Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The Tunnels

Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The Tunnels

Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The Tunnels

 

Outside as the March wind blew through Bristol, we knew that the hot sirocco of a vocals storm was brewing in The Tunnels as Kaz Hawkins and her band hit the stage. Kaz is riding on a blues fuelled crest of a wave as she embarks on a mini British tour and they were tight and hot across a set that made us laugh, cry and be awash with the emotional power of live music.  Fresh from a solo trip to Nashville and the band reaching the semi-finals of the International Blues Challenge with the U.K. having a band showcasing British Blues for the first time at the event.

Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The TunnelsTonight, it was as we all expected a rip-roaring performance from the band who grow from strength to strength. The rhythm section brothers bassist Ján and drummer Peťo Uhrin provide more than a solid base. The rhythms were deep and adding another layer of drama into the mix is the fiery fender displays from guitarist Nick McConkey. His tasty licks and hooks are a feature of the Kaz sound providing the perfect accompaniment for the full-on power of Kaz.

Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The TunnelsThe set was full of firm favourites from her debut album Get Ready and her latest Feelin’ Good with numbers that mix up the blues with funk, country, and Celtic soul, every number  sung as if for the first time from the heart. Every song is a special moment for everyone who had turned out to The Tunnels on a Thursday night. Those who missed her tonight in Bristol missed a night of live music fireworks. As Kaz sung Believe With Me, we all believed in the music being delivered this is blues with an extra shot of high-octane energy. As Kaz arranged her signature petticoats as she sat behind the keys to sing This Is Me, dedicated to everyone searching for inner strength and a pray for all of us to love ourselves for who we are. Like all of Kaz’s numbers, the emotions are raw, personal and hit your spine with honesty and soulfulness. Kaz’s songwriting is always aspired by real people, I Saw A Man,  about a homeless man Kaz met in London, but always dedicated to Belfast man Norman the intensity of the lyrics are added to by the drumming of Peťo using felted drumsticks, the beat is muffled beating out the endless repeating rhythm as if walking the streets as Kaz narrates the tale hitting the high notes with perfect pitch and howling with pain and then the deep colour of her powerful voice adding to the drama.

Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The TunnelsTonight was a time for smiling as well as tears with fans flying in from Belfast and an old friend from school days seeing after a long time no wonder Belfast Time was included in the mix. But Kaz is more than the power of her vocals it is her ability to connect with people. As she shares fears and bad times of her life along with celebration of hitting two out of three life goals, making a career in Music, being a non-smoker both ticked off and now she embarks on becoming fit under the supervision of her personal trainer.  Kaz laughs with you and at herself, with a wardrobe failure her hair would not behave, first losing the scarf and then escaping the pins. This is Kaz, a real person who wants you to find the power of life through her songs.

A song that always brings a smile and tonight we all enjoyed singing on Hallelujah Happy People a real highlight of her set as is Feelin Good, a great rearrangement of this classic. With a great emotional lead break from Nick as the first half finished we were all feeling good in the presence of Miz Kaz.

Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The TunnelsOpening, the second set was a Kaz solo with her acoustic guitar a song she recently wrote in the Bluebird Café in Nashville, The River That Sings. Dedicated to Alabama legend Tom Hendrix and the wonderful stone wall, taking over thirty years to complete in memory of the 600 miles his Great, great Grandmother walked. As the notes faded and the applause filled the venue the boys came back on stage.

Her teenage years were difficult and the cleansing power of the emotional Believe in Me and the songs inspired by ex-boyfriends, Drink With The Devil and Can’t Afford Me put them firmly in their place out of Kaz’s life. We had soul with Soul Superstar and a flick of the legendary petticoats and the wide smile that warms The Tunnels.  The night closed with Kaz’s re-working of I Just Want To Make Love To You, and then the Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The Tunnelsencore with Shake that allows Kaz to display the full vocal range and colour of her voice. Kaz Hawkins Kicking Up A Music Storm At The Tunnels as she took her turn on the drums,  reaffirming this is not an act to miss.

With the love of Kaz’s warm heart and the power of her vocals ringing in our ears we collectively wish her and the band every success as they go off to The European Blues Challenge in Denmark.

 

Kaz Hawkins, Belfast Blues Diva Feelin Good talks to Bluesdoodles

Kaz Hawkins, Belfast Blues Diva Feelin Good talks to Bluesdoodles

Kaz Hawkins, Belfast Blues Diva Feelin Good talks to Bluesdoodles

BD: Big thank you for taking time out of your busy life to chat with Bluesdoodles. Thank you so much for letting Bluesdoodles have a copy of Feelin Good, your forthcoming album before its release. More of that later I am sure.

BD: What were your first musical influences growing up in Belfast?
KH: From my Dad, the Eagles which is why I love to harmonize. I found Etta James and when aged about 12 I auditioned for Opportunity Knocks. The tapes are lost as the BBC had a big fire where they stored lots of videos including mine all were burnt so not able to get a copy. Granny tried getting me to listen to St Louis Blues 1st on cassette tape. Then Etta James and female torch singers. I like the passion in women singers and in some men, it is powerful women singers that make me feel empowered.

BD: Kaz you are a big character on stage and the sound is blues with soul gospel with a contemporary twist what influences from past and today go into creating the Kaz sound?
KH: It has taken years to nurture and develop my stage presence. If you don’t feel strong enough to be who you are, nothing would change. I would still be in a cover band, it was monotonous, I felt lost just singing rather than performing. Then in it changed in 2011. I had started to learn guitar in about 2008, I only had 3 or 4 chords. With note books full of words I had written over the years, I just had to put them into chords to make them into songs. On the plus side singing covers gave me the solid platform to jump off from. I had no idea it would take off with a Blues Band. I then had the amazing opportunity to support Van Morrison, so my presence just blew up in 2012. Took just over year to be known, because Belfast is so small you can quickly become famous or infamous.
BD: How jump out of Belfast?  KH: Well couple DJ’s including Kevin Beale, and Ed Mitchell Blues Magazine playing and promoting my style of blues kinda going on in background. We needed to get rid blues hat not just blues felt I was not going down the right route. So took the decision and packed in the blues band and went solo. I had my own vision of where I wanted to be with my music but it was so very hard and challenging to put my vision and belief to other people. During the making of my debut album Get Ready it was so difficult, I lost band members, there was no feeling of being cohesive as no-one could commit or they didn’t fit so people got sacked. It was all rather traumatic and demanding. I lost money huge amounts but I had a belief in the music I wanted to create. All off this in the mix that is Kaz Hawkins on stage.

BD: I have always been interested in the lyrics of a song. Where do you get your inspiration for your songwriting? Is it always personal influenced by your at times difficult life’s journey?
KH: The lyrics are mostly personal. I have always kept a notebook where I put down words thoughts as they occur. On Feelin Good the words are all so important to me. Soul Superstar is about me as a child never being able to sing for joy. I was virtually kidnapped by my Granny who took me to the Opportunity Knocks audition. I did sing in public from a very young age. Dad took me to bars when I was 7-8 to sing for money, he used to take the pound notes giving me a £1 to take home to my mother. It was not a happy experience. I want to feel comfortable, be happy with the artist I always wanted to be breath, taking a moment I always do when standing in the wings take deep breath still get nervy but I so need that adrenalin. I started from very humble beginnings. The song Because You Love Me is for my daughter whereas Don’t Run Away is an abstract reflection of domestic violence. The lyrics have changed, partly due to the funky rhythm and also Domestic Violence needs to be noticed and talked about but also need to respect the code of silence that survivors maintain. Some of the songs have been written for a while like Belfast Town a crazy mad song of my hometown. The personal gives you connection, understanding and passion for every piece when performed on stage or in the studio.

BD: Tell us a bit about being a woman in the 21st century music scene, misogyny and the motivation for the facebook group Blues Sisters UK?
KH: Needed to be done get all of us in one place I didn’t want a man leading the way. Yes we have brothers who support but women have been subjected to so much over the years there is lots of mistrust. We need to take women to a different level where they are confident in their abilities. The DJ’s play our music yet when you looked at the UK Independent Blues Broadcasters Association (IBBA) I could only count only 2-3 sisters. It cheered me up when Dave Raven recently posted on the Sisterhood group that the sisterhood is strong in the latest charts. It is sad in a way that we have to be notified that our presence is strong it should just be happening. We still have blinkers on do not look outside it really shouldn’t be a big issue of 50:50 especially for the next generation. They have to be inspired and most importantly see the life of women in the world of music. For years for me personally the music scene has been horrific and definitely not good to me. I would go to jams and people (men) would not play with me so I said F**ck it! Neanderthal behaviour so would get my own band and not go to blues jams and be the token female. I have been made so welcome on the mainland by a lot of males in the blues fraternity catching on to the fact that sisters have a lot to bring and should be appreciated. The UK Blues Sisterhood is a place for every sister to have a showcase. Everyone can see how exciting and eclectic UK Blues scene is. The whole range sisters have to offer is stunning.

BD: You have had a change in band members since your last album/tour what have the new members added to the mix? Also this time you are Kaz Hawkins Band is it more of a team enterprise?
KH: Working so hard since touring last year I knew the next album was going to be bigger and better it was so important to have the right rhythm section. I needed a big sound and a more feminine sound with the addition of the immensely talented Deanne Jones as a backing singer. With the re-brand as I was no longer comfortable being solo so here is the Kaz Hawkins Band. As a band we have a three year plan, we will be going for it hammer and tong, touring like crazy and releasing as much music as possible. I now have a much better band they are just so loyal and amazing. My guitarist Nick has been with me for four and half years. He has lost jobs because of putting commitment to my music first. He is so loyal and having been in car crashes, supporting me when I broke my shoulder and had to put up with people saying doesn’t have the caliber to be my guitarist. He may not have had the money to buy the best but loyalty to me is far more important that this macho guitar w****ing that goes on. Nick will shine brighter and be able to afford to buy the equipment he wants. Kaz Hawkins Band is strong and will be noticed through our music.

BD: Lots of positive vibes for your follow up album to Get Ready – this certainly got us ready for your explosive blues sound, How has the music focus changed for Feelin Good. Was the inspiration for the title a reflection of how you are feeling now?
KH: Yes! it was and to reflect the journey from debut to the follow-up album. I wasn’t 100% sure of the direction I was going in as a musician. The cost of making Get Ready was eye watering bankrupted me plus the emotional fallout as the band changed personnel as members left others were sacked, there was no cohesion no band loyalty. But I kept going remained strong thanks to so much support from fans and people who know me and now out the other end and my life is amazing. People have asked why use the title of a cover song, firstly our version is so off the wall and the title is a true reflection where we are as a band and my own life.

BD: The video and song you used to announce the album and to get pre-sales was This Is Me a powerful song and is this autobiographical or for women everywhere to be themselves?

KH: Wow glad you find the video powerful it was meant to be. Yes it is autobiographical. The words also relates to anybody who wants to be themselves. This is Me is a statement about accept me as I am, I may not conform but I will not be judged by my quirk approach or difference. This is Me – a simple but bold and empowering statement take me as you find me and please do not judge. ..

BD: You have recently announced that you’re a Honorary member of the recently formed UK Blues Federation tell me what you have as a vision for blues across the UK and how the federation is a piece of the jigsaw.
KH: Kaz, excitedly shared via video link that the button stating Honorary Member and UK Blues Federation logo is proudly displayed on the album. Blues in the UK need a vision. UK Blues needs to be seen as stretching out across the UK. Northern Ireland, doesn’t have blues clubs and expensive to tour Danny Bryant comes over and is always appreciated. UK Blues Federation should raise the profile of the blues and as an honorary member who sings the blues and from Northern Ireland should help get this area of UK noticed. Danny Bryant comes over, no blues clubs and low payers NI cheaper than mainland. It is important that UK Blues have somewhere to congregate in one place should be leading the way so that all clubs join and setting the example. Gives bands a place to compete and then represent UK in Europe and Memphis which is exciting. After entering and the stress it caused me I swore after the Mascot Label that I would not compete again. How things have changed I am so excited and proud to be one of the four bands in the 2016 UK Blues Challenge at the Robin 2. Using opportunity for mini tour Basingstoke and Tenby Blues Festival already confirmed.

BD: If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing

KH: Everyone from Free and Journey plus myself joining on vocals what a three way harmonizing Paul Rogers + Steve Perry & Kaz Hawkins….

 

 

Read all about the album HERE

 

Kaz Hawkins, Belfast Blues Diva Feelin Good talks to Bluesdoodles

 

 

CD Review: Kaz Hawkins ~ Get Ready

Scan0001Blues is miserable, downbeat and introspective; if that is your stereotype then Get Ready you haven’t heard and definitely not seen Kaz Hawkins and Her Band O Men perform. This may be a debut album but there is a world of musical knowledge and talent that pours out of Kaz’s immense and powerful vocal chords. From the first note to the last, the warmth and personality of Kaz shines through this is an album that catches and the mix of styles that has influenced blues or been influenced by blues are threaded through the tracks so each and every one is shaped and honed. We here echoes of field hollers, gospel, soul, honkey-tonk and jazz what we have is the Kaz effect Wow! That is really a great fresh contemporary sound you want to listen to and enjoy.

Her album opens with Hallelujah Happy People, you will want to join her where the happy people go for two positive reasons to raise your spirits and hear her spellbinding vocal delivery. Throughout it is full of vocal allure and the raw energy that tells the lyrics exactly as it is. Every track has a tale of interest delivered with an honest reality that connects I Saw A Man is slower full of heart-wretching soulfulness painting a lyrical picture as we come to know and understand what Kaz has seen and motivated her to write about this unnamed man. There is no doubt that we all believe in Kaz having experienced her musical journey through the album Get Ready; the title track sums it up instead of sing “Get Ready for Peace, Get Ready for Love” it should be Get Ready for Kaz Hawkins and Her Band O Men.

Get your dancing shoes on and join the party for Shake and Can’t Afford Me you will be smiling and moving and grooving with every perfectly produced note. Drink With the Devil a cleverly produced song that feels and sounds as if it is echoing the feel of speakeasy bars during prohibition. Closing with Walking On My Own there is a personal tale but with music of this quality walking on her own is a thing of the past for Kaz.

There can be no argument that Kaz does Belfast proud continuing a music tradition that has to be heard far and wide and very, very often as we can explore the music and understand the reflective tone and language of a life lived to the full with all the bumps in the road and the tears of laughter and of joy.
Get Ready, is an album of extraordinary depths, emotional maturity and a vocal dexterity that demands to be heard and admired and her Band O Men just add the tonal dimensions for her talent to fly high as she hits the warmest of blues notes.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

Scan0002

 

Kaz Hawkins ~ Get Ready – Independent

Track Listing
1. Hallelujah Happy People
2. I Saw A Man
3. Believe With Me
4. Shake
5. Get Ready
6. Can’t Afford Me
7. Coz You
8. Drink With The Devil
9. Born To Be Lovers
10. Walkin On My Own