An all-female band playing the music of the mighty Led Zeppelin? Yes, it's true – and they rock almost as hard as the originals. Lez Zeppelin are the brainchild of New York guitarist Steph Paynes, a former music journalist who, after a two year stint as singer/guitarist with Ronnie Spector, decided to form a band so she could indulge her passion for Jimmy Page's guitar work. Their first album, Lez Zeppelin, their take on Led Zep's 1969 debut, was released in 2007 and produced by Eddie Kramer, the engineer on Led Zeppelin ll, Physical Graffiti and The Song Remains The Same. This is Lez Zep's first UK tour since they took the Download festival by storm in 2007.
Nashville-based Bob Wayne carries the torch for Outlaw Country music – but adds a modern punkabilly snarl of his own. In true Outlaw Country tradition his songs often deal with the spiritual torment of living life pulled between good and evil or about cutting loose and partying. The first song he wrote as a solo artist, Devil's Son, influenced by Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, is typical of his work, telling the story of a guy who journeys to Nashville and wrestles with a few demons. He says:
"When people listen to my records I want it to be like a movie where it takes them through different emotions. You're happy at some points, there's a sad part, a weird scary part. I try to fit the spectrum of everything where you're entertained, because it's basically entertainment mixed with real life experience.''
Outlaw punkabilly: Bob Wayne (pic: Jose Luis Carnes)
Noumoucounda Cissoko (June 26 @ Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham) He has been dubbed the 'new Jimi Hendrix of Africa' but instead of a guitar Senegal-born Noumoucounda plays a kora, an instrument that's like a cross between a harp and a lute.
Harp-lute: a kora
On his debut UK tour, accompanied by a guitarist and percussionist, he will perform blues, jazz and rock, laced with traditional Senegalese pop and hip-hop. Previously he has worked with Youssop Ndour and Lara Fabian and with the kora becoming a dynamic instrument in his hands he has worked on the Dakar hip-hop scene with the likes of Awar Didier and Positive Black Soul. Expect songs dealing with social issues and tracks from new album, Falings.
African Jimi Hendrix: Noumoucounda Cissoko
Aynsley Lister (July 5 @ Robin 2, Bilston) Leicester-born Aynsley Lister is a leading light in the resurgence of British blues-infused music. In 2007 he was the only British artist to be named in Classic Rock magazine's 'Top 10 Contemporary Blues Artists', alongside musical heavyweights John Mayer and Joe Bonamassa. The 36-year-old first picked up a guitar at the age of eight, teaching himself to play by copying his favourite records by Peter Green, Eric Clapton and Paul Kossoff. Having signed with Ruf Records in 1998 he supported Walter Trout, John Mayall and Robert Cray on tour. More recently he has opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd and released the live album, Tower Sessions, which was voted Best Live Album in the 2011 Blues Matters Writers Poll. He's now set to release his tenth album, Home, on his own label, Straight Talkin' Records.
Leading light: Aynsley Lister (pic: Marco von Rooijen)