Christmas came early to Keighley Blues Club with the appearance of guitarist and songwriter Aynsley Lister. In many ways it was a very local event, as shall be revealed. Eagerly anticipated, the place was full even before the official door opening hour. So by the time support act, Bradford's own Sleepy Jake Segrave appeared there was a substantial audience within the place to listen. For many it was their first hearing of Jake and they were not disappointed. Though a mere 22 years of age, he has a wealth of traditional tunes and songs at his guitar and banjo picking fingertips, in addition to one or two of his own. The homage to his own city, 'Forster Square Blues', was a particular highlight.
With drinks replenished, cards exchanged, bladders emptied, main act Aynsley Lister came to the stage. His own website describes his music as 'blues based rock', and so it is. Thoughtful lyrics, measured and hugely enjoyable guitar work, supplemented with a smooth vocal reminiscent to these ears of Jackson Browne with a harder, rockier edge where the song demands. Helps also to have a tip top band, on this occasion consisting of Boneto Dryden on drums, Steve Amadeo (bass, pictured below - great solo Steve!) and Andy Price on keyboards. Aynsley included tracks from his award winning album Home, most notably the excellent 'Hyde 2612 (Life On Mars)', inspired by the 70s flashback TV cop series.
Half time brought a bonus beyond the regular raffle and club announcements, especially for Aynsley himself. Already aware of his Best Guitarist award in the 2015 British Blues Awards, he was genuinely surprised to have the trophy itself presented on this very night. In fact, he confessed that he'd forgotten all about it as the announcement had been made a number of weeks ago. Although this was the smallest venue on Aynsley's current tour, it was quite fitting that the short ceremony should take place here in Keighley as the much-travelled musician's origins lie in nearby Bradford. In fact, sources tell me his favourite curry restaurant is still The Sweet Centre in Manningham, though he no longer lives in the area.
Possibly encouraged by this success and also it being the band's final appearance of 2015, midway through the second half he announced the performance of two new songs, never played before to a live audience. Grizzled, cynical old audience members may have heard all this before but tonight it seemed to be true. In fact, Aynsley specifically requested that no YouTube recordings be made during the playing of the songs. "You can record what you want the rest of the time," he generously announced, then went on to describe how they were going into the recording studio in the new year and really didn't want the rest of the world to hear the songs til after that. If the tracks, 'Other Side Of Me' and 'Stay' are anything to go by, it's going to be an excellent release, worth the wait.
With what has become his customary encore, Aynsley closed the show with 'Purple Rain', complete with audience participation. A great night befitting the festive period and final performance of 2015 for both band and club.