Remember Battles Of The Bands? A chance for several bands to be egged on by their mates, with a prize for the winner? Imagine this in a Chelsea BBQ and lobster joint (in conjunction with our pals at The Blues magazine), with an audience of industry types, and a record deal with Mascot as the prize.
Happily, all finalists here have reason to feel confident. And with twinkly blueser/radio presenter Big Boy Bloater hosting, it’s a friendly atmosphere. Poor opener Matthew Douglas is flanked by a backing track (to sadly 2D effect) but saved by stylish Isley Brothers-infused licks and a loveable face. Pint-sized Welsh brothers Henry’s Funeral Shoe generate a foot-stamping, Mick Jagger-strutting explosion of slide guitar, Keith Moon drums and raucous blues rock’n’roll. The Black Circles look like they’ve come for an indie night, but delight with Stevie Ray Vaughan-esque fun. Then enter “Kaz Hawkins and her band of men!”. A Belfast bundle of warmth, wit, 50s frock and red lipstick, she delivers a sparkling set – the crowd-seducing show of the night.
Glasgow’s Charlotte Marshall & The 45s are declared winners. A bouncing, seven-piece blues n’ soul group, pivoting on Charlotte’s diva wails, they make a colourful finale (even if their songs don’t win everyone over).
Still, joining the charge of Aaron Keylock, Dan Patlansky and co, all artists here confirm the range and quality of new blues guns for hire in 2015.