Young Talent Will Carry On In An Uncertain Future

by | Apr 9, 2020 | Feature/Discovery

I usually spend my time reviewing and photographing live gigs but these unprecedented times have really stuck the boot in and left me with something of a void to fill. I have, therefore, taken advantage of the surplus of time on my hands to write a  feature highlighting the achievements of the younger generation in keeping quality music alive.

I approached a number of artists, all under the age of twenty-six, that I have had the pleasure of seeing and photographing in the past couple of years. I have asked them all the same two questions; who are you listening to during lockdown and who would you cite as your major musical influence. There were some very interesting responses, especially to the first question and it’s certainly worth checking out some of the music if this is new to you.

 (Rock Shot)

Aaron Keylock at High Voltage (2011)

Aaron James – I first saw this young singer/songwriter and guitarist when he performed in the Ace Cafe tent at the High Voltage Festival in 2011 as Aaron Keylock. His reputation went before him and he played to a packed audience aged just thirteen. As my wife said at the time “I have socks older than him”. I saw him on two further occasions shortly after when he supported Aynsley Lister and Nine Below Zero. Such was the confidence of this young man he travelled down from Oxfordshire to Surrey, still only thirteen/fourteen, armed with just an acoustic guitar and his father in support. 

 (phil.honley@btinternet.com)

Aaron James with Keylock at Winter’s End (2020)

Aaron formed his own young band and I saw him on a few occasions but the most memorable was when he supported Aussie favourites of mine Tracer at what was then The Barfly in Camden. Aaron more recently formed Keylock in 2018, a very formidable blues rock band, with Jonnie Hodson at the helm on lead vocals. The debut album is still a work in progress but check out the latest single Shine On Me.

So Aaron what are you listening to during lockdown and what would you cite as your musical influences?

Hey friend, thanks so much for this, what a wonderful thing to be part of. I’ve been listening to a lot of Townes Van Zant, Hoyt Axton and a modern folk singer called Willie Watson. As well as my usual favourites; The Rolling Stones, Sly And The Family Stone, BB King, Eric Clapton, The Faces and AC/DC“.

Matt Long – I first saw Matt Long in 2013, still only eighteen years of age, when his band at the time The Common Collection supported Chantel McGregor at the Boom Boom Club. I have since had the pleasure of experiencing his musical development over the past seven years whether it be with the award winning Catfish, Rough House Trio or his most recent venture Matt Long And The Revenant Ones.

“Well I’m always listening to my favourites; Joe Bonamassa, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Howlin’ Wolf, Chris Stapleton, The Hoax and lots more alongside the heavier bands that I love like Alter Bridge, The Winery Dogs, Lamb Of God, Dream Theatre, Alice In Chains, Audioslave etc. However, in quarantine I’ve recently discovered an album called Run Home Slow by The Teskey Brothers. It’s a beautiful album and I would highly recommend to people of all walks of life to give it a listen.”

Matt Long (Phil Honley)

Matt Long at Bourne Music Club (2018)

“As far as major influences go, there are two people that really spring to mind when I think about who inspired me. Firstly it would be BB King, he was the first blues artist I ever heard as a five year old kid and I instantly fell in love with his music, his guitar playing, his vocals, his songs, his onstage presence, he’s just the master. Another would be Joe Bonamassa, I remember seeing Joe for the first time when he was relatively unknown in the UK. I thought he was awesome and I just instantly connected with his guitar playing and his style. It was what I had been looking for all that time.

Fast forward a few years later to when he first played the Royal Albert Hall in 2009. That concert changed my life, that was the concert that made me want to have a career as a musician. I remember vividly standing up out of my seat after the concert was over and as we were walking out I told my parents that that’s what I want to do. It was a real lightning bolt moment for me.”

Knowing Matt’s parents as I do there was no risk that they would tell him to pursue a proper job over the career path he has chosen.

 

Marcus Praestgaard-Stevens (Phil Honley)

Marcus Praestgaard-Stevens at Tuesday Night Music Club (2018)

Marcus Praestgaard-Stevens – Although I was not present on the night, Marcus Praestgaard-Stevens‘ musical journey started at The Tuesday Night Music Club in 2016 aged just thirteen when Matt Long, yes the one and only, invited him on stage during a Catfish gig. He made such an impression he was asked to return the following year with his newly formed band Crossfire.

The development in this young man has been staggering in a little over three years. Crossfire has given him the legs to showcase his development alongside the equally talented Alice Armstrong, a real gem in the crown with a voice to die for. Crossfire still weaves it’s magic but Marcus is now also fulfilling the last wish of the sadly much missed Jules Fothergill. Jules was very much a mentor to Marcus and he wanted Marcus to replace him in funksters Northsyde. Jules also left Marcus his very much cherished 1963 red Gibson 335.

Marcus Praestgaard-Stevens (Phil Honley)

Marcus Praestgaard-Stevens at Tuesday Night Music Club (2018)

” Recently I have been listening to Albert King, Pat Metheny and Peter Bernstein. It’s difficult to give a few names for my major influences but I guess I would say Robben Ford, BB King and Wes Montgomery“.

Loz Campbell – described as the love child of Kurt Cobain & Skunk Anansie, Loz Campbell & her band have been launched onto various O2 Academy stages, Sheffield, Leeds and I recently saw this Yorkshire based singer/songwriter and guitarist and her band when they opened the Earache Presents: The New Wave Of Rock N Roll album launch show in London.

Loz Campbell (phil.honley@btinternet.com)

Loz Campbell O2 Academy 2 Islington (2020)

Loz first strutted her stuff at the tender age of fifteen and fast approaching her twenty first birthday she has just released her debut album. Green Eyes which is close on the heels of her Back Biting The Bullet single.

“Who am I listening to? I’ve been listening to a lot of Slipknot and Larkin Poe recently and still hoping to see Larkin Poe in Manchester in May. Musical influences are Blondie, Nirvana, Skunk Anansie, Tori Amos and anyone who rocks!”

Charlie Richards – Charlie had big boots to fill when he replaced Jack Cooper on guitar in the Rainbreakers in 2017. I remember speaking to band members when Jack Cooper signed off and they expressed absolute delight in announcing that a very talented local Shrewsbury lad had stepped forward to fill the void.

Charlie Richards (Phil_Honley)

Charlie Richards with Rainbreakers at the Great British Rock And Blues Festival (2017)

Since being in lockdown I’ve made more of an effort to discover some new music. I recently found a band called Unknown Mortal Orchestra who I’m loving at the moment. Those guys and Tame Impala probably take up around 85% of my listening time!

Charlie Richards (phil.honley@btinternet.com)

Charlie Richards with Rainbreakers at the Half Moon, Putney (2019)

In terms of major influences, if I had to try and pin it down I’d have to do the cliché thing and say Hendrix. It’s a bit of a cop out answer and my influences are constantly changing, but I got my first Strat after watching a video of his set at Woodstock…so that’s got to mean something!”

Julio JAK – Julio is still only 16 but has been playing in public since he was 11. He started playing guitar when he was 8 or 9. His very first recording session was a birthday present when he was 10 where he made a cover of Chris Rea‘s Road To Hell.

Julio JAK (Phil Honley)

Julio JAK at Blues at The Woodlands (2018)

He still plays some of his classical guitar pieces and having lost two grandparents in the past year he played classical arrangements of Stairway To Heaven and Tears In Heaven at each funeral service. 

“Recently I have been listening to a lot of Polyphia which is an instrumental guitar orientated band, they combine rock with a hip hop beat which I have been liking a lot.

I have also been listening to Paul Gilbert and his jamming videos with his band. Songs like ‘Blues for Rabbit‘. This I am playing in sets myself. I also play a cover of the Bucket Head (have you listened to any?) Soothsayer. These are guitar pieces that are more complex and have technical difficulty to stretch my playing.

Another thing I have been listening to as of recently is the new Deep Purple album Whoosh as it is similar to the stuff my band plays. I’m also looking at Rolling Stones and some interesting bluesy pieces, maybe slow blues but with options for guitar solos”.

Julio JAK (Phil Honley)

Julio JAK at Blues at The Woodlands (2018)

“In terms of musical influences I would almost 100% have to say Clapton. When I was a lot younger I used to steal my Dad’s Clapton CDs and listen to them all the time. This is the reason I started playing guitar. Also I listened to various guitar based music and musicians such as Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Santana as well as blues from BB King and Peter Green. One early band I listened to was Wishbone Ash, and I think some of the guitar harmonies are better than such pieces as Hotel California from the Eagles!

My more recent influences I would say are Joe Satriani as I just love the way he plays and writes his songs. As well as this I would have to say Gary Moore purely because of the way he feels every note. Blues-rock from various older 1970s bands and some newer bands as well. Guitar based bands mainly.”

The Julio Jak Band will shortly coming to a venue near you folks.

Keira Kenworthycomes from a musical family, her father was the drummer in the band Raven, her elder sister plays a bit of bass and her brother is a DJ.  Keira always wanted to play an instrument and her father initially tried to teach her to play drums. This wasn’t entirely successful but as her sister played bass her father challenged her to learn some tunes on bass, one of them being Money by Pink Floyd.

This was indeed a success and was rewarded by her parents presenting her with a Daisy Rock bass. She has since acquired her pride and joy, a white ‘82 Fender Precision. When she was 18 her family moved to Harrogate and she got a place at Leeds College of music. At this time she also joined her father’s band StraightShooter, who she still plays with. 

JOANovARC (Phil Honley)

Keira Kenworthy with JOANovARC at Planet Rockstock (2019)

I saw Keira at last year’s Planet Rockstock with JOANovARC and boy does this all female band rock. A band that certainly deserves your ear.

Keira is not in lockdown but working flat out during this time but she does get to listen to music on her way to and from work. The Winery Dogs, Richie Kozen, 3Teeth and the Nova Twins are currently her choice.

“I have been influenced by loads of different bass players from the jazz and funk players like Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten and Stanley Clarke to rockers such as Andy Fraser, Neil Murray and Geezer Butler.”

JOANovARC (Phil Honley)

Keira Kenworthy with JOANovARC at Planet Rockstock (2019)

Toby LeeThis young man’s incredible musical journey started at just four years old when his Grandma bought him a ukulele. This went everywhere with him and he was playing Buddy Holly and Elvis tunes constantly. He received his first electric guitar whilst staying at the same hotel as non other than Uriah Heep‘s Mick Box. Mick gave Toby some sound advice, a brief tutorial and from that moment his musical career was carved out before him.

Toby Lee (Phil Honley)

Toby Lee at the UK Blues Awards (2018)

Toby was cast as Zach Mooneyham in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s West End production of School Of Rock for which he won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement In Music. He was also awarded the honour of being the UK Young Blues Artist Of The Year in 2018 and that was the only opportunity I have had to see this young man perform live.

Toby will shortly be releasing his debut album 14 and is also working on an upcoming album called Icons, where he is recording with his guitar heroes. Icons the film is also in production telling his story so far which is aimed at inspiring children to get into music.

Toby Lee (Phil Honley)

Toby Lee at the UK Blues Awards (2018)

“Lockdown music in no particular order; Lukas Nelson, Peter Frampton, Jared James Nichols, John Cougar, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Bonamassa (regular fan of both his music videos and his latest Nerdville posts), Bruce Springsteen (Live performances), Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Brian Setzer and Bob Butfoy of rocksbilly band Jack Rabbit Slim.

Major musical influences; Joe Bonamassa, BB King, Lukas Nelson, Gary Moore, Grateful Dead, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Jack Rabbit Slim

Félix Rabin – I have seen Félix on three occasions and he has certainly left an impression. In 2019 he was the surprise act at the annual HRH Blues Festival and just before lockdown curtailed his guest slot on Samantha Fish‘s European tour I saw him twice. Félix grew up in Brittany, France and always had music around him. He wasn’t quite ready to take full advantage of the guitar lessons his father arranged for him when he was just five years old but following a family move to Switzerland ten years later, there was only one Christmas present on his list….a guitar. 

Félix cut his teeth by travelling throughout Switzerland and France playing in jam sessions. Obviously living in Switzerland opened his eyes to the country’s showcase event the Montreal Jazz Festival. Félix played the jam sessions at this annual event for four years rubbing shoulders with musical royalty. One particular memorable moment was being summoned to the table of Quincy Jones in 2014. Quincy was suitably impressed with Félix and opened the conversation with “I like the way you play”. One hell of an endorsement which is bound to fill an eighteen year old with the confidence to take things to the next level. Two headline UK tours in 2019, some fifty shows, and the release of his first CD Pogboy originally scheduled for April 2020…the wheels are in motion.

“During lockdown I am listening to a lot of music but to be completely honest, I mostly use this period to spend more time than usual in my room and my small studio, writing new songs and digging some old demos and pieces I’ve never finished. I can’t remember the last time I had such a long period without any gigs (as most of them  obviously got canceled). So as the world kinda stopped for me, I thought this was a good time to get back to my music, and myself”.

Felix Rabin (phil.honley@btinternet.com)

Félix Rabin at HRH Blues (2019)

“With regards musical influences, hard to pick up one among so many. I listened to a lot of punk , rock and metal when I was a teenager. Then, when I started to do my own music, I know Pink Floyd and Hendrix had a huge influence on me. These are the ones who made me pick up a guitar. I have moved to different universes and artists since then, but I know they’re at my roots.”

 

Gabriella Jones (phil.honley@btinternet.com)

Gabriella Jones at HRH Blues (2019)

Gabriella Jones – is a singer songwriter from Birmingham and having emerged onto the scene at 16 years old, ten years on she can already look back with pride as she has shared the stage with some of the biggest names, Beyonce, Black Sabbath and Rihanna to name just three. She has played the Wireless Festival, Hard Rock Calling Festivals in Hyde Park and also the Isle of Wight Festival.

I had the pleasure of seeing this young lady with her band at the 2019 HRH Blues Festival and I have to say she has one of the best rock voices I’ve heard in a while. Gabriella has a vocal range that allows delivery of soft and gentle but also the freedom to let rip with awesome power. Metallica‘s Nothing Else Matters is a brave choice to include on a set list but Gabriella does it in her own style that certainly does it justice. 

What might Gabriella be listening to durng lockdown and what are her major musical influences?

“I am listening to a real mix right now. A go to for me is John Mayer Live In LA, Santana….anything soulful and upbeat.

I’d say my major musical influence would have to be Free. Paul Rodgers and Kossoff together, can’t beat it. I play the Paul Kossoff ’59 Les Paul Reissue guitar. Be My Friend is one of my favourite songs.”

 

Gabriella Jones (phil.honley@btinternet.com)

Gabriella Jones at HRH Blues (2019)

“I am listening to a real mix right now. A go to for me is John Mayer Live In LA, Santana….anything soulful and upbeat.

I’d say my major musical influence would have to be Free. Paul Rodgers and Kossoff together, can’t beat it. I play the Paul Kossoff ’59 Les Paul Reissue guitar. Be My Friend is one of my favourite songs.”

 

I am sure that this strange world of ours will return to some form of normality, whatever that may be, in due course and we can all get out there and support live music once again. Please check out Keylock, Matt Long And The Revenant Ones, Catfish, Rough House Trio, Crossfire, Northsyde, Loz Campbell, Rainbreakers, Julio JAK Band, Gabriella Jones, JOANovARC and Toby Lee whenever you can.

Feature and photography by Phil Honley April 2020. Phil has his own photography site here: http://www.gigsnapz.co.uk.

By Phil Honley

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