Independent blues/soul troubadour Shaun Kirk has come a long way since his debut release in 2010, earning him accolades such as “one of the most explosive solo acts Australia has to offer” and “one of the finest blues voices this country has ever heard”. The journey began with his maiden record ‘Cruisin’ being awarded ‘Best Debut Album’ at the 2010 VIC/TAS Blues Music Awards, whilst his second album, ‘Thank You for Giving Me the Blues’shot to number 1 on the Australian Blues/Roots Airplay Charts in early 2012. Kirk’s third release, ‘The Wick Sessions’; a live in the studio CD/DVD package, climbed as high as #3 on the Amrap AirIt Great Southern Charts. It also charted in the USA, reaching #6 on the Smokestack Lightning Radio Playlist amongst the likes of Buddy Guy, Gary Clark Jr, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Charlie Musslewhite. Shaun went on to release a five-track EP in late 2013 entitled ‘Giving’. It was Kirk’s second release in the space of 12 months, acting as a teaser for the forthcoming full-length album ‘Steer the Wheel’ which included three live tracks, showcasing his natural ability to engage an audience when he takes to the stage.
Shaun’s profile and recognition as a talented performer has steadily grown, supporting artists such as Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Allen Stone, JJ Grey & MOFRO, Big Bill Morganfield (son of the late great Muddy Waters), Diesel, Ash Grunwald and Mia Dyson as well as appearing in the line-up at many of Australia’s top festivals; Woodford Folk Festival, St Kilda Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Queenscliff Music Festival and Byron Bay Bluesfest where he has been billed with the likes of Robert Plant, Taj Mahal, John Mayer, Ben Harper, Bonnie Raitt, Gary Clark Jr and Santana. He was voted the ‘Youth People’s Choice Award’ at the 2012 Blues at Bridgetown Festival, as well as winning the public’s vote for ‘Best New Artist’ at the 2013 St Kilda Festival, substantiating his increasing popularity with the punters.
The latest album ‘Steer the Wheel’ debuted at #1 on the Australian Blues iTunes Charts and is Kirk’s most electrified record to date, seeing him explore beyond the blues influences that have characterised his previous work. Shaun attributes the recent purchase of a record player and a rapidly growing vinyl collection to the shift in his song writing. With influences ranging from rock, soul and rhythm & blues. ‘Steer the Wheel’ is a collaborative record, which has enjoyed an inclusive approach from conception to completion. Not only did Shaun gather an abundance of talented musicians to assist in the recording process of the album, he also drew together many of his loyal fans to be a part of the album’s creation through a crowd funding campaign. As well as assisting with the financial pressure of producing an independent album, crowd funding allowed Kirk to donate a proportion of the sales profit to Orphfund, a non for profit charity helping abandoned children across the globe. The project target was reached well before it’s cut-off date, and saw participants pledging towards a variety of exclusives, including a feature role in one of Shaun’s ‘Stitches’ film clip, and having their ‘selfies’ included on the album’s booklet.
Recorded at The Wick Studios in Melbourne, Australia ‘Steer the Wheel’ is Shaun’s first recording with a band. As well as collaborating with ARIA award-winning rhythm section of Danny McKenna (drums) and Grant Cummerford (bass) to lay down the core of all tracks. Shaun has bought together some of Australia’s finest musicians and vocalists to produce his most diverse release to date. Songs such as ‘Give to the Needy’ and ‘No One Gonna Love You When You Love Like That’ are a true example of the raw energy in Shaun’s music whilst ‘Twenty Two’ is a ballad with a clear message. Country blues number ‘Two Hands on the Wheel’ features Shaun’s good friends Kyle and Dan Lizotte (Halfway to Forth) and sounds like the soundtrack for many a road trip. ‘Stitches’ is packed with soul and demonstrates a vocal flexibility that Shaun has kept locked away until now. His blues influences are far from neglected, with songs like ‘Blues for My Birthday’, ‘Find Me A Lady’ and Tony Joe White’s ‘As the Crow Flies’reflecting the sound he has become recognised for in his relatively short but impressive time as a performer.