The queen of European blues guitar, Erja Lyytinen is a dynamic, electrifying performer.

Taking her cue from the greats – Aretha Franklin, KokoTaylor, and Bonnie Raitt – the Finnish virtuoso is a true show woman. But, while the passion may be natural, she employs an athlete’s approach to her stagecraft which keeps her music sharp – and in our face.

“I always try to warm up my fingers and the whole body, as I like moving and rocking on stage and I don’t want to get any muscle strains,” says the artist, and European Blues Award winning guitarist.

“Performing is like running a little marathon, very empowering but also consuming as I am trying to give 110 per cent on stage in every way.

“I always hum a bit and do vocal exercises. Doing hair and make-up is a kind of ritual in a way too. It helps me to relax before the show. I always like to change my outfit for a gig. Dressing up has always been important to me, I like nice clothes and I invest in clothing and shoes. All these things prepare me for the stage. Then right before the curtains open, me and my band get together showing support and good mood to each other.”

A product of Finland’s Kuopio Conservatory, Malmö Music Academy and Copenhagen’s Rytmisk Konservatorium, Erja has a Master of Music degree from Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.

Prolific, she has released 10 albums, starting with 2002’s Attention!and including 2006 LP Dreamland Blues, recorded in Oxford, Mississippi with David Kimbrough and Kinney Kimbrough, sons of Mississippi blues master Junior Kimbrough.

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On Wednesday (March 27) she trades The Magnolia State for the original Oxford, for a gig at The Bullingdon.

The show will see her showing off her trademark hard-edged blues fused with r&b. It also sees her showing off her new album.

“It is so different compared to my other albums,” says Erja, who has shared bills with such illustrious company as Walter Trout, Carlos Santana, Southside Johnny, John Mayall, Wishbone Ash and Joe Bonamassa.

“I have gone deeper with my songwriting and worked very hard with the guitar parts. And there are a lot of guitar tracks!

“This one is also very empowering for me. After Stolen Hearts, which was kind of a break-up album, it was so nice to write strong songs, have a bit of anger relief and have some fun too!

“We got some funky tracks, a bit of ‘60s Deep Purple-kind of vibe in a couple of songs, some progressive rock and even slightly punk vibes on the album too.

“I also got some stupendous guests on the album, rock guitarist Jennifer Batten and slide guitar master Sonny Landreth. They are both having great careers and are unique guitarists and they were super cool to work with.”

The album was mixed in Austin Texas by Chris Bell.

“He has mixed some of my favourite guitar players and bands, like Eric Johnson and Mississippi All Stars,” says Erja. “So, it was simply cool to get to work with him on this album and I am very pleased with the results.”

With Erja spending long spells on the road, she admits that preparing for a tour is a serious business.

“Last year we played around 130 shows around Europe, so I have got used to being away from home. I enjoy touring very much and meeting new people.

“Being on stage and performing is important to me and I want to give my best at each and every show.

“It’s a lot of fun, but of course you need home time and breaks too, so, I got some tricks for trying to keep my head straight while touring. I always try to see tourist attractions, wherever we are going. That way you don’t end up just spending your time in the bus or at backstage. I usually also take along jogging gear, so I can go for a little run, if I feel like it.”

The Oxford Times:

She also catches other shows – particularly those by other blues legends. So what’s been the best? “Definitely seeing Carlos Santana playing live, supporting his band and then getting to actually play with his band on that very same night,” she says. “That was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced in my life as a musician.

“It was very inspirational for me in so many ways and I feel that I got some of that magic dust of Carlos on my new songs too. His band is so organic, very rhythmical, so professional, the whole production is enormous and most of all – they were having so much fun on stage, that I hope I will have that energy still when I´m getting close to 70!”

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And what is the best thing about playing live?

“I love that moment when I forget that I am on stage, I am inside the music, the emotion is taking me away and you feel something mystical is in the air,” she says.

“I love playing long improvisational solos too. You never know where you end up, and every time the solo you play is a bit different and that’s interesting and makes you want to improve yourself as a guitarist.

“Also interacting with the audience is great. I have a slow song called Slowly Burning where my band stops playing and I start to sing the story a cappella.

“It is a very deep moment for me and for the audience and many times after performing that certain song, people give a lot of feedback how that moment has taken them to somewhere – like it has taken me.

“I also like to have fun on stage, tell jokes and make the audience sing with me. Every gig should make us forget our everyday problems and let us enjoy the music!”

Erja Lyytinen plays The Bullingdon, Cowley Road, Oxford, on Wednesday. Tickets from wegottickets.com