Kentucky Guitar

Pat Kirtley
Mainstring Records

Acoustic Musician

Kentucky Guitar, by Pat Kirtley (Pat Kirtley PKCD-01), is a collection of superbly picked acoustic guitar solos. While it is geared toward the serious guitar enthusiast, as evidenced by the listing of tunings next to each song, it will provide excellent entertainment to anyone who admires great sounding guitar music. Kirtley is a unique stylist whose mastery of the instrument and sly sense of humor (like sneaking the Smoke on the Water theme into The Mafia Cornbread King) will delight you.


"Kirtley is one of those all-too-rare musicians able to transcend his influences to create a distinctive, natural sound all his own... Not many musicians have the compositional skills to devise memorable, lyrically distinct guitar pieces, but Kirtley comes up with a bushel of great tunes... "

David McCarty-Walnut Valley Record Reviews 1996

"In a league with John Renbourn and Pierre Bensusan..."

Guitar Player Magazine 1995

"If you like your fingerstyle chops with a country-bluegrass vibe, check out Mr. Kirtley's hot acoustic picking. ...Pat whips out a set of solo performances that sound like a whole band. Impressive."

Guitar Shop Magazine 1996

"Out of a daunting plenitude of fingerstyle guitarists clamoring for attention, Kirtley's music is like the cream rising to the top. An unassumingly original artist... with gorgeous, supple tone and a beguiling compositional style."

Elderly Records & Tapes "Hot Platter" feature 1996

"Kirtley's musical horizons stretch far beyong the tried and true territory. .An earful of good music."

Jim Ohlschmidt-Acoustic Guitar Magazine 1995

Walnut Valley Occasional

Fingerstyle guitar has come into its own over the last few years, partly due to the national recognition given to the style by Winfield creating and hosting an annual National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship. As a style, this type of guitar playing covers a huge variety of music forms from early blues, ragtime, country, jazz, English and Irish ballads, fiddle tunes and more.

Pat Kirtley, 1995 champion, has assembled a truly remarkable CD of solo guitar work on Kentucky Guitar. While his own style owes much to the ground-breaking work of players like Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed and Merle Travis, Kirtley is one of those all-too-rare musicians able to transcend his influences to create a distinctive, natural sound all his own.

He accomplishes this partly through his gift for writing great guitar tunes. Of the 16 songs on this CD, 11 are Kirtley originals. Not many musicians have the compositional skills to devise memorable, lyrically distinct guitar pieces, but Kirtley comes up with a bushel of great songs here. His "The Cornbread Mafia King" evokes wonderful musical imagery, even bringing in a choice musical quotation from Deep Purple's most famous rock song, "Smoke On The Water."

As a composer, Kirtley travels the broad road, ranging over the hills of country fingerpicking on "Cedar Creek Rag" to the John Renbourn/English tales of tunes like "Fanny Durbin" to the sea shores of breezy, jazzy tunes such as "Friends Like You." When Kirtley does contribute an outside tune, it's always a personal interpretation of the song; never a pristine copy of another player's style. He knocks off "Steel Guitar Rag," "Sixteen Tons," "The Guitar Rag," and "Ghost Riders In The Sky" with style and with invention few other musicians can match.

In his liner notes, friend and fellow fingerstyler Duck Baker notes that Kirtley makes imaginative, uncompromising use of a variety of tunings, an area that frequently is the downfall of fingerstyle guitarists who get trapped by "the obvious choices" non-standard tunings often impose or offer. Kirtley, from his compositional skills to his choice of songs to his flavorful, deeply sensitive and diverse musicality, never makes the obvious choice here. This is a CD not just for fans of fingerstyle guitar playing, but for anyone who loves the sound of great guitar music.

Bluegrass Unlimited

Cedar Creek / Shufflin' Sam / Ripplin' / Steel Guitar Rag / The Cornbread Mafia King / Fanny Durbin / Daisy Goes A Dancing / Friends Like You / Old Joe Clark / B-Rod's Rag / Sixteen Tons / The Guitar Rag / Ghost Riders In The Sky / A Tip Of The Hat / Uncle Rufus / Wasn't It You? Pat Kirtley is an accomplished finger-styled acoustic guitarist and tune writer. This CD features his solo guitar playing for 16 instrumentals, 11 of which were penned by Kirtley. This is well-produced solo recording providing quite a range of moods, from the more delicate "Friends Like You" and "Wasn't It You?" to blues and ragtime arrangements of "Uncle Rufus" and "Cedar Creek Rag."

Kirtley adds original arrangements of a few common titles such as Merle Travis' "Sixteen Tons" and "Old Joe Clark." Many of the tunes use varied guitar tunings, which are identified. Liner notes by Duck Baker discuss Kirtley's use of tunings and his originality in playing. In essence, this is an excellent recording featuring Pat Kirtley's expert finger-picked guitar playing on a relaxed selection of instrumentals.

Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

Upon listening to Pat Kirtley's latest solo guitar release entitled KENTUCKY GUITAR, guitar wizard John Renbourn exclaimed: "This is what someone from Kentucky ought to sound like!" Such an enthusiastic endorsement from no less an authority than a living guitar legend like Renbourn should suffice to deem this album a "must have." Because I personally enjoyed this CD so much though, I feel compelled to document my own pleasure, as well as provide a little more information for the curious. The album contains sixteen songs. Most of the compositions are by Kirtley but he pays homage to Merle Travis, one of his biggest influences, by doing wonderful versions of "Sixteen Tons," "Steel Guitar Rag" and "The Guitar Rag." He also does an exciting arrangement of the famous country standard "Ghost Riders in The Sky." Speaking of standards, I will be very surprised if more than a few of the songs contained in this album do not become standards themselves.

Guitar master Duck Baker has said that in addition to Kirtley's formidable technique, he is also "one of the best out there when it comes to writing a guitar tune." Baker backed up that assertion by recording Kirtley's "B-Rod's Rag." Kirtley includes this track in KENTUCKY GUITAR.

Like Chet Atkins, Kirtley exhibits a great fondness for jazz. He cites both Atkins and jazzman Dave Brubeck as early influences. His jazz leanings are particularly evident on "A Tip of The Hat." Sensitivity and melodic aptitude are strong features in Kirtley's style. His playing is very clean and fluid; in keeping with the best of traditional thumb and finger-picking. On slow numbers, his sound conjures up images of meandering streams trickling unhurriedly through virgin forests. On up-tempo songs, he is simply a tour de force.

For those interested in the employment of alternative guitar tunings, this album makes for an excellent case study. In the liner notes, Kirtley generously details the different tunings for each song. This ought to keep any ambitious folk guitarist busy for quite a while. If you're an aspiring guitarist or just love good country music then get this album. You will not be disappointed!

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