Greg Coulson ( photo by Tony Cole )
Then it was the turn of Carl North & The Lonely Hearts, a six-piece young band from Manchester. A new act to all in the room, except maybe a few who had caught them in Colne a few weeks before. They bristled with attitude and energy under the leadership of Carl, but with each member playing their part well, including a saxophonist. I look forward to seeing more from this band and it will be interesting to watch them develop and travel further with their music.
Catfish (photo by Tony Cole)
Last on was Tom C Walker. Tom has been a friend for ages – it’s all quite a community of musicians really – and he and his band again showed a very different side of UK blues, this time leaning on funk influences. His trio has recently expanded with a second guitar player and this has enhanced the sound and feel of the group hugely; the set sparkled with fun and danceable playing and soulful vocals.
Tom C Walker (photo by Tony Cole)
Whilst the judges’ scores were added up we had the traditional raffle, with the first prize being a Fender Telecaster guitar, won by Tuesday Night Music Club organiser Richard Dunning. Also, it was announced that the 2019 event would be held in the north of England at the Preston Guildhall. And then the moment of truth as MC Ashwyn Smyth announced that the winner – and therefore the UK band going to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and the European Blues Challenge in The Azores – was Kyla Brox.
This news was met with delighted approval in the hall – from audience and other band members alike – Kyla’s set had been electrifying and we all agreed would be the perfect candidate for both of these exciting adventures. I’ve not been to the European Blues Challenge (although a trip to an island in the middle of the Atlantic sounds like it could be fun!), but I have been to the IBC in Memphis and so I know what a great trip they will have. All that remains is for the UK Blues Federation and Kyla to raise the funds (by Crowdfunder and other means) to get there.
It was a competition, a battle of the bands, but mostly it was a celebration of the live blues-based music scene here in the UK. Blues is a very broad church here in Britain, so it will be interesting to see what happens early next year. Good luck and Bon Voyage!
Kyla Brox and band (photo by Tony Cole)
UK Blues Federation: www.ukblues.org
European Blues Challenge: www.europeanbluesunion.com/ebu-challenge
International Blues Challenge: blues.org/international-blues-challenge
Greg Coulson: www.gregcoulson.co.uk
Carl North & The Lonely Hearts: www.facebook.com/carllonelyhearts
Kyla Brox: www.kylabrox.com
Tom C Walker: www.tomwalkerofficial.com
Tony Cole (photographer): www.facebook.com/tony.cole