As a four-time Blues Music Award nominee and a 2015 British Blues Award nominee who has toured with Lynwood Slim, Janiva Magness, Charlie Musselwhite and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, as well as performing with James Cotton, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, the Hollywood Blue Flames, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Michael Landau, Elvin Bishop, Ronnie Earl, Doyle Bramhall, Michelle Branch, Joe Bonamassa and many more… Kirk Fletcher is widely considered one of the best guitar players on the blues scene today.
Born 1975 in Bellflower, California, Kirk began playing guitar at age eight after watching his brother Walter perform at their father’s church. At age twelve he attended the Long Beach Blues Festival where he saw the likes of Albert Collins, Bobby “Blue” Bland (accompanied by Wayne Bennett) and the Staple Singers. This was a life-changing experience for him, as he realized that this was the music he wanted to play.
While still in high school he discovered a small but legendary Los Angeles music store called Music Works, where he met owner Jim Foote, “Meeting Jim was invaluable in my search for tone and a better understanding of the mechanics of the instrument, and it was a very cool scene to be a part of... that’s how I met Jeff Rivera, who at the time was Robben Ford’s guitar tech. I got to assist him and be a fly on the wall to some of the most amazing musical events of my life up to that point... and it heightened my musicianship!” During this time he performed with R&B artist, Christopher Williams, and was playing gospel weekly at the House of Blues with Brent Jones & the T.P. Mob, where he also shared the stage with such artists as Stephanie Mills and Jackson Browne.
In the mid-‘90s Kirk met Al Blake, frontman of the Hollywood Fats Band, who became a mentor to the young guitarist. Blake introduced him to a wide variety of blues music, “Al hipped me to blues artists as diverse as the Mississippi Sheiks to Tommy Johnson... we’re talkin’ pre-Robert Johnson stuff... that’s how far back we went!” and it was through Blake he also met and bonded with guitarist Junior Watson, “Junior and I would get together, smoke cigars, drink tequila and talk guitars...”
Around this time Kirk met and sat in with harmonica legend Lynwood Slim, “I’m grateful to Slim for giving me a stage to play on...” and it was then that Kirk released his first solo effort, “I’m Here & I’m Gone,” for the London-based JSP Records. “It gave me a chance to pay tribute to my influences and to establish my solo career.” Kirk’s reputation was growing amongst harp players around town and through an introduction, again by Al Blake, Kirk sat in with Kim Wilson, and about a year later got a call to join Kim Wilson’s Blues Revue. “I played on and off with Kim for over two years... when he wasn’t working with the T-birds,” with the results being the 2001 Grammy-nominated album, “Smokin’ Joint.”
In 2003 Kirk recorded his second album, “Shades of Blue,” for Delta Groove Music, featuring guest vocalists Finis Tasby, Kim Wilson and Janiva Magness, and it brought him even greater attention in the blues community, “Charlie Musselwhite found out about me through blues musician Doug MacLeod… Charlie needed a guitar player and called me,” this gig was special for Kirk, “He gave me the freedom to find my voice on the guitar.” He spent three years touring with Charlie and feels that this is where he developed his unique style.
A year later, after another call from Kim, he joined the Fabulous Thunderbirds, where he contributed to and recorded on their “Painted On” album. “I made lifelong friends in Nick, Ronnie, Jimi, Steve and Gene.” In 2007 he gave notice in order pursue his solo career, and this is when he met up with legendary guitarist and producer, Michael Landau. “We first played together at the Baked Potato in L.A., quickly became friends, and really connected musically.”
Kirk Fletcher’s third album, “My Turn,” produced by Michael Landau, was released on Eclecto Groove Records in 2010 and finds Fletcher stretching out instrumentally and exploring new sonic territories on the guitar. In addition, Kirk also makes his surprising vocal debut on two songs, which includes the Jimmy Reed classic, “Found Love,” and an ultra-funky version of Sly Stone’s, “Let Me Have It All.”
In recent years Kirk has been performing all over Europe as a headliner and occasionally touring in the U.S. leading his own band, in addition to performing with a variety of popular artists including Joe Bonamassa.