With a glittering career spanning more than twenty award-crammed years, Liverpool based Blues singer Connie Lush can take further delight in the fact that she been nominated at The British Blues Awards, 2016, for Best British Blues Album with her latest release, Renaissance. Not only that but her live performances remain incredibly popular with gigs taking place the length and breadth of the country, including an appearance at The North Wales Blues and Soul Festival which takes place in Mold on August 5th, 6th and 7th with Connie appearing on Saturday 6th.
“Being nominated for the award came as quite a shock I have to say,” Connie laughed ahead of the festival. “I’ve not released anything since Send Me No Flowers in 2011 and you always wonder, when you put out something new, whether other people will love what you’ve done as much as you do.
“The album came about really because of the new guys we got in our band. Steve Wright is on guitar, Roy Martin on drums and of course my husband, Terry Harris on bass. Everything just sort of clicked when we started playing and this new vibe came about pretty much out of nowhere. We found that we were also writing together really well, which was great, and it was that which kind of took over, so we just thought why not. Let’s do another album.
“Another thing was that I don’t find writing easy at all, but I found that these songs were rolling out. I can be thinking of things for about six months sometimes, then it sort of rains out of me in one big burst, so I was just so happy when all of these songs came so that I could get them out there and on to the album.”
On top of Best British Blues Album, Connie has also been nominated for Best British Female Vocalist at the awards which take place in September. Other nominees are Katie Bradley, Kyla Brox, Lorna Fothergill-Northsyde, Kaz Hawkins and Rebecca Downes who will be on the same Saturday bill as Connie in Mold.
“I have to confess that for that one I had to give them some cash,” Connie laughed again. She does a lot of that which is great to hear. “Seriously, it’s really lovely to be nominated. There are six nominees altogether so I really don’t expect to win because the new kids on the block are all really, really talented. I’m just really happy that people still think about me and love the music. It’s great.”
Connie grew up in Liverpool. Despite the rich musical heritage being part of everything with which she’s surrounded, its influence isn’t really something she took a great deal of notice of. “You got on with it because it was normal to us. It was bit like having millionaire parents, we didn’t know any different. Everybody was just into the music in some way or some form, singing or playing or just listening to it. It was a constant, a bit like the river.
“And back then I never had any intentions of being a singer at all. Okay I’d sung before, in church choirs and things, but I never had any ambitions to turn it into a career. That was all my husband’s fault,” Connie joked. “Terry [Connie’s bass player] has always played in bands and I just offered to help out one night when they were rehearsing. That was it. To be honest I remember thinking, after I was persuaded to sing in front of an audience for a first time, that I’d give it a go and if I didn’t like it I could always just walk away. The thing was though, I absolutely loved it and that was that, I was hooked.”
Connie has played many notable gigs all over the world, not least of which being on tour with the late great Blues legend B B King in 1998, which saw her perform live at The Royal Albert Hall. “You know what? We were so green at the time I don’t really think we fully appreciated what was happening. It was sort of surreal.
“We were with him for about four months in all and he was such a real gentleman, so cool and so laid back he’d be asleep right up to the point he was being introduced on stage. He’d literally have to be woken up and told they were playing his number. It wasn’t that he was tired or anything, it was just that he really was that easy going and relaxed about what he was doing. To be honest I really didn’t want to disturb him too much and only got to speak to him a few times, but I was so much in awe of him that asking things that matter really didn’t occur to me. It really was an incredible experience.”
After that, it might be easy to think that someone with the knowledge of Connie Lush no longer gets nervous. Apparently, that’s not the case. “I don’t when I’m on stage really, unless there’s someone I know like an old friend I’ve not seen for ages or a fellow musician or singer is in the audience, then I can get nervous. I just love being on stage, it doesn’t matter what size the venue is really. It is simply a joy. I particularly love doing the gig at The Pier Head in Liverpool because we can look out over the water; any show where I’m near water and I’m in heaven.
“It’s all about enjoying being on stage and the audience enjoying you enjoying being on stage. If they don’t like what I’m giving them, I get the vibe and tell myself to sort it, but it’s really best just to go out and not think about anything other than doing what you do.”
So, having played and worked with the best who, in Connie’s opinion, are the Blues artists we should be keeping an eye on? “There’s a young guy called Laurence Jones, who I’ve appeared with at quite a few festivals this year already and who is also at the North Wales Blues and Soul Festival in Mold. He is just fantastic and definitely one to watch out for. I’m also on the same bill in Mold as Rebecca Downes who I haven’t met but who I have been in contact with through email and Facebook and what have you. We can’t wait to meet face-to-face, but she is another fantastic talent.
“Then there is Joanne Shaw Taylor who, though not new on the scene, is very definitely one of my heroes. I don’t class her as a Blues singer but more of a Blues musician being a great vocalist and a fabulous guitarist. I’ve known Joanne for a long time, since she was 14, and it’s really great to see her doing so well, touring with the likes of Joe Bonamassa and Glenn Hughes recently. There’s a really nice vibe amongst the female artists at the moment. We all get on really well and I can’t wait to meet up with a few more friends at gigs later on this year. ”
On August 6th, Connie will be playing The North Wales Blues and Soul Festival for the second time. Now in its fourth year, Connie appeared at the debut event in 2013 and is delighted to have seen it go from strength-to-strength.
“We know Charlie Broadhurst and his team really well and we’re delighted to have helped encourage him to get the whole thing up and running. We think it’s a great festival and couldn’t be happier to be playing there again this year. We know a lot of the people who put it together and how hard they all work, so we are absolutely delighted. It’s a small but growing festival, one that has a genuinely lovely atmosphere. All it needs is the support. I know Mold council do an awful lot to help, but the whole area can benefit from it continuing to grow with more and more people coming to the town from in and around it. We’ve got quite a few friends and family coming along, so it should be all the nicer for all that. Festivals really are my big thing.”
Connie Lush and her band will be appearing at The North Wales Blues and Soul Festival on Saturday August 6th. For further information on this three day event which begins on Friday August 5th, log on to: http://nwbluesandsoul.co.uk