Kirk Fletcher – My Blues Pathway
Format: CD – Vinyl – Digital / Label: Cleopatra Records
Release: 2020

Tekst: Fons Delemarre

Kirk Fletcher is een begenadigd gitarist. Hij speelde ooit in de Fabulous Thunderbirds (2005-2008) Ook werkte hij samen met Joe Bonamassa en Charlie Musselwhite. Vanaf 2010 was hij niet alleen actief met zijn eigen band, maar ook als lid van The Mannish Boys en als gitarist bij Eros Ramazotti. Een selectie van albums waar Fletcher op meespeelt –afkomstig van Wikipedia- staat aan het einde van deze bespreking.

Ondanks zijn ruime en zeer gevarieerde muzikale geschiedenis ontbreekt het Fletcher aan een eigen, herkenbaar, geluid. Dat geldt zowel voor zijn gitaarspel als voor zijn zang. Hij heeft een prachtig, warm, subtiel geluid (Fender Stratocaster, natuurlijk), maar geen eigen, signature sound. Hetzelfde geldt voor zijn stem: een mooi, donker geluid, zonder een echt eigen stempel. Bij besprekingen van zijn albums worden voortdurende vergelijkingen gemaakt met grootheden als Eric Clapton, Robben Ford en –met name- Robert Cray.
Gitaarspel, zang en composities –zowel eigen nummers als covers- doen onvermijdelijk méér denken aan de invloed van Robert Cray, dan aan een persoonlijk, typisch Kik Fletcher geluid. Voortdurend denk je: ‘klinkt als….’, zonder dat de naam van Fletcher je meteen te binnen schiet.

Een en ander laat onverlet dat hij mooie albums heeft gemaakt; ‘Shades Of Blue’ (2003) is mijn persoonlijke favoriet. Zijn nieuwe album heet ‘My Blues Pathway’. Een zeer correcte titel, want Fletcher laat in tien nummers horen waar hij de bluesmosterd vandaan heeft gehaald. Akoestische blues, Texasshuffles, Stax soulblues, het is allemaal te horen op ‘My Blues Pathway’.

De uitgebreide beschrijving per nummer is afkomstig van   zijn eigen website en geeft een aardig beeld van zijn inspiratiebronnen en muzikale voorbeelden.

01. Ain’t No Cure For The Downhearted (Fletcher
02. No Place To Go (Cousins, Fletcher
03. Love Is More Than A Word (Fletcher)
04. Struggle For Grace (Fletcher)
05. Rather Fight Than Switch (AC Reed)
06. Heart So Heavy (Fletcher
07. Fattening Frogs For Snakes (Sonny Boy Williamson)
08. Place In This World Somewhere (Chris Cain
09. D Is For Denny (Fletcher)
10. Life Gave Me A Dirty Deal (Juke Boy Bonner)

Website: Kirk Fletcher

PhotoCredit: ©Rick Gould


01. Ain’t No Cure For The Downhearted
This song is about people who shift the blame of all the things in their life that they regret. People who judge their life by other people’s success or their so-called happiness. One must find happiness from within. A line in the song says, “Do you still dream or are you led by a screen”. We must think for ourselves and follow our passions if it doesn’t harm anyone or anything.

02. No Place To Go
Simply one man’s desire to have wealth and what he or she may have to give up getting it. While another man or woman may see wealth as having someone to love them. Sort of like the old saying, “the grass is always greener on the other person’s lawn in a way.” Hopefully as you grow you realise you must live your own life. This song was a co-written with Robert Cray’s longtime bass guitarist, Richard Cousins.

03. Love Is More Than A Word
I got the inspiration originally from listening to a friend talk about his marriage. I was so moved by the things he said. I was just before tracking the song listening to a lot of Southern Soul music. The classic story of love lost, and Soul music go together like a hand in a glove. This is another co-write with Richard Cousins.

04.Struggle For Grace
This song is somewhat autobiographical set to a classic minor blues feel. This song somewhat tells my story and my struggles. It talks about the legacy I want to leave the legacy that I view a lot of my heroes left. The struggles of having dignity and grace in this cyber world we live in.

05. Rather Fight Than Switch
This song was written by Singer and saxophone player AC Reed. He played with Albert Collins and Earl Hooker to name a few. To me this song is somewhat humorous, but it does put some of my thoughts into words and a great song. The older I get the more I don’t want to compromise.

06. Heart So Heavy
Heart so heavy is about a woman breaking a man’s heart. I think this is one of the reasons blues
music was invented! I wanted to add my own contribution to it. I love taking classic blues
phrases both lyrically and guitar wise and put my own personal spin on them. Times change but then people don’t. So, I feel heartbreak is still current.

07. Fattening Frog’s For Snakes
This song is written by the great Sonny Boy Williamson. I have always loved this song. To me it means that I am going to stand up for myself. And not make another person rich while you get nothing in return, for your hard work. If you wanted to you could apply this to American politics, but I won’t here.

08. Place In The World Somewhere
This song was composed by my dear friend and blues great Chris Cain. I have been a huge fan of his music for many years. The song means to me a kind of observation of the world through the eyes of a working man and the struggles to make it from day to day. He is trying to find worth and what kind of legacy he will leave. These lyrics just resonate with me so much.

09. D Is For Denny
When I finally turned 21 and could legally go in bars in the 90’s there was this guitarist from Texas named Denny Freeman. Denny was always a great inspiration to me. He was my first big link to Texas blues and for him to be living in Los Angeles for a time was priceless. He would tell me about Texas guys like Lightnin’ Slim and Juke Boy Bonner. Denny played in bands with both the Vaughan brothers so that was special for me at that time. But I soon learned that Denny was an incredible musician in his own right. So, I wrote this instrumental to honor him and Texas blues.

10. Life Gave Me A Dirty Deal
Written by Juke Boy Bonner, I feel these lyric’s in a special way. So many times, people smile to hide a life of sadness. In this song Juke Boy explains how it really is or can be for a person. I was so honored to have my old boss and blues legend Charlie Musselwhite play Harmonica on this song. I come to find out Charlie did shows with Juke Boy. My old buddy Josh Smith played some National Resophonic guitar, too.

Photo Credit: © Rick Gould


1999: The Henry Gray/Bob Corritore Sessions,  Vol. 1: Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest : Bob Corritore / Henry Gray. KF:  Guitar
2000: World Wide Wood : Lynwood Slim KF: Guitar
2001: Smokin’ Joint : Kim Wilson KF: Guitar
2003: Lonesome Moon Trance : James Harman KF: Guitar
2004: That Represent Man : The Mannish Boys KF: Guitar
2005: Painted On : The Fabulous Thunderbirds KF: Guitars
2006: Last Call : Lynwood Slim KF: Guitar, Vocals (Background)
2007: Big Plans : The Mannish Boys KF: Guitar
2009: Simple Things : Chantelle Barry KF: Guitar (Electric)
2010: Live on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise : Joe Louis Walker KF: Guitar
2010: Shake for Me : The Mannish Boys KF: Composer, Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm)
2012: Longtime Friends in the Blues : Bob Corritore / Tail Dragger Jones KF: Guitar
2012: Double Dynamite : The Mannish Boys : Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm)
2012: Close to the Bone: Unplugged : Bnois King / Smokin’ Joe Kubek KF: Guitar (Acoustic)
2013: Shiver and Sigh : Kara Grainger KF: Guitar (Rhythm)
2014: Wrapped Up and Ready : The Mannish Boys KF: Composer, Guitar, Guitar (Rhythm)
2015: Bonetime : James Harman KF: Guitar
2015: Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks : Joe Bonamassa KF: Guitar
2016: Live at the Greek Theater : Joe Bonamassa KF: Guitar (Rhythm)
2016: Hard Times, Bad Decisions : Lisa Mann KF: Guitar
2016: Near Life Experience : Scott Kinsey KF: Guitar