Tower of Kirk

US bluesman Kirk Fletcher stormed the Tower Of Song. Martin Longley got caught up in the Monday nite mayhem.

Kirk Fletcher
Tower Of Song
Kings Norton

It’s a Monday night, and The Tower Of Song has booked an American bluesman, complete with his full touring band. This could be a risky situation, but the Kings Norton roadhouse is already full, as opening local Birmingham act Big Wolf are taking to the stage, and as their set progresses, all seats are grabbed and the standing room is looking not-so-roomy.

This roots music bar runs a regular Thursday night blues session, and it looks like a similar population is also coming out at the week’s beginning. Kirk Fletcher sings and plays guitar, having grown up in Los Angeles, where he met Kim Wilson, contributing to that harpman’s solo albums. This led to an invitation from Wilson to be a member of The Fabulous Thunderbirds for three years. Fletcher has laid down four of his own albums, and has also played with harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite.

Big Wolf delivered an appealing set of rock blues, but Fletcher’s combo strode off into an equally hard sound, although revolving around more of an amplified blues-root Chicago feel. Even grittier, and with less of the rawk inflections. Fletcher doesn’t hog all the solos, sharing out between the slowly developing line of aspiring axemen jammers, as the extended set metamorphoses into a steaming sequence of sitting in (or standing, as there’s no place for relaxation on this hot-wired platform).

Fletcher avoids selfish exclusion, probably because he’s confident in his own inflammatory abilities. The clutch of guesting guitarists acquit themselves well, helping stoke an atmosphere of escalating competition and loosened expression. For the last run, Fletcher’s crew are left alone, and he takes out the gig with some soulful,funky fire, solos screaming out into the incongruous south central Kings Norton night. Not bad for a Monday evening, and approaching any Saturday’s best showing!