UK Blues Challenge - Archived Pre 2018


This page is the archive for our work on the UK Blues Challenge prior to December 2018.

Please click here for the latest UK Blues Challenge information.

35th International Blues Challenge, January 22 - 26, 2019,  Memphis, TN, USA

Blues Foundation plans are underway for an exciting 35th International Blues Challenge! Visit their website to purchase IBC Passes and upgrades along with official 2019 IBC merchandise, and plan your week by checking their event schedule.

Click here for all things IBC


9th European Blues Challenge, Punta Delgada, Azores, Portugal 5-6 April 2019 - Performing Artists



Somerset Barnard Band

Delta Blues crosses in a scabby way with the Tex-Mex-Aussie-roots of a reckless globetrotter. Somerset Barnard was touring through Australia and the USA before he decided to throw everything away and travel the world.

Somerset can be found playing anywhere from the streets of a Senegalese Village to the stage of an International Festival. His musical adventures have even led him to a play a part in a Bollywood Movie and work as a Sherpa in the Himalayas.

Since 2 years, he is now based in Vienna. His last album ‘The Atlas Moth’, released in February 2016, brings together influences from his four years of travelling. The exciting new album ‘Trains & Churches’ was recorded in January 2018 together with Austria's music greats like Ernst Molden, Marlene Lacherstorfer und Ivo Thomann, all in analog at the Cselley Mühle in Burgenland, Austria.

Somerset Barnard - vocals, guitar

Marlene Lacherstorfer - bass

Ivo Thomann - drums

John Williams - keyboards



Black Cat Biscuit

One day, everything comes together…

Mark (Monday Lovers, Six-pack) and Yasser (Six-Pack) played music together for as long as anyone can remember. Thanks to their daughters, Patrick (Big Mama's Kitchen, Elmore D, Rhythm Bombs) got to know Yasser, his fellow villager, better. Patrick on the other hand was musically linked to Stanley (Dr. Rhythm, Phil Bee & The Buzztones, Love Veins, Rhythm Bombs) and during guest appearances in their shows, Jeffrey (Belgium’s got Talent, Festeyn) turned out to be more than ready for following the drumming footsteps of his father. In 2015 it all came together and the band Black Cat Biscuit was born.

No well-trodden paths or worn out covers with Black Cat Biscuit, but a surprising, sometimes foxy cocktail of fresh songs, marinated in a special gumbo hot sauce, brought by five driven musicians! Black Cat Biscuit plays a conjuring gig that you should not miss, after having seen it, nothing will ever be the same!

Bart 'Yasser' Arnauts: lead vocals, guitar

Patrick ‘P. Daddy Alley’ Indestege: backing vocals,  double bass, el. bass, washboard

Jeffrey 'Jr' Gijbels: drums

Stanley Patty: lead guitar

Mark 'Mighty Mark' Sepanski: backing vocals, blues harp



Tomislav Goluban Band

Tomislav Goluban, Croatian blues musician, composer, harmonica player and a singer, is quite unique by his expression. With his passion, sense of humour and catchy appearance, he can really afford your audience an interesting and original show. He's been playing his harp inspired by old school masters like Sonny Terry or Slim Harpo. So far, he has released ten studio albums and won couple of national music awards. His music is combination of old delta, country & Chicago blues mixed with zydeco and world music elements.

Tomislav Goluban: harmonica, vocal

Hrvoje Funda: guitar, backing vocal

Vjekoslav Geček: bass, backing vocal

Krunoslav Zver: keyboards, trumpet

Dragutin Hojsak: drums



Trainman Blues

Trainman Blues is the brainchild of Irish singer/songwriter Richard Farrell and bass player/producer Laust Nielsen. Winner of the 'Best Blues Album' at this year's Danish music awards and winner of the Danish Blues Challenge, they have steadily gathered steam in the last year and a half. Richard is from a classical background with roots in blues, soul and folk while Laust comes from a blues, reggae and hip-hop background, having been a session bass player in the scene for over 15 years. Combining their strengths, Laust's visions and ear for productions with Richard's melodies and lyrics, makes Trainman Blues such a strong force. Joining them in a live setting are guitarist Joachim Svensmark and drummer Thomas Crawfurd (who features on the album). Joachim is one of Denmark's and Copenhagen's best kept secrets, a child prodigy, he was accompanied by his father to jams at the local Blue club Mojo's from the age of 14. He plays his own solo music and recently he has been playing with the likes of Thørbjorn Risager. Thomas is an incredibly musical and thoughtful drummer, creating beautiful layers with the use of different shakers and percussion. He plays with Fried Okra Band and has played with the likes of Gene Taylor.

Richard Farrell - Vocals/Guitar

Laust Nielsen - Bass Guitar

Joachim Svensmark - Guitar

Thomas Crawfurd – Drums



Hilbert’s Problems

Hilbert’s Problems is a blues-rock band from Tallinn, Estonia. Five members of the band are united together with love for old-school blues and rock music. The passion for creating and performing together has kept the band in scene since 2014. Hilbert's Problems play their own songs, aiming to offer listeners a variety of music from mellow blues to passionate rock!

Siim  Türnpuu, vocals

Indrek  Paavo, guitar

Ivo  Lõiv, guitar

Tanel  Assmann, bass

Joonas  Peensalu, drums



Jo’ Buddy & Down Home King III feat. Nieminen

Finnish singer-songwriter-guitarist Jo' Buddy celebrates his 37th year on the road and brings to EBC 2019 his trio line up, his long time drummer wizard Down Home King III and the great Sami "Cantor" Nieminen on the Hammond organ completing the jubilee.

They deliver an exceptional Soul'N'Roll Gumbo that has been cooked with all natural ingredients like blues, rhythm & blues, gospel and rock'n'roll.

Years on the road have honed them into a world-class combo with soulful expression and irresistibly greasy grooves. Be ready for this uplifting experience!

Jo' Buddy: Lead vocals, Electric guitar

Sami "Cantor" Nieminen: Hammond organ, backing vocals

Down Home King III: Drums, backing vocals



Elise & The Sugar Sweets

Elise and The Sugarsweets is a merge of a young talented woman, Elise, and of a strong French Blues Band, The Sugarsweets. Elise and The Sugarsweets join in the musical vein of Blues & Soul and propose a set list organized around original and cover songs. It originality rests on the "organic" sound which emerge from this band, but also the freshness, the energy and the sensibility of its young artist singer, Elise. Elise and The Sugarsweets is the Blues & Soul musical vein!

Blues, Soul, Rhythm and Blues… We could review all the influences of the group.

Here, there are no labels, the music above all! The originality rests on the "organic" sound which gets free of this band but also the freshness and the sensibility of her young singer.

With only a double decade, Elise’s voice and feeling make her one of the most charming singers of the current scene. Artist with multiple influences, she delivers during every gig a mesmerizing and communicative energy.

The Sugar Sweets is a robust combo formed by the guitarist Olivier Raymond, accompanied by his two accomplices, Jérôme and Olivier Ferrie, bass and drum. This trio explored for more than 10 years the French, European and international scenes (stages), from Memphis to Juvisy-sur-Orge, from Riga to Bourg-la-Reine. They are joined in this adventure by Bala Pradal pianist and organist recognized in Rhythm & Blues and the Soul music to make roar out the Hammond organ.

Elise and The Sugar Sweets, it is a clashing cocktail of Blues, Soul and Rhythm & Blues. Uh! For labels it is missed …

Elisa Heyte - Lead Vocals

Olivier Raymond - Guitar & backing vocals

Bala Pradal - Hammond Organ

Olivier Ferrier - Drums

Jérôme Ferrier – Bass



Richie Arndt & Band

Richie Arndt’s big passion is the blues and American roots music. The guitarist, singer and songwriter is to be known all over the place in the German music scene. For four decades he has played with band and solo in the clubs and at festivals all over Europe, has meanwhile published 16 albums and is definitely not a youngster anymore, but an old-stager in the local blues-scene. Amongst others, his experience, talent and presence on stage brought him the honour of “Best Contemporary Blues Artist 2015” and he has been awarded at the “German Blues Award” 2016 (best album) and 2018 (best vocals/male). The newly formed Richie Arndt Band with Sascha Oeing on bass & Peter Weissbarth on drums will represent Germany at the “International Blues Challenge” in Memphis in 2019 and at the “European Blues Challenge” on the Azores 2019. A great honour for this German bluesman from East Westphalia

Richie Arndt - guitar / vocals

Sascha Oeing - bass / backing vocals

Peter Weissbarth - drums / backing vocals

Tine Vonhoegen - backing vocals



Sakis Dovolis Power Trio

Sakis Dovolis is a blues/rock guitar player, singer and songwriter from Greece. Undoubtedly, his name belongs to the list with the best Blues/Rock guitarists in the Balkans. On 2013, Sakis formed his “solo artist’ project named “SD Power Trio”. Combining the fundamentals of Blues with a more aggressive and modern sound, the band is often referred as a heavy blues/rock band. He is also known for their powerful shows and high energy stage appearance, elements that keep the audiences fully satisfied. Sakis was recently signed by the American Recording Label Grooveyard Records NY, and his debut album "Cross The Line" is coming out worldwide on November 23rd

Sakis Dovolis - Guitar, Vocals

Fotis Dovolis - Bass, Back Vocals

Nick Kalivas - Drums, Back Vocals



György Ferenczi and The Rackajam

A Hungarian professional group playing a shockingly interesting fusion of 21st century urban folk music and traditional genres. An indefinite blend of Rock n' Roll, Soul, Blues and of course the band is showcasing many alternatives and remarkable own renditions of their native music.

Rackajam is among the most popular and looked-after acts on the Hungarian and Eastern European scene today! The founder of the band is György Ferenczi whose diatonic harmonica (blues-harp) sound is highly acclaimed across Europe and his instantly recognizable sound and pure style makes every performance a one-of-a-kind experience!

The band's multi-instrumentalists play mostly acoustic instruments, and while respecting tradition they are easily express and reinvent either in the moment or putting hundreds of hours of work to create albums through laying new national standards for Modern Acoustic music!

György Ferenczi, harmonica, violin, vocals

Ádám Apáti, Wurlitzer electronic piano, bass guitar, vocals

Zsolt Pintér, mandolin, vocals

Gábor Bizják, Wurlitzer electronic piano, french horn, vocals

Miklós Jankó, cajon, vocals



The Drive

Blues and nature addicted, The Drive link the north and the south side of Italy thanks to the fusion of two well- known italian duos: “Angela Esmeralda & Sebastiano Lillo” and “PoorBoys” who play all over from festivals to small clubs, combining passion, energies and skills. They have played together since 2016 and found fertile ground in classics, influenced and inspired by a background full of delta blues, roots, rock and gospel music. Powerful and mesmerizing, The Drive can dig deep and at times they cross genre boundaries

Angela Esmeralda: Vocals

Ste Barigazzi: Vocals, Electric Guitar

Sebastiano Lillo: Electric Guitar

Enry Zanni: Drums



Heavy Petrol

Heavy Petrol was born in 2011 and when Dan Juchem and Steve Richer decided to join the band and after having played blues covers for a few years, they started composing their own songs with their own lyrics.

For the last 7 years, Heavy Petrol has gained a certain reputation in Luxembourg and participated in major Luxembourg Blues festivals such as "Blues Express" and "Blues and Jazz Rallye". They have played for great artists such as Brother Dedge, Ana Popovic, Junior Mack and many others.

They recorded their album "Petrol Train" in 2017.

The sound of Heavy Petrol has been influenced by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter or Joe Bonamassa.

Daniel Juchem (drums)

Daniel Kries (bass)

Gigi Felten (guitar)

Steve Richer (guitar)

Woody (vocals)

Elise Nunes (vocals)



The Dynamite Blues Band

The Dynamite Blues Band from The Netherlands will take you on a journey with their raw blues and exuberant live performance. The musicians have played together for over 10 years, so get ready for some great chemistry. Their blues is influenced by Texas and Chicago as well as the more swinging West Coast Blues. They play almost exclusively original songs with the occasional obscure cover from favorites like Sean Costello, Nick Curran or The Red Devils. They’ve released two albums with outstanding reviews, but you really have to see the band live for the real Dynamite-experience!

Wesley van Werkhoven - Bluesharp and singer

Jacob Jan van Duijn - Guitar

Renzo van Leeuwen - Bass

Jan Aandewiel - Drums



Geir Bertheussen Blues Express

Geir Bertheussen Blues Express is a hard working blues band from the northern parts of Norway. The band performs original songs and covers in the Chicago blues tradition, mixed with some boogie and good old rock n´ roll. The frontman, singer and harmonica player Bertheussen is a true bluesman, who has been into the traditional blues for three decades. He has explored the roots during his visits to Mississippi and the US, where also the band can look back on several recordings and juke joint gigs.

Geir Bertheussen is celebrating a 30 year anniversary as a recording and performing artist in 2018. His band, Blues Express, features Kai-Sverre “Sugar Kay” Fjellberg on guitars, Trond Hansen on the bass, and Kåre “Lefty” Amundsen on drums. In the EBC the line-up will also include keyboard player Rune Karlsen.

Geir Bertheussen: vocal/harmonica

Kai-Sverre Fjellberg: guitar/vocal

Rune Karlsen: keys

Trond Hansen: bass

Kaare Amundsen: drums



The Smooth Gentlemen

The Smooth Gentlemen are three veteran musicians from the Polish music scene. Their music is a blend of Blues and Soul. Sometimes smooth sometimes explosive, but always energetic! The band consists of Bartek Szopinski, (acclaimed pianist, Hammond organist, composer, 11 times winner of “Pianist of the year” statuette awarded in the “Blues TOP” survey), Milosz Szulkowski - drums, and Piotr Bienkiewicz - guitar. This combination of musicians is an exciting new band with lots of depth and experience.

Bartek Szopinski, piano, Hammond

Piotr Bienkiewicz, guitar

Milosz Szulkowski, drums



Delta Blues Riders

Delta Blues Rides are from Oporto and with a truly appealing repertoire, these four musicians reinvent the sonorities that originated the blues (Mississippi) until today, where the constant dialogues between guitar, piano, harmonica and resonator, allied to a strong interaction with the public, make them one of the finest and most complete Blues bands in Portugal, gathering a complete set of Blues traditional instruments: Harp, Piano, Resonator Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass and Double Bass, Drums; ... all in a band with just 4 members!

Considered to be some of the best blues musicians in Portugal, they have played with major international names such as: Pat "Mother Blues" Cohen (New Orleans), Diunna Greenleaf (Texas), Slam Allen (New York), Connie Lush (Uk), Zakiya Hooker (daughter of John Lee Hooker) and Mable John (Ray Charles singer).

Paulo Veloso: lead vocals, piano, acoutic guitar, resonator guitar

Jorge Loura: electric guitar

Ricardo Melo: bass

Miguel Pardal: drums



Rares Totu’s Midnight Sun

Rares Totu and Cosmin Farcas may work together since 2006 but the story between drummer Adi Tetrade and Rares goes way back to the 80s. Elected Guitar Player of the Year in Romania in 1987 and Best New Guitarist in Hungary in 1992, Rares Totu had always a foot in the blues no matter which way the stylistic winds blew. Along with Adrian Tetrade, one of the most respected musicians in the country, the band is completed by seasoned bass player Alin Neagoe from Tetrade's own pop outfit "The Humans" and long time collaborator Cosmin Farcas on keyboards. Singer Aminda Nomade is one of the best voices around and a captivating front figure.

Aminda Nomade - vocals

Rares Totu - guitar

Cosmin Farcas- keys

Alin Neagoe - bass

Adrian Tetrade – drums



Tony Bigmouth Pearson

Tony Bigmouth Pearson (Stefan Uhrinak) is a singer-songwriter and guitarist from Slovakia. As a teenager, he spent some time in the USA, the stage name ‘Pearson’ pays homage to his relatives who helped him buy his first electric guitar.

His remarkable originals are greatly influenced by North American blues and acoustic folk and are enhanced by rich baritone vocals. Present day social and political processes are reflected in his lyrics. In many instances he composes musical interpretations of poetry.

In 2017, he was awarded the songwriter's prize for ‘Best Composition’ at the Bratislava Music Competition. In 2018, he won the Slovakian Blues Challenge and is currently touring in Central Europe.

Stefan Uhrinak – guitar and vocals



Big Yuyu

Big Yuyu was formed in 2006 in Mallorca, Spain, one of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean. Mallorca is not only known for its tourist appeal, which blossomed in the 60’s, but also because of its vibrant live music scene, where the Blues plays a big role.

Since their inception, the band is proud to say that it´s got more than 3000 hot blues nights under its belt, having played in the best clubs and festivals around Spain, and also touring Germany and Holland. This is a band made up by musicians who love what they do every night, making music with soul and passion.

The rock-solid rhythm section formed by Esteve Huguet on drums and Juan Amaro on bass supports Jordi Álvarez´s unique guitar and vocal skills, filling the air with reminiscences of the legends of the Blues, but always with that personal touch that should give Big Yuyu a hard-earned spot in the European Blues Scene!

The band fourth studio album is a new trip back to the roots, however this time with a great wealth of experience acquired on the road, resulting in a sound unlike other bands: unique, personal, powerful… all showcased in a live show that will thrill everyone

Jordi Alvarez, guitar, vocals

Juan Amaro, bass

Esteve Huguet, drums



Marino Valle Band

Marino Valle has for many years been singing old school Rhythm & Blues and Soul with bands such as Big Band Splash, Gugge Hedrenius Big Blues Band and The Soulmates. Marino Valle Band was formed in the spring of 2017. Marino is accompanied by musicians who played with Peps Persson, Sven Zetterberg, Patricia Page & The Prophets and Franska Trion among others. The band offers swinging up-tempo songs and gorgeous soul music in a mix of original material and covers.

Marino Valle - Vocals and harmonica

Mikael Fahleryd - Electric Bass

Magnus Hjorth - Drums

Henrik ”Pilen” Pilquist - Electric Guitar

Arvid Hill - Keyboards



Manu Hartmann & The City Blues Band

Swiss singer Manu Hartmann is well-known in the local Blues scene of Switzerland. With her expressive voice and impressive stage presence, Manu is attracting much attention since some time (performing with Chicago Dave Blues Band; St. Louis Blues Band; etc. amongst others).

In 2013 Manu teams up with French guitarist Claude Groelly (WAAP; Blues Print) and formed the “Manu Hartmann & the City Blues Band“. Manu and Claude did agree at once... a groovy repertoire, distinguished musicians and a rich brass sound are a must. The piece formation is playing modern urban blues enriched with a lot of soul and funk elements. Their own songs are written by Manu and Claude and relate to the style of Etta James or Dalbert Mc Clinton.

Their first studio album will be released in spring 2019.

Manu Hartmann and her City Blues Band are wowing the audience with their dynamic stage performance every time!

Manu Hartmann vocals

Claude Groelly guitar

Stephan Schätti drums

Denis Flaig Bass

Shanky Wyser keys/organ

Christoph Huber trombone

Thierry Kaufmann saxophone

Marko Frank trumpet


United Kingdom

Kyla Brox Quartet

Blues and soul become inextricably entwined in Kyla Brox, whose raw talent has seen her described as “the finest British female blues singer of her generation”. From beginning her career as a teenager in her father’s Blues band, to touring all over the world fronting the mighty Kyla Brox Band, and her nominations in the Best Female Vocalist and English Blues Act categories in the UK Blues Awards 2018, Kyla’s star continues to shine more brightly every year. Her band, featuring the subtle, melodic guitar of Paul Farr and the dynamic rhythm section of Danny Blomeley and Mark Warburton, is the perfect setting for her voice to soar. With the release of her critically acclaimed album, ”Throw Away Your Blues”, Kyla sealed her place as the Queen of British Blues.

Kyla Brox, Vocals/flute

Paul Farr, guitar

Danny Blomeley, bass guitar

Mark Warburton, drums



The 2019 EBC playing order was determined by a raffle during the latest board meeting in Amsterdam:

Friday 5 April

Hungary:                            György Ferenczi and The Rackajam

Portugal:                            Delta Blues Riders

Belgium:                             Black Cat Biscuit

Romania:                           Rares Totu's Midnight Sun

Estonia:                              Hilbert’s Problems

Poland:                               The Smooth Gentlemen

Spain:                                  Big Yuyu

Norway:                              Geir Bertheussen Blues Express

Switzerland:                       Manu Hartmann & the City Blues Band

Germany:                           Richie Arndt Band

France:                                Elise & The Sugar Sweet

Saturday 6 April

Italy:                                    The Drive

Croatia:                               Tomislav Goluban Band

Denmark:                           Trainman Blues

United Kingdom:             Kyla Brox Quartet

Finland:                              Jo’ Buddy & Down Home King III feat. Nieminen

Luxembourg:                     Heavy Petrol

Slovakia:                             Tony Bigmouth Pearson

Greece:                                Sakis Dovolis Power Trio

Netherlands:                      The Dynamite Blues Band

Austria:                                Somerset Barnard Band

Sweden:                              Marino Valle Band



What a fabulous evening we had at Worthing Pier's Southern Pavilion on Saturday 8th September where a great and enthusiastic audience cheered to the rafters when the magnificent Kyla Brox was declared the winner of the 5th UKBlues Challenge and invited to go to represent the UK at both the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January 2019 and the European Blues Challenge in The Azores in April 2019.

All five contestants - Greg Coulson Band, Carl North & the Lonely Hearts, Kyla Brox Band, Catfish and Tom C Walker Band. - treated us to a fabulously varied evening of top flight music and all proved that they were worthy of taking part in the Challenge. Congratulations go to all of them on making the event so very special.

But special congratulations to Kyla Brox and her band who we are both proud and pleased to have as the UK's representative at the International and European Blues Challenges next year.

This great photo from Richard Dunning sums it up as four of the five contestants jam in the evening's finale.

But don't take my word for it, read the full story and some great comments from those who were there.



The UKBlues Federation is delighted to reveal the fifth contestant who will be taking part in the 5th UKBlues Challenge at Worthing’s Southern Pier on Saturday 8th September 2018.

Carl North & The Lonely Hearts

Photo courtesy Sarah White

Chosen by the Jessica Foxley Unsigned Project from the bands who played at the acclaimed Great Rhythm & Blues Festival in Colne over the past weekend, Carl North & the Lonely Hearts formed in 2016 since when they have been busy generating their own kind of buzz within Manchester's live circuit.

In their first year alone, multi-instrumentalist North fronted The Lonely Hearts alongside a number of traditional giants, including Andrew Combs, Gill Landry, Matt Andersen & C.W. Stoneking.

In 2017, following a successful summer of festival appearances which included playing at Glastonbury, the end of the year saw the five-piece release their debut single 'Worst Of You', accompanied by a smash sell-out inaugural headline performance. Plans to perform nationwide are on the horizon with tour and festival dates to be announced.

The raw, country soul of Americana meets foot stompin' Rhythm & Blues.

“A raw and bluesy sound that you scarcely come across these days” - Hooting & Howling Magazine

Writing on Facebook, Paul Foxley of the Jessica Foxley Unsigned Project had this to say:


Congratulations to all four of our Jessica Foxley Unsigned bands, The Catfish Blues OrchestraChris King RobinsonKaty Hurt and Carl North & The Lonely Hearts whose excellent performances at this weekend's Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival proved that the Blues has a very bright future.

The feedback we received from their audiences would make them all blush! It was great to see such diversity of musical style within the context of the Blues. Many thanks to our panel of judges for choosing so well.

As if that was not enough, although our main aim is to provide outstanding opportunities for young musicians to perform at this festival, we also get to nominate one of our bands to take part in this year's UK Blues Challenge.

Photo courtesy Alan White

We are absolutely delighted to announce that our nomination for the 5th UK Blues Challenge is Carl North & The Lonely Hearts.

This six piece, Manchester based band impressed from the very first bars of the first song and maintained great stage presence and musicianship throughout the set. We wish them luck with their performance at Worthing Pier's Southern Pavilion on 8th September.

They will be up against some stiff competition. We should know - three of the other four competitors are bands we have previously showcased through Jessica Foxley Unsigned!

So five great bands playing at the 5th UKBlues Challenge at Worthing Pier's Southern Pavilion on Saturday 8th September 2018. And all for just £15.00 plus booking fee or £17.50 on the door.

If you don't have your tickets yet just click on the poster and this will take you to the SeeTickets page where you can buy them.

There are very few reserved tables remaining so if you want a guaranteed table near the stage, book it now before it is too late!!

The bands are, in order of appearance, Greg Coulson Band, Carl North & the Lonely Hearts, Kyla Brox Band, Catfish and Tom C Walker Band.

We are delighted to be working with the Jessica Foxley folk again and thank them for their support.


If the chance to see five excellent bands is not enough, we have some superb and totally unique raffle prizes on offer thanks to the generosity of our sponsors FORM Fit-Out and Pablo's Paintings.

More will be revealed soon but here is a hint for the first prize!

We look forward to seeing you there.

Thanks also go to Proper Music Group and Worthing Pier Southern Pavilion without whose support and sponsorship, the Challenge would not be happening.




8th European Blues Challenge, Hell, Norway 15-17 March 2018 - Performing Artists


Kutscher’s Blues Band

Kutscher’s Blues Band succeed in blending the rock-spirit of the 1960s and 1970s with sounds that Rage Against The Machine, Muse or Mando Diao are famous for. That’s why the band’s music attracts both fans of the blues-rock genre and lovers of classic-rock and pop-acts. Virtuosic guitar riffs go hand in hand with marvellous song writing and gorgeous lyrics. The band manages to tear down the walls between different genres of music, typical elements of blues-rock mingle with elements of classic-and alternative-rock.

Kutscher’s Blues Band is already a popular part of the Viennese (blues-) rock-scene. In 2016, they played a big show at the “Donauinselfest“ (one of Europe’s major music open air-festivals) or as support band for Ryan McGarvey at the Vienna Blues Spring. In 2017, they acted as opener of the first Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival Vienna and as support for Rob Tognoni. They released their album “The KE Sessions” on 13 October 2017.



Ed & The Gators

This is an all-round great blues band. A concert of these guys takes you through the history of the Blues. Besides this they perform a number of covers in their own style and arrangement and they also have written many original songs. Their set takes you from raw Chicago Blues thru West-Coast Swing to funky New-Orleans stuff varied with a more heavy Texan Shuffle and older Country Blues.
Their motto: “you name it, they play it”.
All of this is brought you by four established musicians who have honed their craft over the years with various bands. Together they have found the magic.

Ed De Smul: Vocals, Harmonica, Guitar
Arne Demets: Guitar
Stefan Boret: Bass
Johan Guidee: Drums


Czech Republic

Dobre Rano Blues Band

Dobre Rano Blues Band (Good morning blues band) is a Czech-American trio which plays acoustic blues which has its origin by the Mississippi river. The band was formed in 2012. Currently DRBB features Brynn Stephens from California, singer and harmonica's player, then Vít Kopecký who plays the 12 strings acoustic guitar and Vladislav Sosna, drummer and washboard player.

Dobre Rano Blues Band regularly plays at music festivals and clubs across Europe and so far they have played more than 800 concerts. In the past they played on a tour with American guitar player Alex Schultz and Crazy Hambones band.

The band cooperates with Galén publishing and has recorded three albums (Live, Bluesgrass, Blues Before Breakfast) which have received high praise from professional critics and public. Their concerts are known for their show full of energy, playfulness and awesome instrumentals performances.

Brynn Stephens, harmonica, vocals
Vít Kopecký, 12 strings acoustic guitar
Vladislav Sosna, drums and washboard



Fred Okra Band

The music of Fried Okra might be called alternative blues. Originally Fried Okra was very much inspired by the Hill Country blues of the North Mississippi. The first album This is Your Chance France, Baby! both featured traditional covers and songs of the Hill country bluesmen like RL Burnside, Kenny Brown or Robert Belfour.

Today Fried Okra’s repertoire is all original. The sound still has some Mississippi vibe in it but there’s a lot of Copenhagen there too. The idea is still to keep it simple. In 2016, Fried Okra changed to the current set-up of a guitar-bass-and drums-trio adding the one string diddley bo on the side.

Morten Lunn, guitar, diddley bo, lead vocals
Thomas Crawfurd, drums, percussion, second vocals
Anders Wallin, bass, second vocals



Tammepõld, Roots & Kadakas

By chance, the first time that Tammepõld, Roots & Kadakas played together as a trio was at the Estonian Blues Challenge; they won both the overall competition and the Best Guitarist prize for Roots. But then both Tammepõld and Kadakas have worked with Roots before, with the combination of Anneli's drums and Andres' guitar dating back all the way to 1996. A popular solo artist, Mikk Tammepõld is best known to blues fans as the front man of Dramamama, while Anneli Kadakas has made her reputation working with top bands as varied as Rock Hotel and Rasta Orchestra. Dubbed "the King of Estonian Blues" by the press, Andres Roots has toured extensively in Europe and topped the Estonian album charts in 2016 with his "Roots Music" LP.

Mikk Tammepõld – vocals, guitar
Andres Roots – guitar
Anneli Kadakas – drums



Slim Butler

Slim Butler hails from the unfamiliar hot bed of Finland´s blues scene, Rovaniemi, way up north. Slim was born 54 years ago as Jarmo Puhakka in this small Arctic Circle town. Ever since picking up his first guitar at the tender age of 12, he’s been fronting local bands, always leaning towards blues, soul and rock.

While Slim is showcasing his talents as a guitarist, he is  also handling vocal duties on stage. Slim’s backing band, The SlimCuts consists of badass, hardcore veterans of Finland’s roots music scene; guitarist Harri Raudaskoski, drummer Jartsa Karvonen and Mikko Löytty on bass.

Slim Butler has released two seriously hip-sounding albums: Slim Butler’s Inner Blues and Bad Intention, respectively. Debut album Inner Blues (2012) was produced by Gentle Giant of The Blues, guitarist and producer Otis Grand from UK. Slim’s equally acclaimed, self-produced sophomore set Bad Intention was released in 2016. Both albums include an impressive collection of original songs from this guitar slinger. Breaking new ground sonically with styles ranging from blues, soul, funk to a Hendrixian vibe, Slim Butler has raised some hell and interest among blues communities all over.

Jarmo “Slim” Puhakka: guitar, vocals
Harri Raudaskoski: guitar
Jartsa Karvonen: drums
Mikko Löytty: bass



Kathy Boyé & The DTG Gang

A Blues Universe with a Soul touch. A groovy blues sung with soul by Kathy Boyé and picked up without compromise by her musicians. If her musical tastes attract her towards music like the blues / gospel and soul, she hasn’t forgotten her roots and likes to compose in English and in her mother tongue. She has been sharing the stage with her "heartfelt"! group Mister Tchang, on guitar, Daniel TBone Stec on  the organ, Pascal Celma on bass guitar, and Fabien Tournier on the drums. For many years, sharing the stages where Blues, soul, and rhythm & blues intersect so naturally, defies any attempt at labeling.

For her, music is absolute Emotion, Sincerity and Colors... Very visceral, a deep voice and sometimes the harmonica supported by all the DTG Gang ! This concert alternate deep soulful songs and rock blues electric songs, managed by the indomitable Mister Tchang. Two hours, where you will sing, shout, dance, you will be taken and transported in the South of the United States, where Kathy stayed for a long time.

Kathy Boyé  Vocals - Harmonica
Mister Tchang  Guitar – Vocals – Back up vocals
Daniel TBone Stec  Keyboard – Organ - Back up vocals
Pascal Celma Bass - Back up vocals
Fabien Tournier   Drums - Back up vocals



Greyhound’s Washboard Band

Greyhound´s Washboard Band is a German-based trio that uses musical instruments from the past including resonator guitars, washboard and a one hundred year old bass drum to create their own roots-influenced blues sound. The band’s repertoire consists mostly of their original blues songs, from autobiographical to bitingly topical, but of course they can play all those classic tunes from the Delta! Their performing style has a back-porch intimacy that draws you in and a driving energy that makes you want to dance all night. Greyhound George’s mastery of the Delta slide guitar is matched by his delicate Piedmont picking. Andy Grünert’s harmonica licks accentuate the authentic old-time feel of Greyhound’s guitar work. Washboard Wolf lays down the rhythm on a unique “groove machine” consisting of vintage washboard, bass drum and many more little things that he found along the road...

Greyhound George, vocals guitar
Washboard Wolf, washboard, percussion
Andy Grünert, harmonica, vocals



SoulFool Band

At the end of 2013 Attila Suba, a Hungarian blues singer founded the "SoulFool" band. They charm their audience with an energetic, unique and dynamic style, rooted in New Orleans. In their own songs they are mixing the blues, the soul and the gospel with a groovy feeling, the vibes of love and life joy. It is still a young group but in the past year they played over 150 club concerts and dozens of festivals in Hungary and across Europe and Asia

Attila Suba - vocal
Mate Hebenstreit - keyboard
Bence Taborszky - trumpet
Izsák Vidákovich - saxophone
Dominik Hermán - drums
Peter Matus – bass



Don Leone

Don Leone is a blues duo raised in 2016 down in south west Sardinia. Donato Cherchi and Matteo Leone bring their experiences in a raw blues project with a voice, a guitar and a vintage suitcase. Don Leone played in some important blues festivals like Narcao Blues, Rocce Rosse, Mojo Station Blues Festival.

They won the Italian Blues Challenge 2017. Their EP called “Welcome To South West” is sold out and they are writing their first LP.

Donato Cherchi: vocals
Matteo Leone: guitar / kick / charleston / vocals



The Heritage Blues Company

In 2006, Marco (bass) and Mario (guitar) set up The Heritage Blues Company (THBC), named after the Heritage guitar Mario was playing at the time. They play their first gigs in small local bars. Mario, an excellent versatile guitar player, is at this time more or less surrounded by beginners. From there, the band's line-up keeps evolving continuously. In 2008, Rob, a proven blues drummer, boosts the band. Energetic and radiant vocalist Chantal joins in 2013. Her powerful voice soon makes her the front woman of The Heritage Blues Company. The band moves on and keeps on rolling through numerous concerts, from smaller venues to larger events and festivals. With it's particular blues-rock touch, THBC plays the most diverse forms of the blues, grooving from boogie to funk. In 2016, Christian, an experienced blues and boogie pianist, completes the line-up.

Chantal Gottschalk, vocals
Mario Jung, guitar / vocals
Christian Ries, keyboard / vocals
Marco Schwickerath, bass
Rob Schauls, drums / vocals



The Ragtime Rumours

Think of Pokey Lafarge and Tom Waits visiting Django Reinhard, drinking a big mug of coffee while listening to Robert Johnson.

Renewing old-school swing from The Netherlands, soaked with blues/roots and (gypsy)jazz, played with a rock ’n roll attitude. This results in the well received EP, “Ain’t Nobody”, The single and video “Love & Lust” winning the BRUL-Contest, the Dutch Blues Challenge, a lot of gigs in The Netherlands and tours in Norway, Italy and England.  At the moment they’re working on their first full length album that’ll be released upcoming spring 2018, meanwhile their new material is only to be heard during concerts and their EP “Ain’t Nobody” is still available.  The band is also on Spotify and You-tube.

Tom Janssen, acoustic guitar / banjo / lead-vocals
Niki van der Schuren, upright-bass / vocals / flute / baritone
Sjaak Korsten, drums / kazoo / vocals
Thimo Gijezen, electric guitar /accordion / piano / vocals



Joakim Tinderholt and His Band

Through dedication and 20 years of relentless touring all over the world, Daniel Eriksen has built a reputation as a great slide guitarist. His style of dirty Mississippi delta blues, infused with New Orleans rhythms, gospel and boogie, has brought him many fans around the world. In addition to having studied the old masters of slide, like Blind Willie Johnson and Mississippi Fred McDowell, Eriksen has learned firsthand from modern masters such as Roy Rogers, Bob Brozman and John Mooney. Eriksen has shared the stage with fine blues artists such as Lazy Lester, John Mooney, James Harman, Rick Danko, Eden Brent, Grayson Capps, Fiona Boyes, Bill Abel, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, and opened shows for B.B. King, John Mayall, The Yardbirds and his "mentor" Roy Rogers.

Joakim Tinderholt, lead vocals, lead guitar
William “Bill” Troiani, upright bass and back-up vocals
Håkon Høye, rhythm guitar, baritone guitar, lead guitar and back-up vocals
Robert Alexander Pettersen, drums and percussion
Kjell Magne Lauritzen, piano



Krakóv Street Band

Kraków Street Band is a formation which is becoming the city's new musical highlight for visitors from Poland and abroad. Nine professional musicians, each one member of many different bands and projects, gather on sunny days to perform on Cracow's main square. Their performances burst with positive energy and everyone can see that their main motivation is the joy of playing together, while the coins falling into the guitar case are only a nice addition. In the first half of 2014, the band has rushed into popularity across the whole country. First, the successful crowdfunding campaign for their debut album, finished with 170% of the planned amount. Then, the band got to the finals of “Must Be The Music”, a talent show with millions of viewers, with excellent opinions from the jury in all stages. Finally, Kraków Street Band represented Poland in Haizetara, a great street music festival organised in the Basque country. In 2015 they released their second, exceptional album recorded in Radio Kraków "Dedicated To Jerzy Wójcik", honouring the memory of Poland's first bluegrass musician. Songs from the repertoire of Little Ole Opry, Wójcik's band, were recorded in new versions by Kraków Street Band with Krystyna Święcicka-Wójcik and guests.

In the annual survey of Poland most renowned blues magazine "Twój Blues" Kraków Street Band won "Discovery of the year" 2014 and "Band of the year" 2015. They have played in international festivals like Haizetara (Spain), Uldum Street Music Festival (Denmark), Eutin Bluesfest (Germany), Veszprémi Utcazene (Hungary), Ferrara Buskers Festival (Italy), Sziget (Hungary), Jazzfest Gronau (Germany) or Viz, Zene, Virag Fesztival (Hungary).

Łukasz Wiśniewski, vocal, harmonica, ukulele
Piotr Grząślewicz, banjo
Tomek Kruk, dobro guitar
Adam Partyka, drums
Szymon Klekowicki, trombone
Wojtek Szela, trumpet
Miłosz Skwirut, double bass
Tomasz Drabik, saxophone
Marcin Hilarowicz, guitar



Vitor Bacalhau

Born and raised in the deep south of Portugal, Vítor Bacalhau has dedicated his whole life to playing music. He is now fronting his own power trio, and has ahead of him a promising career as a Blues/Rock singer, guitarist and songwriter.

In the last few years Vítor has released an EP and two full length albums, to great critical acclaim, from the press, audiences and his music peers. As a hard working full time musician he’s had a busy schedule touring, both in Portugal and abroad, playing in front of all sorts of audiences, from Blues fests, to clubs, always delivering passionate performances. Influences come from everywhere – from the early Blues of the delta, to big & loud Rock ‘n Roll – and are all channelled into the group’s music in a new and refreshing way. Deep grooves, killer playing and moving power is what you can expect from the group’s music! - “A real asset to the European blues scene.” - “Vitor Bacalhau is a blues artist to the T.”

Vítor Bacalhau - Guitar and Vocals
Luís Trindade - Bass and Backing Vocals
João Ventura – Drums




Raw, strong and bold – these are the words that characterize the Romanian-Serbian trio, with roots in a little Serbian town, named Kladovo, situated at the shore of the Danube, but whose soul wanders around the American grounds, where the blues was born. Although the influences are obvious, AXiS gives the meaning of blues a new perspective – somehow like a wolf in sheep's clothing – that gives the trio an unique flair on the current Romanian music market.

The band recorded its first album around fall 2016 in a Boehme studio located in Belgrade’s suburbs. Being recorded live, with only small retouches, the band’s debut album is designed to express the primordial, scorching and direct sound that takes birth when the band members put their imagination together.

Silviu Dan Iliescu - guitar/vocals;
Dejan Kotarcic - bass;
Ranko Varga - drums;



Kiero Grande

Kiero Grande from Slovakia formed back in 2006 under a different name and after minor changes in 2013 it evolved to be the band it is today. Their style ranges from sixties style electric blues to a more psychedelic, or let´s say progressive twist on the genre. The bands influences include Hendrix, Johnny Winter or Kamchatka from Sweden, just to name a few but they also like to add little hints from different ethnic musical styles. “Unorthodox” is the name of their first full-length self-released album from 2016. The name reflects the bands attitude towards blues, while still respecting the roots.  Have a taste and testify!

Adrian “Ady” Kelemen, guitar/vocals
Róbert Gajdošík, bass
Vojtech Száraz, drums



Johnny Big Stone & The Blues Workers

Johnny Big Stone & the Blues Workers is a trio of blues at its finest. Combining west coast, jump blues, and traditional blues, this band and its varied repertoire create an authentic blues experience.

"Jumpin & Dodgin" is the first album with eleven own composition songs recorded in 2013. In spring 2015 they present the cool "Move On" an album with thirteen tracks, nine of them own compositions. In 2016 they released their third album "Juke Joint Sessions Vol.1", a collection of old blues jewels with touches of west coast jazz and swing where, unlike to the two previous albums, they did versions of great musicians like Ray Charles, Tiny Grimes, Howlin’ Wolf, Bill Doggett and T-Bone Walker. This compilation of nine songs was recorded in June 2016 in a rehearsal room with just two mics and two tracks revox, to recreate the real 50’s sound.

Johnny "Big Stone", guitar, vocals
Little Jordi, upright bass, harmonica
Reginald Vilardell, drums



Julia & The Basement Tapes

Julia & The Basement Tapes is an award winning young and innovative Swedish blues band. Since 2013 they’ve made a success with their unique sound and hungry attitude.

In late 2015 they released their second EP ”The Dues” and following year the acoustic version of the EP. In the fall of 2017 the band entered in the prestigious competition “Swedish Blues Challenge” and won first price. The band is currently doing shows all around Europe and are working on the recordings of their first full length album.

Julia-Lotta Tinglöf, - vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion
Johan Borgh - guitar, backing vocals
Richard Hamilton - keyboard, backing vocals
Samuel Söderberg - bass, backing vocals
Johannes Sidenqvist - drums, backing vocals



Amaury Faivre Duo

Amaury Faivre Duo is a folk-blues acoustic band and the ten years old musical complicity of Amaury Faivre and Yves Staubitz. Amaury Faivre is a singer, a guitarist, and, above all, a brilliant harmonica player. Yves Staubitz, very powerful and precise guitar player, handles both groove and harmony by himself, offering Amaury the freedom to fly above it.

At a crossroads between jazz, folk and pop, their blues inspired music is very sensitive and intimate. They play with a real acoustic and sincere feel, in the lead of Keb’ Mo or John Mayer. Remarkable improvisers, they are simultaneously the blues emotion, the jazz freedom and the punk energy.

Amaury Faivre, vocals, harmonica, acoustic guitar
Yves Staubitz, acoustic guitar


United Kingdom

LaVendore Rogue

What’s the meaning of LaVendore Rogue? The answer is simple… no one knows. However, this bunch of Rogues has made a name and general nuisance of themselves since 2013 during which time, audiences have grown to love (or hate) their raucous blend of Blues inspired Rock 'n Roll.

Consisting of JoJo Burgess on vocals, Joel Fisk on guitar and Stephen “Cupsey” Cutmore on drums; who’ve played together for over 10 years. The band is complemented by Warren Lynn on Hammond Organ, and James Payze on bass.

Following their 2013 debut EP, "What's The Meaning Of LaVendore Rogue?", 2015’s full length studio album "Light Up With" was released, and the band are currently touring their 2017 release; the raw live album "A Night in The North". Whatever happens next, watch out and expect attitude, swagger and downright depravity wherever these Rogues go!

JoJo Burgess - vocals
Joel Fisk - guitar/vocals
James Payze - bass/vocals
Warren Lynn - keyboards
Stephen "Cupsey" Cutmore - drums



The 2018 EBC playing order has been determined by raffle at the latest board meeting in Brussels:

Friday 16 March:

1.       Hungary

2.       France

3.       Netherlands

4.       Spain

5.       United Kingdom

6.       Poland

7.       Luxemburg

8.       Estonia

9.       Germany

10.     Finland

11.     Slovakia

Saturday 17 March:

1.       Romania

2.       Switzerland

3.       Portugal

4.       Denmark

5.       Belgium

6.       Norway

7.       Czech Republic

8.       Sweden

9.       Italy

10.     Austria

The distinguished Awarding Festivals like Hondarribia Blues Festival - Spain (July), Swing Wespelaar - Belgium (August), Blues In Hell - Norway (September) or Blues Heaven Festival - Denmark (November)… will recognize the winners by booking them for their festivals.



Raising funds to contribute towards the costs of LaVendore Rogue representing the UK at the 2018 International and European Blues Challenges

LaVendore Rogue will be representing the UK when they join more than 250 other acts from all over the world at the 34th International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, USA organised by the Blues Foundation between 16th and 20th  January 2018.




They will also compete in the 8th European Blues Challenge (EBC) in Hell, Norway organised by the European Blues Union on 15th, 16th and 17th March 2018 in which 21 bands from across Europe will take part.

As part of UKBlues’ mission to support the Blues in the UK we have set up a crowd funding campaign to raise funds towards the considerable costs which will be incurred by the LaVendore Rogue representing the UK at the 2018 IBC & EBC.

As well as providing financial support to LaVendore Rogue the crowd funding page also offers a huge range of rewards which you can get in return for your pledge.

So don't delay, visit the crowd funding page today!

Click here for full details of the crowd funding campaign



Photo courtesy Ashwyn Smyth
All other photos courtesy Alan White (

The 4th UK Blues Challenge took place on Sunday 10th September 2017 at the iconic Cavern Club in Liverpool organized by the UK Blues Federation (UKBlues).  At stake for the five contestants was the opportunity to represent the UK at the 34th International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis in the USA in January 2018 and at the 8th European Blues Challenge (EBC) in Hell, Norway in March 2018. The UK’s representative in 2017 was the Kaz Hawkins Band who came home the winners of the EBC.

Four of the five bands participating in the Challenge were selected by a panel of more than 250 people involved in and with the blues in the UK whilst the fifth band was selected by the Jessica Foxley Unsigned Project from amongst the eight bands that appeared under their banner at the Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival, Colne last month (August)   The five bands came from across the UK and demonstrated the breadth, variety, quality and individuality that exists in the blues in the UK.   In order of appearance, the bands were:

Elles Bailey


The Robert J Hunter Band

LaVendore Rogue

Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion

Each band 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.   Deciding upon a winner was a tough job for the panel of six judges drawn from across the blues spectrum and including a number of musicians, festival/venue organizers and members of UKBlues’ Board. The judges were, in alphabetical order, Connie Lush, Chris Powers, Kaz Hawkins, Nick Westgarth, Rosy Greer and Victor Brox.

In an incredibly close vote LaVendore Rogue were declared the winners and, 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 a number of top blues festivals/events during 2018.

Last year’s UK Blues Challenge winner and UKBlues Board member Kaz Hawkins presented a somewhat stunned LaVendore Rogue with the winner’s trophy and certificate.

As an added treat, after the winners had played a brief ‘victory’ set, they were joined on stage by Connie, Kaz, Kyla and Victor for a jam which was truly unique and very special.

Joel Fisk of LaVendore Rogue said after the Challenge: "We're delighted to have won the 2017 UK Blues Challenge. After many years of hard work we're thrilled that our take on The Blues is being recognised. We're really excited to see where this opportunity will take us. Our thanks go to UKBlues for organizing this excellent event."

In addition to the Kaz Hawkins Band, previous UK representatives at the EBC have included Red Butler, Laurence Jones, BabaJack and Ben Poole.

Ashwyn Smyth, Chair of UKBlues said: ‘This was the third UK Blues Challenge that we have organized and, from the feedback we have received, it was definitely the best!

Certainly holding it at such an iconic venue made it even more special and UKBlues would like to thank everybody at the Cavern Club for their support and assistance which served to ensure a great event. Particular thanks to Ricky Cheung, the sound engineer who did a superb job. We were delighted to be bringing the blues back to the Cavern 60 years on as they celebrate their 60th anniversary.

Our thanks also go to the bands who took part and very much entered into the spirit of the event. It was great to see them sharing a single ‘band room’ and encouraging each other, swapping ideas etc.  Our six judges had an unenviable task choosing a winner and did a fantastic and very difficult job for which we thank them most sincerely.

We would also like to thank our sponsors whose financial support of the Challenge took away some of the concerns about covering the costs of the event and enabled us to give the participating bands a contribution towards their costs. This year we received sponsorship from Proper Records, BiGiAm Promotions & Management, Bluesdoodles, Digital Blues,, Lancashire Blues Archive and Raven & Blues.

It is clear that those who attended this year’s Challenge thoroughly enjoyed the very fine musicians who played for them and being at such an excellent venue. This was another big step forward as we look to establish the UK Blues Challenge as an event that we hope 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 frequently ignored musical genre. The event also raised funds which we, UKBlues, can use both to further our aims and to make a contribution towards the not inconsiderable costs that LaVendore Rogue will incur attending the two Challenges.’

UKBlues will be setting up a crowd funding page soon to raise additional funds to help the LaVendore Rogue attend both the European and International Blues Challenges. Details will be available shortly.

Our event sponsors:

We also count on you for your support of UKBlues in what it is doing and ask you to do your bit by spreading the word to your friends and colleagues. Do check out the benefits of membership and see why it is a great idea to join!

See our Membership page for details of more membership discounts etc.

For more photos of all contestants and special guests click here




Click here to see how to Sponsor the UK Blues Challenge


With the 4th UK Blues Challenge less than two weeks away and to seek to answer questions being posed, we would like, once again, to explain what it is all about, how the contestants are selected, and what it all means for the winners.


What is the UK Blues Challenge (UKBC)?

An annual event organised by the UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) at a different location in the UK at which a number of bands/acts compete in front of a panel of judges drawn from across the blues spectrum.

The winning band/act is invited to represent the UK at the following year’s International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis and European Blues Challenge (EBC) which is held in a different European country each year.

The International and European Blues Challenges are organised by, respectively, the Blues Foundation ( and the European Blues Union (EBU) (

We are very pleased that this year’s event will take place at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool on Sunday 10th September 2017 starting at 16.00. More details can be found at and UKBlues is excited to be bringing the blues back to the Cavern sixty years on!


How are the contestants in the UKBC chosen?

As an Active Member of the EBU meeting the EBU’s laid down criteria (see EBC rules here) and the sole UK Affiliate of the Blues Foundation, (see IBC rules here) UKBlues are honoured to be invited to create and manage the selection process to choose the band or artist who will represent the UK at these prestigious events each year.
The first stage of the process this year saw a panel of more than 250 people from across the blues spectrum in the UK which included the membership of UKBlues, all UK based Active Members of the EBU, members of the Independent Blues Broadcasters Association, festival and gig promoters, writers (both online and print media), musicians, fans and blues supporters etc. being invited to submit the three UK acts that they felt would best represent the UK at the EBC and IBC.

Members of this panel were asked to place their choices in order (first, second, third) and points were awarded according to the position in which the acts were placed by the panel members.

The 4 top scoring available acts after this process was complete were invited to participate in the UKBC where the contestants will perform in front of a panel of judges who will use the same criteria to award points to the contestants as are used at the EBC and IBC.

In a new departure this year, a fifth band was invited to participate which was selected from the 8 bands invited by Jessica Foxley Unsigned to play at the Great British Rhythm ‘n’ Blues Festival which took place in Colne over the August Bank Holiday weekend –  These bands are, generally, under the radar and being selected to play at Colne is a big step up for them.

The band was chosen by a panel of representatives of the Jessica Foxley Unsigned project and was chosen on the strength of their performance at Colne.

The winner of the UKBC will be invited to represent the UK at both the 2018 EBC and IBC.


What are the selection and judging criteria?

When making their selections, the members of the panel are asked to bear in mind the following EBC rules which apply:

  • The leader of the band must have the nationality of the country he/she represents.
  • At least 50% of the members of the contestant bands must reside in the country they represent.
  • Acts who participated in a previous edition of the EBC, but did not win, may compete again after a period of 3 years.
  • Bands of which half or more of the musicians participated in a previous EBC with another band, may compete again after a period of 3 years.
  • Bands of which less than half of the musicians participated in a previous EBC with another band, may compete again after a period of 2 years.

Contestants at the UKBC, EBC and IBC are expected to perform at least 50% original music in their set and they are awarded points using the following criteria as laid down by the EBU:

  • Originality
  • Instrumental talent
  • Vocal talent
  • Stage presence
  • Blues content

This process is the same as that which has been used in previous years and is approved by the Blues Foundation and the European Blues Union.








Photos courtesy Dave Raven, UKBlues

Saturday the 8th April 2017 was a big day for blues in the UK because of events many miles away in Horsens, Denmark, the venue for the 7th European Blues Challenge organised by the European Blues Union (EBU) in conjunction with the BluesKartellet of Horsens, a town described by its mayor, Peter Sorensen, as ’a city of music – with streets of blues’ and a city ‘known throughout Denmark for its concerts with renowned artists, festivals and major events’.

For the first time in the event’s history, the European Blues Challenge was won by the UK with Northern Ireland’s Kaz Hawkins Band beating off some stiff competition, particularly from Belgium’s The Bluebones who were placed second. The event saw acts from some 21 European countries competing over two nights at the Forum in Horsens, a venue which, in the past, has played host to many major names including the Rolling Stones, Madonna and Paul McCartney.

In an emotional acceptance of the trophy, Kaz first thanked the UK Blues Federation for making it possible for her and her band to take part in the International Blues Challenge, which took place in Memphis, Tennessee in late January and where the band reached the semi-finals, as well as the European Blues Challenge.

She also expressed her gratitude to the event organisers and to the judges for ‘getting’ her music which is so much a reflection both of her and her life.

In addition to the trophy, the band will also have the opportunity to play at a number of top European Blues Festivals as well as enjoying a considerably raised profile on the European Blues scene.

Before the results were announced on Saturday night, The European Blues Union announced the winners of the Blues Behind the Scenes Awards for 2017 which saw the Award for Production going to veteran and legendary producer Mike Vernon whose career spans many decades working with many great artists including John Mayall and Eric Clapton on the iconic Beano Album as well as many other major names over the years. Recently he has come out of semi-retirement to produce a number of albums for 21st century blues artists as well as putting together his own band with which he is touring.

Accepting the Award, Mike commented that he was knocked out to receive it but also very proud. He confirmed that he had no intention of stopping yet suggesting that if John Mayall is still touring in his 80s there was no way he (Mike) was going to quit!

Earlier in the day at the General Assembly of the European Blues Union, Dave Raven, award winning blues broadcaster, Chair of the UK’s Independent Blues Broadcasters Association and Treasurer of the UK Blues Federation, was elected to the Board of the EBU, the first time that the UK has been represented on this board and another big step towards blues in the UK being better represented in Europe.

For the UK Blues Federation (UKBlues), Ashwyn Smyth – Chair – said: ‘ We are both thrilled and very grateful that Kaz and her band have done us and blues in the UK so proud. Whilst the winning was down to Kaz and her band, we are so happy that we were able to facilitate them taking part in both Challenges and the win in Denmark is the cherry on top of the cake and can only serve to raise the profile of the blues in and from the UK!

The Blues Challenge and associated events were excellent and, as always, a great opportunity to meet fellow blues lovers from around Europe with whom one could exchange ideas and network.

Mike Vernon is one of the patrons of UKBlues so it was, of course, great to be there with him when he received his richly deserved Award.

I am also delighted that Dave Raven has been elected to the board of the EBU. It is both right and one of our stated aims, even as the UK looks to leave the European Union, that blues in the UK finds more of a voice and place in the European Blues Community which can only be helped by having a member of the UKBlues’ board and such a leading figure in the UK blues community on the EBU board.

It was a great night for blues in the UK and for UKBlues’.

Mike Vernon and Ashwyn Smyth
Photo courtesy Paul Styles, Blues in Britain

For more information:

Contact:  Ashwyn Smyth – Chair -  UKBlues – [email protected] – + 33 604 48 79 98
Darren Weale - +44 (0)7708 712011



7th European Blues Challenge, Horsens, Denmark 7-8 April 2017 - Performing Artists


The Blues Infusion


Peter Peduzzi formed the band in 2009 by bringing together a set of musicians from the Viennese band scene. All of them were experienced and have played for many years in the local blues, rock and jazz bands. After two major restructurings, Peter Peduzzi (guitar) and Fritz Salek (bass) are still members forming the current line up together with Peter Dürr (vocals), Werner Müller (keys) and Mick Glantschnig (drums). The group’s successive evolution in style and performance has resulted in a fresh, wicked and very particular groove! The music might be called “contemporary blues” by perceiving this timeless music with the ears of both millennia. The band has played numerous venues in Vienna and elsewhere in Austria, since 2010 as a continuous burner at the longest blues festival in Europe, the “Vienna Blues Spring”. Beside crossing over the border from traditional blues, they have now set their sights beyond the borders of their home country. The band presented its first CD “Stepping Keys” in 2013. The second is planned for 2017.

Peter Dürr, vocals
Peter Peduzzi, guitar
Fritz Salek, bass
Werner Müller, keyboards
Mick Glantschnig, drums


The BluesBones


The BluesBones are a band of five passionate and experienced musicians playing Blues/Rock with undiminished feeling and skill. Their original songs vary from blues-rock over mellow and sensitive blues ballads, swampy slide to more heavy rock. This extended range of musical styles has gained the band a variegated fan base. The BluesBones had the pleasure to share stages, be support act or jam with bands like King King, Jimmy Vaughan, Seasick Steve, Tommy Castro, Guy Forsyth, Laurence Jones, Danny Bryant, The Nimmo Brothers, Jimmy Thackery… Their new album “Double Live” reached different Blues Charts Worldwide: 2nd in the IBBA Blues Album Charts Top 40 (UK), 5th in the Australian Blues Album Charts (AUS), 18th in Roots Music Report Blues Album Charts Top 50 (USA), 19th in The Blues Song Charts Find Me A Woman Reached on R.M.R. (USA).

Nico De Cock, vocals
Edwin Risbourg, hammond
Stef Paglia, guitar
Geert Boeckx, bass
Koen Mertens, drums


Rolin Humes


Rolin Humes is a young promising Croatian band with already internationally recognised musical identity and a very intriguing sound. This propulsive sound does not hide it's strong roots in many blues-rock predecessors, but has brilliant reminiscent connections in the music of, for example, Allman Brothers, Lynard Skynard, T. Rex, Led Zeppelin, Dr John, Pink Floyd, even Queen, also „early vinyl birds“ of David Bowie, Elton John, etc. It is a tricky polifony between the past and the fully conscious present musicians. It would nevertheless be quite unfair to just plainly confront Rolin Humes to anyone, because this reminiscent fusion in their case is the wide opened ground of the new sound in Croatian music sky, and more likely to be truly and adequately recognised on the global level. Even when their song titles might provoke funny ideas, the music itself in fact is challenging us to listen very carefully each of the compositions, because it is clear that one is to testify contemporary birth of possible new anthology in music. It is a magic of the music already turned on, so listen very carefully. (Melinda Kostelac). The band was formed in 2011 during a blues session in a small jazz club. Shortly after, Rolin Humes had his first concert. In 2013, they self-released their critically acclaimed first album “Rolin Humes welcomes you to the Penultimate Supper 6/8“. Alongside many concerts, Rolin Humes has won some prestigious awards which include fantastic eight wins in different festivals all over Europe. In 2015 they toured the USA (Georgia, Alabama & Tennessee) and recorded their second album “Rolin Humes presents Rolin Blues“, released in February 2015. The album was well received by the audience and the critics and was named as one of the best albums in Croatia in 2015. They have also played in Germany, UK, Austria, Romania, Montenegro, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Slovakia.

Robert James Hudulin – piano, vocal
Emil Biscan – bass guitar
Nikola Smiljanic – guitar
Matej Smiljanic – drums


The Cornfeds


The musical style of The Cornfeds is based in the semi-acoustic blues and roots music of the 1930s and 40s, which has also been the main influence on the 12 original songs from their debut album “The Cornfeds”, released in the summer of 2016. An album that achieved nomination for a “Danish Music Award” in the category “Blues Album Of The Year”. For the past six years The Cornfeds have been playing many different stages from busking on the streets to festival venues and the stage of the legendary “Mojo Blues Bar” in Copenhagen. When the band is playing live expect to hear some of the old blues classics mixed in with their own original songs. “With their debut album, The Cornfeds show themselves to be an exciting and competent new name on the Danish blues scene. We can only hope for more albums of this calibre.” - Jakob Wandam,

Sune Bjerre, vocals, harmonica, reso guitar, banjo
Jostein Burmann, hollow body guitar
Kasper Bjerre , hollow body bass, vocals
Jakob Kjærlund, washboard, drums, buckets, cups


Rene Paul Blues Band


Rene Paul Blues Band are a rockin' quartet playing 60s electric blues with a modern rock twist. Led by 22-year-old singer-songwriter-keyboardist Rene Paul, the band features virtuoso guitarist Oskar Malleus on the guitar. Together, they bring you music where Jimi Hendrix meets Muddy Waters, and Albert King meets Joe Bonamassa.

Rene Paul - keys & vocals
Raul Ukareda – guitar
Oskar Malleus - guitar
Raimond Mägi - bass
Peep Kallas - drums


Honey B. Family


Honey B. Family is a natural born trio. Lead vocalist and bass player Aija ”Honey B” Puurtinen and guitar player/singer Esa Kuloniemi are complemented by their 15-year old son Moses on drums and vocals. After a 35-year career (as the front figures of Honey B & T-Bones), Puurtinen and Kuloniemi are considered true legends in the Finnish blues scene, and Junior is already an esteemed jazz and blues drummer in his own right. After three years of gigging, Honey B. Family’s repertoire consists of blues and gospel. The trio is currently working on their debut album to be released in early 2017.

Aija ”Honey B” Puurtinen, vocals, bass
Esa Kuloniemi, guitar, vocals
Moses, drums


Gaëlle Buswel


Known for her dynamic live performances, Gaëlle has played in over 500 concerts across Europe and North of America and has opened for such artists as:  UB40, Les Tambours du Bronx, Elliot Murphy James Hunter Six, Tyler Hilton, Darren Criss... with a show characterized by her overflowing energy and intense emotion. She was awarded four times with her 2nd Album “Black to Blue”: "French revelation 2016" at Cognac Blues Passion", 1st prize at the National French Blues Challenge 2016, Revelation 2015 at the Cahors Blues Festival, Gaëlle was awarded 2 highly coveted prizes: the “Coup de Coeur” (Public’s Choice) as well as the prize “All That Jazz”. Selected "Artist of the Month" by the American magazine Concert Blogger, her last album backed by La Sacem, has been classified as a favourite by FNAC record stores in several European countries. GAËLLE BUSWEL is an artist who leaves no one indifferent. Her music has its roots in the blues and her voice reaches straight for the heart.

Gaelle Buswel, lead singer, guitarist
Michaal Benjelloun, guitarist, background vocals
Steve Belmonte, drums, background vocals
Xavier Zolli, bass, background vocals


Chris Kramer & Beatbox ‘n’ Blues


Three guys from Germany forming an innovative trio with a fresh new Blues sound. Two guitars, a harp and a bold idea: bringing in a beatbox instead of a drum set means a unique groundbreaking performance with visible passion, gifted instrumental skills and an intense devotion to the Blues. The dedication and innovation of performance of the three artists led to the winning of the “2016 German Blues Challenge” in Eutin (Northern Germany) and the right to participate at the “2017 European Blues Challenge”.

Chris Kramer, lead vocals, harp, guitar
Sean Athens, guitars, backing vocals
Kevin O Neal, beatbox


Borsodi Blues Collective


The band's history began in the mid-2000s when Lez Borsodi left a band which was one of the most well known groups of the Hungarian underground scene and created his band using his own name: Borsodi Blue. The professionals responded well and quickly to this new, exciting-sounding orchestra, Hungary’s finest musicians joined them in different sessions. Their first EP (Hit the road and live the blues) was released in 2006. The same year they were the warm-up band (with great success) before the concert of Joe Bonamassa in Budapest. The next LP (Moonshine and Wine) was released in 2011 getting excellent professional critics. Lez gave an interview to a famous Hungarian journal which mentioned him as being among the leading Hungarian guitarists. Since 2011 the writer of their lyrics is Little G. Weevil (International Blues Challenge winner, Blues Music Award nominee).

Lez Borsodi, guitar, vocals
Marton Pfeff, bass
Norbert Binder, keyboards
Istvan Mezöfi, drums


Bayou Moonshiners


Both Stephanie Ghizzone and Max Lazzarin have already spent long years on the main stages of Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. They have both have being leading their bands, opening for some of black music’s biggest names. In 2015 they finally decided to join forces giving life to Bayou Moonshiners, a duo (piano, hi hat, two singing voices) born to bring the style of New Orleans in a sort of never ending European tour. The first year was full of satisfactions, like their first place at the Italian Blues Challenge 2016, which will bring them to represent Italy at the European Blues Challenge in Denmark. Max and Steph like to rearrange traditional and modern pieces alike, and propose originals too. It will easily happen to hear some classic gospel, followed by an original composition, or a tribute to Professor Longhair… All with an original and recognizable sound made of their two voices and the unmistakable spirit of New Orleans!

Maz Lazzarinm voice and piano
Stephanie Ghizzoni, voice, snare, washboard, kazoo


Kid Colling


“It’s with ingenuity, passion and a contagious energy both powerful and delicate that Kid Colling embodies the world of “Modern Blues”, a mix of classic blues enriched with rock, and funk groove. Influenced by guitarists such as BB King, SRV, Larry Carlton and Robben Ford, Colling expresses the “Roots” by the warmth and the generosity of his sound and guitar play – not without adding a jazzy touch that livens up his performance. It’s his creative approach to music as well as the groove and the catchy melodies that get him noticed in the world of blues.

Kid Colling, guitar, vocals
Luca Sales, keyboard
Tom Heck, bass
Gilles Bernard, drums




When Detonics plays, people start moving their feet. Get ready for very energetic West Coast blues, played by five guys with looks to kill. Not only do they sound like the fifties, they also dress up fifties style. Inspired by the early west coast blues, Detonics mainly play swing & boogie. But don’t be surprised when you hear them play a rumba or a slow blues, all of course in the West Coast style. Creative, explosive music without straying too much to the traditional sound.

Kars van Nus, lead vocals, bluesharp
Jeremy Aussems, guitar
Raimond de Nijn, piano, hammond
Mathijs Rocks, drums
René Leitjem upright bass, backing vocals


Daniel Eriksen


Through dedication and 20 years of relentless touring all over the world, Daniel Eriksen has built a reputation as a great slide guitarist. His style of dirty Mississippi delta blues, infused with New Orleans rhythms, gospel and boogie, has brought him many fans around the world. In addition to having studied the old masters of slide, like Blind Willie Johnson and Mississippi Fred McDowell, Eriksen has learned firsthand from modern masters such as Roy Rogers, Bob Brozman and John Mooney. Eriksen has shared the stage with fine blues artists such as Lazy Lester, John Mooney, James Harman, Rick Danko, Eden Brent, Grayson Capps, Fiona Boyes, Bill Abel, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, and opened shows for B.B. King, John Mayall, The Yardbirds and his "mentor" Roy Rogers.

Daniel Eriksen, vocal, guitar
Stig Sjøstrøm, drums


Hot Tamales Trio


This acoustic trio which draws from the blues music tradition very quickly won the appreciation of wide audiences in Poland. They touch the heart with their beautiful songs, captivating lyricism, carrying with their music many kinds of emotions. Although young band, they already have lots of successes in their account. In the first year and a half of their performing, they recorded their debut album.

Eliza Sicińska, vocals
Kamil Solecki, acoustic and dobro guitars, banjo
Łukasz Pietrzak, harp


Messias And The Hot Tones


Messias and the Hot Tones came up to be one of the most relevant blues/soul bands in Portugal. Messias has seen his songs enter the TOP10 in the international "Blues Matters Magazine" (issue #72) and after that experienced several live performances all over the world (New York - USA, France, Spain, Ukraine). Messias has his own "Blue eyed soul" songs but he is mostly recognized by his "old" blues finger picking style of playing guitar. Fans heard his voice and started calling him the "Hot Tone", that's the origin of the band name." (Blues Matters, UK).

Fernando Messias, vocals, guitar
André Teixeira, bass
Fausto Ferreira, piano, Hammond
Isaac Achega, drums


Southernman Robbie


Robert "Southernman Robbie" Zsugya (born 21 January 1987) is a Romanian musician, singer and songwriter, who can be seen performing on the blues stages. He brings the roots of the country blues with an archaic image, playing consecrated songs of the blues pioneers, but also his own written music, combining slide guitar, finger picking, vocals and kazoo that will carry you to the land of southern blues. Throughout the years he performed in blues festival, blues stages and has been part of many musical projects. In 2012 he decided to hit the road to the west, where he joins the stage with blues pioneers from Austria. He spent almost a year in Northern Germany, where he preached the blues for shipyard workers from cities around the Northern Germany.  With all the experience gained in his journey, he came back home to preach the blues today, for all the bluesy souls. His first album called "Devil got my name" with 14 acoustic blues songs was released on the last day of February (29). Southernman Robbie offers you throughout his album a very good 2016 kept secret from the Deep South Danube wildness, as an oasis of acoustic blues for souls.

Southernmann Robie, vocals, guitar and trumpet kazoo.


Slovak Blues Project


Slovak Blues Project was founded by bluesman Lubos Bena. The special program brings together older and younger generations of the Slovak bluesmen. The project is presented as duo, trio or band performances. Slovak Blues Project has won several international competitions:  Winner of Blues Alive 2016 in the Czech Republic, Galicja Blues Festival 2016 in Poland and Slovakian Blues Challenge 2016.

Palo Hrncirik - vocal, guitar
Lubos Bena - bass, drums


Los Mambo Jambo


Barcelona-based combo Los Mambo Jambo have released their third LP, an explosive mix of fired-up rock & roll and grinding rhythm & blues, presented in an electrifying live show. Los Mambo Jambo is an instrumental group, playing 50s and 60s rock & roll, rhythm & blues, blues, surf and swing with 21st century energy and attitude, unleashing the heaving, savage music of the innovators of those far-off days onto the modern world. The unique Mambo Jambo style was born when four iconic figures from the European Rock and Roll and Blues scene came together: Dani Nel·lo on sax, Dani Baraldés on guitar, Ivan Kovacevic on bass and Anton Jarl on drums. Mix them up and you get the unique Jambophonic Sound. Los Mambo Jambo… LIVE! Much of the band’s success is based on their unstoppable stage shows. Their set list is made up of sharp, intense pieces that need Los Mambo Jambo’s supreme level of musicianship, tightness and commitment to really work. The spectacle of these four individual but united musicians having a wild time up on stage really connects with the audience, who feed off the energy from the stage, becoming part of the whole happening. A live show by Los Mambo Jambo creates a cycle of energy that brings a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘the live circuit’! Much to the delight of critics and punters alike, Los Mambo Jambo can currently be seen presenting their Jambophonic Sound on stages in Spain and around the world.

Dani Nel.lo, baritone & tenor sax
Dani Baraldés, guitar
Ivan Kovacevic, double bass
Anton Jarl, drums


Headline Blues Band


Headline Blues Band is a blues band from Umeå with one foot in Chicago blues and the other one in the soul filled music from New Orleans.

Johan Öhman, piano, lead vocals
Ulph Johansson, guitar, vocals
Ulf Sundqvist, drums, vocals
Tomas Fredlander, bass


Pascal Geiser Band


He plays the Blues… He lives the Blues… He enthuses with Blues… Pascal Geiser has grown up with the blues. He lives and personifies it. He excites the music world with his talent, authenticity and incredible charisma. Wonderful stories are packed in his songs that are sometimes gentle and other times very dynamic. The one always by his side is Shanky Wyser, 31. He started playing the piano at the tender age of three. Today, Shanky Wyser is one of the greatest virtuosos in the country. He is the musical director of the group, and a proud one, too, since the excellent band attracts attention and causes amazement.. Every musician in Pascal Geiser's band is a class of his own. Together they are just unbeatable and worth more than one trip to their concerts.

Pascal Geiser, vocals, guitar
Shanky Wyser, organ, piano
Claudio Berla, bass
Simon Moll, drums
Rolf Mosele, guitars
Stefan Künzli, sax
Ernst Buchinger, trumpet
Dominik Honauer, trombone

United Kingdom

Kaz Hawkins Band


Blues darling Kaz Hawkins from the UK is no longer Northern Ireland's best-kept secret. Multi-award winning and unique with 'knock your socks off' vocals from an equally delicious firework of a character. Full of life in her unmistakable trademark look and a stage presence that beckoned being more than solely a songwriter. Guitarist Nick McConkey has been with Kaz over four years. Peter Uhrin on drums & vocals joined in 2015 who then added his brother Jan Uhrin on Bass to the band. Kaz Hawkins Band create high energy shows that push the boundaries of blues and soul.

Kaz Hawkins, vocal & acoustic guitar
Nick McConkey, electric guitar
Peter Unrin, drums & vocals
Jan Uhrin, bass


The 2017 EBC playing order has been determined by raffle in the latest board meeting in Hamburg:

Friday 7 April:

1.       Netherlands: Detonics

2.       Germany: Chris Kramer & Beatbox ‘n’ Blues

3.       France: Gaelle Buswel Band

4.       Denmark: The Cornfeds

5.       Slovakia: Slovak Blues Project

6.       Poland: Hot Tamales Trio

7.       Portugal: Messias And The Hot Tones

8.       Romania: Southernman Robbie

9.       Austria: The Blues Infusion

10.     Hungary: Borsodi Blues Collective

11.     Italy: Bayou Moonshiners

Saturday 8 April:

1.       Switzerland: Pascal Geiser Band

2.       Luxemburg: Kid Colling

3.       Croatia: Rolin Humes Band

4.       Sweden: Headline Blues Band

5.       United Kingdom: Kaz Hawkins Band

6.       Norway: Daniel Eriksen

7.       Finland: Honey B. Family

8.       Estonia: Rene Paul Blues Band

9.       Spain: Los Mambo Jambo

10.     Belgium: The BluesBones

The winner of the European Blues Challenge will receive exposure in specialized blues media and get the opportunity to play at some of the major European blues festivals in 2017. At the moment we are still expecting some more confirmations.









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:

Kyla Brox*,
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 Farmthe 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.


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 - [email protected].


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.






6th European Blues Challenge, Italy 8th-9th April 2016 - Performing Artists
Ulrich Ellison & Tribe


Born in Austria and now residing in Austin TX, guitarist Ulrich Ellison has quite a story to tell. A high-caliber guitarist, Ellison can easily switch from lightning fast modal runs to swamp-soaked blues and singing leads that make his guitar talk. His avid song writing ranges from southern-rock inspired songs, modern blues, Led Zeppelin type arena rock to enchanting instrumentals. His soul mate and wife Sabine Ellison on bass adds a huge, fat foundation that perfectly locks in with Texas groove veteran Joel Duhon on drums. Named #1 "Blues/Soul/Funk Act" at the 2015 Austin Music Awards, Ulrich Ellison and his Tribe have been playing nearly every major Austin venue as well as clubs and festivals in the US and EU.Ulrich Ellison – guitar, vocals
Sabine Ellison - bass, vocals
Joel Duhon - drums, vocalswww.ulrichellison.comBelgiumTiny Legs TimbelgiumIn 2008, Tiny Legs Tim (TLT) hit the scene with his granddad’s acoustic guitar and original songs based on his personal voyage. This year, he won Belgium’s nomination for the 2016 EBC as a four-piece band with a tight electric set taken from his entirely self-written third album.Initially inspired by the black acoustic masters such as Son House, TLT quickly developed his own, most melodic song-writing as is proved by all his releases so far. Surely, it’s those idiosyncratic lyrics that definitely set him apart. They are inspired as by a six years’ fight for his life and its aftermath, as in ‘Cortisone Blues’ or ‘Please Dr, Please’.Finally, his distinctive voice adds rising and falling intonations to the lyrics, as well as irony and relativity. For all his suffering as a young man, TLT is an energetic messenger of joy and hope. Whether produced as a one-man band or the electric band plugged in outfit, his energy is alternated by a continuous base-line and melody, both in the slide and the finger-setting.Tiny Legs Tim - guitar & vocals
Steven Troch – harmonicaRené Stock - double bass
Frederik Van den Berghe - drumswww.tinylegstim.comBulgariaBluestreambulgariaBluestream is a blues band formed in Bulgaria during early 2014. The band is located in Sofia and has already performed successfully at the local club venues, including some local festivals. The band performs mostly own songs, author of both music and lyrics is the guitar player and vocalist Miroslav (Miro) Naydenov. The musicians of Bluestream have experience in local bands and bands abroad and came together to play their own music in blues, jazz-blues, funky-blues, modern blues style. The vocalist and guitar player Miro has rich experience at the blues-jazz stages in Hungary, playing festivals there (including Gastroblues), Romania and Bulgaria with his former Hungarian band, “Breaking Blues”. The drummer Nikolay Bakalov has played In Bulgarian blues & jazz formations and has been a part of some Dutch projects. All members are Bulgarian citizens and currently reside in Bulgaria.Miroslav Naydenov - guitars, vocals
Ventsi Pavlov - bass guitars
Nikolay Bakalov - drumsCroatiaZambacroatiaThe band Zamba was founded 2010. Throughout the years their repertoire has moved from blues to rock and then back to blues. After a few years of playing covers, the band now has material of its own, written entirely by Boris Dugi-Novacki Zamba. The album "Home" with 13 original songs (Spona, 2015) earned the finest reviews and is an important turning point for the band. The first place at the 5th Croatian Blues Challenge was a reward for years of dedication to blues. In 2014 Zamba performed at the 30th International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Their love for the blues music is the primary motivation that keeps the musical quality and energy of the band at the highest level. They enjoy performing and try to transfer that enjoyment to their audience.Boris Dugi-Novacki Zamba – vocal & guitar
Tomislav Biscan – guitar, back vocal
Dragan Kokanovic - bass guitar
Mario Klaric - drums
Aleksandar Baic – keyboards, back vocalDenmarkChristian Bundgaard TriodenmarkBlues, jazz. boogie woogie… all with an inspirational touch of the New Orleans music culture. This is the music that the young piano player from Denmark, Christian Bundgaard likes to play and perform. Christian was born in 1994 but he grew up on music from Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Dr. John, Otis Spann, BB King… etc. Later on, the music was studied and heard countless times.Although Denmark is far from the land where the blues was born, the blues environment in Denmark is fantastic and open to all. Today, Christian tries to build a larger music career while also trying to make the blues more visible to young people of his own age.Christian Bundgaard - piano, vocal, guitar, harp
Nicals Nielsen - drums
Paul Jr – bassEstoniaTanel Padar Blues BandestoniaSinger, guitar player and songwriter Tanel Padar is the most notorious figure in the Estonian music scene. He has won every possible award and has participated in almost every noteworthy Estonian popular musical event over the last 15 years.  In 2001 Tanel Padar won the Eurovision Song Contest together with Dave Benton.Tanel Padar Blues Band was born in 2012 as one-time-old-friends-project, but soon enough evolved into a stable band. The band’s keyboard player Ülo Krigul is one of the most acclaimed young classical composers of Estonia, the guitar player Raul Ukareda is the most acclaimed blues guitarist of the country and organizer of the Augustibluus festival, the bass player Argo Toomel is one of Estonia’s most sought-after roots bass players, and drummer Petteri Hasa is an acclaimed Finnish jazz multi-instrumentalist and big band leader.The band is a frequent headliner of local festivals and plays constantly in clubs in Estonia as well as in Finland.Tanel Padar – vocals
Raul Ukareda – guitar
Ülo Krigul – keyboards
Argo Toomel – bass
Petteri Hasa – drumsFinlandLena & The Slide Brothersfinland

Lena & The Slide Brothers was formed in 2009 in Helsinki, Finland. The band has played at several Finnish blues and roots music festivals as well as in clubs all over the country. They have published two CDs: ”Turn It On” (2010) and ”Shine Your Light” (2013), and their third album will be out on 8th April 2016.

Lena Lindroos - vocals, bass
Matti Kettunen - guitars, backing vocals
Ykä Putkinen - guitars, backing vocals
Juha Litmanen - drums



Gas Blues Band


Since created by Gaspard "GAS" Ossikian, guitar and vocals, Since created by Gaspard "GAS" Ossikian (guitar and vocals), the Gas Blues Band has performed on many national and international stages during the past five years. This is not just one more Blues Band, it is also the "backing band" of many African-American artists from Chicago, Canada, Texas... artists such as Donald Ray Johnson, Toronzo Cannon, Lawrence Gladney Shy, Maurice John Vaughn, Linsey Alexander... Having a solid stage presence, whether under their own name or as accompanying unit, the Gas Blues Band is always on fire. They had a CD called "Troubled Watters" with 10 tracks released in June 2013. One can feel their implications for the Blues and its derivatives like "Funk", "Jazz", and with a hint of "Texas sound"! Their musical style is like "Jimi Hendrix" met "Muddy Waters" and "ZZ Top" met the "Funky Music"! A true musical identity in the world of Blues, a pure desire to play and to share their good mood, here is the Gas Blues Band: Let the Good Times Roll!!

Gaspard "GAS" Ossikian - guitar, vocals
Pierre "Little Peter" Cayla - guitar
Philippe "Pompon" Scemama - bass
Yannick "Papayan" Urbani – drums





WellBad plays Blues for people who didn't even know that they like Blues music! The young German Blues band convinces their audience with their authentic, impulsive sound! It's stomping and sentimental at the same time! The 26 year old singer and songwriter Daniel Welbat fascinates with his whisky-drenched, "stonewashed" voice and his half acoustic/half electrified powerful band of five.

Daniel Welbat - Vocals / Acoustic Guitar
Lennard Eggers - Lead Guitar
Simon Andresen - Keyboards/Organ
Stefan Reich - Doublebass/ E-Bass
Sebastian Meyer - Drums/Percussion



Mojo Workings


After about a year of playing together informally, Mojo Workings finally solidified and established in 2011. With members coming from three different musical backgrounds and taste the result is a unique blend of traditional blues, country, pop and beat. By utilizing harmony vocals and uncommon instruments such as the didley-bow, stompbox, harmonetta, bass harmonica in many of their arrangements, the musicians push the limits of the regular trio, making their sound ever more multi-hued and vibrant. They take full advantage of the dynamic possibilities offered by a live musical performance to make each and every gig a unique experience with new original songs or interesting interpretations of covers. Following up their debut album “Back In The Day”, they have completed their second disc “Long Step” in March 2015.

Tamás Szabó - vocal, harmonicas, harmonetta, bass harmonica
Imre Olivér Honfi - vocal, electric guitar, diddley-bow
János Horváth - vocal, acoustic guitar
Csaba Pengő - upright bass
István Mezőfi – drums



Paul Venturi & The Junkers


Paul Venturi has been considered for years as one of the main exponents of the Blues in Italy. He has participated in most of the major national and international festivals along his career, such as the "New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival", sharing the stages with such great musicians like Carey Bell, Billy Branch and Ana Popovic. In 2014 he founded "The Junkers", with the fantastic Roberto Villa on double bass and Alberto Bazzoli on piano. Despite their youth, the trio has already got the favour both of the audiences and the media acclaim and will, consequently, represent Italy at the European Blues Challenge 2016.

Paul Venturi - guitar, vocals
Roberto Villa - double bass
Alberto Bazzoli – piano



Johnny B. Beast


“Johnny B Beast” is the stage name of Janis Zvērs (born1986), a TV journalist and Latvian acoustic blues guitarist. His solo career started in 2012. Since high school he played guitar in several locally famous metal and hardcore bands, toured Europe and even Mexico, but slide-blues has always been his passion since childhood. The idea of a solo blues act was strongly considered for many years. Artists like Blind Willie Johnson, Bob Brozman, Brother Dedge, Daniel Bachman and Seasick Steve influenced his musical choice.

Johnny B Beast plays fingerstyle in open tuning guitar, using guitar also as a percussion instrument, playing strings with slide, sometimes also with hip flask or shot glass. Groovy rhyme, melodic, sometimes naive licks and "southern blues" vibe characterizes his music. Johnny has placed some nice videos on youtube, and video for song "Zhiga" became viral, gaining more than 20 000 views in a month!

Since 2013 Johnny B. Beast has played hundreds of gigs, including almost all local outdoor festivals and music clubs in Latvia as well as internationally acknowledged festivals like Suwalki Blues (Poland), Sigulda Castle Blues, Origo Blues and Baltic Blues Brotherhood (Latvia), Emajoe Blues (Estonia). He shared the stage with top local blues acts, as well as Cedric Burnside, Raphael Wressnig to name a few. He is always looking forward for new adventures, gigs and voyages, to transform his experience in new songs. Recently he released his first album “Wildboars & Trains”, including a song dedicated to the wild boars pride attempting to settle in the subway of Riga, the Capital of Latvia.



Phil Bee’s Freedom


They were winners of the Dutch Blues Challenge 2015. The jury was unanimous, saying, "Outstanding skills, repertoire and stage presence". This eight piece sensational band excites the crowds with original blues tunes, mixing jazz and soul grooves, played by the finest musicians around. Imagine a 1960-70’s Hammond and Rhodes, tight groovy rhythm section, two amazing lead guitarists, sultry background singers, topped by Phil Bee’s blue eyed soul vocals. Show stopping quality that will hit you like a freight train.

Phil Bee - vocals
Berland Rours - guitar
Guy Smeets - guitar
Pascal Lanslots - keyboard and hammond
Marcus Weymaere - drums
Carlo van Belleghem - bass
Esther van Cleef - backing vocals
Marlou Wijnen-Obers - backing vocals



Eric “Slim” Zahl & The South West Swingers


The band's ambition is to continue the fine traditions and perform music influenced by the sounds from the 50's - in their own and more rockin' style. Dressed up with a tie, suspenders and shiny shoes, Eric Slim Zahl & The Southwest Swingers perform their music with humor, musical skill and impact. Since the band started in 2006 they have logged an impressive amount of club gigs and festival appearances in Norway and England and they are well known to be a fun live band.

Eric Slim Zahl & the South West Swingers write their own music and released their debut album "Daddy'O" in 2011. The album was nominated for a Norwegian Grammy in the Best Blues Album Category. In 2013 the sequel, "Chances Are Slim" was released. Also this album received very good reviews in the press.

Eric Slim Zahl – vocals/guitar
Oystein Undem – keyboards (piano and Hammond)
Roald Brekke – vocals/guitar
Atle Helland Strom – drums



Blues Junkers


The band Blues Junkers (the name refers to Champion Jack Dupree’s song called “Junker Blues”) was established in Warsaw in December 2014 by a married couple, Natalia and Dominik Abłamowicz. The band’s name aims to express strong addiction of its members to the old American music, namely blues, rhythm ’n’ blues, boogie-woogie and soul. The band is a small combo without a bass player. What’s more, instead of a full drum kit, the band has just a snare drum. Blues Junker’s goal is to obtain a unique sound based on the old archaic barrelhouse piano combined with more modern but still classic blues guitar in the style of masters like B.B. and Freddie King. The band’s main idea is to obtain a fresh sound combining the sound of the 40’s and the 60’s. Of course, the most important member of the band is the singer, Natalia, whose voice and phrasing is in the style of the best blues singers such as Katie Webster, Etta James and Ruth Brown.

Natalia Abłamowicz – vocal, kazoo
Dominik Abłamowicz - piano, harp
Maciek Sych - guitar
Grzegorz Zawiliński – drums



Budda Power Blues


Budda Power Blues are a Portuguese Power Trio that plays the Blues from the gut. They deliver a punchy powerful, soulful, electric blues that makes you want to jump and shout. But they don’t do it on their own! The audience is always their 4th member, making every show a celebration of blues and life itself. A rambling bass, power drums, overdriven guitar and soulful vocals makes Budda Power Blues one of a kind. But don’t be mistaken: they can also be gentle and the dynamics may vary from a soaring thunder to gentle whisper! Some of their most Iconic moments are: They met and played with Shirley King, BB King’s daughter, in Lisbon and they fell in love with each other. Budda Power Blues were immediately invited to be the back up band of all Shirley’s European shows. Other highlights are the participation on Cotai Jazz and Blues in Macau (Asia) where they were selected from a pool of more than 200 bands worldwide. They have also done several shows in the "Blues Garage" in Germany and were two times headliners of "Blues Express" in Luxembourg. The band has also played in all of Portugal best Blues Fests like BB Blues Fest, Santa Maria Blues, Gaia Blues, Seia Jazz and Blues and Lisbon Blues Fest. With five records already during a 10-year life spans, Budda Power Blues are preparing two more records for 2016 with the participation of some very special guests.

Budda Guedes - vocals, guitar
Pedro Ferreira - bass
Nico Guedes – drums



Juraj Schweigert & The Groove Time


The band started as a west coast and jump blues band in 2011. Since the very start, it has been incorporating jazzy elements and Juraj’s unorthodox harmonica playing set the band’s musical direction. In 2014, they were voted as the most popular blues band in Slovakia and awarded a prize for mature concept and individual performance by the Slovak Jazz Company at the New Faces of Slovak Jazz competition. The first album released in October 2015 features mostly original compositions and explores areas outside blues while still strongly maintaining its very essence as the cornerstone of the band’s music. Extraordinary harp playing, colourful guitar and a steady rhythm section of double bass and drums easily catch the listener’s ear.

Juraj Schweigert – harmonica, vocals
Zsolt Szitási – guitar
Martin Kapusník – double bass
Juraj Raši - drums



Wax & Boogie Rhythm Combo


Wax & Boogie Rhythm Combo get their inspiration from 30′s boogie woogie, 40′s swing and 50′s rhythm ‘n’ blues. The amazing singer of the band, Ster Wax, has a powerful voice inspired by some wonderful female artists such as Lavern Baker, Ruth Brown and Big Maybelle. On the piano, David ‘Boogie’ Giorcelli, is one of Europe’s most celebrated boogie woogie & blues pianist that has participated in many festivals in France, Switzerland and Poland. Reginald Vilardell is a very popular drummer in the Spanish blues scene. Oriol Fontanals on the upright bass is a young musician that has recently joined the band. And Toni Solà on the tenor sax adds his experience and swing to this rhythm and shakin' combo.  These five musicians on scene create a high voltage show by evoking the great masters of the blues & boogie as well as offering their own songs on their repertoire. To date they have recorded two albums:  ‘Lost in a Dream - Milano Blues Club Nights’ (2013), and ‘Everynight’ (2014).

Ster Wax - vocals
David Giorcelli - piano
Toni Solà - tenor sax
Oriol Fontanals - double bass
Reginald Vilardell – drums



Ida Bang & The Blue Tears


Ida Bang & The Blue Tears is a young blues band from Stockholm, and they are called “the future in blues”. The band was formed in 2013, and in the last three years they have accomplished a lot; played shows at the biggest blues festivals around Sweden, released two acclaimed albums with own songs, and received great reviews.

“A tight sound with charismatic musicians that pick the best out of the genre’s legacy, but also pave the way for a future development of the blues.” – They are winners of the 1st Swedish Blues Challenge 2015.

Ida Bang - vocals
Leo Henriksson - guitar
John Bernström - guitar
Patrik Engström - bass
Leo Sund – drums



Johnny Fontane & The Rivals


The band was formed in 2011 as “Blues Express” as the house band of the famous “Kulturfabrik Kopfmehl”. In 2014 they changed the name to “Johnny Fontane & The Rivals”. The line-up remained the same. They call their style ‘Mafia Blues Rock’ hence the name of the band, going back to the character with the same name in “The Godfather”. The style is a mixture of blues rock and Chicago blues with funky elements.

Tom Marcozzi - vocals, guitar
Phulipp Lüdi - piano, organ
Christian Spanhi - bass
Lukas Zürcher – drums


United Kingdom

Red Butler

united kingdom

Performing a hand crafted mix of originals and intriguing covers, the band harnesses a raw, dynamic energy delivered with passion, feeling and creativity. The debut album “Freedom Bound”, which includes tracks reflecting life from a youthful perspective as well as historic influences, has attracted critical acclaim from the media and the public. Formed early 2012, this young award-winning band is at the forefront of the new United Kingdom blues scene. They have been building a good following and exciting audiences with their stunning ability and exhilarating stage act.

Alex Butler - lead guitar and backing vocals
Jane Pearce - lead vocals
Mike Topp - bass guitar and backing
Charlie Simpson – drums



The winner of the Blues Challenge will receive exposure in specialized blues media and get the opportunity to play at some of the major European blues festivals in 2016. At the moment we have the following confirmations:

·         Blues in Hell, Norway

·         Hondarribia Blues Festival, Spain

·         Frederikshavn Blues Festival, Denmark

·         Lucerne Blues Festival, Switzerland

·         Notodden Blues Festival, Norway

·         Sierre Blues Festival, Switzerland

·         Skanevik Blues Festival, Norway

·         Swing Wespelaar, Belgium

This list is probably not a final one as we are still expecting some confirmations.



The EBC 2016 playing order has been determined in the last board meeting by raffle. It has resulted in the following order:

Friday (08/04/2016)

1.       Poland

2.       Bulgaria

3.       U.K.

4.       Estonia

5.       France

6.       Slovakia

7.       Denmark

8.       Hungary

9.       Switzerland

10.     Sweden

11.     Latvia

Saturday (09/04/2016)

1.       Belgium

2.       Finland

3.       Austria

4.       Italy

5.       Norway

6.       Spain

7.       Portugal

8.       Germany

9.       Netherlands

10.     Croatia



WINNER OF THE SECOND UK BLUES CHALLENGE ANNOUNCEDThe 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.orgAshwyn 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 - 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.”RBJohnBull2
 Photo courtesy Rokypix


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 chosen by UKBlues and Pete Feenstra, but who, for obvious reasons, will remain confidential until after the Challenge. They will use the same criteria to award points to the contestants as is used at the EBC.

The acts in order of appearance on the 24th are:

19.45 – 20.15 – Katie Bradley

20.30 – 21.00 – Malaya Blue

21.15 – 21.45 – Brothers Groove

22.00 – 22.30 – Red Butler

UKBlues congratulates the acts on their selection to take part in the UK Blues Challenge.

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.

For more details about the UK Blues Challenge and how you can pre-book your tickets visit Pete Feenstra's site or call +44 (0) 20 8791 9078