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I was just 16 they offered to take me on tour. They wanted to teach me about all sides of the business, from life on the road to performing on stage. They would practice alongside me for hours late into the night.”


The band booked Oli a date in a recording studio and told him he’d have to write two songs and sing them himself, something he’d never done before. On his return to the UK he was contacted by a German record label Ruf Records who had heard the tracks. They came over to see him play at The Blueberry pub in Norwich and signed him on the spot. They recorded his first album Open Road when Oli was just 18.


That album got Oli noticed on the national scene and within two years he had a second to his name Heads I Win Tails You Lose. Not only did it get him a spot at Glastonbury, it was voted one of the Best Blues Album of the year followed by a British Blues Award of Best Male Vocalist and Best Young Artist of 2010.


More awards followed – but for Oli the most import- ant thing was that it allowed him to get out on the road, get gigs and play. Sometimes this would be with his own band – and other times for Blues acts such as John Mayall and Blues Caravan.


These were amazing highs for someone just starting out. “It was both humbling and motivating to see crowds outside of your home-town liking you. I also got to learn so much about tour planning, booking hotels, what the venues needed from me. I was great at putting together a spreadsheet with every- thing on it for the band and the venues, so everyone knew what was happening!”


Oli was in effect running a small business, all of which was to stand him in good stead in future years. But it was being on stage that gave him the real buzz. “With Blues guitar you have to be ready to improvise all the time but when it works and you and the music come together, it’s incredible. These days you can see your gigs again on YouTube – but for me looking back at them misses what you feel when you are there in the moment.”


Aſter carving a successful career, Oli took the deci- sion to call a halt and start again. “I loved the Blues, but I wanted to try something different. I wanted to show that this time I could use everything I’d learned and start from scratch without other people doing everything for me.”


He formed Raveneye, a new name for a new project and a new Oli, alongside bassist Aaron Spiers and drummer Adam Breeze. This was a hi-energy Rock outfit that soon began to attract its own community at gigs. The band were taken on as main support to Kiss in 2017 playing Moscow, Copenhagen and outdoor festivals of 25,000 in the likes of the Czech


10 / FEB-MAR 2019 / OUTLINEONLINE.CO.UK


Republic. “We achieved so much,” said Oli, “with lots of highs and lows along the way. We proved we could do it all ourselves.”


Currently Raveneye are taking a break from touring to write their new album. That gives Oli time to take another look at The Blues. “I’d always wanted to do both, it’s such an important part of me but I couldn’t do Blues and Raveneye at the same time. I needed a bit of a normal life too, so I decide to use the time between Rock tours to get back to my roots.” Last year Oli started a 10th year Anniversary Blues tour which took in the Norwich Arts Centre. Now in 2019 he has another short Oli Brown UK Blues tour booked and once more heads to the City, this time in the intimate and seated venue that is The Maddermarket.


For a Blues guitarist and writer, Oli is almost at the start of his career. You need life experiences to make the most of that genre, it seems. But for anyone go- ing to see Oli this March, you will not find a novice, more a mature and accomplished local act who has won over a national audience and undoubtedly has so much more to give.


Raveneye will launch their new album in April 2019. Words Gary Standley


Check out the Oli Brown Blues Tour on 27th March at The Maddermarket, Norwich For more information visit facebook.com/olibrownofficial


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