The ultra-dependable frontline wingman JIM KIRKPATRICK is to release a kajillion-watt, rockingblues, solo humdinger.

JIM KIRKPATRICK is about to release a virtuosic and rambunctiously rollicking new solo album — and it’s an absolute triumph.

“I started out as a teen guitarist in a high-school band…” Jim says. “I got into Rory Gallagher in a big way, but things started to click when I got crazy for Ry Cooder, then Duane Allman, Lowell George (
Little Feat) and Derek Trucks.”

“I was a huge Robert Johnson fan, but my interest in blues really started with Jimi Hendrix, then the Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, and while I liked electric blues, I also loved the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney and Queen.”

Since the 1990s the reputable, six-string, slide & glide gunslinger has been the hired vigilante of choice for the best rock ensembles on the planet: from the popular local band Heavy Weather, to a brilliant tour guitarist for English folk-rock superstar Thea Gilmore (this brought concert opportunities & radio shows across the United States and a tour with American folk-legend Joan Baez) onto earning a place alongside rock legend Bernie Marsden as his esteemed slide-guitarist in a Post-Whitesnake era, post Moody-Marsden band.

Although I am almost thirty years his junior, both Bernie and I come from the same place, musically…” Jim says, about their partnering. “We both love the sound of the twin guitar; we both yearn after gritty electric blues […] we bond and overlap like barrel-house blood brothers…”

“We have covered Rory Gallagher material together… and although I have made no attempt toemulate Rory, nor have I never been in a Gallagher tribute outfit, I have often been associated with the hero guitarist and I’m regularly told I sound and play like him.”

But on Christmas Eve in 2004, he talked to the landlord (in the gentleman’s toilet) at a canal-side bar in Cheshire. The landlord asked him if he knew Steve Overland. He had, of course, who hadn’t? Overland was a rock giant. Overland had formed the quintessential AOR band of the 80’s — FM.

“Oddly, it turned out, the reason I was asked was because Steve lived just four doors down from me in the same village! And the pub landlord wanted me to invite the guy in for a gig! The end result was that I established contact with Steve and we became Drinking buddies! To be honest, as busy musicians, we were the only ones who wanted to get hammered on a Tuesday night! We are always playing concerts on the weekends and our mid-weeks were filled with rehearsals and band practice.”

Being a mate of Steve, Jim went along to watch the famous FM reunion gig at Firefest in 2007 : “I
thought, I’d love to be in a band like this…”
It was an inspirational moment. “Yes, I loved my work with Thea and enjoyed my performances alongside Bernie, but this classic rock band captivated me.”

By chance, FM’s long-term lead-guitarist, Andy Barnett, said he couldn’t commit to any long-term plans, even though — after Firefest — it seemed FM were headed once more into the big time: “So I asked Steve if I could audition for the lead guitar role.”

“By then I was writing a lot with Steve, we became good mates, there was a bit of an age difference, but we lived next door to each other and Steve could travel with me (we got on) and we had thesame ideas about rock. I learned the material they asked me to audition for, I learned all the live versions of their songs, all the studio versions of their songs… I even got hold of their bootleg recordings and learned those songs too. “I know all the songs…” I told them. And it’s true. I did. I certainly didn’t want an opportunity like this to slip through my fingers. After I’d done, they said:
“that was easy…” and they hired me.”

Jim has played with FM ever since (2008) and he significantly contributed to the 2010 album “Metropolis” co-writing three of the tracks, including the title song. Since then, Jim has toured & recorded with FM and has played on the biggest stages and at the most prestigious festivals, to support household names such as Thin Lizzy, Journey, Foreigner, Kiss, Whitesnake and Heart.

And the hired-gun’s work with Rhino’s Revenge (Status Quo bassist John Edwards’ band) and with
the Grammy-award winner Mike Farris (of Double Trouble fame) as well as Robert Hart (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band singer) Nev MacDonald (Phil Campbell) and famed rock vocalist Chris Ousey [plus many more] has brought Jim high praise and unwavering admiration, as he continues to add
more impressive dimensions to a reputation that is already considered impeccable and indefatigable. Jim is the most appreciated riff-slinger in the business.

“More recently,” he says “I’ve been working with the highly respected Chris Bevington Organization— a nine-piece, fast-paced, blues project, bringing together a lot of talent, including luminaries such
as multi-instrumentalist Scott Ralph, Nearly Dan singers Kate Robertson & Sarah Miller, and the bandleader Bevington, who is a more than creditable bassist.”

In 2006 Jim released his first solo album, titled: Changed Priorities. “I had been working with Thea and had got into Americana and I probably didn’t know where I wanted to be and where I wanted to go properly at that stage — all I did know was that I didn’t want to make another Stevie Ray Vaughan reproduction and I thought that any straight-down blues record that I might deliver would never do as well as anything by Kenny Wayne Shepherd.”

“Possibly, I didn’t make it guitary enough for connoisseurs (short solos) but I wanted the album to be more song-based than guitar-based because that’s where I was at the time.” Nevertheless, the 2006 album was much commended by the music press who thought it demonstrated Jim’s more reflective side, and brought some wonderful, soft country-rock textures.

But Jim’s new album is not so “acoustical.” It’s a masterpiece of technical bravado and driving rock…

“I called in a drummer and a bass player — so it’s more power-driven and electrifying. I know what people are expecting now and I know what I want from an album that has my name on the sleeve.”

“Ballad of a Prodigal Son is a twelve-track, blues-rock outing with some songs co-written with friends and some fine contributions from many of my colleagues…”

Contributors include: John ‘Rhino’ Edwards (Status Quo), Steve Overland (FM), Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake) Sarah Miller (Chris Bevington Org), Jem Davis (FM), Neil ‘Kegsy’ McCallum (Chris Bevington Org), David Levy (Rory Gallagher) Richard Newman (Paul Rodgers), Scott Ralph (Chris Bevington Org), Didge Digital (FM), Neil Murray (Whitesnake) Paul Westwell (SinnerBoy) and wizard bass players Chris Bevington and Chris Cliff.

“The opening-song Ballad of a Prodigal Son (I’m partly the prodigal son of the yarn, so this is my cheery nod to a return to solo work) — though actually it’s a semi-fictional portrayal of somebody else I knew, set in Florida, a guy I used to work with,” Jim says.

“Songs come into my head, I tend to write from inside then pick up a guitar later; lyrics start with a title and perhaps the first few lines…”

“I have co-written songs with Scott Ralph, Thea Gilmore and Bernie Marsden (Always On the Road) and covered a much-loved John “Rhino” Edwards penned Status Quo number “Gravy Train” that is one of my favorite numbers to play live.”

Neil Mach June 2020