Hi Blues Matters, thanks for the invite to share my favourite blues tracks. Some in your magazine will know me from representing the UK Blues Federation in 2017 when we won the European Blues Challenge. Some may know me from my radio show on the BBC “Kaz Hawkins Got The Blues” when I’m not touring and some will know me for my own music and different take on the blues.
I’m a singer/songwriter first so I write in multiple genres but blues has given me so much so I am always ready to pay tribute to it. I run three shows right now. A Duo, which is about my life & Memories of Etta which is a homage to Etta James and I also have a new Kaz Hawkins & her Band of Men which we will relaunch with a brand new album in 2021. I’m originally from Northern Ireland but now I am living in France so being introduced to lots of European blues is amazing but these are my all-time top blues tunes. Right now we’re all going through something very scary with COVID-19 and most of the locked-down world will turn to music. These tunes get me through, perhaps they will help others. Love to all your readers and be safe and well. Love Kaz.
1 – Etta James – St Louis Blues
Etta is my favourite female singer and is who introduced me to my first blues song. I was 12yrs old auditioning for Opportunity Knocks singing Secret Love by Doris Day when the musical director told my gran that she should let me listen to Etta. My gran found a tape at the market and the first song that played with Etta singing a W.C. Handy song – St Louis Blues. My love of blues began at that moment and I now sing this in one of my shows.
2 – Ruthie Foster – Don’t You Mind People Grinnin in Your Face
Ruthie is one of the greatest modern-day female roots artists and I just melt when I hear her vocal.
3 – Gary Moore – Still Got The Blues
Coming from Northern Ireland I have to include Gary Moore. I always said that he never got the recognition he deserved back home so I always celebrate his contribution to the blues because I walked the streets he walked. In 2019 I ticked off my bucket list, a drink to him. With a glass of Beaujolais on the Champs Elysee, I said cheers.
4 – Willie Dixon & Koko Taylor – Insane Asylum
My favourite songwriter is Willie Dixon and of course, partner him up with the Queen of Blues Koko Taylor it’s blues heaven for me. Insane Asylum is my favourite of all they done. When Koko comes in on her vocal it’s a desperate call for help and the shivers go right up your spine. The story that unfolds is just thrilling.
5 – Lucille Bogan – Shave Em Dry
This may not make your public list but it is a representation of a time when women explored sexual explanation in song. This song would have EXPLICIT if released today. For me, it was an education in early blues women. Risque will always raise eyebrows but some lead the way by trying.
6 – Howlin Wolf – Smokestack Lightning
You can’t beat this, that groove, that wailing blues that I love.
7 – Nina Simone – Backlash Blues
I love that Nina spoke against inequality, she was one tough bird so she’s always in my top tunes.
8 – Dr John – How come my dog don’t bark when you come Around
Dr John is a magnificent storyteller. This song always makes me giggle, dance and wanna sing.
9 – John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom Boom
The great thing about blues is that the songs are timeless. This song gets everyone up dancing that I know still to this day and that’s a great legacy for any songwriter.
10 – Elmore James – The Sky is Crying
This is slow blues at it’s finest for me, this is one song I can close my eyes throw my feet up on a chair and just disappear.
If you’d like to check out Kaz Hawkins and her music please click here