Yoka & Big Ray reviews

Lockdown festival 21 March 2020 (FB LIVE) 


Ook een schot in de roos is het optreden van Yoka & Big Ray. Yoka, van Hollandse afkomst heeft zich op de leuning van een bank genesteld met een glaasje wijn binnen handbereik, kan het nog huiselijker? Werd je al door het Tom Waits nummer waarmee zij openen geraakt, dan doet Voodoo Woman (Koko Taylor) er nog een schepje boven op. Helemaal te gek wordt het met het daarop volgende eigen nummer I Keep Hoping! Daar zit je dan met de warme hap op schoot achter de pc terwijl de koude rillingen je over de rug lopen. Geëindigd wordt met een meer dan fraaie vertolking van Summertime met daarin een meesterlijke dwarsfluit solo van Yoka die gewoon door blijft zingen als het geluid van Ray’s gitaar weg valt. Het eerste hoogtepunt van dit festival werd met hun optreden bereikt!  






Barry Blues’ Diary is a regular feature here at The Blue Cafe, following the ups and downs of one of the most prominent figures in the Blues in the South of the UK. Barry Blues’ is the founder and owner of the Blues Barn, the home of a number of intimate gigs over the past 12 months. Barry Blues can be found on Instagram at @bluesbarn and can be contacted via The Blue Cafe at barryblues@thebluecafe.co.uk.

Ok People, in this week’s Blues diary we talk about Ray and Yoka’s Acoustic Blues Barn gig.  Not the usual gig for the barn as they will tell you they don’t do much blues – but what they do, do, is truly Magical.

They start off with self-penned songs that not only grip your heart but get hold of your soul, pull it out and rub it in the dirt. Any adult above 18 has had some type of heartache in their life and Yoka and Big Ray (as he’s affectionately known) have songs about it. At one point I turned around to look at more than one person with a little something in their eye, including me ?.

Barry Blues

Photo Credit: Yoka Kuiper-Qureshi

They done songs from their wonderful EP No Regrets, a true heart-wrenching 5 song masterpiece. On top of that, the covers they do are sublime like The Supremes “Stop in the Name of Love” but done so slow and with audience participation that your tears came out before the words and a version of summer time that was so laid back with a Sax solo, I felt I was on the banks of the Mississippi with my feet in the mud fishing for catfish..

On top of their musical talent Big Ray also makes his own guitars and brought some of his own nurtured from nature machines .. And they are the most friendliest of couples, chatting to my invited guests after and signed every CD they sold except mine..One of the most beautiful moments of the gig for me was when I saw my grandson at the window of the barn watching Yoka singing intently, and she was smiling at him pure magical and my wife caught a fantastic photo of the moment..So if you get a chance to see Yoka and Ray in any format – grab it bythe throat and drag it to the ground… `



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


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!

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+44 (0)7815519788 -  Big Ray


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