A GUITARIST who is hailed as one of the best young players on the world blues scene today is coming to Bromley Cross.

Having played just a handful of gigs in the UK, as a member of Grammy-nominated blues rock band The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Kirk Fletcher is thrilled to be back under his own name.

He will appear at the Railway Venue, Chapeltown Road, on Thursday, October 23, with his band, as well as special guests, the Katie Bradley Band.

He said: “I have only done maybe two or three gigs ever in the UK, and that was as a member of The Fabulous Thunderbirds, so to come back and do it under my own name is just a thrill.

“People can expect to see a man that greatly appreciates the opportunity to come and play for everyone, and a person who has dedicated his life to music. “Hopefully a lot of joy and soul. Also some good old energy. And lastly — blues!”

Born 1975 in Bellflower, California, Kirk began playing guitar at the of age eight after watching his brother Walter — one of his many mentors and inspirations — perform at their church.

He said: “I started playing the guitar at around eight-years-old, in my church in Compton, California, under the guidance of my older brother who plays guitar and had a wonderful record collection.”

Kirk’s other mentors include Al Blake, from the Hollywood Fats band, Robben Ford and Jim Foote, at the Los Angeles music store Music Works, as well as many an hour whiled away in record stores.

Speaking of the music which inspired him while growing up, he said: “Mainly gospel at first, then what was popular on the radio in the mid ‘80s.

“I was just a musical sponge growing up. But then the blues hit and I was like a man on a mission. Luckily I had great mentors and record shops.

“Lamar's Records, Long Beach, was so awesome. Lamar was so helpful in guiding me to the right music. Also in Hollywood we had the famous Tower Records. “Growing up in LA, there was a great record store in every little city I could visit.

“I am truly heartbroken over the closing of so many records stores. I feel a lot of things are accessible via the internet but there are large holes in a lot of the younger generation’s knowledge about music.

“I just always loved the pursuit of finding things out by reading the back of a record cover and sifting through old magazines, asking people older than me about how it was in the ‘50s and ‘60s — I could go on and on.”

In 1999, Kirk released his first solo album, I’m Here & I’m Gone, followed by Shades of Blue, in 2004, which brought him even greater attention in the blues community.

He then joined The Fabulous Thunderbirds, where he contributed to and recorded on their Painted On album, followed by his third album, My Turn, and he is now writing his new studio album which he plans to record before the end of the year.

Kirk’s work has earned himself praise from fellow musicians, including blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa who called him “one of the world’s best blues guitarists”.

Kirk said: “It was completely unexpected and very nice of him to say, but I'm just a student of the music.”

The Kirk Fletcher Band + Katie Bradley Band will be at the Railway Venue, Chapeltown Road, Bromley Cross, on Thursday, October 23.

Tickets cost £10, phone 01204 306450.