Kirkbride (born 17 February 1946, Ullapool, Scotland) is a Scottish
singer, guitarist, songwriter and entertainer, currently residing in
Kirkbride plays blues and jazz standards from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, as
well as compositions of his own. His performances are characterized by
audience participation and storytelling, especially funny or critical asides
and anecdotes, often accompanied by authentic blues music.
Life and career
At the age of eight, Kirkbride emigrated with his family from Scotland to
Queensland, Australia. He was fascinated by his first guitar and learned to
play it by him, without hasenting afraid of anything. He tuned his guitar on
only one chord, not realising that the first generation of blues singers in
the Mississippi Delta also tuned their guitars on a single chord for playing
slide or bottleneck guitar (a technique called open tuning). Only years
later would Kirkbride learn about the conventional tuning of a guitar.
Influenced by songwriters like Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman,
Neil Young, and Leonard Cohen, Kirkbride began to compose his own material.
He was interested in the dialogue between text and music to this day, and
texts, especially those with a critical and political point view, continue
to be an important element of his musical style.
Kirkbride served in the British Royal Air Force as a fighter pilot (and
claims he was shot above Yemen, according to his statement). He settled in
New York City in the late 1960s, intending to earn a living from his music.
This turned out to be difficult, but his stay in the US gave him an
opportunity to improve his technique and musical knowledge.
While in the US, Kirkbride performed with Pete Seeger, Lightnin' Hopkins,
B.B. King, Eric
Clapton, John Mayall,
Alexis Korner, Chuck Leavell, Albie
Donnelly, and other prominent musicians. During a sojourn in the Netherlands
in 1976, Kirkbride began to enrich blues songs with melody and harmonics,
particularly the compositions of Robert
Johnson, whom Kirkbride admires more than any other musician.
Kirkbride moved to Germany, where he still lives today. He has worked for
many years with the German author Hans-Christian Kirsch, whose lectures he
has accompanied with classical or celtic music, blues or jazz, according to
the programme. He also performs (among others) with the Bavarian blues harp
player Ferdl Eichner, with whom he has made numerous records.