With a propulsive drive that seems to erupt directly from a wounded soul, Aynsley Lister’s scorching guitar work sounds as though it could have come from an itinerant blues master of from ages past eager to escape a life of sharecropping. But as his name would suggest Aynsley is no Delta Bluesman. He’s one of several bright lights in the world of blues emerging from the United Kingdom.
When Lister first picked up the guitar at the age of eight, his earliest influences were British bluesmen of decades past. John Mayall, Peter Green and Eric Clapton were all early inspirations for the young Aynsley. And while his initial choice in guitar-slinging role models was made possible partly by limited access (these were the artists found in his father’s collection of 45s) it’s likely that national pride also factored into things.
If we fast-forward a generation or two we get to Aynsley Lister, a young guitar wizard whose guitar and vocal prowess owes much to a vast array of legends on both sides of the Atlantic.
At eighteen, already a veteran of many local bands, he formed one of his own and recorded Messin’ with the Kid and Pay Attention in 1996 and 97, prompting Thomas Ruf, owner of Ruf Records to sign Lister to a contract.
Lister’s first major release, a self-titled album followed in 1998, opening the door for a flood of opportunity for exposure, bringing his unmistakable sound to a diverse range of audiences. As an example of his varied appeal, Lister has opened for Buddy Guy, Bryan Adams, Fun Lovin Criminals, Robert Cray and childhood hero John Mayall.
Subsequent releases on the Ruf Records label include 2000’s Everything I need, Supakev 'n Pilchards (2002) All or Nothing (2002) 2004’s Live! and 2005’s Pilgrimage (both also released as DVDs) and Upside Down from 2007. 2008 saw Lister move to Manhattan with the release of Equilibrium, then Tower Sessions a year later.
It’s temping to see how much of Lister’s fretboard magic can indeed be transferred through lessons and how much can only be acquired through hard work, fortunate DNA and something in the waters of the UK.