July 9, 2016, 8:15pm
Ladies and Gentlemen: Ian Siegal has entered the building. If you know the name, but not the game, it’s high time you made his acquaintance. He’s the multiple British Blues Awards winner, BMA nominee and hot tip of everyone from Mojo to Classic Rock. He’s the songwriter whose recent CD releases sound like career peaks, but are only the start. From one night to the next, he might be a solo acoustic performer or a blood-and-thunder bandleader.Read More
Siegal is known as a bluesman, but it’s just one shade in the palette of an artist who slips between continents, eras and expectations. They say you can’t sing the blues until you’ve lived the life, and when Ian Siegal steps up to the mic, you can hear the slings and arrows. Recent years have seen the songwriter catch fire, with British Blues Awards raining down and consecutive nominations in 2012 & 2013 for Contemporary Album of The Year in the Blues Music Awards.
His forte is playing to an audience. He takes command of the stage in a way very few artists alive today can match. Sweat, passion, humour, incendiary slide guitar and a soul-infused voice big enough to fell trees! It has won him an ever-growing following of fans.
It has been said that had Siegal been around in the sixties he would today be accorded the same reverence as artists such as Van Morrison and Joe Cocker. Instead, he is a child of the seventies who dropped out of art college in the late eighties to go busking in Germany. From the streets of Berlin Siegal progressed to clubs around Nottingham in the UK, then to London and ultimately to major stages around Europe.
His career got under way in 2003/04 with two successive European tours as the opening act for ex-Rolling Stone Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings (Wyman also invited Ian to record with the Rhythm Kings). His 2005 album Meat &Potatoes added fuel to a growing fire of interest, gaining him a maximum four star (excellent) rating in the Penguin Book of Blues Recordings – Ian is one of only two living British Blues artists to gain this distinction. A Bigger Plate of Meat & Potatoes was later re-released as a limited edition together with a DVD of his stunning performance on the main stage at the North Sea Jazz Festival.
Subsequent releases in 2007 (Swagger) and 2008 (the Dust) were topped in 2009 when Broadside gave Ian the top spot in MOJO’s annual Blues album chart.
He then ventured to north Mississippi to record with Grammy nominee Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars as producer. A band was assembled from musicians in the area including Gary Burnside, Robert Kimbrough and Rodd Bland, all offspring of notable bluesmen. The resulting album The Skinny (2011) was Siegal’s first Blues Music Awards nomination.
Fired with a taste for north Mississippi Ian returned in May 2012 to collaborate with another dream-team of local legends that he collectively coined The Mississippi Mudbloods. Joining Ian and Cody Dickinson were Cody’s bother Luther Dickinson, and Alvin Youngblood Hart. This second visit to the Zebra Ranch Studio produced Candy Store Kid (2012) and another nomination in the Blues Music Awards.
2014 saw the release of Man & Guitar, showcasing Siegal’s supreme ability as a solo performer and his force-ten charisma. Recorded by the BBC at the Royal Albert Hall London, it is Siegal at his raw and unfettered best – a world-class performer bleeding into his favourite songs. This album scored Siegal another top spot in MOJO’s blues roundup on 2014.
In a twist to his career, Ian performed for several years (2009-12) with France’s Orchestre National de Jazz in a program of Billie Holiday songs entitled “Broadway in Satin.” Backed by a 12-piece orchestra of young hand-picked musicians and accompanied by the French singer, Karen Lanaud, Broadway in Satin has performed at major festivals across France and as far afield as South America and east Africa.
2015 saw two releases in close succession: an unplugged album The Picnic Sessions and a live recording with his European band, One Night in Amsterdam.
The Picnic Sessions is the product of yet another visit to North Mississippi, when he played at the 2013 Hill Country Picnic and an opportunity arose to record. It has Siegal collaborating with the Dickinson brothers, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Jimbo Mathus (with whom Siegal toured in Europe as a duo in the fall of 2014). The intention was to create a “back porch” session and wonderfully demonstrates what happens when five talented musicians with a love of Blues & roots Americana get together and play and sing, with no pre-determined idea of the outcome.
One Night in Amsterdam has Siegal in full electric mode charging through a collection of new and old songs in front of an audience at The North Sea Jazz Club in Amsterdam. His band of young Dutch and German musicians back him up superbly and the recording captures the power and charisma of an artist at the peak of his game.
Ian has become established in Europe as one of the most natural, exciting and vibrant talents on the scene today. Each year the stages get bigger, but what sticks most in Ian’s mind is his guest appearance in 2005 with then 92-year old Pinetop Perkins and some of the other remaining members of Muddy Waters’ band. This was at London’s Jazz Café to a packed house. Then later at a festival in Norway, in a role reversal, these legends of post-war Blues spontaneously joined Ian on stage for what turned into a memorable hour-long set.
British Blues Hall of Fame
- 2013 inductee
Blues album of the Year
- MOJO MAGAZINE 2014
- MOJO magazine 2009
Male Vocalist of the Year
- BRITISH BLUES AWARDS 2013, 2012 & 2011
- EUROPEAN BLUES AWARDS 2013
Album of the Year
- BRITISH BLUES AWARDS 2013
- BRITISH BLUES AWARDS 2013
Best Contemporary Album
- BLUES MUSIC AWARDS NOMINEE 2013 & 2012
- BLUES BLAST MUSIC AWARDS NOMINEE 2013
Acoustic Artist of the Year
- BRITISH BLUES AWARDS 2012
Band of the Year
- BRITISH BLUES AWARDS 2010