David Jarman pays tribute to the tireless ‘Titan of the Telecaster’
Bill Kirchen will be well known to Americana UK readers as a trailblazer of the genre through his work with Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen, Nick Lowe, and many other greats, as well as his own recordings, now numbering 14 releases. But he is also known as a tireless gigging musician, regularly seen gracing the stage of Austin’s finest club venues, including the Continental Club, El Mercado, and the Saxon Pub. I’ve not managed to catch him in Austin, his home for the past decade, on my visits there, but fortunately his full touring schedule takes him not only around the USA but on regular tours of the UK, as well as Spain and Norway, in recent years. His 2017 tour, with Austin de Lone, took in 14 UK venues including the Troubador and Ivyhouse in London, as well as lesser-known venues ( at least to me ) including Langstone Sailing Club in Havant, and on my own doorstep The Duke of Cumberland in Whitstable, where he was on fine form, and very happy to talk music after the show. However, it will be the first time I saw him live which will live on longest in my memory, when he toured with The Hacienda Brothers in 2007/8, including a date at the Maverick Club in Maidstone. He played support, but with the Hacienda Brothers as his backing band, and then played lead with them–so in truth a double bill, the sets including his trademark Telecaster playing on ‘Hot Rod Lincoln‘, where he demonstrated his ability to play the licks of at least a dozen of the greatest guitarists, all the while in the framework of his ‘dieselbilly’ twang style. A glance at his gig list shows a seemingly almost constant touring schedule over the last decade, with gigs resuming this autumn, and three small venue dates scheduled for December. Wherever we are, we can be sure the ‘Titan of the Telecaster’ will be coming to a venue close to home before too long.