The Brother’s Groove and Kirk Fletcher are two bands that take inspiration from blues roots, but take it in two different directions. Whilst neither band is reinventing the wheel, blues music is all about creative expression yet still adhering to the 12 bars structures and visceral emotive undertones of the genre. In many ways it’s like painting, you can argue that restrictions do nothing but encumber our ability to create, yet some of the most influential works of art are all created within a frame.
BG (Brother’s Groove) are best described as a Brummie Blues Band with a side order of funk and jazz, a fusion that’s had them nominated for the British Blues Band of the Year in both 2014 and 2015. The band is primarily centred on the three musicians Shaun Hill (vocals/lead guitar), Nigel Mellor (guitar), and Deano Bass (bass, and yes apparently that is his name). Additionally there is also a nameless, very talented, drummer (whom may possibly be from Spinal Tap). As usual in their gigs, Deano and the drums bring a sweet funky/blues foundation that leaves a nice platform for Nigel and Shaun to really show off their guitar prowess. The (not related) brothers have been playing now for over 25 years, giving us astonishing performances that look and feel like effortless jam sessions made on fly, showing off just how tight a band can become after many years of practice. ‘What’s the Deal’ is a one of their signature tracks, it has some great beats, a bass that seems to genuinely bounce, with the occasional pause that breaks up Shaun’s solos once or twice. It’s as if the whole band is taking a collective breath before bounding right back into the song, not missing a single beat. Perhaps this is necessary in their gigs as very often the band likes to maintain a steady rhythm and just let Shaun off his proverbial leash, watching him like a hawk for when he’s ready to bring it back. Certainly in ‘Another Girl’ you could hear a pin drop in what is certainly a masterclass of blues guitar. I spoke to Shaun briefly after his set, mostly just to say how most people I know would give their leg to play like he can. He responded, “it’s not about where you’re going, learning an instrument is a journey. No matter how good you are if you can’t feel the music it’ll never come out great. That’s all you’ve got to do, feel the music, and the talent will follow.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Kirk Fletcher, on the other hand, is a classic American blues guitarist through and through. Listening to Kirk’s style you can hear his musical influences from blues legends Albert King and especially Stevie Ray Vaughan; whilst not being a note for note copy, a lot of Kirk’s solos are identical in style to the Texas Bluesman. A lot of his more personal flairs come out in his licks and riffs, radiating from his stylish (and simply gorgeous) Stratocaster. As with many musicians from California you can hear the Latin American influence on a few of his numbers, such as: ‘El Medio Stomp’ and ‘Congo Square’. Also of note is the bassist supporting Kirk for the gig, sporting a five string bass guitar; this mysterious bassist wowed us with a great solo half way through the set. Showing us that bass guitars are fully capable of flourishing within a song’s focal point. Know this that any time a bassist walks on stage with more than four strings, expect big things. After the show I insisted he sign my copy of Kirk’s CD, despite his complaints that he wasn’t on it. A special surprise indeed was having Kirk invite Shaun Hill to join him on stage for an insane clash of talent that left the audience dumbfounded. These days I have come to expect nothing less from this exceptional gig venue in Kings Norton, the Tower of Song.
If you want to give Brother’s Groove or Kirk Fletcher a listen you can find them on social media or listen to them on Spotify (links below). If you like what you hear, remember to support the artists by going to see them live or buying their albums.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/BrothersGroove_
Twitter – https://twitter.com/bigelifletcher