2016 UK Blues Challenge The Winner IS…..
2016 UK Blues Challenge The Winner IS….. that will have to wait a moment since there are four acts to listen to first. Tonight is the third UK Blues Challenges that decides the band that will be representing the UK at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and The European Challenge in Denmark in 2017. Tonight is the second time that the Challenge has been under the auspices of the UKBlues Federation and what a success tonight is, thanks to sponsorship from the award winning, crowd pleasing Upton Blues Festival and the support from The Robin 2, Bilston with superb sound, lighting and the support staff who ensured there was food, drinks and a welcome on the doors.
The running order tonight, Wille and The Bandits; Dove and Boweevil; Kaz Hawkins Band and Rebecca Downes, four acts that show the depth and diversity of blues across the UK in 2016. The bands were from across the country from Cornwall to Norfolk; Belfast to Birmingham and they knew how to play live in a way that would challenge the judges as to who had the winning combination of originality, vocal talent, musical interpretation and more. Without the judges there would have been no challenge, no winners so the Federation owe them a big thank you to Becky Tate, Kayla Brox, Peter Noble, Alex Butler, Oliver Carpenter, Mark Housley and Ruth Etheridge. The task we set them was a challenge in itself as every band was different with music that delighted the crowds. The judges listened hard, danced to the music enjoyed the Blues and after much thought, they marked each band and a winner was found. Before that, there were four bands to listen to and enjoy.
With Ashwyn Smythe the chair of the Federation getting the evening underway as compare, the lights were shining and the crowds expectant as Wille and The Bandits opened the proceedings. The band have their own rocking interpretation of the blues. The sound is hearty, rooted in tradition with lap slide, guitar upright bass and drums that beats out a sound full of originality and confidence. This is blues stretched and reformed, with a selection from their new album, Steal out in January 2017 and old favourites including Gypsy Woman ensured the audience was engaged from the beginning and the audience showed their appreciation – what a start – had the night peaked too early?
Following on, we were treated to Dove and Boweevil. Lauren Dove floated as she blended roots, soul and the taste of the east as the beats and rhythms floated around the Robin 2. Opening with Lady Lavoo, from their current album This Life; a song that is full of swampy beats and the sound has a mystical dark sound suiting Laurens vocals and Mark ‘Boweevil’ Howes guitar. The five piece enthralled the audience though at times the vocals got lost among the instruments.
Third band of the night raised the energy levels as Kaz Hawkins twirled like a whirlwind across the stage. The energy was electric and the vocals spellbinding. Kaz, takes the lyrics, squeezing the emotions out so that the audience is drawn and captivated by the soulful blues. The petticoats were swished the red gloves thrown into the audience, yet, if Kaz had stood perfectly still it would have been the voice that is full of charm and depths that hit your musical soul. The band are a trio of talent with the solid rhythm section providing the perfect platform and Nick McConkey’s guitar work is stunning. In the mix we heard the song dedicated to her daughter, Because I love You which one of my favourites. The audience cheered, clapped, stamped their feet as they showed their love to Kaz Hawkins’ take on the blues.
How to follow that with the energy levels were so high, emotions so stretched easy close the night with Rebecca Downes. With her trademark leopard skin coat she took up the microphone and sung the blues. Rebecca belted out the vocals soaring above her band all eyes were focused on her she was charged with an electricity and glowing energetic fire. Again, the blues was threaded with rock, soul and jazz that gave Rebecca’s blues a depth of tone and interest she is a blues vocalist who delivers the music she loves and believes in. The band once again played to Rebecca’s tonal strengths so the voice got hotter and the coat was discarded. Rebecca owned the stage and had the audience in her hand and purring with delight.
As Rebecca Downes and her band left the stage and silence fell, what a night of live music four different and superb acts. All gave the blues a touch of difference shaping the music and delivering with energy and love. Now the scores were counted, the raffle drawn and we waited and discussed our favourites and who we thought the winner would be…
2016 UK Blues Challenge The Winner IS…..
The Judges verdict was Kaz Hawkins Band. They are now off to represent the UK at the 33rd International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, which runs from 31st January to 4th February 2017 and at the 7th European Blues Challenge, which takes place in Horsens, Denmark on 6th, 7th & 8th April 2017.
Watch this space the date and venue of the 4th UK Blues challenge will be announced by the UK Blues Federation soon. Support the blues and check out the page www.ukbluesfederation.com
2016 UK Blues Challenge delights Bilston The Winner IS….. Once again congratulations to the winner Kaz Hawkins
The UK Blues Federation (UKBlues), is a pan-UK Federation that has been established to promote and support Blues in and from the United Kingdom in all its forms and styles.
We have created a not for profit federation of musicians, organisations, associations, groups, venues, companies, individuals and any other interested parties within the UK who already work to support, promote and encourage blues of all sorts within the UK, to work together to achieve UKBlues‘ aims.
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