Fab's Music Café: An Interview with Kirk Fletcher

Fab's Music Café: An Interview with Kirk Fletcher

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 Rhythm & Blues 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 released three studio albums and a live album. EARLY YEARS Kirk first picked up a guitar at age eight, playing alongside his older brother Walter in their father’s church. One day with his older brother, Kirk visited a small L.A. guitar shop, Music Works, which ultimately became his second home after meeting Jeff Rivera, Robben Ford’s guitar tech. “We started hanging out and I would help load gear, change strings and just be a fly on the wall to some of the most amazing music I’ve ever heard,” Kirk remembers. KIRK’S BLUES It was in the next few years that Kirk’s full introduction to traditional blues occurred. He started seeking out other musicians 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. 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. HIS TURN So began three years on the road with the Thunderbirds. Kirk contributed to the Thunderbirds’ Paint It On album and time spent with many famous blues artists along the way, including a brief stint with the late Doyle Bramhall Sr. and a few guest appearances playing for Cindi Lauper, Michelle Branch and a world tour with Italian mega-star Eros Ramazzotti. Kirk more recently has been part of two projects with close friend Joe Bonamassa, Muddy Wolf at Redrocks and the Grammy nominated Live at the Greek Theatre.

Duration: 16:54

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Orange Amps Launch Their Retro 1970s Effect Pedals
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Orange Amps Launch Their Retro 1970s Effect Pedals

Orange Amplification announces the return of three iconic effects pedals; the Orange Phaser, Orange Sustain and Orange Distortion — with the trio’s vintage characteristics reworked for the present day. The modern story of these classic units starts in 2019, when an Orange message board went viral for a photo of the long-discontinued Sustain pedal from the early 1970s, with its outsized form-factor and art nouveau typography. Not long after, the company found the original schematics and the project was started. The rest of the story writes itself: as more evidence was unearthed about the Sustain and its two brothers, the Distortion and Phaser, Orange set about remaking these beasts, retaining their most-loved qualities and incorporating the contemporary features; LEDs, DC inputs etc — expected on 21st-century effects pedals. The result is three seasoned British made pedals re-tuned and ready for the modern age. First up is the Orange Sustain, which smooths and regulates guitar sounds, acting like an overdrive for clean tones with added chime and warmth. Boosting volume without scuffing purity and making soft parts louder and the loud parts softer, it offers an expressive, nuanced and three-dimensional take on the sustain/compressor effect. Then there’s the Orange Phaser, the most elegantly simple of the reboots, with just one knob and one job: to bring sweet psychedelic swirl to any rig, its dial modulating guitar tones from woozy sweeps to fast, choppy stabs via kaleidoscopic insistent, whirling pulses. With four-stage circuitry rebirthed from the original schematics combined with modern techniques inside the box reduces the noise floor. The Orange Phaser adds maximum spin with minimum fuss. And finally there’s the Orange Distortion, with vintage appearance up top but all-new circuitry below deck, replacing the original’s back-to-back diode design with an amp circuit and tone stack with a user-adjustable treble. New design doesn’t mean new sound though — the Orange Distortion retains all the bite, growl, warmth and howl of its 1970s forefather, from fat gravelly textures to red-hot screamers and maximum saturation. The trio of effects pedals are a perfect homage to one of rock’s golden ages, but also ripe for any modern set-up. The strong aluminium chassis and classic look offer a 50-year-back teleportation. Then, stomping on the footswitches completes the time-travel: these might be new for 2022, but with the Orange vintage pedals, The Song Remains The Same.
16:4314 days ago