Kevin Dempsey

Kevin Dempsey

“I’ve played with them all, Kev’s the best.” – Dave Swarbrick

“One of the UK’s most admired and charismatic guitarists.” – Colin Irwin

“Kevin Dempsey is a master of tricky rhythms and effortlessly complicated guitar parts and spreads a wonderfully dignified calm through the turbulent and muddied waters of my outpourings.” – John Kirkpatrick

“A beautiful guitarist.” – Martin Carthy

“Kev plays the kind of things the rest of us dream about.” – Simon Nicol (Fairport Convention)

“The best guitarist on the planet.” – Joe Broughton

Rumour has it that Kevin Dempsey has graced over 50 albums, but in truth, it’s probably far more.

As a musician, writer, singer, arranger, and producer, his work spans some 50 years, during which time he’s gained a reputation as one of the finest guitarists in the business.

Much admired by his peers, Kevin’s a performer whose versatility and skill sees him slide effortlessly between traditional Celtic and British folk songs into European and global melodies (and even the occasional pop or soul cover), always grabbing the audiences’ attention – whether he’s playing an intimate folk club, major outdoor festival, or such famed venues as Houston Astrodome or the London Palladium.

Kevin’s perhaps best known for his many fruitful collaborations, which glide from folk/ roots into progressive folk (Dando Shaft), soul/ funk (Stax big band Blue Aquarius, Percy Sledge), and even jazz (Alice Coltrane).

His acclaimed long-term pairing with Fairport Convention fiddle player Dave Swarbrick ran through supergroup Whippersnapper, duo Cofa and trio Lazarus, yet he’s also formed successful creative relationships with other fiddle players, notably ex-Steeleye Span man Peter Knight (Tanna), The Urban Folf Quartet’s Joe Broughton (Dempsey Broughton), and Rosie Carson, for a distinctly Anglo-American pairing.

In between these alliances, there have been notable stints and sessions with Pzazz, the award-winning Uiscedwr, Irish singer Mary Black, accordion players John Kirkpatrick and Karen Tweed, sixties’ singer Julie Felix, Dando Shaft’s Polly Bolton, legendary bassist Danny Thompson, vocalist Jacqui McShee, and many more.

Since an invitation to perform at Australia’s Fairbridge Festival in 2013, Kevin has found himself increasingly in demand as a solo artist.

With a mix of original and traditional material, his often soulful and always witty performances offer “a masterclass in solo musicianship” (ClashMusic), subtly shaped by his lifelong enthusiasm for music – be that African, Asian, Latin, Balkan, or North American.

As the well-travelled mistral says: “I’d never say that I play African or Bulgarian music, but all that music … it’s definitely in me.”

For more information about Kevin, including forthcoming solo appearances, see:

Above: Whippersnapper, featuring Kevin Dempsey (lead vocals and guitar)

Above: Lazarus with Kevin Dempsey, Dave Swarbrick and Maartin Allcock.

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