Leeds Music Scene

Aaron Keylock cuts against the grain in Leeds : The hotly tipped blues guitarist stopped by Brudenell Social Club on October 26.

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Published on 2nd November 2016.


Aaron Keylock cuts against the grain in Leeds

The hotly tipped blues guitarist stopped by Brudenell Social Club on October 26.

It's too much of a rare thing these days to see an opening band and wish they were the main act, but tonight at Brudenell Social Club that's exactly the feeling that Aaron Keylock leaves the audience with.

Supposedly only warming up the crowd for Joanne Shaw Taylor, Keylock instead turns the blues-drenched intensity up to 11 and sets the room ablaze using the rock n roll equivalent of rubbing two sticks together - plugging the guitar into the amp to make fire.

It's a fierce and blinding set from the get go, incredibly with shades of both Duane Allman and Jimi Hendrix already evident in his playing. With a lean backing band that compliments and accentuates his style, Keylock tears through a selection of down and dirty blues-rock cuts, the most accessible of which recall early Jet and will likely feature on his debut album due in January.

But the astonishingly accomplished guitarist - Keylock is only 18 - is at his best when given the space to get lost in a mesmerising solo, as he does several times here. There's no ego in his expansive playing, or even a need to prove himself; just a willingness to play the best he can and go wherever the music takes him.

To be lead by the music and the songs - which are by turns visceral, moody, wry and rocking, showing too his distinctive vocal which borrows the wayward southern drawl of the Van Zant brothers and injects it with some Kelly Jones aggression.

As the stage clears, the conclusion that everyone watching - including the band - would like to keep playing is an easy one to draw. It's also clear that Aaron Keylock is a rare talent in it for the long haul, and if his longevity can match his passion, he'll have no problem staying in the game.

After the show, I caught up with Aaron to discuss the tour and his plans for the future.

Ciaran: Hey Aaron, congrats on a great gig. How's the tour going so far?

Aaron: Thanks! It's good, we're about three weeks in so just starting to wear in now. It's the first run we've done in a while - the last one was with Blackberry Smoke earlier in the year. Feels good!

Ciaran: How long have you been on the road with Joanne?

Aaron: I met her last year doing festivals. We'd both kind of heard about each other before then, but that was the first time we saw each other play. I've been out opening for her about 2 weeks now. She's a great player, and really nice too.

Ciaran: Tell me about the upcoming album Cut Against The Grain - is that your debut record?

Aaron: Yeah. I haven't really done too much studio work before so this is the first real thing, I've concentrated more on live work. It was really cool to get in a studio for a couple of weeks and do something new, make something different. The title track is a song I've had for a while now that I wrote just as I coming out of school, and it's about being that one 70's hippy kid in class, going against every other kid my age really, in terms of what everyone else was doing.

Ciaran: You're described on your website as a 'UK Teenage Guitar Sensation'. How do you get to that point by the age of 18?

Aaron: I got into music when I was about 5, wanting to play from listening to like, 1970's classic rock. I got into Blues around the age of 9, started playing blues jams about 11, gigging at 12, and I've just been touring ever since really.

Ciaran: How long have you been playing with your band, and how did you find them?

Aaron: I met the drummer, Sonny, when we were both 12 - his dad plays in a rhythm and blues band. Jordan, the bass player, I met a couple of years ago. I was 15, he was 17. I'm from a small village in Oxfordshire and he was local to me, so that's basically how it started.

Ciaran: How does your music collection influence you as a musician? I definitely heard some Lynyrd Skynyrd in your playing.

Aaron: Skynyrd was the first record I ever bought, when I was about 7. I listen to everything, loads of different stuff - from early Aerosmith to The Grateful Dead to Leon Russell.

Ciaran: Speaking of Skynyrd, being a blues-rock player have you ever had to play Freebird at a gig because someone shouted it out?

Aaron: Haha, yes! Not at my own shows but I've guested with friends before and they've said, you know, come up and play on it.

Ciaran: If you could get up and jam with any blues player, living or dead, who would it be?

Aaron: I think I'd have to say Jonny Winter because he's probably my biggest inspiration musically, just the way he blended the whole blues and rock thing. I always loved everything about his style.

Ciaran: What's next for you after this tour?

Aaron: We start the Planet Rock Roadstars tour straight after this, with Simo and Federal Charm which takes us up 'til Christmas. After that we have the album release in January, and then hopefully touring all next year.

Ciaran: Nice one. Well good luck with the album and tour, and I'll see you next time round.

Aaron: Thanks a lot man. Cheers!



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