01-02-2011 | FIONA BOYES
GC NEKKERSDAL E.Bockstaellaan 107 1020 Brussels
Concert: 20:00
Open doors: 19:30
Entrance: 15 €
Presale: 12 €
via or ticket FNAC 0900 00 600 (€ 0.45/min)
Australian blues guitarist and singer Fiona Boyes soulful, authoritative style — brilliantly displayed on her current US release 'Blues Woman' — has earned Boyes unprecedented international recognition. For the past four years she’s been a final five nominee in the Memphis based Blues Music Awards, the only Australian ever to be nominated in these awards, which are widely recognized as the Grammies of the Blues. She received a “Contemporary Blues Album of the Year” nod in 2007 for her Yellow Dog debut, the electric 'Lucky 13'. The next year she garnered a ballot for “Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year.” In 2009 she received an “Acoustic Blues Album of the Year” nomination for the recording 'Live From Bluesville', which also won the Los Angeles based International Blues Critics Award for Best Live Album. And in 2010 she was nominated for 'Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year' and earned 2 nominations in the 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards in Chicago. It’s worth noting that Boyes first arrived in America to claim yet another honor: winner of the 2003 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, where she swept away the competition in yet another incarnation — solo acoustic performer. Representing the Melbourne Blues Society, Boyes was the first woman and the first Australian to earn the title. Her current release 'Blues Woman' is all about Boyes’ depth as an artist and the musical odyssey she’s taken since that first visit to the US.

Its songs capture the striking, original talent that allows Boyes to write, sing and play anything in the blues realm with total conviction, from the crunching ode to female empowerment “Woman Ain’t a Mule” that opens Blues Woman to “Juke Joint on Moses Lane,” a solo performance on resonator guitar that displays Boyes’ roiling finger style attack while evoking the good-time spirit of a funky blues club. Boyes lives up to the 'Blues Woman' title by negotiating the curves of all kind of subgenres. “Howlin’ At Your Door” tackles the hypnotic grind of Mississippi hill country and “Look Out Love!” is a thumping shuffle. Chicago blues gets its due along with Texas guitar fireworks in “Got My Eye on You."

“When it came time to make 'Blues Woman', I decided to return to work with Kaz and his guys in Austin,” Boyes explains. “But I wanted to make a really muscular, exciting electric guitar driven album that explored as many different regional styles as possible.” Mission accomplished. To keep the sessions hot, Boyes and her studio accomplices played each song she brought in just a few times before hitting the record button. “That kept everybody on their toes,” she relates. “Me, especially.” “Coming to America and spending time wherethe blues began and developed, like the Delta, really gave me a sense of place about this music,” Boyes says as she explains s genesis. “But what’s been really wonderful and exciting is the opportunity to be mentored by some great American players — and to record with them. “Touring with Bob Margolin and Hubert Sumlin” — former guitarists for Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, respectively — “has been particularly inspiring; even just being around them listening to their stories and enjoying their encouragement. They’ve both had a big impact on ‘Blues Woman’, because they play so assertively.” Margolin in particular influenced Boyes to make her first recorded forays in slide guitar on three of the album’s tunes. “Got My Eye On You” specifically mirrors the stunning attack of the ex-Muddy Waters Band member.

Boyes offers further payback to her mentors in “City Born Country Gal,” where her daredevil guitar echoes both musicians. “They’ve made me want to be an edgier performer, and to explore more, and really pick up my electric guitar and dig in.” Of course, Boyes had already developed an impressive style of playing, singing, and writing that she brought with her from Australia, where she cut two acoustic solo albums, as well as five electric albums with her band The Mojos, before winning the IBC.

How impressive? Former Muddy Waters' pianist and Blues Hall of Fame legend Pinetop Perkins offers this striking assessment: “I ain’t never heard a woman finger pick a guitar like that since Memphis Minnie.” Indeed, Boyes’ elegant ‘n’ gritty vocal style and powerful playing have also earned comparisons to Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi and Rory Block. And Sumlin declares, “She’s got it. I’ve played with them all, and she’s got it.” Boyes began widening her grasp of the major forms of acoustic and electric blues with her first disc recorded on American soil. Fiona Boyes & the Fortune Tellers Live in Atlanta was recorded in 2004 with Margolin and Kazanoff guesting as part of her band. “It became a dream of mine during my first extended stay in the States to make an album with American musicians who I respect,” Boyes says. “And much to my surprise Bob and Kaz accepted my invitation.” Kazanoff, a revered blues producer and arranger whose roots in the scene go back to an apprenticeship in ’60s Chicago, also encouraged Boyes to pursue her muse in the studio. So when it came time to record her Yellow Dog debut, 2006’s 'Lucky 13', he was a natural choice to captain the project. Margolin again added his guitar and voice, and Grammy nominee Marcia Ball and Kazanoff’s Texas Horns brass section joined in. Engineer Stuart Sullivan, a veteran of recordings with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson and Marcia Ball, manned the microphones and board at Austin’s Wire Recording for both Lucky 13 and the new Blues Woman. For Boyes, 13 was a magic number. The album propelled her onto the international club and festival circuit, received extensive airplay and was nominated for “Contemporary Blues Album of the Year” in 2007. “The reception was truly amazing,” Boyes says. “I had no idea how the album would be accepted. It was a real leap of faith for me, because I had come to America as a solo acoustic artist, and this was a real blood-and-guts electric band album with horns.” Next came 2008’s 'Live from Bluesville', a return to acoustic music recorded at XM Satellite Radio’s Washington D.C. studio with bassist Mookie Brill and mandolinist Rich DelGrosso. The same year Boyes earned her nod for “Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year,” and won the Blues Critics’ Award for “Best Live or Compilation Album.” All the while Boyes’ star was also glowing brighter in Australia. Her recognition there includes Australian/New Zealand Blue Star Blues awards in 2007 for “Blues Album of the Year,” “Best Female Vocalist,” and “Critics’ Choice — International Blues Album of the Year,” and 2006’s MBAS Australian Blues awards for “Blues Album of the Year” and “Female Artist of the Year” as well as a host of other honors. But for Boyes, the best reward is total immersion in her music. “I am very proud to be part of the blues tradition,” Boyes reflects. “And I believe that it is vital and exciting and growing, and I’m doing my best to help keep it that way.”
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