Review: Kirk Smithhart – Wrexham
Posted on: Monday, Jun 11, 2007
KIRK SMITHHART BAND @ THE GOULBOURNE, WREXHAM – FRIDAY JUNE 1st
with special guests Tommy Allen and Craig Bacon of Trafficker
Young Memphis guitarist Kirk Smithhart was making his first visit to the UK accompanied by brothers Doug McMinn (drums) and Rome McMinn (bass). They had been in Europe for the previous two weeks and the gig at Wrexham was the last of the short three gig UK tour before their return to Memphis.
Kirk was the 1998 recipient of the Albert King best unsigned guitarist for the USA and has been playing around the Southern states with many of the legendary Memphis bluesmen building up a solid reputation.
The opening set was a mixture of blue, blues rock and country rock and featured a number of instrumentals with the quality of Kirk’s playing drawing rapturous applause.
The top spots of this seventy minute opener were a swing number My Baby Can’t Be Found, Slide On Down The Road which as it’s title suggested featured some wonderful slide guitar and Muddy’s I Just Wanna Make Love To You.
The second set opened with a song that Kirk had written whilst in Europe, You Get The Blues and was followed by Steve Earl’s Copperhead Road.
There then featured a wonderful version of Hendrix’s Little Wing which was intespersed with a number of classical music sequences – quite amazing.
Doug McMinn had toured the UK with Mojo Buford and showed his versatility by playing the harp and drumming one handed on Down Home Blues before he handed over the drumsticks to Trafficker’s drummer Craig Bacon who was joined up front by his bandleader Tommy Allen. Doug moved on to two handed harp and the band kicked off into Junior Wells’ Messin’ With The Kid.
The final session then really produced some memorable music with Kirk and Tommy trading licks and enjoying every minute. Trafficker’s anthem Memphis Nights was followed by Johnny B Goode with both lead men sharing the vocals as well as the guitar licks.
Kirk then went back to the slide on Dave Hole’s Keep Your Motor Running which blasted straight into Jimmy Reed’s Big Boss Man before the ten minute encore took the excitement into the red zone with Kirk’s self penned Super Duper Love.
The band had played not far short of three hours and had treated the packed venue to a night that was one to remember. As a result of the great bonding between Kirk and Tommy, it is hoped that they might combine next year on a fuller UK tour, and on the evidence of this performance, it will be a great success.