Rising blues star offers Hastings date

Toby Lee (contributed pic)Toby Lee (contributed pic)
Toby Lee (contributed pic)
19-year-old guitarist and singer Toby Lee is playing 100 shows in the UK and Europe this year, including 65 as Jools Holland’s special guest. One of those Jools shows is at the White Rock Theatre, Hastings on June 15.

Toby admits he can't quite believe the turn this year has taken for him: “I've not yet really taken in everything that is happening. Everything has happened quite quickly. I'm hoping that I'll catch up with it one day!”

Celebrated as Young Blues Musician of the Year in 2023 Toby is no stranger to the stage learning his trade as Zack Mooneyham in the first West End production of School of Rock and sharing stages with blues heavyweights including his hero Joe Bonamassa. He has also performed alongside Buddy Guy, Billy Gibbons, Peter Frampton and Slash and has a new original album releasing this year

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“With the Jools Holland tour, that came about because I was really, really fortunate enough to go on Cerys Matthews’ show on Radio 2 show and the producer from that is very friendly with Jools. He does a lot of work with Jools and basically he was involved in filming a documentary with a big American movie team about blues music but blues music in the UK and particularly in London. There were a good few people involved and because the prominent person playing that kind of music in this country is Jools it was filmed in his studio and I was asked to come along as the representative of the youth side of the music. That was the first time that I met Jools and he is just lovely. I can't tell you how well we get along. We're both massively into classic cars and old music and it just felt that it was so much meant to be.

“I was in a meeting with my manager and they decided to leave it until the last minute to say but they told me that I was going on tour with Jools Holland for 30 shows. That was just a couple of days after the filming. It was originally 30 shows and then it doubled and a bit to become 65 shows with him. My family are just massive, massive Jools Holland fans. For that kind of music there are not many people that are still holding the torch for it but he does, and what he does is absolutely incredible. When I was asked to go on tour with him, it was just the most incredible offer. There was no thinking other than what other word can I say other yes that might sound a bit better!

“The back story to me is that I got a ukulele when I was four years old. We have a very musical household. I was never that kid that played computer games. All my friends did but I gravitated much more to the creative side. I was rubbish at art but I saw a drum kit in the corner that belonged to my dad. I loved it but the neighbours didn't and my drumming came to an end but I picked up a little ukulele instead and it just became a comfort blanket for me. I would feel ill if I didn't have it and through trial and error I learnt little bits and bobs and then stumbled across the blues. For me it was a complete revelation. There are so many genres that are covered within that type of music. There are such variations.

"For me it gave me such a versatile genre that I could play with.”

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