"Music is a release for me. When I play, I get lost in it. It's a very happy place to be."
Aynsley Lister is one of the UK’s hottest contemporary blues guitarists – many consider him to be among the best in the world. His unique brand of blues-based rock delivers contemporary song writing fueled with the kind of heart and soul that’s missing from so much modern music. Whether passionately writing and recording his own material or mesmerising audiences at his live shows, one thing is abundantly clear: music is hard-wired to his DNA and flows from his fingertips like sonic bolts of lightning. With over 100,000 albums sold, lashings of critical acclaim and years of high profile touring, Lister’s resumé speaks for itself and firmly secures his position as a leading light in the resurgence of British blues-infused music.
In hindsight, it’s clear Aynsley was born to be a musician. As a child he was hypnotised by his dad’s old guitar and at the age of eight was finally gifted his very own. The moment he held that first six-string the outcome was inevitable; he was going to be a guitarist. Blessed with the coolest dad in town, regularly spinning Hendrix, Cream, Fleetwood Mac and a whole host of bewitching blues for his spellbound son, Aynsley taught himself to play with relentless dedication and a precociously attuned ear, spending hours copying his favourite records note for note. Peter Green, Albert King, Clapton and Kossoff weren’t just his heroes; they became his teachers.
“His guitar playing is a fire hazard”
Blazing a trail in a bar band from the age of 13 honed his skills. By 18 he’d started singing and had also formed his first group, during which time he landed a dream support slot with Buddy Guy and released two low key CD’s featuring his earliest original material. In 1998 those self-penned titles caught the attention of Ruf Records owner Thomas Ruf, who immediately signed Aynsley and hooked him up with Stevie Ray Vaughan’s producer Jim Gaines.
With a maturity that belied his years, the self titled debut announced Aynsley Lister as a major new talent and kicked off a successful relationship with Ruf Records, releasing 7 albums and 2 DVD’s in ten years. Their influence, coupled with his dynamite live shows and an intense touring schedule, earned high profile support slots with established artists like Walter Trout, John Mayall and Robert Cray, whilst rousing festival appearances alongside artists like the Fun Lovin’ Criminals cemented his standing as an artist whose work, although rooted in blues, transcended the genre with a fiery modern sound that was eagerly embraced by fans of rock, pop, soul and acoustic music alike. In 2007 Aynsley was the only British artist to be named in Classic Rock magazine’s “Top 10 Contemporary Blues Artists”, alongside John Mayer, Derek Trucks and Joe Bonamassa.
“His guitar playing is a fire hazard”
In 2008 Aynsley’s huge crossover potential then saw him sign to Manhaton Records, where he released his ‘Equilibrium’ and ‘Tower Sessions’ albums. Produced by Steve Darrel Smith and featuring Paul McCartney guitarist Robbie Macintosh, 2009’s ‘Equilibrium’ exposed Lister in his best ever form, throwing all his musical influences into a delicious melting pot that delivered sultry melodies, full throttle hard rock riffage and introspective ballads. ‘Equilibrium’ received fantastic reviews and stormed into Classic Rock’s Top 50 Albums of 2009. The subsequent tour saw Aynsley playing to sold out shows to over 16,000 people whilst opening for the legendary Lynyrd Skynyrd, after which he and his band relocated to the Tower Arts Centre and with the tape rolling, nailed a cracking rendition of their high-octane live set to produce the storming ‘Tower Sessions’ record, which was consequently voted ‘Best Live Album’ in the 2011 Blues Matters Writers Poll.
In 2013, Aynsley then completely bucked the trend and moved away from the traditional format, going into partnership with his wife, Stephanie Lister, and launching their own record label, Straight Talkin’ Records. The pair have since released two of the most successful albums of Aynsley’s career under their own steam. ‘Home’, released in 2013, garnered the guitar ace the ‘Songwriter of the Year’ award at the British Blues Awards and ‘Eyes Wide Open’, released on October 7 2016, saw him confidently pursuing his own musical path. Self-assured, inventive and richly-textured, Aynsley brings his 18 years of hard touring, 11 album releases (eight studio and three live) and all his experience as a musician to fruition on Eyes Wide Open.