Yoka & Big Ray reviews

If you get half a chance try to see Yoka and Big Ray. To have the nerve to step on a stage shortly to be occupied by a barnstorming six piece band and play an acoustic set is something. But then to cause everyone to hush with the beauty of your singing and playing is really something. And that’s what they did last night – from originals to spine tingling covers they made sure everyone lucky enough to see them will remember them. 

(Boom Boom Club, supporting Billy Walton Band) 

Richard Dunning (Tuesday Night Music Club) 

Wiping away a tear with blues

BY HEIDI FOSTER AND ANDY STUART

Heidi Foster writes: “I went to the Ypres Castle Inn on Sunday night, April 10, a day of the week when John Izod, who died last week, would traditionally make his way to the back of the pub and be surrounded by friends, entertaining them with his wit.

Several of us felt we wanted to regroup this first Sunday after the sad news and tell stories and share memories (which we did round a table just beyond the bar) and Sunday night’s music (blues and soul classics) would have been his kind of music and he would have loved it.

Big Ray and Yoka

Big Ray and Yoka

When I first moved to Rye, Friday was dance night at the Ypres and however painful John’s knees were, we had a jive – and great fun. But that eventually moved to Sunday, without dancing.

Anyway on Sunday we were lucky enough to listen to the duo, Yoka and Big Ray, whose music was a mix of acoustic soul and blues classics interspersed with original material in an intimate setting – which John would have appreciated, probably trying to do some harmony.

Yoka captivated us with her powerful and soulful vocals and anyone lucky enough to have been there will remember her voice, and flute and saxophone playing – awesome.

If you are up for being transported into the  Louisiana music world you will want to be at the next gig, it is on  May 1 at the Hastings Stag in All Saints Street in the Old Town.. They were fantastic, so try and catch them – or visit www.yoka.london for an example of her singing.

 

The Boom Boom Club

In many ways a very different night last night at the Boom Boom but no less enjoyable than what is normally experienced at this terrific South London/Surrey outpost of live music.

Promoter extraordinaire Pete Feenstra put on a charity gig in aid of the Macmillan Cancer charity and fans and artists alike came together to support the cause.

Yoka Qureshi-Kuiper and Big Ray opened proceedings and played a beguiling set of acoustic beauty that was mellow, melodious and just the thing to ease you in to the weekend.

The duo have a chemistry and telepathy that translates perfectly to the live arena and they were not afraid to let their natural amenable personalities show out, their asides to one another and us, amusing and engaging.

Of course it was about the music and what fine music they created. Now Big Ray does not have that name without good reason, he is a giant of a man but put an acoustic guitar in his huge hands and he transforms in to someone with a deftness and lightness of touch that was a joy to behold. Fingers gently feathering the strings creating textures of sounds for Yoka to work with. And as for this lady, possessor of a voice that has everyting, richness, feel, emotion and a perfect phrasing technique. Yoka worked her way through the vocal register with great elan, hitting and holding high notes and swooping low and deep.

Each song was expertly crafted, rich interwoven melodies from Ray with luxuriant vocals draped over them. Yoka added extra textures and tones with some lovely Flute playing, the notes hanging and floating on the air and some searching resonating Sax.

The quality and power of the songwriting right to the fore too, narratives of real life and encapsulated perfectly on the highlight of the set, Shoulder To Shoulder. A song written by Ray in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks, sung earlier this week to mark the Orlando shootings and last night played for the family and constituents of Jo Cox. The poignancy of the lyric and gesture encapsulated by the revernetial hush of the audience, it was impossible not to conjure images of these atrocities and the human reaction such was the clarity of the message.To lighten the mood and prepare us for The Steve Eggs Band, Yoka and Ray weaved their magic on the light bouncy Summertime and the Jazz inflected Feeling Good. I certainly felt good after that.

Nigel Foster 

Talk to me Baby!

We are happy to talk to you - you can contact us via email, text or phone call  

info@yoka.london


+44 (0)7815519788 -  Big Ray

 

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