Folk roots, new routes and all roads lead to The Caledonia. If you like your music with a banjo, bouzouki or beer, the boozer on Myrtle Street is the hub for you. Especially now that its reputation means returning folk heroes will debut their new direction in front of its adoring acolytes. Remember Bellowhead? The lad with the tunes has gone solo. By Alan O’Hare. 

I love it when a new song hits the spot. You know what I’m talking about – that feeling when a voice, instrument or intangible grabs you where it hurts and holds on for dear life. It’s even better when you hear something and find out its coming to town soon…

Benji Kirkpatrick was in Bellowhead. You remember them, there was hundreds of the sods all making a racket and screaming about ‘New York Girls’. The troupe has split, but Kirkpatrick has kicked on. Following on from the success of his recent ‘Hendrix Songs’ project – all banjo and bouzouki Jimi covers – the go-to folk and roots rhythmic driver has formed a new band and is hitting the road to bring his latest tunes to life: “I probably would see it like a power trio,” he says about new venture Benji Kirkpatrick & The Excess. “We approach my songs in a slightly rockier and harder hitting kind of way.”

Kirkpatrick, who also stars in pioneering folk triumvirate Faustus, is an instrumental hero of the roots scene, but is now making a play for progression. “I’ve been writing new material specifically for the trio and the ratio is quite high for new material to older stuff in the set,” he reveals. “There is pretty much an album’s worth and, because I’m so used to doing songs solo, putting them into a band setting is very exciting.”

So are the tunes. ‘Fill My Heart’ opens up like a long-lost The Police single, whilst ‘Life Of Leaves’ brings together the dexterity of his musicianship with the power of song, but it’s the devastating ‘Valley Of Green’ that stopped me in my tracks. Opening on a strummed bouzouki figure that shares an atmosphere with his old mate, Seth Lakeman, the standout track hangs a memorable melody around a meandering mood and will make you sit up and take notice.

They arrive in town to deliver their first shot across the bow this weekend. Don’t miss it.

Benji Kirkpatrick & The Excess
Saturday July 15th 2017, 9pm,
The Caledonia, Myrtle Street, Liverpool

Pic by Tris