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.