During Kirk’s musical career he has supported many folk artists, played with Nitin Sawhney and been part of The Saffires. He says: “Nothing changed my life more than when I first heard the opening bars of ‘Strolling Down the Highway’, many years ago.” 39-year-old Kirk, followed Bert on his English tours and saw him live countless times. He was later not only to meet Bert, but to support him at a couple of gigs and even get a guitar lesson from him. Another big landmark in his career was when Bill Leader who recorded Bert’s famous debut 1965 ‘Blue’ album, helped him to record his own debut solo album.
A piece by Kirk McElhinney for Bert Jansch
“I chose the track ‘Cold Embrace’ as the guitar part is heavily Influenced by Bert’s style and approach. It’s a song about the suppression of the human spirit – yet there’s still hope for the future. Bert changed my life! I could say Bert was my form of schooling. I would focus more on his playing and composition than I ever did at school, sitting for hours and years trying to work out what he was doing (and I still do). Now, I’m at a place where I feel his playing is in me”.
Kirk feels that his style of playing was born one night at the ‘Band on the Wall’ in Manchester when he first saw his guru perform. He says: “From the back of the room, this figure appeared with a guitar over his shoulder, the whole room went silent. Bert walked up on the stage, didn’t say a word, just sat down and plugged his guitar in and proceeded to open the set with his masterpiece Blackwaterside. I was hooked”. Kirk also became friends with Wizz Jones whom Bert rated highly as a guitar player. They would often meet up for a pint and chat about Bert’s genius….