4th UK Blues Challenge 2017


Elles Bailey

Bristol-based blues and roots singer/songwriter, the 28-year-old is known for her ‘smoky vocals’. She has appeared on festival line-ups with acts including Lisa Simone and Wilko Johnson, and is releasing her first album this autumn 2017.


LaVendore Rogue

Described as one of the most exciting bands to emerge on the UK Roots scene for many years, the group features JoJo Burgess on vocals, Joel Fisk on guitar, Stephen ‘Cupsey’ Cutmore on drums, Rob ‘Tank’ Barry on bass and keyboardist Warren Lynn. They have just released their first live album, A Night in the North. 



The four-piece from Shrewsbury has been hailed as one of the freshest new sounds on the UK blues rock and soul circuit, and members are particularly influenced by ‘sounds of the past’, from soul melodies to garage-rock riffs. The band has won a place on the main stage at this year’s Great British Rock and Blues Festival.


Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion

Zoe Schwarz’s yearning vocal style is blended with guitarist Rob Koral’s ability to come up with catchy riffs and musical arrangements that keep the blues looking in to the future. The band also features Pete Whittaker on Hammond organ and Paul Robinson on drums. Its latest album, This Is the Life I Choose, was released in March.


Robert J Hunter Band

Alderney born Robert J. Hunter is taking the blues scene by storm with his gruff, powerful voice and the wild thud of overdriven foot stomping blues guitar. The Robert J. Hunter Band’s unique sound echoes Rory Gallagher, The Faces, Gary Clarke Jr, Free, The Black Crowes. Selected as the fifth participants of the Blues Challenge by the Jessica Foxley Music Project on the Jesssica Foxley Stage at the Colne Great British R&B Festival. 



Victor Brox – veteran British blues musician.

Rosy Greer – UKBlues Federation Board Member and Independent Reviewer

Kaz Hawkins – Northern Irish blues, folk and soul singer/songwriter representing last year’s Challenge winners

Connie Lush – one of the finest blues singers in the UK

Chris Powers – Blues, R&B and soul DJ and MC

Nick Westgarth – organiser of the Carlisle Blues/Rock Festival


LaVendore Rogue

(c) Alan White

Winners’ Opportunities

The winners were invited to represent the UK at the:

34th International Blues Challenge in Memphis USA in 2018

LaVendore Rogue unfortunately didn’t proceed past the early stages.

8th European Blues Challenge in Hell, Norway in 2018

LaVendore Rogue came 4th out of 30 contestants.


Click here for an article regarding LaVendore Rogue’s crowdfunding campaign by Bluesdoodles.

Click here to view LaVendore Rogue’s set for Ditty TV, Memphis.

Click here to view LaVendore Rogue’s set at the 8th European Blues Challenge.

Photo Galleries

Coming soon.

Reviews & Interviews

Click here for a Review of the 4th UK Blues Challenge by Rosy Greer

Comments and Feedback

Quote from Joel Fisk (LaVendore Rogue): “The Blues Challenge was a great opportunity for us to play some fantastic venues with some amazing bands. To think this little band from the Essex Delta would play on Beale Street is a dream come true!”

Quote from Rob Koral (Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion):  It was a superbly organised event, and a packed room created a great atmosphere for the bands to perform in… At the same time, from a musicians perspective, a little strange and surreal when there has to be a winner”, which is not a natural part of music, any result is going to be subjective.  I did think that all the bands were quite different from each other and very good…. Of course I am completely proud of our guys, and Zoe, who is awesome. Really enjoyed hanging out with all the bands back stage, and making some new and genuine friendships, that was a big plus for me. Feeling good as I write this and very pleased to have been there! Well done Liz, Ashwyn, Dave Raven and team … it’s so obvious that the labour of love, which it surely is, and motivation for organising this event, was utterly for the benefit and love of great music…. a huge thanks.

Quote from Graham Whittington:  Well, just got home from a fantastic time in Liverpool at The Cavern Club, brilliant time spent with fabulous friends and new friends. The whole event was superb, well organised by a great team of hard working people giving their time to keep live music going. Many congratulations to the artists who all performed at their best. Commiserations to the ones who did not quite make it to Memphis and Hell but congrats to LaVendore Rogue who get to represent the UK there.

Quote from Alan Pearce (Blues Matters):  Well done LaVendore Rogue! Winners of the 4th UK Blues Challenge! The Blues Matters team and owner Alan Pearce would like to extend huge congratulations to LaVendore Rogue on their success and wish them well with all of their musical adventures as they go forward to proudly represent the UK in 2018. 

Quote from Nicki Vinall:  This is what it’s all about! Fabulous fun with a superstar lineup, some of the great voices of the Blues in England! LaVendore Rogue WINNERS of 4th UK Blues Challenge at The Cavern (LIVERPOOL). The winners Joel Fisk, JoJo Burgess. Stephen Percy Cutmore,  James Payze and Warren Lynn with Kyla Brox, Connie Lush, Kaz Hawkins and Victor Brox. 3 mins of wonderfulness!

Quote from Stuart Goodall:  What a terrific night it turned out to be.

Quote from Dave Raven (Raven & The Blues):  48 hours later and I’m still buzzing.
I am so proud of the blues community . . . 
Here’s the skinny – we’ve all been to gigs where the bands have complained about the sound, over-run their time slot, messed around on set up and strip down.
Sunday at the 4th UK Blues Federation Challenge at the Cavern was a text book example of ‘How The Professionals Do It’.
Five bands collectively drove over 1,000 miles to get to the Cavern for 1:30
Smooth sound checks.
2 girls and 19 boys sharing one dressing room.
Each band timing their thirty minute set to perfection.
Changeovers accomplished in often less than 15 minutes – rebuilding the drum kit, adding cabinets, keyboards, vocal mikes – a nod to Ricky the sound guy and go.
Hitting the ground running from the off.
The vibe in the almost full Cavern could be cut with a knife, the audience willing on every band.
The 150+ audience giving generously for the raffle and the auction.
Six wonderful judges who had the hardest job.
Five bands who would all have been great representing the UK in Memphis and Norway in 2018.
If you were there you know what I mean – thank you all.

Quote from Kaz Hawkins:  Well what to say about yesterday???? AMAZING.  When the blues family comes out it’s special indeed. …. Congratulations to LaVendore Rogue who won. I had the honour of presenting them with the trophy. Good luck to Joel FiskJoJo Burgess & the rest of LVR as they now go on to represent the UK in Memphis & Norway. A great turn out for UK Blues in Liverpool, thank you all for supporting the genre and helping us celebrate our rich blues heritage.  Special thanks to my partner in crime Connie Lush & Terry for hosting us in her city, she truly is the Queen of Liverpool, what a woman!  When our blues family across the UK come together……   UKBlues


If any reader has memorabilia of the event please email alan@earlyblues.com