April 19, 2005
In a world infatuated with hip hop, young African-American blues guitarists are a rare commodity. Rarer yet are those whose touch, tone, and vibe recall such Chicago blues greats as Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, and Otis Rush in their youth. Meet Kirk Fletcher: Still in his ’20s, he plays with the conviction and authority of a seasoned vet, yet burns with a young man’s fire. Fletcher favors toothy Strat tones, stinging bends, and flurries of tight, staccato riffs that seem to pop from his fretboard like little firecrackers. His touch is supple and his fingering fluid, yet his phrases never sound slick or contrived. Fletcher and his no-B.S. band cover blues classics by B.B. King, Willie Dixon, and Magic Sam; toss in some R&B (including Percy Mayfield’s “The River’s Invitation” and a funky take on Booker T. & the MG’s “Hip Hug Her”); and cap things off with modern offerings from the likes of the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ Kim Wilson. Fresh, vital blues.