As a two time W.C. Handy Award nominee, who has toured with Lynwood Slim, Janiva Magness, Charlie Musselwhite and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, as well as performing with James Cotton, Pine Top Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Mojo Buford, Ted Harvey, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Michael Landau, Elvin Bishop, Ronnie Earl, Doyle Bramhall, Michelle Branch and many more… Kirk Fletcher is considered one of the best young 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 90’s Kirk met Al Blake, frontman of the Hollywood Fats Band who became a mentor to the young guitarist. Blake introduced him to 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 JSP Label. “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 Review. “I played on and off with Kim for over 2 years....when he wasn’t working with the T-birds”, with theresults being the Grammy nominated album“Smoking Joint” .
In 2003 Kirk recorded his second album “Shades of Blue” 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 wasspecial 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”.
In recent years Kirk has been performing all over Europe as a headliner and occasionally touring in the U.S. with Doyle Bramhall and Michelle Branch. When home, he gives open counseling at Hollywood’s Guitar Institute of Technology.Currently he’s ready to release his third solo album, “My Turn”.
ABOUT THE MICHAEL LANDAU GROUP
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."
The following is a brief timeline of events over the years.
Michael starting playing guitar at age 11, at age 16 he began playing the L.A. club scene with an R&B band and shortly after he toured the west coast with Robben Ford which included band members Jimmy Haslip and Russell Ferrante.
At age 19 he joined Boz Scaggs for a world tour and by the age of 20 he started to do session work on the recommendation of long time friend Steve Lukather. Some session highlights over the coming years would include Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, BB King, James Taylor, Ray Charles and Rod Stewart. There is a complete session discography at allmusic.com with over 700 records and soundtracks listed.
In 1984 Michael toured again and recorded with Joni Mitchell. This tour was called "The Refuge Of The Roads". The band featured Vinnie Colaiuta, Larry Klein and Russell Ferrante.
In 1989 he released his first solo album "Tales from the Bulge", an instrumental record initially released in Japan and on Creatchy records in the US. Wayne Shorter, Steve Tavaglione, Vinnie Colaiuta, Carlos Vega, Steve Lukather and Jimmy Johnson were among some of the players on this release.
In 1991 he formed the band "Burning Water" with brother Teddy Landau, David Frazee and Carlos Vega. They put out 4 discs of original material and toured in Japan and the US. It was also around this time that he started to record and tour with James Taylor.
In 1993 he won the readers poll for Best Studio Guitarist in Guitar Player Magazine.
In 1994 Michael formed "The Raging Honkies", a naughty little trio with Teddy Landau and Abe Laboriel Jr. They released 2 discs and toured Europe and the US.
2001 saw the release of "Live 2000" and a studio album "The Star Spangled Banner" on his own indie label "Unconscious Records".
His most recent album, "The Michael Landau Group Live" was released in October '06 on Tone Center Records. Here's a quote from a review by John Kelman: "The Real Question, when a studio ace comes out of hiding and releases two hours of visceral material, is this: who is Michael landau when he's in total control of the situation? While his stylistic breadth elsewhere would suggest that this is only one part of the answer, "Live" posits him, amongst other things, as a powerful torchbearer for Jimi Hendrix, While the late Stevie Ray Vaughan was most often saddled with that accolade, Landau's broader language more accurately represents where Hendrix might be today, since the late guitar icon was clearly moving towards his own view of jazz in the final days before his tragic passing in 1970."
Michael currently tours and performs with his own group and a new band with Robben Ford, Jimmy Haslip and Gary Novak called "Renegade Creation". He can also be seen live with: Hazey Jane, Kirk Fletcher, The Jazz Ministry, Stolen Fish, Michelle Branch and James Taylor. He has produced and or mixed some selected artists and side projects including: Scott Henderson, The Jazz Ministry, Kirk Fletcher, Hazey Jane, The Dusty Meadows Band and Stolen Fish.
Michael's current heroes and influences are Kirk Fletcher, Dustin Boyer and Derek Trucks. He likes sandwiches, old things, the earth, playing music and spanning time with his beautiful wife Karen.