Yoka & The SugarBeats reviews

Yoka, Ray, Andrew, Spencer and Andrew (collectively known as Yoka & The SugarBeats) brought more than a little love to The Tuesday Night Music Club on Valentines Day. As individuals they have talent in abundance but as a band they transform themselves into an unstoppable live entertainment machine. Think we're overstating the case? Well here's what those who were there chose to say:

"I never indulge when it comes to offering gig reviews in fear of offending the artist. I would be honest and critical as perfect gigs do not come along too often, there is always something to criticise from a personal view. Let's be honest, bands would find it boring and perhaps become complacent as there would be no desire to fix something that wasn't broken. Last night, however, was a little special at The Tuesday Night Music Club gig under the roof of The Comrades Club in Coulsdon. Yoka & The SugarBeats returned to the Club and I feel that not one person left disappointed or without a smile on their face and will remember this Valentines Day for years to come. The Band continues to evolve and compliments the extraordinary voice that Yoka Qureshi-Kuiper has. The choice of covers gives Yoka license to excel and the self-written songs, two new ones introduced tonight, are crying out to be released to an ever increasing fan base. Last night's performance also benefited from Simon Taylor's skills behind and in front of the sound desk and the good news is that I understand last night's brilliant performance was captured by Simon and the intention is to release it as a live album......bring it on. If you get a chance to see Yoka & The SugarBeats, grab it. I believe that one day there will be folk out there thinking......if only I grabbed the opportunity to see this Band at my local club for the rediculous ticket price of £5." - Phil Honley


"Quality ... sheer quality ... If a band deserves a break it's the incredible versatility and talent of this band. What makes it even more frustrating is the way they make it look so freaking easy! It's like they've played together for years." - Robin Bhairam


"Thank you for a brilliant night. Loved it!" - Terri Higdon


"You created a wonderful atmosphere. Brilliant night.
You all played and sang your socks off."
- Ken Jackson


"You guys were top class" - Bob Wilson


"You certainly created a room full of love last night. Love for the Sugarbeats - roll on the album I wish you all that 2017 is the breakthrough success your band deserves. Thank you all for a wonderful evening" - Gary Taylor


And that was just some of the comments on social media - a full house fell in love with this band. If a CD had been available every person would have left with a copy. Here's hoping that live recording becomes available as this was one very special night.

Our thanks as ever to every person who crossed our threshold last night and helped create such a magical atmosphere. Our thanks also to Simon Taylor for the outstanding sound and to John Bull for the beautiful images that accompany this piece.


14/02/2017 - Richard Dunning - Tuesday Night Music Club

You know that feeling when you really look forward to something and then it's finished? Yes that's how we're feeling today.

Yoka & The SugarBeats brought everything we'd hoped for and more. A packed house watched as Yoka, Ray, Andy, Spencer and Andrew wove their magic. The Sugarbeats are so full of talent it almost defies description. Each time a solo was taken it was like receiving a lesson in that instrument. And then there's Yoka leading them on. Whether she's using that voice (and what a voice!) or playing the sax or the flute (both beautifully) she has the audience transfixed. And there's that other instrument... her smile. Somehow Yoka's emotions are contagious - when she's sad or serious those watching her share that feeling and when she smiles (to paraphrase an old saying) the whole word smiles with her. Her connection with the audience really is remarkable. When it's allied with fabulous songs, played by superb musicians how can an audience fail to be won over.

When you go and see Yoka & The SugarBeats next, look at all the faces surrounding you. This band brings happiness. Isn't that something we all need more of?

30/08/2016 - Richard Dunning - Tuesday Night Music Club



We were very honoured to be part of Radfest this year which was a great success, the event raised almost £3000 for Mac Millan!!

Rob Preston from CroydonCitizen.com had this to say about our set:

Said vocalist is Yoka, of Yoka and the Sugar Beats, beginning with a mash-up of ‘Born to Be Wild’ and ‘Fever’, and going on to effortlessly interpret greats like ‘Feelin’ Good’ and ‘Duffy’s Mercy’, with Yoka taking to the flute, and the big man on guitar wowing with some impressive guitar solos, whilst maintaining an excellent chemistry with his frontwoman. 

For full review: http://thecroydoncitizen.com/culture/event-review-radfest-oval-tavern-saturday-16th-july/

The Old House, Dorking

Our quarry for the evening was one of my favourite bands of the day, the supremely talented Yoka and the Sugarbeats. Never heard of them? Well you have now and you should make it your business to find out a little bit more. This is a seriously good band, who serve up a mix of self-penned and cover numbers, touching on rock, funk, soul, blues and shamelessly fun filled pop. If you get out and about gigging in the London/Surrey area (and beyond), the faces will be familiar to you, as all the band play, or have played in a number of different outfits. They are a rhythm section of Spencer Blackledge on (shiny) drums and Andy Pullin on Bass, with Andrew Papas on keys, Big Ray Qureshi on Guitars and the multi-talented Yoka on Vocals, Flute and Saxophone. This, ladies and gentlemen are a band that should be (and I am sure will be) playing considerably larger venues than a pub in Surrey, and that is in no way meant to disrespect this well run establishment; nice job Joel. After all, many of the great’s started in such humble surroundings. You only had to look around at those gathered at the end of the second set, not to mention second encore, to see that this is no ordinary weekend pub band, offering up the standard twenty plus covers to the prosecco brigade, but a seriously talented bunch of guys who deserve recognition on a bigger stage. The set is packed with quality, with the original tunes blending with well selected covers, which in themselves take on a Sugarbeat slant, which makes them their own. Whilst the whole band deserve great credit and are the sum of a magnificent whole, I must single out Yoka for special recognition. This lady can sing, and I mean really sing. She has a wonderful range, exquisite phrasing and excellent breath and microphone control. Her delivery is always precise, yet not robotic and her theatrical style keeps you hanging on every word. Yes, very special indeed.

So, what are you going to do, sit in every night, or go and see some live music? If it’s the latter, then you could do a lot worse than catching The Sugarbeats or the stripped down acoustic version of Yoka and Big Ray, you will have fun and that’s a guarantee.

Alan Bates, 20 May 2016,  The Old House, Dorking



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. Look out for them as a duo and also as part of the new band Yoka & The SugarBeats. You’ll be pleased you did!

( Boom Boom Club, supporting Billy Walton Band, 29 January, 2016)

Richard Dunning (Tuesday Night Music Club) 

Wiping away a tear with blues


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 17 June 2016

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