Benji Kirkpatrick is well known as a rhythmic driver of such outfits as Bellowhead and Faustus, with his "memorably aggressive" (MOJO) style. He started working as a soloist early on in his career though, and now brings the focus back to that.
Enlisting fellow ex-Bellowhead member, Pete Flood on drums and Jackie Oates and Megan Henwood collaborator, Pete Thomas on bass, Benji formed a power trio, going by the name of 'The Excess'. The band recorded their debut album in 2019, 'Gold Has Worn Away', released on Westpark Records. They managed to get a few gigs in before the music industry was destroyed and are now brimming with hard hitting songs and muscular instrumentals ready for festival stages!
Before the Excess album Benji's last offering of original material was on 'Boomerang' (Navigator 2008) - it received much critical acclaim but came at a time when other projects were taking off so they took precedence and the album didn't receive the live airing it deserved. His most recent solo studio release features the songs of his first musical icon, Jimi Hendrix – ‘Hendrix Songs’ was released in September 2015 on EDJ Records alongside a national tour entitled ‘Bendrix’. The show included the projection of original artwork animations created by Shropshire artist, Esther Thorpe. The project's aim was to rediscover the song-writing of the legendary guitarist.
"This is a rare chance to hear the songs stripped back to their atmospheric essentials." - The Sunday Times
"It’s testament to Jimi’s song-writing that the songs slip their identities so readily, with Voodoo Child becoming a cowboy storm cloud and Crosstown Traffic revealing unexpected poignancy." - Classic Rock
Those 'other' projects included the cacophonous behemoth that was Bellowhead, the band that managed to sell more copies of an independently released folk album than any other to date. The album in question being 'Hedonism' (Navigator 2010), recorded in Abbey Road Studios and produced by John Leckie. They took 'folk' ever nearer to the mainstream and became one of the biggest touring acts in the UK for their final few years. They made one album with a major label, 'Revival' (Island 2014), their last offering to the world before splitting in 2016. The band made a huge impact on the UK folk and roots scene and enjoyed appearances on 'Later... with Jools Holland' as well as headline slots at many festivals.
In 2017, folk-rock pioneers Steeleye Span head-hunted Benji for their new line up, 40 years after his Dad, John, was in the band. Regular tours have occurred since, with 2019 being a big year for the band's 50th Anniversary. A new album, 'Est'd 1969' was released that year as well and the band continue to tour into the new decade.
Benji worked extensively with Seth Lakeman, featuring on his Mercury Prize nominated 2004 release 'Kitty Jay'. This led to much live work and Benji became a member of Seth's band between 2009 and 2012, contributing to his long players 'Freedom Fields' (Relentless 2007) and ‘Hearts and Minds’ (Relentless 2010).
Faustus, of which one third is Benji, were dubbed 'bloke folk' by one reviewer and continue to create innovative and energetic renditions of traditional songs, the latest collection being on 'Death and Other Animals' (Westpark 2016) produced by Rupert Christie whom Bellowhead had worked with on Revival.
As part of the Shakespeare 400 celebrations in 2016, Benji was invited to be involved in ‘The Fairy Portal Camp’, put together by Leeds based theatre company, Slung Low, on commission from the Royal Shakespeare Company. A disparate group of musicians, actors and dancers worked together to create new works every day for a week in the riverside setting of Avonbank Gardens in Stratford Upon Avon.
Benji has also toured and recorded with Maddy Prior (the voice of Steeleye Span) and Oysterband, as well as with Oysterband singer, John Jones’ solo projects (The Reluctant Ramblers) and played alongside the likes of Thea Gilmore, Joan as Police Woman, Marc Almond and Green Gartside.