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Cage-fighting bluesman Kris Barras plays Sittingbourne tonight

The original street-fighting guitar man is heading to Swale for what promises to be a sell-out show.

Former cage-fighter turned blues singer Kris Barras was last in Kent in July for Maidstone’s Ramblin’ Man Music Fair as a newcomer.

Since then, the 32-year-old has signed a record deal, completed a successful European tour and been voted one of Britain’s best blues guitarists.

Kris Barras. Picture: Marcin Kaniak (1331087)
Kris Barras. Picture: Marcin Kaniak (1331087)

He is tipped as a rising star and been snapped up to play Sittingbourne’s Bourne To The Blues club tonight (Wednesday, March 28).

Advance interest has proved so great, club founder Mark Matthews has been forced to move the show from the original Ypres Tavern to the UKP Leisure Club in Remembrance Avenue.

Mark said: “We are very proud and excited to announce we have already sold so many tickets we have had to move it to a much larger venue. We are also very lucky to have Jack Hutchinson starting the evening as a special guest acoustic support.”

The gig is part of Kris’s first headline tour to promote his new album The Divine and the Dirty on the Mascot Label Group home to international acts such as Robert Cray, Joe Bonamassa, Walter Trout and Eric Gales.

He will return to the Ramblin’ Man Fair on July 1.

Kris Barras. Picture: Marcin Kaniak (1331089)
Kris Barras. Picture: Marcin Kaniak (1331089)

He said: “Last year we were one of the acts on the Rising Stage. It was a great platform to showcase the band and allowed us to bump into some of the people from the Mascot Label Group in the VIP bar. Nothing happened for about five months and then we signed in about a week.”

Torquay-born Kris has played Leo’s Red Lion in Gravesend but this will be his first venture to Sittingbourne.

He had his first acoustic guitar bought for him when he was six by his late Dad who sang and played bass in a covers band in the West Country.

After showing a natural aptitude, Kris signed up for music lessons and by nine was performing Hendrix, Stones, Gary Moore and Lynyrd Skynyrd covers alongside his father.

But in his teens his attention was diverted to the dubious joys of mixed martial arts and he ended up as a cage-fighter performing to crowds of up to 8,000 across the UK, Thailand and Las Vegas where he rubbed shoulders with stars of stage and screen.

Kris Barras. Picture Andrew Knowles (1331091)
Kris Barras. Picture Andrew Knowles (1331091)

He said: “People used to think I was crazy to be fighting in cages, risking damage to my hands but the truth is, I always enjoyed it and found the fighting world offered me more opportunities than the music industry.

“I got to fight in front of 8,000 people in Asia. I would much rather have played to them instead of getting punched in the face.”

He has also had to cope with the death of his dad at 54 from cancer and watching his own music shop go bust at the age of 19, two events which inspired him to write two tracks.

Watching Over Me is about his father. Kris said: “It is a really emotional song for me. I think he’d be proud of what I’m doing.”

Kris Barras. Picture: Marcin Kaniak (1331085)
Kris Barras. Picture: Marcin Kaniak (1331085)

I Don’t Owe Nobody Nothing is about his foray into business. He said: “The shop was amazing for the first year but then the financial crisis hit and it all went t*ts up and I went bankrupt. After that, I vowed I would never, ever get in any debt or rely on anyone else.”

Today, he co-owns two gyms in the West Country and still trains and teaches fighters.

He admitted: “Fighting was an adrenaline thing. I got a massive buzz doing it. It was incredible. You’re under incredible amounts of pressure. If you put a foot wrong, you don’t just lose, you can lose your teeth.

"But I thrive on pressure, whether that’s fighting or music.”

His blend of soul-wrenching melodies with blistering technique and the band’s foot-stomping riffs has made it one of the 'must-see' blues bands of 2018.

Tickets to the Sittingbourne show are £10 on the door or from bournetotheblues@gmail.com.

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