The Kirk Fletcher Band & Support: Khalif „Wailin’“ Walter
As a two time W.C. Handy Award nominee, who has toured with Lynwood Slim, Janiva Magness, Charlie Musselwhite and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, as well as performing with James Cotton, Pine Top Perkins, Hubert Sumlin, Mojo Buford, Ted Harvey, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Michael Landau, Elvin Bishop, Ronnie Earl, Doyle Bramhall, Michelle Branch and many more… Kirk Fletcher is considered one of the best young guitar players on the blues scene today.
Born 1975 in Bellflower California, Kirk began playing guitar at age eight after watching his brother Walter perform at their father’s church. At age twelve he attended the Long Beach Blues Festival where he saw the likes of Albert Collins, Bobby Blue Bland, (accompanied by Wayne Bennett) and the Staple Singers. This was a life changing experience for him as he realized that this was the music he wanted to play.
While still in High School he discovered a small but legendary Los Angeles music store called Music Works, where he met owner Jim Foote, “Meeting Jim was invaluable in my search for tone and a better understanding of the mechanics of the instrument, and it was a very cool scene to be a part of….that’s how I met Jeff Rivera, who at the time was Robben Ford’s guitar tech. I got to assist him and be a fly on the wall to some of the most amazing musical events of my life up to that point….and it heightened my musicianship!” During this time he performed with R&B artist Christopher Williams and was playing gospel weekly at The House of Blues, with Brent Jones & The T.P. Mob, where he also shared the stage with such artists as Stephanie Mills and Jackson Browne.
In the Mid 90’s Kirk met Al Blake, frontman of the Hollywood Fats Band who became a mentor to the young guitarist. Blake introduced him to wide variety of blues music,“Al hipped me to blues artists as diverse as The Mississippi Sheiks to Tommy Johnson…we’re talkin’ pre Robert Johnson stuff…that’s how far back we went..!” and it was through Blake he also met and bonded with guitarist Junior Watson, “Junior and I would get together smoke cigars, drink tequila and talk guitars…”
Around this time Kirk met and sat in with harmonica legend Lynwood Slim, “I’m grateful to Slim for giving me a stage to play on…” and it was then that Kirk released his first solo effort “I’m Here & I’m Gone” for the JSP Label. “It gave me a chance to pay tribute to my influences and to establish my solo career”. Kirk’s reputation was growing amongst harp players around town, and through an introduction, again, by Al Blake, Kirk sat in with Kim Wilson, and about a year later, got a call to join Kim Wilson’s Blues Review. “I played on and off with Kim for over 2 years….when he wasn’t working with the T-birds”, with the results being the Grammy nominated album“Smoking Joint” .
In 2003 Kirk recorded his second album “Shades of Blue” and it brought him even greater attention in the blues community,“Charlie Musselwhite found out about me through blues musician Doug MacLeod……,Charlie needed a guitar player and called me”, this gig was special for Kirk, “He gave me the freedom to find my voice on the guitar”. He spent three years touring with Charlie and feels that this is where he developed his unique style.
A year later, after another call from Kim, he joined The Fabulous Thunderbirds, where he contributed to and recorded on their “Painted On” album. “I made lifelong friends in Nick, Ronnie, Jimi, Steve and Gene”. In 2007 he gave notice in order pursue his solo career, and this is when he met up with legendary guitarist and producer Michael Landau. “ We first played together at the Baked Potato in L.A., quickly became friends and really connected musically”.
In recent years Kirk has been performing all over Europe as a headliner and occasionally touring in the U.S. with Doyle Bramhall and Michelle Branch. When home, he gives open counseling at Hollywood’s Guitar Institute of Technology. Currently he’s ready to release his third solo album, “My Turn”.
Khalif “Wailin’ “ Walter “Ass-Shakin’ Boogie Blues” Showcase Chicago Magazine Khalif “Wailin’ “ Walter has lit up the Chicago Blues music scene with his unique style of funky-boogie Blues. Khalif’s stormy guitar work, brash New Orleans style vocals, and unique songwriting generate the band’s sound, reminiscent of greats like Freddie King, Albert King, and Albert Collins. Fused with contemporary style and innovative original arrangements, Khalif “Wailin’ “ Walter delivers foot stomping Blues guaranteeed to burn the house down.
Where have you seen him? Khalif “Wailin’ “ Walter appeared regularly on the Chicago Blues circuit, and performs in venues and festivals throughout the U.S. & E.U. Recent performance highlights include: – The 2001, 2003 & 2007 Chicago Blues Festival – Headlining or Featured Festival Artist in the U.K., Spain, Croatia, Italy, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republik, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Austria – A global internet concert, broadcast live from Chicago Blues institution Kingston Mines – Internet & Radio airplay of the 2008 released CD “Let Me Say That Again” on stations throughout North and South America, Australia, & Europe Khalif “Wailin’ “ Walter is a guitarist, singer, bandleader, and songwriter. He has toured with and performed under the tutelage of his uncle and mentor, 12-time W.C. Handy nominee Carl Weathersby, culminating in a performance in front of over 10,000 at the Cincinnati Blues Festival. Khalif was a 4 year band alumnus of 2-time Grammy nominee Lonnie Brooks Band and completed a 2002 European tour with him. Khalif has accompanied B.B. King’s daughter Shirley King as her bandleader throughout the U.S. Khalif has appeared on stage with such Blues giants as Grammy Winner Taj Mahal, Grammy Winner Otis Rush, The Jimmy Vaughan Band, The Buddy Guy Band, Junior Wells, Bernard Allison, Grammy winner and W.C Handy winner Pinetop Perkins, 2-time Grammy nominee Billy Branch, Grammy Winner Sugar Blue, Larry McCray, Paul Lamb, Tad Robinson, Keith Dunn, Louisiana Red, and A.C.Reed.