Northern Ireland’s blues darling Kaz brings her latest album to Coolham

The Kaz Hawkins Band head to West Sussex on the back of the release of Kaz’s second album, Feelin’ Good.

They play Coolham Village Hall, near Horsham, on Saturday, June 11 (7.15pm).

“We launched the album in Belfast,” says Kaz, who is regarded as Northern Ireland’s very own blues and soul darling. “And it was great. We released the first album in 2014, having released singles and EPs before, and then we have changed the band since that first album and have now got a much bigger sound. The new album is ten songs, two covers that include our version of ‘Feelin’ Good’… because that’s the way we are feeling right now! It just represents where we are our in lives at the moment.

“I was a secret songwriter writing away for years. I have been gigging for about 27 years now, and it was just ironic that once I turned 40, everything just exploded. I had been singing in cover bands and then I realised that my journals that I had kept over the years were actually lyrics and poems, and in 2007 I decided to pick up the guitar and play a few chords, and then in 2010 I did a few open mic nights and then it has just all happened from there. I suppose the thing is that when you are older you have a bit more patience.

“The response to the first album was great, but nobody had anything to compare it with, and compared to the second album now, I didn’t really know what I was wanting to do. It was just then having it all thrust on me and realising that I had to have an album for anybody to take me seriously, and so I did one. But with that first album, it was more just a collection of songs rather than a proper body of work, which is more what we have got with the second album. With the first one, it was more a question of just showcasing my vocal ability out there.”

In a sense, for the second album, the pressure was off: “I didn’t really go into the album with any expectations. It was much more ‘This is what I am’. I felt much more pressure with the debut. I knew what we were going to do. I was just totally lost with the first one.”

Her sound has certainly moved on too, largely thanks to the addition to the band of two Slovakian brothers, one on drums, one on bass: “Europeans are more tapped into a lot of genres. They brought a prog rock feel with them, and I think that is what has changed the sound. I never really had proper substance under my vocals, but now I have, and it just really gives me a launch pad for what I do, and that’s great to have.”

Her song writing has also developed: “I have been teaching myself piano for the past eight months. I think the songs are now much more passionate. I have reached a certain point in my life. I am a grandmother. I am more appreciative of where I am and more humbled. I definitely think things have changed in that respect.

“And I have now nearly got album number three written,” says Kaz, though she admits she wouldn’t be too popular if she thrust it on the band right now. “We have got to enjoy this album first!”

Tickets for the show cost £15 (£20 with supper). Email coolhamtickets@gmail.com or call Graeme Tame on 07889775173. Bring your own liquid refreshments.

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