He’s a four-time Blues Music Award winner, a 2015 British Blues Award nominee, and has released three acclaimed studio albums. He’s played with legendary artists – including Joe Bonamassa, with whom he collaborated on the Grammy-nominated Live at the Greek Theatre album – and spent three years as lead guitarist for the Fabulous Thunderbirds. And his playing has been hailed as “so soulful and straight-from-the-heart that it blows people’s minds”… So it’s fairly safe to say that securing the legendary Kirk Fletcher for no less than three local performances is a pretty big coup for Cyprus!
Performing on December 12 at Savino Live in Larnaca, December 13 at Kiklos Mousiki in Limassol, and on December 14 at Red Live in Nicosia, Kirk is taking in Cyprus as part of a world tour to promote his new album, Hold On. Having already visited the Netherlands and France (and with upcoming gigs in California, Florida, Bristol and Austria), the renowned Blues guitarist is all set to bring his “sublime vocal delivery” and “toothy Strat tones, stinging bends, and flurries of tight, staccato riffs that pop from his fretboard like little firecrackers” to Cyprus, courtesy of Cloud10 Music.
While here, he’ll be accompanied by The Zilla Project, Cyprus’ own renowned Blues band, consisting of Nikolas Melis on the keys, Loizos Pafitis on bass, Stefanos Meletiou on drums, and Emmanuel Vourakis on vocals and electric guitar – all of whom are “incredibly excited” to be playing with this legend in the making. “Speaking for the whole band,” says Emmanuel, “we’ve been huge fans of Kirk’s for well over a decade. There are,” he adds, “a lot of people who are credited these days as great Blues guitar players, but Kirk is the real deal: not just a name, but one of the few who still carries the torch of the late Blues greats, like Freddie King, BB King, Albert King, Muddy Waters, Albert Collins.
“I would dare to say,” Emmanuel enthuses, “that this may well be the most significant Blues music event which has happened in Cyprus to date. Blues is not about what you play, but how you play it: Blues virtuosity comes from the heart, not from the fingers and the brain. So whenever you have the chance to see a craftsman of Kirk’s calibre doing what they do best – regardless of whether you are a fan of the exact genre – you’re going to feel it. It’s pure energy.”
According to organisers, Kirk’s playing – and singing – boasts this energy in spades. But in person, he’s delightfully laid-back, with a real warmth of personality and an enchantingly humble dedication to his craft. “The Blues,” he explains in his honey-soft southern tones, “is about connecting with people. It’s about connecting on that emotional level, moving people from the heart and maybe putting something on their mind that they can relate to.”
Having grown up with the genre – “it’s kind of my culture and heritage in a way; a natural progression. My family is from Arkansas; I have fond memories as a teenager listening to early rock and roll and I love old gospel music” – Kirk has been playing guitar from the age of eight, when he began performing with his older brother in his father’s church. Testament to his talent, Kirk’s career has undergone an epic rise since then but he’s never lost sight of the roots of his chosen genre…
“Blues feels like you’re stripping away all that excess stuff. It’s like gumbo in the south, or rice in Japan,” he adds with a gentle laugh. “You’re getting back to the absolute roots. I’m a person who loves simplicity to start with, and the Blues speaks to me on that heartfelt level – it’s true emotion. Maybe,” he suggests, “Blues needs to get back: back to the song, back to relating to people. There’s enough bad stuff going on; everyone has their own stuff, their own story, we’re all different… But just sharing those stories, talking, thinking about the human element: that’s what Blues draws from. It’s the story of your experiences, the original song. The Blues,” he concludes, “is a way we can relate to each other on a very human level…”
Playing live with The Zilla Project at Savino Live on December 12 (9.30pm), Kiklos Mousiki on December 13 (9.30pm), and Red Live on December 14 (10pm). Tickets are €20 presale and €25 on the door. Visit www.soldoutticketbox.com/kirkfletchercy to book. For more information, call 99 498642 or visit the Facebook event ‘Kirk Fletcher – 3 Live Shows in Cyprus’