Read more of Cover mount CD Classic Rock The Blues - Issue 16 October 2014
Editors notes: 2012's Good Times and 2013's The Blues Don't Scare Me were both fab, but this year's Exposed might must be even better. We shouldn't be surprised. Singer-songwritier Zoe Schwarz is a singular talent: classically trained, sh'e...
Read more of Interview: Classic Rock The Blues Magazine - Issue 16, October 2014
First time I met the Blues: Rob Koral and Zoe Schwarz of Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion on mixing jazz, punk and rock'n'roll to create "blues with something else".
Since playing their first gig in February 2012, Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion have established a name for...
"If you love the music, it gets into your blood. It's all about the words and telling a story."
First Time I Met The Blues: Rob Koral and Zoe Schwarz of Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion on mixing jazz, punk and rock'n'roll to create "blues with something else": words Jamie Hailstone.
Since playing their first gig in February 2012, Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion have established a name for themselves thanks to their intoxicating blend of funky, jazzy blues. Their new album, Exposed, was crowd funded through PledgeMusic and looks set to build on the success of their last two releases, The Blues Don't Scare Me and Good Times. The Blues caught up with founder members Zoe Schwarz (vocals) and Rob Koral (guitar). and took them back to their roots.
Do you remember when you were first bitten by the blues bug? Rob: I was at school when I became exposed to Cream, which was Eric Clapton Ginger Baker and jack Bruce. There was a BBC documentary about their farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall. As a result I bought my first LP - Disraeli Gears, Cream's second album.
Did you learn to play the album note for note? I don't know if I went that far, but I had a friend at school who had started to learn it, so I got him to show me things. I wanted to play some of this licks. Eric was God.
Did you go back and listen to Clapton's influences? I did. I even went back as far as pre-war acoustic blues, but it didn't stay with me for very long. I also found that people like Freddie King just didn't do it to the level that Eric did - he took it to another universe. But there's a distinction between Eric Clapton Mark 1, which was in the late 1960's, and Eric Clapton Mark 2, from the 1970's onwards. To me, that's a different person.
And Zoe, how did you get into the blues? Zoe: When I was about 16, I was given a Billie Holiday tape. I know she's not strictly blues, but to me who's as bluesy as anyone else. It's about the feel. It was like being struck by thunderbolts and lightning. From that moment onwards, it was all I wanted to do.
Who else has been an influence on you? Rob: At the time, there were people like Roy Buchanan and Jimi Hendrix, who was an innovator. Then I listened to people like Yan Akkerman. But now I've came back full circle to doing what we're doing now, which is strongly blues-influenced music, with some great players in the band and room for instrumental fireworks. We're not just a band with a diva up front. I came back to the blues more heavily armed, with extra tools for the job.
What classic blues albums do you own? Zoe: I can't pinpoint any one, apart from my 50 or 60 Billie Holiday albums. My thing has always been the blues with something else. Ray Charles introduced me to the tunes of Muddy Waters. I can't remember the name of the Ray Charles album though. It was probably a greatest hits compilation. The first album I bought was actually London Calling by The Clash, because it was so earthy and gritty.
Did you see many blues performers when you were growing up? Rob: I liked Rory Gallagher at the time and I saw him live a few times. But for me, his music doesn't stand the test of time in the same way. I was Led Zeppelin, who were great live. I was living in Bournemouth at the time and bands used to come down to the Pavilion every week and we would see whoever was on. Focus, Black Sabbath and Ginger Baker's Air Force all came down. Zoe: I was stuck in a boarding school. It was hard to get out. I had a tiny transistor radio and I would listen to John Peel late at night, at the risk of getting a detention. Occasionally he would play some blues. I went to quirky things in Camden when I first moved up to London. I would try to get into places like Ronnie Scott's when they were doing blues gigs.
Has the blues been maligned over the years? Rob: I think it's had its up and downs. I think people who want to put it down think of it as turgid, downtrodden, miserable music, but it doesn't have to be. That's just people who haven't bothered to explore it properly. There's a snobbish element, where some players might think of it as too simplistic to play, but to do it properly takes real ability, phrasing and style.
And what influences can we hear on Exposed? Zoe: Rob's into Led Zeppelin and The Who. If you love the music, it gets into you blood. Mostly my influences are male singers, like Robert Plant and Roger Daltrey, who really passionately sing. It's all about the words and telling a story. An equal mix of all these people is bound to be evident on our new album, but not particularly by design. Rob: I love Wes Montgomery, who was deeply steeped in blues, but played 32-bar tunes and played on changes. We have the ability to do that. It's a coming together of both our influences. It's a good match.
Read more of Blues In Britain Magazine, Issue 153, September 2014
This regular slot showcases the breadth of the British blues scene with the best up-and-coming and established acts. A half-full room (presumably due to the start of the holiday season) were treated to two bands at the top of their form with disparate takes on what constitutes...
Read more of Blues In Britain Magazine, Issue 152, August 2014
On a beautiful summers day Blues in Britain met with Zoe and Rob and asked them about their usicl backgrounds, current projects and plan s for the future.
Zoe: I started singing very early. My Mum was a classical music teacher and the house was full of music, but nothing...
Read more of Blues In Britain Magazine, Issue 151, July 2014
Sometimes you see a band and enjoy them the first time but less so on repeated viewings. Quite the opposite with this band which seems to get better each time I see them. The reason for this must be the quality of the musicians, the inventiveness of the material and the variety of music...
Read more of Blues Matters Magazine, Issue 77, April/May 2014
Closing Friday night in the packed JAKs bar was ZOE SCHWARZ BLUE COMMOTION, new to the Blues Matters stage. Zoe and the band take pride in filling their live sets and albums with vibrant and very distinct original numbers. Fronting the band, Zoe oozed class; she commanded the stage...
Read more of Classic Rock's 'The Blues Magazine', Issue 12, Apr/May 2014
Liberated Woman (from The Blues Don't Scare Me) on the cover mount CD.
"... The die-hard blues fans are drawn to the jazz sophistication of Zoe Schwarz' effortless phrasing in duo mode with Rob Koral." exert from 'The Great British Rock & Blues Festival, Jan 2014' live review
Read more of 2 U I BESTOW, Music Blog, 7th March 2014
Next in our look at the 2 U I Bestow Glastonbury Emerging Talent Contest hopefuls is Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion. Solid blues/country flare with energy to spare. Tremendously seductive vocals and incredible...
Read more of Blues Blast Magazine, USA, Issue 8-10 March 2014
“Well played and produced… The band is hugely experienced on both the blues and jazz circuits... Zoe’s vocal here is again outstanding…”
On the second CD from UK band Blue Commotion the band is Zoe...
Read more of Borough Blues Club, Pontypool, Newsletter March 2014
"one of the best evening’s entertainment we have ever had at the club"
We don’t get many lady vocalists at Borough Blues and, OK, Wales lost and it was another filthy night, but those who didn’t turn up to see Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion missed one...
Read more of Blues In Britain Magazine, Issue 147 March 2014
Crystal Palace is pretty much beyond the outer limits of my (public transport-limited) range for gig-going, but I didn't want to miss an act who have been making waves in the blues scene, particularly with their...
Read more of Blues In The North West .com & Lancashire Blues Archives
Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion are a six-piece outfit, based in the South of the UK. Fronting the band is Zoe Schwarz, with Rob Koral on guitars, Si Genaro on harmonica/backing vocals, Pete Whittaker on Hammond organ, Pat Davey on bass and Paul Robinson on drums...
Read more of Classic Rock Magazine, March 2014 Issue 194
Rising fast on the circuit, Zoe Schwarz's writing partnership with Rob Koral also steps up on this second album. The blues don't scare her, and nor does any other genre: songs roam from the barn-burning title track to the rootsy Liberated Woman and the...
Read more of Classic Rock’s The Blues Magazine – Issue 11 Jan/Feb 2014
Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion and the 100 Club would have been a perfect fit in the pre punk, jazz and blues era.
Faced with the problem of putting across their subtle brand of blues after the barn burning,...