Kirk Fletcher has a reputation as a bonafide can’t-miss performer. His soulful playing and singing never fails to elicit chills, and his unique approach to blues and roots music is both refreshingly modern and completely authentic. Widely considered one of the best blues guitarists in the world, he has commanded the respect and acclaim of critics, peers and fans across the globe. He is a four-time Blues Music Award and a 2015 British Blues Award nominee and has played with a variety of popular artists, including Joe Bonamassa and a three-year role as lead guitarist of The Fabulous Thunderbirds. He is also the frontman of his own Kirk Fletcher Band, having released three studio albums and a live album. A fourth studio album is currently in the works.
Musician and composer Michael Landau was born and raised in Los Angeles. He grew up with the music of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Cream and The Band. His grandfather arranged and played woodwinds during the swing era with the Dorsey Brothers and Benny Goodman. In his early teens, Michael quickly became very interested in jazz and electric jazz music. Weather Report, Pat Martino and Jaco Pastorius were some of his early obsessions. From this diverse blend of influence, his sound and path began to take shape. His current group focuses on the improvisation and spontaneity of live shows. “I live for those live moments when the sound and emotion becomes this monstrous force bigger than the individual musicians, it becomes a unique creation and feel, exciting and calming at the same time, difficult to describe but I’m addicted to it.”
He started seeking out other musicians at a young age who shared this same understanding – enter Al Blake, lead singer and harp player for the Hollywood Fats Band. After hosting dinner every Sunday, Al would offer Kirk early 20th Century blues records as dessert. He also helped establish connections to other famous West Coast blues artists like Junior Watson and Richard “Lynwood Slim” Duran. So followed Kirk’s first gigs as a blues guitarist and eventually the recording of his first album I’m Here & I’m Gone for the JSP label out of England.
Al Blake would also introduce Kirk to Kim Wilson of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, who invited him into his then-project, Kim Wilson’s Blues Revue. Wilson brought Fletcher further into the blues family from California to Texas and then out touring the world. One highlight during this time was at Antone’s Night Club 25th Anniversary Week in Austin, Texas, which gave Kirk the opportunity to perform with his blues heroes Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton and Hubert Sumlin. Wilson also tapped Kirk to play on his Grammy-nominated Smokin’ Joint live album. Shortly thereafter a call to collaborate came from blues legend Charlie Musselwhite, confirming that Kirk was becoming one of the most in-demand blues guitarists on the scene.
“This is where I really developed my own sound and Charlie was cool with me being me,” recalls Kirk. It also brought about his second solo recording titled Shades of Blue for Delta Groove Music. Timing couldn’t have been better to explore these shades of blues as Kirk collaborated a who’s who of blues players on the project, including singers Kim Wilson, Janiva Magness and Finis Tasby. Little did Kirk know that the timing would also line up for an open guitar slot with The Fabulous Thunderbirds around the same time.