Fiona Boyes has made a name for herself on the blues circuit, but when it comes to the specific types of blues that she performs, the Australian singer/guitarist/songwriter has not been the least bit easy to categorize or pigeonhole apart from saying that she is blues-oriented. Listening to Boyes for an hour or even half-an-hour, one is likely to hear a very wide variety of blues or blues-related styles. Texas blues, Chicago blues, Louisiana swamp blues, Memphis blues, and Mississippi Delta blues are all fair game for Boyes, who is as comfortable rocking out and embracing electric urban blues as she is playing acoustic guitar and embracing down-home country blues. Boyes has never been a blues purist or a staunch blues traditionalist; rock & roll, soul, and jazz have influenced her work, and she obviously doesn't believe that a blues artist is obligated to favor a 12-bar format 100-percent of the time. But whatever she does -- whether she is getting into jump blues, early R&B, blues-soul, rockabilly, or '20s- and '30s-style classic female blues of the Bessie Smith/Ma Rainey/Victoria Spivey variety -- Boyes' work is always blues-related in some fashion. The artists Boyes has frequently found herself compared to include Bonnie Raitt, Marcia Ball, Susan Tedeschi, Lou Ann Barton, and Rory Block. Raitt, in fact, has been a major influence on Boyes, although Boyes' gritty work has a lot more in common with the Raitt of the '70s than with the sleeker, more polished and pop-minded Raitt of the late '80s, '90s and 2000s. But Raitt is only one of the countless artists who has had an impact on Boyes. An incredibly wide variety of artists has affected the eclectic Aussie to some degree, ranging from Smith, Rainey, Spivey, and Memphis Minnie to John Lee Hooker to Chicago-associated icons such as Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf, Koko Taylor, and Muddy Waters. Boyes obviously cherishes the Mississippi Delta country-blues of Robert Johnson and Son House, and she hasn't escaped the influence of Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin, either. Boyes was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, where she started making her presence felt in blues circles in the late '80s. It was in 1990 that Boyes and four other Australian women formed an all-female blues band called the Mojos, who recorded five albums in the '90s (The Mojos in 1990, Hardheaded Woman in 1991, Sassy Mama in 1995, Mumbo Gumbo in 1996 and Swing O'Clock Blues in 1999) and acquired a small following Down Under (the Mojos that Boyes was a part of shouldn't be confused with a British Invasion rock group of the '60s). But Boyes became a full-time solo artist in 2000, providing her first solo album, Blues in My Heart, that year; the acoustic Blues in My Heart was followed by Gimme Some Sweet Jelly Roll in 2003 and Live in Atlanta in 2004. In the mid-2000s, Boyes signed with the Memphis-based Yellow Dog label, which released Lucky 13 in 2006 and Blues Woman in 2009. ~ Alex Henderson
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