Multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Benji Kirkpatrick was born to folk
luminaries John Kirkpatrick and Sue Harris in the summer of 1976 whilst they were
on a rare break from touring. This could have set the pattern for his future life - as a
much sought after, busy musician Benji is constantly touring!
Immersed in many genres of music through his roots he was always picking up
different instruments and trying them on for size. However the arrival of an electric
guitar in his life sealed his fate and Benji began listening to 50's Rock n' Roll, before
moving via ZZ Top to Jimi Hendrix.
His song writing talent was acknowledged early when a song he penned for his first
band The Hedgerows was featured on Evolving Tradition 1 (Mrs Casey Records) in
1995. This brought Benji to the notice of the wider industry and his debut solo album
'Dance In The Shadow' was released in 1998 on the Wildgoose label. The same year
he co-formed a band called Dr Faustus, later to become merely Faustus, the other
members being Paul Sartin and Saul Rose.
His second solo album,'Half a Fruit Pie', was released, this time on the Fellside label
in 2004. That year also saw the birth of folk 'big band' Bellowhead with Benji as a
founder member. The 'big band' format was revolutionary in the UK; a disparate band
of musicians gathered together to play across genres, styles, idioms and textures from
across the globe with the essence of English traditional music at their heart.
Within a year Seth Lakeman's album 'Kitty Jay', which featured Benji, was nominated for the Mercury prize. As a member of Seth's
band since 2009 Benji has witnessed ever growing audiences. The follow up album 'Freedom Fields' sold 100,000 copies and Benji
features heavily on Seth's 2010 release 'Hearts & Minds'.
Alongside all this Benji and his fellow Bellowheads have seen their popularity and peer respect grow ever greater. With
performances everywhere from the Royal Opera House to the Albert Hall (as part of BBC TV's Proms), the band has gone from
strength to strength. They are headlining festivals in the UK and in Europe and, following in St Etienne's footsteps, were named as
Band in Residence at London's South Bank Centre in 2008. Their latest album 'Hedonism' (recorded in Abbey Road and produced by
John Leckie, - Radiohead, Muse and the Stone Roses) is attracting much attention and selling fast. Bellowhead have now appeared
twice on Later with Jools Holland as well as seeing the New Year in featuring on Jools' Hootenanny 2010. They have won various
awards, mostly for their energetic live performances.
Benji's services are in high demand and he's worked with many artists including Oysterband, John Jones (solo album 'Rising Road')
and Maddy Prior (Steeleye Span) featuring heavily on her album 'Seven For Old England'.
Being so sought after has made it hard for Benji to knuckle down to his solo work. Hard, but thankfully not impossible. Boomerang,
consisting of original songs (bar one), was released on the Navigator label in 2008 and received much acclaim as well as radio play
and Benji is making a renewed effort to pursue his solo career.