award for Songwriter of the Year - Sponsored by Blues and Roots Connections
1) King King
2) Stevie Nimmo
3) Wily Bo Walker
Blues Great - Papa George - Sponsored by Cavern Club London
Blues Great - The Hoax - Sponsored by Ginger Cow Marketing
Lifetime Achievement - Pete Feenstra - Sponsored by Wrinkly Rockers Club
UKBLUES WELCOMES ITS FOURTH HONORARY MEMBER
The board of the UKBlues Federation (UKBlues) welcomes Aynsley Lister who has accepted the Board’s invitation to become our fourth Honorary Member alongside Kyla Brox, Kaz Hawkins and Becky Tate (BabaJack).
Their roles are to act as Ambassadors for UKBlues, to promote the activities of UKBlues and to support UKBlues’ resolve to promote blues in the UK.
Exclusive North American Blues UK tickets competition for members of UKBlues
Our newest member benefit is exclusive, members-only competitions. The first competition is for a pair of tickets to a show to see one of the British Blues Awards top 3 Overseas Artists 2016 during their June 2016 tour, namely The Billy Walton Band.
Even better for our members is that the competition also includes a pair of tickets to see Canadian Maple-Awards nominated Bluesman Chris Antonik on his debut UK tour in July 2016, hot on the heels of fellow Canadian JW-Jones.
We will soon confirm the shows the tickets will be for, but you can enter now - if you are already or now become a member of UKBlues. Please click here to join UKBlues if you are not already a member and then email email@example.com with your answer to this question:
Q. Which Scottish location is the only one either act will be playing at in their summer UK 2016 tours?
A - Glasgow
B - Edinburgh
C - Aberdeen
The competition closes at midnight on 6th June 2016. The winner will be chosen at random from UKBlues members who have answered correctly. They (one or two persons) will be put on the guest list at the venue(s) to be confirmed.
DOCUMENT RECORDS - DISCOUNTS FOR UKBLUES MEMBERS
We have now negotiated a discount with Document Records - exclusive for UKBlues members.
Members can now benefit from a 10% discount off any full price purchase of any Document Records CD – excluding any CDs in sales or on special offer.
UKBLUES ANNOUNCES CONTESTANTS IN 2016 UK BLUES CHALLENGE
UK Blues (the UK Blues Federation) is pleased to announce the names of the four acts/bands that have been selected to compete in the 2016 UK Blues Challenge which will take place at the Robin 2, Bilston on Saturday 12th November 2016.
In alphabetical order they are:
photo courtesy of Liz Aiken (c) 2016 - www.bluesdoodles.com
photo courtesy of Alan White (c) 2016 - www.earlyblues.com
These bands/acts were the four most popular in the selection process run recently by UKBlues which saw more than 250 people from across the UK blues scene being invited to nominate three acts which they thought would best represent the blues in the UK at both the European and International Blues Challenges next year.
The winners of the UK Blues Challenge, as chosen by a panel of judges drawn from across the UK blues spectrum, will be invited to represent the UK at the 7th European Blues Challenge which takes place in Housens, Denmark on 6th, 7th & 8th April 2017 and the 33rd International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee which runs from 31st January to 4th February 2017.
The winners will also be offered slots to play at a number of festivals around the UK during 2017.
Tickets for the 3rd UK Blues Challenge at the Robin 2, Bilston priced £10.00 (plus booking fee) can be booked online at www.therobin.co.uk or by calling 01902 401211
More details will be posted on the UKBlues website – www.ukblues.org – where you can further support blues in the UK by joining the UK Blues Federation.
Blues in Britain Magazine – Discounted Annual Subscriptions
We have negotiated a discounted annual subscription rate with Blues in Britain magazine - exclusive for UKBlues members! Instead of the usual annual subscription rate, UKBlues Members now benefit as follows:
- a £22.50 saving off the normal UK rate (£22.00 for EU/Europe and £23.00 for Rest of World)
- a £13.50 saving off the normal UK rate (£13.00 for EU/Europe and £14.00 for Rest of World)
UKBlues thanks Blues in Britain magazine for making this offer available and supporting us in our work.
UKBLUES PROVIDES FINANCIAL BACKING TO RED BUTLER FOR EUROPEAN BLUES CHALLENGE
Danny Bryant presents Alex Butler with the UK Blues Federation's cheque for the money raised by UKBlues' crowd funding campaign.
At the Waterfront, Norwich
l to r - Paul Smith, Board Member - UKBlues, Alex Butler, Danny Bryant, Charlie Simpson, Jane Chloe Pearce, Mike Topp (Red Butler)
Following the end of a crowd funding campaign set up by the UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) on Crowdfunder UK, UKBlues is very pleased to announce that a total of £570.00 was raised thanks to the generosity of the contributors. After the deduction of the fees levied by Crowdfunder UK, PayPal and Stripe who process the payments, a total of £540.00 remains and UKBlues have passed the whole of this to Red Butler to assist with their costs appearing at the 6th European Blues Challenge in Torrita di Siena, Italy in April. It is believed that this is the first time that the UK’s representative at the European Blues Challenge has received financial support from the UK blues community. For Red Butler, Alex Butler said: ‘’We'd like to thank everyone who has been part of this incredible effort to support us in our journey to Italy. We are honoured to have the opportunity to compete in the competition flying the flag for the U.K" For UKBlues, Ashwyn Smyth: ‘‘We are very pleased and not a little proud that we have managed to provide some financial assistance to Red Butler as they travel to Italy to compete with 20 other acts from around Europe in the 6th European Blues Challenge. We hope that people will recognise that UKBlues means what it says and that we are working hard to ‘promote and support Blues in and from the United Kingdom in all its forms and styles.’ This is just one small step, next year we hope to be able to assist the winners of this year’s UK Blues Challenge to attend both the EBC in Denmark and the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. We also have many other things which we are working on and invite people to support our work and the blues in the UK by joining the UK Blues Federation. For details visit our website, www.ukblues.org ‘’
UKBLUES FEDERATION ANNOUNCES 3rd UK BLUES CHALLENGE
The UK Blues Foundation (UKBlues) is delighted to announce that the 3rd UK Blues Challenge will be held at the Robin 2, in Bilston, Wolverhampton, on Saturday 12th November 2016. At the event, four bands/acts chosen from a selection process which has already commenced, will compete for the opportunity to be invited to represent the UK at the 7th Blues Challenge in Denmark in 2017 as well as, it is hoped, the 33rd International Blues Challenge in Memphis, also in 2017.
UKBlues wishes to thank Mike Hamblett at the Robin 2 for his support and assistance in making this event possible.
Full details of the event, including how tickets can be purchased, timings etc. will be published soon.
Mike Hamblett - proprietor of the Robin 2: ‘I am very proud and privileged to host the 3rd UK Blues Challenge at The Robin 2 in Bilston, Wolverhampton on 12th November 2016. We all look forward to an extremely successful event..."
Ashwyn Smyth – Chair of UKBlues: ‘We are delighted to be staging this event at the Robin 2, a superb and well known venue with a deserved reputation for putting on top class music events. We have made no secret of the fact that we are keen to see the UK Blues Challenge being staged at locations throughout the UK which this event evidences.’
Contact Chair – Ashwyn Smyth firstname.lastname@example.org
or Darren Weale - 07708 712011
See our website: www.ukblues.org
Venue website: www.therobin.co.uk
BLUES FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 2016 BLUES HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES (including a long overdue award for John Mayall)
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE February 16, 2016. On May 4, 2016 five legendary blues performers, two individuals who were instrumental in the creation of blues music, five single blues recordings, one blues album and an important piece of blues literature will be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
Elvin Bishop, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, John Mayall, and The Memphis Jug Band will each take their places beside performers who have been deemed by a group of blues scholars and industry veterans to be the Best in the Blues. Each of these musicians has carved his place in blues history. Bishop's beginnings with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to his more recent recognition for the 2015 Blues Music Awards "Song of the Year" have elevated him to the highest stature in blues music. Clearwater, Johnson, and Mayall each boast careers that have spanned more than a half century, and their talent has not waned as they each continue to produce music and to perform for devoted audiences, yet each are distinguishable by their stage presence and musical talent. The Memphis Jug Band's music crossed the racial divides of the first half of the twentieth century and inspired many musicians to follow in their footsteps.
Non-performer individuals to be recognized by The Blues Foundation for their behind-the-scenes contributions are Malaco Records partners Tommy Couch, Sr. and Wolf Stephenson, whose label's first big hit was Dorothy Moore's "Misty Blue" in 1976, and who then went on to produce such blues greats as Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Z.Z. Hill, Denise LaSalle, Latimore, Johnnie Taylor, and Tyrone Davis. The business foundation they built has allowed Malaco to remain an active player in the music world today.
The book Early Downhome Blues: A Musical and Cultural Analysis, by Jeff Todd Titon is the literature entry into the Blues Hall of Fame this year, and is one of the most important analytical studies of the blues to have been published.
The classic album Blues in the Mississippi Night (Nixa, 1957: United Artists, 1959) is being honored as are the singles, "Crazy Blues" by Mamie Smith (OKeh, 1920), "That's All Right" by Jimmy Rogers (Chess, 1950), Billy Boy Arnold's "I Wish You Would" (Vee-Jay, 1955), Johnny Moore's Three Blazers' (Charles Brown, vocal and piano) "Merry Christmas Baby" (Exclusive, 1947), the first Yuletide song inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, and "Blues Before Sunrise" by Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell (Vocalion, 1934).
Inductees' official biographies and descriptions are also available - click here.
The induction ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 4, at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown in Memphis, Tennessee, the night before the 37th Blues Music Awards. With living musicians like Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton, and legends like Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor, the Blues Hall of Fame consists of blues music's best and brightest stars. The Blues Hall of Fame induction ceremony will coincide with the one year anniversary of the opening of the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, also located in Memphis, TN at the home of the Blues Foundation. This state of the art facility celebrates the lives and the music of each Hall of Fame individual as well as the history of the music and the literature produced through the blues timeline. These newest inductees will be added to the museum's permanent exhibits and interactive displays in conjunction with their induction this May.
On May 5, the night after the Blues Hall of Fame inductions, The Blues Foundation will present the Blues Music Awards for the 37th time. Performers, industry representatives, and fans from around the world will celebrate the best in blues recording, songwriting, and performance from the previous year at the Memphis Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis. For tickets and more information, click here.
UKBLUES GETS SERIOUS AS 2016 BEGINS – AND YOU CAN HELP
UKBlues begins 2016 with a series of announcements that shows it is growing fast, is helping people in the UK Blues scene, and is being recognised by significant international bodies.
In 2015, after a hotly-contested competition, Red Butler were chosen to represent the UK at the European Blues Challenge (EBC) in Italy in April. Now we have launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring in further funding which is to be used on our activities and projects. The crowdfunding will enable UKBlues to make a financial contribution towards Red Butlers' costs in travelling to compete in the EBC. We fully expect to do the same for future UK representatives. See www.crowdfunder.co.uk/ukblues. Closing date 12th February. Red Butler commented, "Red Butler are already meeting the majority of the cost of their Italian trip and will only receive a contribution from the UK Blues Federation, for which they are very grateful". UKBlues aims to become a significant source of help and support to the British Blues scene, as the Blues Foundation is in the US. Consequently, we greatly appreciate any contribution, however small, as we go forward. Please do your bit for UKBlues via the crowdfunding link above.
We have newly introduced a UKBlues membership scheme, open to anybody who is involved in or supports the Blues in the UK. These annually paid memberships, with perks for members, will provide UKBlues, a not for profit body, to have an ongoing income to enable spending on activities and projects that will benefit Blues in the UK. Membership benefits will be enhanced during 2016. To learn more and to sign up, see www.ukblues.org/membership-signup
UKBlues is now proud to be an official Affiliate of the Blues Foundation in the US. The Memphis-based Blues Foundation is the world's premier Blues organisation. Barbara Newman, President & CEO of the Blues Foundation, said: “The Blues Foundation is thrilled to welcome the UK Blues Federation as our newest affiliate. We know that the blues are strong as ever in the UK, and we are excited to begin partnering with UK Blues as our first affiliate in that region of the world. I’ll also be cheering them on during this next year, while we provide them the support that they need to create their own local Blues Challenge so they can send the best of the new blues artists coming out of the UK to Memphis for the 2017 International Blues Challenge.” www.blues.org
Our activities requiring income from crowd funding, memberships and other sources include: administrative costs, e.g., purchasing promotional materials; website fees; company registration and accounts; affiliation to the Blues Foundation and Active Membership of the European Blues Union.
The new projects for UKBlues are currently under discussion, but will include running the 3rd UK Blues Challenge later this year; seeking to raise funds to assist the winner with the costs of attending the European and International Blues Challenges in 2017; and educational initiatives.
UKBlues In The News
UK Blues Federation in the news Blues in Britain December 2015 Issue OUT NOW! Not once but twice on page 3 Red Butler representing UK at the 6th European Blues Challenge having won the 2nd UK Blues Challenge. The second is review of 2nd Blues Challenge thanks to Nigel Foster on Page 9... Plus loads more interesting articles and CD reviews - check out the magazine.
Blues In Britain
European Blues Awards 2015
On Saturday 9th November at the London Blues Fest the winners of the European Blues Awards 2015 were announced on the O2 Arena Brooklyn Bowl Stage. There was also a #BluesHour twitter forum special awards feature on the Monday following, but for those that missed the news here are the voted 2015 category winners:
Best Musician Ted McKenna (eu)
Best Radio Show Paul Jones Blues Show BBC Radio 2 (uk)
Best Publication Blues Magazine (uk)
Best Album/Recorded Session The Blues Overdrive – Clinch (dk)
Best Solo/Acoustic Act Seasick Steve (eu/usa)
Best Vocalist Ian Siegal (uk)
Best Festival/Event Ribs en Blues Festival (nl)
Best Guitarist Laurence Jones (uk)
Best Band Leif de Leeuw Band (nl)
RED BUTLER INTERVIEW
Photo courtesy Rockypix
Following the announcement of Red Butler as winners of the 2nd UK Blues Challenge, Alan White from the UKBlues Federation had the privilege of interviewing the band. Red Butler are: Alex Butler - guitar and backing vocals, Jane Chloe Pearce - lead vocals, Charlie Simpson - drums, Mike Topp - bass guitar and backing vocals.
Alan: Where are you from and what are your first musical memories?
Alex: I am from a town called Uckfield in East Sussex. It is between Tunbridge Wells and Brighton. Music has always been a big part of my life, it was always on at home as a child. One of my earliest memories is playing ‘air guitar’ along to Carlos Santana to my Dad in the conservatory!
Jane: Born and bred in Brighton. An early memory when growing up was listening to my Dad’s music blaring out on vinyl. Ten Years After, Cream, Free, Led Zeppelin , even skiffle! The most memorable moment though was listening to Etta James 1976 album ‘Etta is beta than Evvah” which was what made me want to be a performer. The strength of her voice, her improvisation and her ‘feel’ were something I was glad to be introduced to at a very early stage in my life.
Charlie: My blood is half Scottish and half Danish but I have lived in the Uckfield area of East Sussex all my life. My first musical memory is my Dad buying an electronic drum kit in London and being amazed by it.
Alan: Did you come from a musical family - is there a long musical heritage?
Alex: Neither of my parents play an instrument although have a great love for music. My half brother plays guitars and sings in a band and other extended members of the family play instruments.
Jane: I have a family of ‘artists.’ My Grandad was an amazing painter. My Dad is also a good artist and also my brother. My Grandad’s brother was a pianist.
Charlie: My Dad plays a bit of drums and piano. My cousin is a drummer and a few other family members play drums so there are a lot of drumming influences around me!
Mike: Not particularly, but there is music in my extended family. I discovered music through friends at school.
Alan: Did you always want to become a musician/singer?
Alex: Ever since the age of 7!
Jane: Yes! Although when you are a child you are oblivious to the amount of hard work and sacrifices that come with the dream! I used to sing in a Gospel choir when I was 17 and then went on to study singing.
Charlie: It has always been at the back of my mind but not properly until I was about 17.
Mike: Not always, but definitely ever since I discovered music properly as a teenager.
Alan: How did you get started in music?
Alex: As mentioned previously my half brother inspired me initially. There were times though when I was less interested in music in the first few years – but I soon found my way!
Jane: At 16 I enrolled at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music. Believe it or not I was a shy performer at the time that needed a boost to come out of her comfort zone. It is important to overcome such hurdles and put yourself in the ‘deep end.’ I have also learnt never to miss an opportunity.
Charlie: I started playing music with Alex in a few covers bands at around the age of 11/12 years old.
Mike: I wanted to be a singer, but it wasn’t for me. I only picked up a bass by chance when my friends needed a player and I happened to be there. Once I got going I didn’t look back.
Alan: What kind of material were you playing in the early days?
Alex: Around the age of 7 I started playing traditional pieces from a book, at the time I was desperate to play something more fulfilling and exciting than ‘three blind mice’ for the millionth time! Looking back now I am so grateful that I stuck with it as it gave me a great foundation for technique, harmony and melody.
Jane: I have been in many bands and performed everything from rock, pop, jazz, funk, blues and soul – I even sang on a pop/metal album!
Charlie: I was playing classic rock covers – Bon Jovi, Free and Deep Purple etc.
Mike: Loads of Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, no blues until later.
Alan: Who are your heroes?
Alex: I have many – not just in blues. I find the plight of some of the early classical artists fascinating along with their stories and personal/social struggles - what some of the great composers achieved in such little time is amazing! In terms of blues music I am in awe of Jeff Healey and his music – I am always blown away by his technique.
Jane: Robert Plant, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James and Beth Hart.
Charlie: Benny Greb, Teddy Campbell, Matt Garstka and Dave Grohl.
Mike: Lindsay Buckingham, Phil Lynott, SRV and Johnny Cash.
Alan: What first attracted you to the blues and what does the blues mean to you?
Alex: The blues fascinates me because of the voices and musicianship involved. I love the history of its development. As for what it means to me now … the blues has become such an eclectic mix I find it hard to pin down what defines it (if anything) but I would say that whatever music I listen to I always listen for melody and stories in the music first rather than technical proficiency.
Jane: I had a ton of albums I would listen to as a child. It’s been said before but blues is ‘healing music’ to me.
Charlie: Blues to me is the foundation of music. Music should make you feel emotion and that’s exactly what blues is all about!
Mike: Again it came through friends, and it was when we got hold of an SRV album for the first time. His music (guitar playing and voice) really leapt out of the speakers and has stayed with me ever since. I don’t think it’s any one thing, there are so many different types and styles of ‘blues;, especially today, I just want to hear music that is played with passion and real feeling, and that can be found in blues.
Alan: Some music styles may be fads but the blues is always with us. Why do you think that is?
Alex: People can always relate to stories and emotion within music. Blues, and Country Music, are often full of those.
Jane: I think blues holds a special place in people’s hearts. Blues connects with people’s emotions. In more recent years, people relate the blues to Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin – an era people don’t want to forget.
Charlie: To be honest my last answer is exactly the answer to this as well!
Mike: It speaks to people, there is real feeling in the music. But I think as long as it’s not ‘fashionable’ it will have a better chance of surviving, because the people that do like it will stick around when the trend changes.
Alan: Tell me a little about your musical journey so far, the bands and gigs along the way.
Alex: The journey has been very interesting so far, its chapters have included classical, blues, rock, flamenco and jazz! I have really enjoyed learning as much as I can about playing different styles from great tutors and aim to continue. Charlie and I have been long term musical partners and share fond memories of playing in a classic rock covers band in pubs throughout Sussex in our teenage years. We learnt an awful lot from that period, and had great times.
Jane: I like to say ‘I’ve done the rounds!’ Every musicians knows you have to start at the bottom and work your way up – which is full of graft and excitement, success, failures, triumphs, disappointment, empty room, long drives and the biggest load of adrenaline you will ever feel when you perform! I am growing as a writer. At the age of 9 I wrote my first song about a pair of shoes I was trying to sell for money – I now write about saving for my pension in Pension Blues (from Freedom Bound album).
Charlie: I first started properly drumming in a band called Cold Heat with Alex Butler, Dan Spellman and a variety of different bass players. We gigged for about 5 years covering a lot of classic rock/funk material. I developed my drumming style and musical taste mostly with Cold Heat.
Mike: It has been a lot of fun, but very busy and hard to organise around other aspects of life. We live for the gigs and have had a great time this past year touring around the country, playing in different venues, meeting new people, and learning lots along the way too.
Alan: Who has influenced you the most in your music?
Alex: I’m not sure if it can be pinned down to one person but more to a whole host of situations and relationships with people. My second tutor, Stuart Bligh, taught me a lot of really great technical and listening skills that keep reoccurring as my experience grows.
Jane: I would say Etta James and Robert Plant.
Charlie: That’s a difficult one. In the early days the Foo Fighters and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers were huge influences. Then it moved more to BB King, King King, SRV, Free and Aynsley Lister.
Mike: I can’t put it down to just one person or band, music evolves and so does the source of inspiration. Recently we toured with the Billy Walton Band and the Laurence Jones Band and learnt a lot from those guys, so at this moment in time, they influence me.
Alan: Looking back on your career so far, what are your fondest memories?
Alex: Many of them were in the band with Charlie (Cold Heat). At the age of 13/14 our friends were on Xbox or Playstation and we would be having the best time playing to pubs full of rockers!
Jane: Winning the UK Blues Challenge was definitely number 1. Also, recording the first album was an amazing experience. Listening to the tracks at the end of the day after hours of takes and layering. Performing at Hyde Park during the Olympics was memorable together with playing Concorde 2 in Brighton for the first time supporting Dr. Feelgood.
Charlie: We played Brands Hatch with Cold Heat, also playing Hyde Park during the Olympics with Red Butler and winning the UK Blues Challenge recently.
Mike: Winning the Blues Challenge in Sutton is definitely up there. Durham Blues Festival and The Great British Rock and Blues Festival in Skegness this January certainly stand out.
Alan: Are there any particular songs that you play that have special meaning to you?
Alex: I really like playing Jaywalker live. It was one of the first songs written for the album and my first attempt at backing vocals. It was scary at first but with some teamwork and practice its something I really enjoy now.
Jane: We have put our own interpretation on ‘Belly of the Blues’, which is a Sandi Thom track. The lyrics are spine tingling to me and I love pouring emotion into performing that song.
Charlie: I have always loved our original song Danger Zone and our cover of Belly of the Blues (Sandi Thom song) because I love them!
Mike: That’s a question for the second album for me as I joined the band after the release of Freedom Bound.
Alan: Tell me about the Red Butler Music School.
Alex: The Music School is something Charlie and I have been speaking about for many years. We both teach in schools and could see the potential for the idea and how young students could benefit. Many children, when learning instruments, have to wait until their teens before they can discover the joy of being in a band with others. We provide the instruments and equipment and whether the children have had musical experience or not we have great fun and hope to build the Music School up over the years.
Jane: Alex and Charlie run the Music School – although I have taught at them.
Charlie: Alex and I had an idea to start a music workshop for young people interested in music, to give them the experience of playing and performing as a band. Alex and I both loved it when we were younger and it is working really well.
Alan: Tell me about the making of your debut album ‘Freedom Bound’: mostly originals with some covers? Where was it made, who produced it and any guest appearances?
Alex: We had a great time recording the first album. We learnt a lot and are really looking forward to getting back in the studio (with King King’s Wayne Proctor) in January.
Jane: It was recorded at Yellowfish Studios near Uckfield in East Sussex. My friend Mikey played keys on a couple of numbers.
Charlie: The engineer Jake who works at Yellowfish Studios recorded and produced the album.
Mike: I joined the band after the release of Freedom Bound.
Alan: I read one review of your album saying ‘the future of blues music is safe in their hands’. How do you see the future of live blues music?
Alex: With mixed opinions. There is no doubt that the audience is in need of some more young members but there are some incredible projects and publicity happening for the blues at the moment. With a lot of festivals happening in the UK and around Europe it shows there is a growing interest. One of the biggest barriers, in my opinion, is the term ‘blues’ as it encompasses such a wide range – however I’m not sure what the answer is! I do find it very reassuring when a young student asks me if I happen to know ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ instead of a latest single!
Jane: I see it as a broader genre. Let’s face it, blues music is perceived as it is labelled. It is not what is used to be and as newcomers we must keep it going in our generation.
Charlie: Modern day blues is such a grey area. It is not what it used to be 40-80 years ago. It’s much broader keeping the influences of early blues mixed with modern day rock, soul and funk. Artists such as King King and Aynsley Lister can appeal to a wider audience by extending the boundaries.
Mike: The blues genre is pretty wide, and that’s because people are accepting the many different interpretations of the blues in the 21st century. I think the immediate future is good, but it is vital that more young bands get involved, and in turn, draw younger fans to the genre.
Alan: You mentioned earlier that you played at the Olympics celebrations, how did that come about and how was the experience?
Alex: The music college I attended in Eastbourne, with former bass player Steve, was part of a founder college programme and we auditioned (with the other members of Red Butler) alongside a few other college bands and made it through to perform on the BT Live Stage at Hyde Park. It was an incredibly experience to play to so many people at such an historic event. The band had only been together 6 months – I wish we could go back and do it again now with our newfound experience and understanding.
Jane: Scary! We had only been together a few months and had just finished writing our first song ‘Bringing out the Devil’. It was a great experience.
Charlie: Alex and bassist at the time, Steve, entered a competition at college in the form of a video of Red Butler performing. As stated earlier this is probably one of my musical highlights to date, it was an honour to perform and an experience I will always remember.
Mike: It was before I joined the band.
Alan: You recently won the hugely successful 2nd UK Blues Challenge, tell me about the experience.
Alex: I still can’t believe it! It was a huge honour to even be asked to compete for the second time let alone win. We all worked incredibly hard before the competition and gave it everything we had. It was the best gig I have ever played and I cannot wait to venture to Italy. There is talk of hiring a bus and driving a few people over, sounds like a lot of fun.
Jane: A moment when all the hard work flashed back in my head as they announced our name. I was a tad nervous before the performance. I feel we had worked so hard and cannot wait to show Europe what we have got!
Mike: There was a long build up, so we were talking about it a lot. On the night there was a lot of great music being played, and I tried to treat it like a normal gig, or mini-festival, and just enjoy the occasion and the music. It was a great feeling to win and book our place at The European Blues Challenge in Italy next year because we really want to break on to the continent.
Photo courtesy Rockypix
Alan: What does it mean to you representing the UK at the 6th European Blues Challenge in Italy in April 2016 where there will be 20 bands from around Europe competing?
Alex: As I said before it is a huge honour and not something I thought I would ever be able to do. I’m incredibly excited about it and look forward to it enormously.
Jane: We have toured the Channel Islands and Europe was the next goal. I cannot wait!
Charlie: To me personally this is huge. As much as I dislike the idea of competition between bands because all bands are different and are trying to put across a slightly different message in slightly different way. It seems illogical to mark them in the same way. Having said that it is a great feeling to be representing the UK. Regardless of the result of the EBC I think this will open doors for Red Butler and is a big step in the right direction for our career as a band.
Mike: It will be an honour to represent our country in something we are so passionate about. I think that is still sinking in!
Alan: How much are you looking forward to the experience?
Alex: More than words, it will be amazing!
Jane: Soooo much!
Charlie: I am very excited. There are as always a lot of important events/things to do before then but I am certainly thinking about it. I feel confident the band will do their best and perform as well as we possibly can.
Mike: On a scale of 1 to 10 – definitely in the double digits.
Alan: What are your aspirations, future plans / gigs / tours / albums?
Alex: We would really like to introduce blues music to a younger generation through our own interpretation, there is such a collection of music within the genre that it is often never considered by many because of common misconceptions about blues. We are looking forward to going to Italy and hoping it open doors to future European dates. I would love to see more and more people coming to shows and appreciating live music in whatever form it is in.
Jane: To release our next album, tour Europe and support more high profile artists!
Charlie: Near future aspirations would be to make the best album we can when we record with Wayne Proctor in January. In terms of gigs, it would be great to get some more high profile support slots, more festivals and hopefully a UK headline tour in the not too distant future.
Mike: Record a new album, promote it, tour the UK and Europe. We have a lot coming up with the Danny Bryant tour next year, the EBC, and lots of other festivals that we are in the process of being booked for next year. We just want to be on stage as often as possible!
Alan: Thank you all and good luck at the European Blues Challenge in Italy.
WINNER OF THE SECOND UK BLUES CHALLENGE ANNOUNCED
The UK Blues Federation is pleased to announce that the band representing the UK at the 6th European Blues Challenge (EBC), organised by the European Blues Union (EBU) will be Red Butler after they were announced as the winners of the 2nd UK Blues Challenge on Saturday 24th October 2015 at the Boom Boom Club in Sutton, Surrey, an event jointly promoted and organised by Pete Feenstra Real Music Live and the UK Blues Federation (UKBlues).
A panel of five judges chosen from across the UK blues community awarded each contestant in the Challenge points for each of the four criteria laid down by the EBU – originality, instrumental talent, vocal talent and stage presence.
Up against Malaya Blue, The Brothers Groove, and The Katie Bradley Band, Red Butler were a popular winner, acclaimed by a large and enthusiastic audience.
The 6th European Blues Challenge will take place on 8th and 9th April 2016 in Torrita di Siena in Tuscany, Italy and will see 20 bands from around Europe competing. Previous UK representatives at the EBC have been Ben Poole, 24 Pesos, Babajack, David Migden & the Twisted Roots and Laurence Jones.
The recently created UK Blues Federation is honoured to have been appointed by the EBU to run the Challenge and is in the process of setting up a crowd funding campaign to assist with Red Butler’s costs in connection with travelling to and appearing at the EBC. Full details will be available very shortly on the UKBlues website – www.ukblues.org
Ashwyn Smyth – Chair of UKBlues said: ‘ It has been a lot of hard work to pull both the selection process and the UK Challenge together but it was all worth it! I am sure that Red Butler are going to do us proud in Italy next year. Our thanks go to Pete Feenstra for all he has done to make the Challenge happen and to the five judges who were faced with making some difficult choices. This has also been a great way to introduce the newly formed UK Blues Federation to the blues community in the UK and we have many plans for the future including, we hope, seeing a UK representative at the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
“We hope that many people will want to join UKBlues and help to support us in what we are doing and they can do so by going to our website where there are details of membership types and how you can join.”
Alex Butler of Red Butler - http://www.redbutlermusic.co.uk/ - said: "There is huge exhilaration amongst the band at winning the UK Blues Challenge. We put our hearts and souls into the gig against stiff opposition. The immediate reaction from the crowd told us this was something special from the word go.”
Two photos above courtesy Haydn Hart
Two photos above courtesy Rockypix
Winners & Runners Up
Male Vocals Sponsored by Blues in the South
1 Alan Nimmo
2 Aynsley Lister
3 Marcus Bonfanti
Female Vocals Sponsored by Digital Blues
1 Dani Wilde
2 Katie Bradley
3 Zoe Schwarz
Band Sponsored by Tuesday Night Music Club
1 The Nimmo Brothers
2 The Hoax
3 Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion
Acoustic Sponsored by The Half Moon, Putney
1 Ian Siegal
2 Marcus Bonfanti
3= Joel Fisk and Jon Amor
3= Matt Woosey
Guitar Sponsored by New Crawdaddy Club
1 Aynsley Lister
2 Alan Nimmo
3 Chantel McGregor
Harmonica Sponsored by Wall to Wall Blues
1 Paul Lamb
2 Will Wilde
3 Trevor Steger
Keyboards Sponsored by Sarah's Sussex Blues
1 Paddy Milner
2 Steve Watts
3 Lee Spreadbury
Bass Sponsored by The Blues and Soul Show
1 Norman Watt Roy
2 Lindsay Coulson
3 Roger Inniss
Drums Sponsored by The Blues and Soul Show
1 Wayne Proctor
2 Sam Kelly
3 Mark Barrett
Instrumentalist Sponsored by Raven & Blues
1 Becky Tate
2 Sarah Skinner
3 Kyla Brox
Young Artist Sponsored by Pablo and the Blues
1 Laurence Jones
2 Alex Butler
3 Lucy Zirins
Festival Sponsored by Blues and Roots Radio
1 Upton Blues Festival
2 Blues on the Farm
3 Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival Colne
Overseas Artist Sponsored by Sunday Morning Soul
1 Walter Trout
2 Kenny Wayne Shepherd
3 The Billy Walton Band
Independent Blues Broadcaster Sponsored by The Blues Session
1 Dave Raven
2 Gary Grainger
3 Kevin Beale
Album Sponsored by Sedgefield Rock and Blues Club
1 Going Back Home - Wilko Johnson and Roger Daltrey
2 Man and Guitar - Ian Siegal
3 Temperature Rising - Danny Bryant
Song Sponsored by GMH Promotions
1 Mud Honey - Joanne Shaw Taylor
2 Bitter Moon - Malaya Blue
3 Long Way To Heaven - Wily Bo Walker and Karena K
Barry Middleton Memorial Award for Emerging Artist Sponsored by Blues in Britain
1 Kaz Hawkins
2 Red Butler
Kevin Thorpe Memorial Award for Songwriter Sponsored by Worthing Pier
1 Katie Bradley and Dudley Ross
2 Matt Woosey
3 Trevor Sewell
Lifetime Achievement Award Sponsored by Friday Night Blues with Hugh Fee
Paul Dean - New Crawdaddy Blues Club
British Blues Great Sponsored by Blues and Roots PR
British Blues Great Sponsored by Ian McKenzie Presents
UKBlues: Four acts chosen to participate in the UK Blues Challenge on 24th October
The UK Blues Challenge
A selection panel created by UKBlues formed of nearly 200 musicians, writers,
promoters, venues, festivals, radio presenters, PR/promotions, agents, record labels, and
fans, including all UK Active Members of the European Blues Union (EBU) and representatives of the UK’s previous European Blues Challenge (EBC) contestants has chosen four artists to compete in the latest UK Blues Challenge.
The top four acts available to compete have been invited to take part in the UK Blues Challenge, which is being jointly promoted by EBU Active Member Pete Feenstra and UKBlues and which will take place on Saturday 24th October 2015 at the Boom Boom Club in Sutton in front of a panel of judges drawn from within the blues community, but who, for obvious reasons, will remain confidential until after the Challenge.
The acts are:
- Malaya Blue
- Red Butler
- The Brothers Groove
- The Katie Bradley Band
UKBlues congratulates the acts on their selection to take part in the UK Blues Challenge.
The panel of judges will be selected by UKBlues and Pete Feenstra, the co-promoter, and
they will use the same criteria to award points to the contestants as is used at the EBC.
The winner of the UK Blues challenge will represent the UK at the 6th European Blues Challenge, organised by the EBU, and which will take place in Torrita di Siena, Italy on 7-8-9th April 2016.
UKBlues: a new Federation to represent UK Blues and lead on the UK entry to the European Blues Challenge 2016
UK Blues has issued its first press release, with some important news. We can announce that we are now an active Member of the European Blues Union (EBU). The EBU promotes Blues music, in all its forms, supporting the many long standing efforts of musicians, organisations, associations, venues, companies, and individuals in Europe. UKBlues is taking on that role for the UK and working with the EBU and stakeholders worldwide in the interests of British Blues music. Our work is supported by our patrons, British Blues legends Paul Jones and Mike Vernon.
We aim to build on the great history of British Blues music, creating greater co-operation and interaction between stakeholders both here and abroad to facilitate, amongst many other things, greater opportunities for artists and bands internationally, not least in terms of airplay and gig/festival outreach. We also aim, through our website and newsletters and other communications, to be an important information resource.
One immediate priority, within these broader aims, is the 6th European Blues Challenge (EBC) organised by the EBU, and which will take place in Torrita di Siena, Italy on 7-8-9th April 2016. UKBlues is honoured and delighted to be appointed by the EBU to operate the selection process for the UK, the UK Blues Challenge.
As a result, UKBlues is running the 2015 UK Blues Challenge. A selection panel has been created by UKBlues formed of nearly 200 musicians, writers, promoters, venues, festivals, radio presenters, PR/promotions, agents, record labels, and fans, including all UK Active Members of the EBU and representatives of the UK’s previous EBC contestants. Each member of the panel has been asked to nominate three suitable artists and bands for the challenge as the first stage of the selection process. They have been asked to place their three selections in order (first, second, third) and UKBlues will award points according to the position in which the acts are placed.
This first stage of the selection process closes on 21st August. Soon after, the top four acts will be invited to take part in the second UK Blues Challenge which is being jointly promoted by EBU Active Member Pete Feenstra and UKBlues and which will take place on Saturday 24th October 2015 at the Boom Boom Club in Sutton in front of a panel of judges drawn from within the blues community, but who, for obvious reasons, will remain confidential until after the Challenge.
The panel of judges will be selected by UKBlues and Pete Feenstra, the co-promoter, and they will use the same criteria to award points to the contestants as is used at the EBC. The winner will be invited to represent the UK at the EBC in 2016.
The voting is secret and safeguards have been put in place to ensure that there can be no unauthorised or multiple voting and the members of the selection panel have been asked not to nominate any acts with whom they are involved.
The process being operated by UKBlues has been fully disclosed to and approved by the board of the EBU, who are happy that it is transparent and maintains the required integrity for the EBC.
Further updates will be made available via this website, and via our social media: