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The UKBlues Federation

The UKBlues Federation, is a pan-UK Federation that has been established to promote and support Blues in and from the United Kingdom in all its forms and styles.

We have created a not for profit federation of musicians, organisations, associations, groups, venues, companies, individuals and any other interested parties within the UK who already work to support, promote and encourage blues of all sorts within the UK, to work together to achieve UKBlues‘ aims.

Full details may be found on our website:


Joel Fisk (LaVendore Rogue), Big Blues Festival, Southport 2017



Raising funds to contribute towards the costs of LaVendore Rogue representing the UK at the 2018 International and European Blues Challenges

LaVendore Rogue will be representing the UK when they join more than 250 other acts from all over the world at the 34th International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, USA organised by the Blues Foundation between 16th and 20th January 2018.

They will also compete in the 8th European Blues Challenge (EBC) in Hell, Norway organised by the European Blues Union on 15th, 16th and 17th March 2018 in which 21 bands from across Europe will take part.

As part of the UKBlues Federation’s mission to support the Blues in the UK we have set up this crowd funding campaign to raise funds towards the considerable costs which will be incurred by the LaVendore Rogue representing the UK at the 2018 IBC & EBC.

As well as providing financial support to LaVendore Rogue the crowd funding page also offers a huge range of rewards which you can get in return for your pledge. 

So don't delay, visit the
 crowd funding page today!

Click here for full details

Visit the UKBlues Federation's website-
which contains a wealth of information which is regularly updated.





The UKBlues Federation Welcomes British Blues Archive

The UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) is delighted to announce that with immediate effect the British Blues Archive (BBA) is to amalgamate with UKBlues and come under the organisation’s ‘umbrella’ with BBA’s online archive material being incorporated into the Education section of the UKBlues’ website ( .

In addition UKBlues and the British Blues Archive are working with the British Blues Exhibition (   and Early (   who have agreed to migrate some of their relevant online content to further enhance the brand new and comprehensive resource afforded by this new venture.

This unique partnership will create an unparalleled central resource and reference point for historical material relating to blues in the UK online and forms part of UKBlues’ stated aim to seek to provide educational material and facilities to widen knowledge of the blues in the UK and to assist those also seeking to do the same.

Ashwyn Smyth, Chair of UKBlues said: ‘We were thrilled and honoured when Peter Harvie, joint founder of the BBA, approached us to suggest an amalgamation. The BBA has a wealth of material of all sorts and Peter’s approach came as our webmaster, Alan White, was in the process of setting up an Education section of our website following our decision to seek to develop this aspect of our activities. So this was a great idea that arose at the perfect time.
To then have the British Blues Exhibition and Early Blues offer to work with us to further enhance this was the icing on the cake and we thank board members Darren Weale and Alan White for their generous co-operation.

The Board of UKBlues is hugely excited about the possibilities that these new partnerships and co-operations afford us as an organisation but, more importantly, the blues as a whole in the UK. They also serve to reinforce our mission to become a focal point for the blues in the UK.’

Peter Harvie of the British Blues Archive said;  'We at the British Blues Archive are delighted to be joining UK Blues. The work being done by the British Blues Archive and UK Blues complement each other and the bringing together of our strengths has created in one place a tremendous resource, the place to go to for information, history, interviews and insights on British Blues. We at the British Blues Archive are tremendously excited about the amalgamation and are looking forward to new projects ahead with UK Blues'.





Photo courtesy Alan White

The Robin 2, Bilston, West Midlands played host to the 3rd UK Blues Challenge on Saturday 12th November 2016, organized by the UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) and sponsored by  Upton Blues Festival.

At stake for the four contestants was the opportunity to represent the UK at the 33rd International Blues Challenge (IBC)  in Memphis in the USA at the end of January/early February 2017 and at the 7th European Blues Challenge (EBC) in Horsens, Denmark in April 2017. This will be the first time that the UK has been represented at the IBC.

The four bands participating in the Challenge were selected by a panel of more than 250 people involved in and with the blues in the UK and came from across the UK exhibiting the breadth, quality and individuality that exists in the blues in the UK.

From Cornwall, Wille & the Bandits, a trio whose reputation is being reinforced by their most recent CD release.

Photo courtesy Graham Munn

from Norfolk the individual and combined talents that are the Dove & Boweevil Band

Photo courtesy Graham Munn

from Northern Ireland the powerhouse that is the Kaz Hawkins Band

Photo courtesy Graham Munn

and from Birmingham, multiple British Blues Award winner, Rebecca Downes

Photo courtesy Graham Munn

Each of the bands delivered an exciting and varied thirty minute set featuring mainly original music which demonstrated how broad a church the blues is in the UK, much to the delight of the large audience at the event.

Photo courtesy Ashwyn Smyth

Deciding upon a winner was a tough job for the panel of seven judges, drawn from across the blues spectrum:

Kyla Brox*,
Alex Butler of Red Butler who represented the UK at the 2015 EBC,
Oliver Carpenter - Trustee - and Ruth Etheridge - Secretary - Upton Blues Festival,
Mark Horsley, the Promoter and Director of the Scarborough Secret Blues Festival,
Peter Noble, boss of Noble PR,
Becky Tate* of Babajack, EBC contestants in 2013.
*Honorary Members of UKBlues

After much deliberation and in a tight contest, the Kaz Hawkins Band were declared very popular winners and were presented with the UKBlues Challenge trophy and Winner's certificate.

Photo courtesy Liz Aiken

As well as competing at the International & European Blues Challenges, the winner will also be offered slots to play at Blues on the Farmthe Great British R'n'B Festival at Colnethe International Blues Review Mini Cruise and the Upton Blues Festival in 2017.

Kaz said after the announcement: ‘My band and I are so humbled to be chosen to represent the UK Blues Federation in the USA & Europe. It's exciting to be pushing our own boundaries in the blues genre. We would like to thank the UK Blues Federation for giving us this opportunity to showcase our music on behalf of the UK. ‘

In addition to representing the UK at the International and European Blues Challenges and the massive exposure this will offer, the band will also be offered the opportunity to play at four top blues festivals/events during 2017 and they were presented with a trophy on the night.

Previous UK representatives at the EBC have included Red Butler, Laurence Jones, Babajack and Ben Poole. Becky Tate of Babajack, said of their participation in the EBC:

‘For us it was immensely important. We got to go to Europe, it was our window into Europe and we met an enormous number of people. We had a whole year’s worth of festival work offered us from that one twenty minute slot we played.

We didn’t win, we came close, but you know what, what we won was an amazing opportunity for us as musicians and I can honestly say that our European work is what has kept us on the road.
It’s an amazing thing to do for that individual band but it is also an amazing thing to do for British blues. That’s why what these guys (UKBlues) are doing is so important‘

Another of the judges, Peter Noble of Noble PR commented:

’The UK Blues Challenge was wonderful.  It gave me the opportunity to see Wille & The Bandits live who I felt were the most original artist of the night.  I particularly loved the pedal steel guitar and Wille’s harrowing vocals.   Kaz Hawkins touched a nerve with the judges and after her performance you felt a definite emotional connection.   The biggest reaction of the night went to Rebecca Downes who really impressed everyone with her incredible powerhouse vocals and dynamic stage presence.   Dove & Boweevil were also impressive with their entertaining blues repertoire. All in all a great evening.'

Ashwyn Smyth, Chair of UKBlues said:

‘ This was an excellent evening and our thanks go to everyone involved, the bands, the judges, the sponsors and all the team at the Robin 2 who made us so welcome and worked so hard to make the event such a success. The feedback we have received has been great and it is clear that those who attended thoroughly enjoyed the very fine musicians who played for them. I hope that we have laid the foundations for future UK Blues Challenges and that it will become one of the must attend events of the blues year.

This was a night that celebrated the best in UK blues and demonstrated only too clearly the quality and range of the talent that is all too often unsung in this too frequently ignored musical genre. The event also raised funds which we, UKBlues, can use to further our aims and to make a contribution towards the Kaz Hawkins Band’s costs attending the two Challenges.’

UKBlues will be setting up a crowd funding page soon to raise additional funds to help the UK’s representative attend both the European and International Blues Challenges. Details will be announced shortly.


Don't forget that, as a Member of UKBlues  you can post details of your gigs and/or those gigs with which you are involved on the Events page of the  UKBlues website. There are already a few gigs posted here and we hope that over the next few months this page will become ever more populated.

If you are already a Member or Friend of UKBlues and want to avail yourself of this facility, please contact our Webmaster who will sort out access and log ins for you -


If you are not already a member of UKBlues, why not join now? Click here to join.

By doing so you will be able to help us support & promote the blues in the UK and you will enjoy a range of benefits including being on the panel of those invited to nominate artists for the annual UK Blues Challenge.




The UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) is delighted to announce the Upton Blues Festival as the main sponsor of the forthcoming 3rd UK Blues Challenge which takes place on 12th November 2016 at The Robin 2 in Bilston, West Midlands.

This event will see Wille & the Bandits, Dove & Boweevil,  Kaz Hawkins and Rebecca Downes competing for the opportunity to represent the UK at the European and International Blues Challenges in 2017.

In addition, the winner of the UK Blues Challenge will be offered the opportunity to play at a number of top UK festivals including the Upton Blues Festival. This additional support by the committee of the Upton Blues Festival.

For Upton Blues Festival, Oliver Carpenter said:

‘The Upton Blues Festival is proud to sponsor the UK Blues Challenge night. Britain’s biggest free blues festival and Festival of the Year 2015 & 2016 in the British Blues Awards, Upton attracts over 20,000 visitors from across the country and contributes almost £1M to the small Worcestershire town’s economy. It shows how live blues can be mainstream and attract all ages and types of people to revel in the atmosphere created by the broad spectrum of this important type of music.

The volunteer organisation team wants to support the UK Blues Federation in all its activities to bring together the performers, venues, clubs, festivals, and media interested in blues music and to promote all aspects of blues, from the traditional to the new, the familiar to the unexpected and the intimate to the vibrant, to new audiences and new people across the country. ‘ 

For UKBlues, Ashwyn Smyth, Chair, said:
‘We are very appreciative of and grateful for the support being given to UKBlues, both financial and general, by the multi-award winning Upton Blues Festival. Their sponsorship of the UK Blues Challenge will help considerably with the costs thereof and mean that we will have more funds available to support some of the other activities of UKBlues, including providing some financial assistance to the winner of the Challenge towards their expenses representing the UK at both the European and International Blues Challenges in 2017.

With this support, Upton Blues Festival is demonstrating the kind of co-operation and support we are seeking to encourage and develop within the UK blues community and demonstrates the benefits of different areas of that community working together to facilitate and achieve similar aims.’

Tickets for the 3rd UK Blues Challenge at the Robin 2, Bilston priced £10.00 (plus booking fee) can be booked online at or by calling 01902 401211. Tickets £12.00 on the door.


The top raffle prize at the UK Blues Challenge at the Robin 2 in November is 20 CDs.

Not just any CDs, but some of the top releases so far in 2016.

Joe Bonamassa, King King, Red Butler, Royal Southern Brotherhood and Layla Zoe are just 5 of the 20 artists in the prize.

The picture shows all 20 (in fact here are 22 CDs because Joe B and King King are doublers)

If you can't make it to the event but want a chance to win then click the Paypal button here: 

Thank you


and make a donation of £5 or £10 or £15 or more. 

Tickets are £1 each and are sold in strips of 5.

In the purpose box put RAFFLE and your full name

The Judges at the event will adjudicate the raffle to ensure fair play.

Hurry! This offer ends at midnight on Thursday 10th November 2016.





Check out the fantastic designs and buy our new UKBlues Federation official t-shirts  here




Danny Bryant presents Alex Butler with the UK Blues Federation's cheque for the money raised by UKBlues' crowd funding campaign.

At the Waterfront, Norwich: l to r - Paul Smith, Board Member - UKBlues, Alex Butler, Danny Bryant, Charlie Simpson, Jane Chloe Pearce, Mike Topp (Red Butler) 

Following the end of a crowd funding campaign set up by the UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) on Crowdfunder UK, UKBlues is very pleased to announce that a total of £570.00 was raised thanks to the generosity of the contributors. After the deduction of the fees levied by Crowdfunder UK, PayPal and Stripe who process the payments, a total of £540.00 remains and UKBlues have passed the whole of this to Red Butler to assist with their costs appearing at the 6th European Blues Challenge in Torrita di Siena, Italy in April. It is believed that this is the first time that the UK’s representative at the European Blues Challenge has received financial support from the UK blues community.   For Red Butler, Alex Butler said: ‘’We'd like to thank everyone who has been part of this incredible effort to support us in our journey to Italy. We are honoured to have the opportunity to compete in the competition flying the flag for the U.K."    For UKBlues, Ashwyn Smyth: ‘‘We are very pleased and not a little proud that we have managed to provide some financial assistance to Red Butler as they travel to Italy to compete with 20 other acts from around Europe in the 6th European Blues Challenge. We hope that people will recognise that UKBlues means what it says and that we are working hard to ‘promote and support Blues in and from the United Kingdom in all its forms and styles.’ This is just one small step, next year we hope to be able to assist the winners of this year’s UK Blues Challenge to attend both the EBC in Denmark and the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. We also have many other things which we are working on and invite people to support our work and the blues in the UK by joining the UK Blues Federation. For details visit our website, ‘’  



The UK Blues Foundation (UKBlues) is delighted to announce that the 3rd UK Blues Challenge will be held at the Robin 2, in Bilston, Wolverhampton, on Saturday 12th November 2016.  At the event, four bands/acts chosen from a selection process which has already commenced, will compete for the opportunity to be invited to represent the UK at the 7th Blues Challenge in Denmark in 2017 as well as, it is hoped, the 33rd International Blues Challenge in Memphis, also in 2017.

UKBlues wishes to thank Mike Hamblett at the Robin 2 for his support and assistance in making this event possible.

Full details of the event, including how tickets can be purchased, timings etc. will be published soon.

Mike Hamblett - proprietor of the Robin 2: ‘I am very proud and privileged to host the 3rd UK Blues Challenge at The Robin 2 in Bilston, Wolverhampton on 12th November 2016. We all look forward to an extremely successful event..."

Ashwyn Smyth – Chair of UKBlues:  ‘We are delighted to be staging this event at the Robin 2, a superb and well known venue with a deserved reputation for putting on top class music events. We have made no secret of the fact that we are keen to see the UK Blues Challenge being staged at locations throughout the UK which this event evidences.’

More information

Contact Chair – Ashwyn Smyth

or Darren Weale - 07708 712011

See our website:

Venue website: 




(including a long overdue award for John Mayall)

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE February 16, 2016. On May 4, 2016 five legendary blues performers, two individuals who were instrumental in the creation of blues music, five single blues recordings, one blues album and an important piece of blues literature will be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

Elvin Bishop, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, John Mayall, and The Memphis Jug Band will each take their places beside performers who have been deemed by a group of blues scholars and industry veterans to be the Best in the Blues.  Each of these musicians has carved his place in blues history. Bishop's beginnings with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band to his more recent recognition for the 2015 Blues Music Awards "Song of the Year" have elevated him to the highest stature in blues music. Clearwater, Johnson, and Mayall each boast careers that have spanned more than a half century, and their talent has not waned as they each continue to produce music and to perform for devoted audiences, yet each are distinguishable by their stage presence and musical talent. The Memphis Jug Band's music crossed the racial divides of the first half of the twentieth century and inspired many musicians to follow in their footsteps.

Non-performer individuals to be recognized by The Blues Foundation for their behind-the-scenes contributions are Malaco Records partners Tommy Couch, Sr. and Wolf Stephenson, whose label's first big hit was Dorothy Moore's "Misty Blue" in 1976, and who then went on to produce such blues greats as Bobby Bland, Little Milton, Z.Z. Hill, Denise LaSalle, Latimore, Johnnie Taylor, and Tyrone Davis. The business foundation they built has allowed Malaco to remain an active player in the music world today.

The book Early Downhome Blues: A Musical and Cultural Analysis, by Jeff Todd Titon is the literature entry into the Blues Hall of Fame this year, and is one of the most important analytical studies of the blues to have been published.

The classic album Blues in the Mississippi Night (Nixa, 1957: United Artists, 1959) is being honored as are the singles, "Crazy Blues" by Mamie Smith (OKeh, 1920), "That's All Right" by Jimmy Rogers (Chess, 1950), Billy Boy Arnold's "I Wish You Would" (Vee-Jay, 1955), Johnny Moore's Three Blazers' (Charles Brown, vocal and piano) "Merry Christmas Baby" (Exclusive, 1947), the first Yuletide song inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, and "Blues Before Sunrise" by Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell (Vocalion, 1934).

Inductees' official biographies and descriptions are also available - click here.

The induction ceremony will be held Wednesday, May 4, at the Sheraton Memphis Downtown in Memphis, Tennessee, the night before the 37th Blues Music Awards. With living musicians like Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton, and legends like Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor, the Blues Hall of Fame consists of blues music's best and brightest stars. The Blues Hall of Fame induction ceremony will coincide with the one year anniversary of the opening of the Blues Hall of Fame Museum, also located in Memphis, TN at the home of the Blues Foundation.  This state of the art facility celebrates the lives and the music of each Hall of Fame individual as well as the history of the music and the literature produced through the blues timeline. These newest inductees will be added to the museum's permanent exhibits and interactive displays in conjunction with their induction this May.

On May 5, the night after the Blues Hall of Fame inductions, The Blues Foundation will present the Blues Music Awards for the 37th time. Performers, industry representatives, and fans from around the world will celebrate the best in blues recording, songwriting, and performance from the previous year at the Memphis Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis. For tickets and more information, click here.


Crowd Funding Project Launched

20th December 2015

Just like London Buses, there is no news from UKBlues for ages and then, within ten days two items come along at once!

In our recent Newsletter, we mentioned that we were in the process of putting a Crowd Funding page in place to raise funds to help us to contribute towards Red Butler's costs attending the European Blues Challenge which will be held next April in Italy and also to help raise some funding for UKBlues to enable us to pay off what we owe in set up costs and give us funds to move forward in 2016 with some of the things we are aiming to do.

photo courtesy of Haydn Hart (c) 2015

This fundraising project is now live and you can read all about it at where you can also contribute and show your support for Red Butler and UKBlues.

Please help us to support the UK's representatives at the 6th European Blues Challenge and help us take the next steps to support and promote the blues in the UK. Any contribution will be gratefully received and will be of great help.

Before signing off, the board of UKBlues thanks you for your interest in and support for UKBlues and we would like to wish you a very happy Christmas and a safe, healthy and successful 2016.



The UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) is pleased to announce that membership is now open to anybody who is involved in or supports the blues in the UK.

By joining you will help UKBlues in its work to support and promote the blues in the UK.

Members will also have the facility to post details of their gigs, festivals and other similar events on the UKBlues Calendar page which, we hope, will become the most comprehensive online guide to blues events in the UK. It is also intended that there will, in the future, be exclusive content available on the website, for members only. We are also hoping to negotiate exclusive deals for members at a later date.

Already, UKBlues is an Active Member of the European Blues Union (EBU) and we were appointed by the EBU to create and run the selection process to find the UK’s representative for the 2016 European Blues Challenge which will take place in April 2016 in Torrita di Siena, Italy.

Red Butler won the 2nd UK Blues Challenge organised and promoted by UKBlues in conjunction with Pete Feenstra Real Live Music and will be flying the flag for the UK next April.

UKBlues has also recently been appointed an Affiliate of the Blues Foundation, the first and only Affiliate in the UK, and this will allow UKBlues to nominate UK representatives at the annual International Blues Challenge which takes place in Memphis in January every year.

UKBlues hopes that the winners of the 3rd UK Blues Challenge which will take place in the second half of 2016 will be invited to represent the UK in Memphis in 2017 as well as at the 7th European Blues Challenge which will take place in Denmark in April 2017.

Your membership subscription will help us to provide financial support both to Red Butler in respect of their trip to Italy and to future blues acts chosen to represent the UK on the international stage.

You can read more about UKBlues, its mission, its aims and also join UKBlues by visiting our website at .



The UK Blues Federation (UKBlues) is pleased to announce that the band representing the UK at the 6th European Blues Challenge (EBC), organised by the European Blues Union (EBU) will be Red Butler, winners of the 2nd UK Blues Challenge on Saturday 24th October 2015 at the Boom Boom Club in Sutton, Surrey, jointly promoted and organised by Pete Feenstra Real Music Live and UKBlues. A panel of five judges chosen from across the UK blues community awarded contestants points for the four criteria laid down by the EBU – originality, instrumental talent, vocal talent and stage presence. Red Butler were the winners from a field also including Malaya Blue, The Brothers Groove, and The Katie Bradley Band.

The 6th EBC will be held on 8th-9th April 2016 in Torrita di Siena in Tuscany, Italy and will see 20 European bands competing. Previous UK representatives at the EBC have been BenPoole, 24 Pesos, Babajack, David Migden & the Twisted Roots and Laurence Jones. The recently created UK Blues Federation is honoured to have been appointed by the EBU to run the Challenge and is setting up a crowd funding campaign to assist with Red Butler’s costs in connection appearing at the EBC. Full details will be available soon on the UKBlues website .

Ashwyn Smyth – Chair of UKBlues – said: ‘It has been a lot of hard work to pull both the selection process and the UK Challenge together, but it was all worth it! I am sure that Red Butler are going to do us proud in Italy next year. Our thanks go to Pete Feenstra for all he has done to make the Challenge happen and to the five judges who were faced with making some difficult choices. This has also been a great way to introduce the newly formed UK Blues Federation to the blues community in the UK and we have many plans for the future including, we hope, seeing a UK representative at the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. “We hope that many people will want to join UKBlues and help to support us in what we are doing and they can do so by going to our website where there are details of membership types and how you can join.”

Alex Butler of Red Butler said: ”There is huge exhilaration amongst the band at winning the UK Blues Challenge. We put our hearts and souls into the gig against stiff opposition. The immediate reaction from the crowd told us this was something special from the word go. We are thrilled to have a major European event in the calendar for next year.”

Photograph  © copyright Rockypix, used with permission



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