We’ve had a wonderful new schedule of live events emerging here at Regent Sounds over the past few weeks that previously saw an appearance from the brilliant Ariel Posen. In association with the gig-bag and case company Reunion Blues, Regent Sounds once again opened its doors to two more, world-renowned guitarists this month: Kirk Fletcher, and Josh Smith. Friends and fans of Josh, Kirk and the shop flocked to, and packed out our Denmark Street store to catch a glimpse of these great guitarists playing their instruments, answering questions, and hanging out for photos and conversation. The intimacy of these events is always a wonderful thing to be a part of, and hearing expertly-played live music at Regent Sounds is always a nostalgic experience, as it feels as though the former famous studio at our premises is reinstated and reawakened for a short time. A truly wonderful thing.
Kirk Fletcher – a superlative blues guitarist hailing from California, is renowned for his effortless, old-soul blues feel that is all about dynamics, touch, tone and phrasing. When you hear Kirk’s playing, you hear so many of the blues greats, tastefully melded into a singular sound that has become distinctly recognisable and individual, yet feels simultaneously familiar and homely. Ahead of his sell-out show at The Borderline later that night, Kirk kindly stopped by Regent Sounds on the afternoon of Friday March 22nd, plugging his beautiful 1966 Gibson ES-335 into our 1964 Fender Tremolux, with a Crazy Tube Circuits White Whale Reverb unit, in front. Cranked up, the tone filled the entire room, and no-doubt echoed throughout Denmark Street, as bypassers pressed their faces against the shop window, and formed a queue outside our doors.
Opening with a full rendition of his song ‘Dupree’ from his latest 2018 release ‘Hold On’, Kirk floored us all with his ability to effortlessly bounce back and forth between rhythm and lead playing in a way that never for a moment felt empty or unsupported – quite a skill to master. A moment of note – when asked to crank it, Kirk turned up the master a little that drove the power section of our ’64 Tremolux into the creamiest overdrive and, when paired with the gorgeous tremolo on that amp, the tones were something to behold. The pickups on Kirk’s beloved ‘335 sweetly pushed the amp’s power section into one of the most musical sounding overdrive tones you can get out of any great electric guitar setup.
Betwixt his beautiful playing, Kirk also took the time to generously answer questions from the floor, explaining everything from particular concepts in music, to his experience breaking through, as an up-and-coming guitar player. He explained the value to using your ears, and not necessarily practicing as a methodical, daily regime, but more playing regularly for enjoyment – and with records. It is evident that Kirk is deeply versed in the music of his favourite players, and that he spent much time learning their tricks and techniques – simply from studying their records. An inspiring piece of advice for players looking to try a new approach to improving on the instrument. After two hours, the event ended with a lucky participant receiving a free gig bag from our friends at Reunion Blues, signed by Kirk, complete with a commemorating selfie.
And if one in-store wasn’t enough, just a few days later, Regent Sounds welcomed the fierce Josh Smith on Tuesday March 26th – again ahead of his show at The Borderline, later that evening. Josh embarked on an 18-date tour in the UK, with a strenuous show every single night of the 18 days, ending with the show in London: a completely packed, sold-out gig that blew everyone’s socks off. Josh is a monstrous player in almost every sense. Everything from sheer sonic size of his tone, the gauge of his strings, the tenacity and precision of his technique and chops, leaves the listener awe-struck.
Josh plugged his iconic Chapin T-Bird electric into our 1964 Fender Deluxe, loaded with a Tone Tubby Purple Haze Alnico speaker, with some supplementary reverb provided by our trusty Crazy Tube Circuits White Whale. And what a tone he achieved. One thing that sets Josh apart from many players, is the sheer precision of his technique, timing, fretwork and his picking – seamlessly switching between regular alternate and hybrid picking. Josh opened with some playing, but really took time to delve into questions from the floor, where he described his journey, starting a relentless gigging schedule from as young as 12, through to his brave move out of Florida to Los Angeles to try and chase work as a musician. Starting in LA with little name or reputation, he talks about how he attended jam nights and gigs as often as he could, with his guitar strapped to his back, and business cards in his pockets. Sure enough, people started to hear Josh’s fierce chops, and before long, he embarked on a highly successful career as a session guitarist – playing everything from world tours, through to studio work.
Now, Josh spends a lot of his time writing, recording, releasing and touring his own original material, recorded in his impressive home studio, and discussed how he has even started turning down other gigs, in favour of pursuing that which fulfils and pushes him creatively. Josh is also fast becoming known for his production work, where others come to his home studio to record, mix and master their own material, employing Josh’s services and expertise as a springboard for their own careers. His clients have ranged from Art Menezes and Seth Rosenbloom, to name a few.
What was particularly endearing, was that Josh unashamedly admitted to having become an increasingly avid gearhead, over time. Knowing the ins and outs of your equipment, and using this creatively, only helps to further your expression and artist – something which Josh firmly believes. And when you have tone like Josh’s, it’s impossible not to agree. Again, the in-store event ended with another giveaway of a Reunion Blues gig bag to a lucky attendee, signed by and photographed with Josh.
Two wonderful events, two wonderfult guitarists, and an historic setting at our beloved Regent Sounds on Denmark Street. Seeing such gatherings at what has always historically been a social hub for some of the world’s greatest musicians, surely brings a smile to our hearts. To Josh, Kirk, Reunion Blues and all who attended, we would like to thank you for making these events truly memorable for us. Please be sure to subscribe to the Regent Sounds YouTube channel to catch some of our video content from these events, and keep your eyes peeled for more. We have hours and hours, coming soon to a computer of mobile device, near you…