Stephen Dale Petit

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Stephen Dale Petit
SDP LIVE by Peter Surcombe.jpg
Stephen Dale Petit live (Photo by Peter Surcombe)
Background information
Birth name Stephen Dale Petit
Also known as SDP
Born (1969-04-19) 19 April 1969 (age 47)
Genres Blues, blues-rock
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, artist
Instruments Guitar, vocals, bass guitar, piano, keyboards
Labels 333 Records
Website Official website
Notable instruments
Gibson Firebird 1965 VII, Gibson ES-135, Gibson L-4 CES, Gibson Les Paul

Stephen Dale Petit (born 19 April 1969)[1] is an American-born guitarist, singer, songwriter and New Blues musician.

Petit's blues guitar experience started at a young age in California and continued through addiction, alcoholism, homelessness, and subsequent recovery. He went from being a performer in the London Underground to giving masterclass University lectures on blues music whilst becoming a well-known stage act.

Petit has released 5 albums, toured extensively around the United Kingdom and Europe, gaining critical recognition, sizeable sales and widespread radio airplay. His musical collaborators include Rolling Stones Ronnie Wood and Mick Taylor, Dr. John, Hubert Sumlin, Chris Barber, The Pretty ThingsDick Taylor, The Black KeysPatrick Carney and Max Middleton.

Petit's playing style, described by Classic Rock Magazine as containing “The fire of Freddie King, the instinct of Jimmy Page and the soul of Eric Clapton”[2] moved former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor to comment: “He’s got his own unique take on contemporary blues… I’ve heard him do a great live version of Freddie King’s “Have You Ever Loved a Woman?” It was wonderful. All his albums are very interesting, he deserves the recognition.”[3]

Beginnings[edit]

Stephen Dale Petit was born in the California desert, near Joshua Tree National Park and grew up in Huntington Beach, California which was then a small surf town south of Los Angeles. At the age of seven he received his first guitar, an acoustic. Petit could often be seen at the Huntington Beach landmark venue, The Golden Bear,[4] which hosted such acts as Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, as well as Blues legends Albert King, B.B. King and John Mayall. Petit's exposure, from a young age, to some of these artists and guitar talents would have a major impact on his personal creative development and future musical career.

Meeting with Albert King and early California performances[edit]

Petit began his musical career at a young age. By his mid-teens he was performing in bars and clubs across California, including The Golden Bear, five nights a week with bands ten years his senior, alongside such musicians as Randy Rhoads. During this time, Petit met and was influenced by musician Albert King.[5] He also met and briefly jammed with blues musician B.B. King.

Major early influences on Petit's musical style included early Twentieth Century Blues pioneers B.B. King, Freddie King, Albert King, blues front man Elmore James, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Tampa Red, Lead Belly and Son House. Petit also cites British blues pioneers Alexis Korner and Cyril Davies as having influenced his teenage musical sensibilities.

Early Career in the UK[edit]

In the mid-1980s, inspired by the British blues boom of the 1960s and 1970s, Petit moved from California to London, England. Petit believes that British blues had as much impact on the genre as that of its African American pioneers: "The British contribution to the blues is equal, in my eyes, to what Robert Johnson did, Blind Lemon Jefferson ... all of those guys all the way through to Muddy Waters.[6] I think it is a certainty that without the British blues boom the music (blues) would not have anything remotely like the profile it does."[7]

During his initial years in the UK, Petit toured London's Leicester Square and Little Venice over a 9-month period in Phil May of The Pretty Things "Friends Band" alongside May, himself, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and Ian Stewart of The Rolling Stones. During this time Petit became acquainted with, and performed with, Eric Clapton. Petit believes Clapton's influence on guitar and blues is immense, saying that Clapton builds "solos like a well written speech".[8]

Busking on the London Underground[edit]

In late 2003, Petit began busking intensively on the London Underground as part of the Transport for London Licensed Busking Scheme, with Clapton describing this as "really admirable".[9] Speaking to Blues Matters magazine on his time spent busking Petit commented: "Knowing that Robert Johnson, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson etc all did it, made what is essentially doing it the hard way feel like it was the only right way to start"[10] "I know from playing below The Astoria that even death metal heads, goths, punks ... and skateboard kids like the Blues. Sometimes the metal kids upstairs would come down and say 'you're better than the band we just paid £15 to see,' that sort of stuff makes an impression on you."[11] he further stated. Petit soon attracted media attention from BBC radio and press and television.[12][13]

More recently[edit]

Funded by his busking on the London Underground, Petit released his debut album Guitararama in 2006 to critical acclaim. The album was heralded as Guitar & Bass Magazine’s “Album Of The Year” while front-runner music publication Classic Rock Magazine described Petit in its 8/10 star review as “occupying a stunning middle ground between the fire of Freddie King, the instinct of Jimmy Page and the soul of Eric Clapton.”[14] The album was re-released in 2008 due to demand.

In 2008 Petit embarked on his BLUnivErSity tour, travelling across the UK to colleges and universities to raise awareness of the genre, and to make the blues more accessible to young people. Petit gave extensive lectures on the blues, its history and its legacy as well as performing himself.

In 2009 Petit toured with former Bluesbreakers and Rollings Stones guitarist Mick Taylor throughout the UK. In 2010 he released his second studio album The Crave which featured guest appearances from Mick Taylor, Dick Taylor and Max Middleton. His second album The Crave received critical acclaim and sold well, with Classic Rock Magazine placing The Crave alongside Eric Clapton and Ronnie Wood in its “Top 50 Albums Of The Year”.[15] In its review, BRFM.com likened the album’s mastery of styles to The Clash’s iconic London Calling album.

On 1st December 2010, Petit organised a benefit "Save The 100 Club" concert to raise funds for the historic venue to prevent it’s imminent closure. Petit was joined onstage by former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor, Pretty Things guitarist and former Rolling Stones bassist Dick Taylor, Rolling Stone guitarist Ronnie Wood and British Blues forefather jazz trombonist Chris Barber for the concert. The 100 Club benefit served as the first time three generations of the Rolling Stones’ historic line up had performed onstage together. Proceeds from his single "Need Your Love So Bad" went towards the effort to save the venue from closure. In its review of the show, leading live review site allgigs.com praised Petit’s performance: “Petit’s solos, variously expansive, chunky or crying, are a living, of-this-electrifying-moment history of the guitar, from old school Delta beginnings to listen-to-this, in-your-face nu-school and beyond”.[16] Petit has played at The 100 Club on Oxford Street more than twenty times, and considers it to be his spiritual home. [17]

In August 2011 he began recording his next studio album, Cracking The Code, at Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tennessee with Grammy Award winning producer Vance Powell. The sessions for the album continued over an 18-month period and included guest appearances from legendary Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Dr. John, British blues forefather Chris Barber, Mick Taylor and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys.

A compilation album of Petit’s live appearances on BBC Radio 2, The BBC Sessions, was released on 5 December 2011.

In June 2012 a vinyl only live album Stephen Dale Petit At High Voltage was released in a limited edition pressing. The album was described as “just about the greatest live record you’ll ever hear”[18] by Classic Rock’s The Blues magazine.

On September 15, 2013, Petit released his third studio album Cracking The Code. The Express praised the album: “Petit’s electrifying guitar and gutsy vocals are the drive behind this musical tour de force… he’s a master craftsman at the top of his game.”[19] “Thrusting blues hooligan anthems”[20] was the verdict of premier UK music magazine MOJO.

March 15, 2015 saw a digital re-release of live album Stephen Dale Petit At High Voltage. It was one of the first albums to be released on Neil Young’s PONO format.

In October 2015 it was announced that Petit would join blues legend Walter Trout as supporting act on his “I’m Back” UK Tour.[21]

Petit has been featured extensively on national, regional and student radio, including live in-studio sessions and interviews and specially commissioned BBC Radio 2 music sessions.[22][23][24]

Influences and ideology: The New Blues Revolution[edit]

Petit has explained, "The reason I am on the planet is to play blues guitar. I’m on a mission to spread the word about the blues and about the guitar – especially to young music lovers."[25] Petit is widely considered a spokesperson for the "New Blues Revolution". Explaining his ideology, Petit states that he felt that blues had faded to the background of British music consciousness, and so he promoted the New Blues Revolution, seeking to restore the blues to the popularity it experienced during the British Blues Boom of the mid-1960s: "I want to restore the Blues to the Top 40 in this country, where it belongs… All modern music is in debt to the Blues… there is no reason why it can’t be restored to the popularity it once had."[26]

Speaking further to Classic Rock magazine, Petit elaborated: "I embrace the concept that the blues has to change. Heavy metal, progressive rock, death metal, shred, emo… it all has its roots in the blues….there’s a lot of stereotypical blues production and strategies and ways of recording that are really cheesy. Some people seem to adhere to those strictures, and I think it sounds really stale. What I’m saying is: how about if instead of going right we go hard left and go up two floors? I’m more interested in finding this new way forward." [27]

As part of Petit’s New Blues ethos he gives masterclass lectures and performances at Universities across the UK. In 2008 he set out on a "BlUnivErSity" tour, incorporating historical perspective lectures, musical performance and multimedia presentations. "With these masterclasses I get to share my life's passion in a more interactive setting, explore this fascinating phenomenon that underpins all modern guitar music and therefore most popular music of the last 100 years." [28] Petit is embarking upon a fresh University masterclass tour called "Blues2Uni" in 2016.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Track Of The Day: Stephen Dale Petit", Classic Rock (20 May 2009): "40-year-old bluesman Stephen Dale Petit is a guitarist, singer and songwriter".
  2. ^ Mitchell, Ed (June 2008). "Stephen Dale Petit "Guitararama" Review". Classic Rock Magazine P70. 
  3. ^ Heatley, Michael (March 2014). "Source Symbols". Guitar & Bass Magazine. 
  4. ^ "Golden Bear Photo and Information about the Huntington Beach California Concert Hall, Restaurant and List of Performers". Stockteam.com. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Wilkinson, Sam (June 2007), "Stephen Dale Petit Gets His Point Across" (PDF), Blues Matters (38), pp. 62–69, There would be two shows a night (at the Golden Bear) and I went to the early show for Albert King. His tour bus was parked out front, and on my way out I noticed him sitting in it, smoking his corn cob pipe the door was open and I asked if I could get on. We talked for 2 hours or so until he was due back onstage. He had a guitar, and he showed me some things, and then he got me into the second show 
  6. ^ Sinclair, David (30 November 2007), "Rock & Pop: Bringing Back The Blues" (PDF), The Independent, pp. 22–22, The British contribution to the blues, as we sit here in 2007, is equal in my eyes to what Robert Johnson did, Blind Lemon Jefferson…all of those guys all the way through to Muddy Waters 
  7. ^ Wilkinson, Sam (June 2007), "Stephen Dale Petit Gets His Point Across" (PDF), Blues Matters (38), pp. 62–69, I think it is a certainty that without the British Blues Boom the music (blues) would not have anything remotely like the profile it does 
  8. ^ Wilkinson, Sam (June 2007), "Stephen Dale Petit Gets His Point Across" (PDF), Blues Matters (38), pp. 62–69, solos like a well written speech 
  9. ^ Wilkinson, Sam (June 2007), "Stephen Dale Petit Gets His Point Across" (PDF), Blues Matters (38), pp. 62–69, really admirable 
  10. ^ Wilkinson, Sam (June 2007), "Stephen Dale Petit Gets His Point Across" (PDF), Blues Matters (38), pp. 62–69, Knowing that Robert Johnson, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson etc all did it, made what is essentially doing it the hard way feel like it was the only right way to start 
  11. ^ Wilkinson, Sam (June 2007), "Stephen Dale Petit Gets His Point Across" (PDF), Blues Matters (38), pp. 62–69, When (the public) start to stack up against the wall 10 and 20 deep and listen to you and the song finishes and they're still there, then you know something's up…I know from playing below The Astoria that even death metal heads, goths, punks ... and skateboard kids like the Blues. Sometimes the metal kids up stairs would come down and say 'You're better than the stuff we just paid £15 to see.' That sort of stuff makes an impression on you 
  12. ^ "Busker beats drink through blues". BBC News. 5 April 2006. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  13. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20140702220338/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBW9n2-girY. Archived from the original on 2 July 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ Mitchell, Ed (June 2008). "Stephen Dale Petit "Guitararama" Review". Classic Rock Magazine P70. 
  15. ^ "The Critics' Choice: 50 Best Albums of 2010". Classic Rock Magazine. January 2011. 
  16. ^ Innes, Pete (13 May 2009). "Stephen Dale Petit Live Review @ 100 Club". allgigs.com. 
  17. ^ Weswick, Dean. "BBC News (Save The 100 Club)". YouTube. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  18. ^ Mitchell, Ed (June 2012). "Stephen Dale Petit At High Voltage: The blues community finally gets its own Live At Leeds with this electrifying vinyl-only album". Classic Rock Magazine p108. 
  19. ^ Stewart, Paul (2014-04-22). "Stephen Dale Petit hits new heights with fifth album Cracking The Code". Express. Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  20. ^ Alexander, Phil (October 2013). "Filter Albums Extra". MOJO Magazine. 
  21. ^ "Stephen Dale Petit special guest with Walter Trout". Music-News.com. Retrieved 2015-11-20. 
  22. ^ "BBC Radio 2 – Paul Jones". BBC. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  23. ^ "BBC Radio 2 – Bob Harris Sunday". BBC. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  24. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – Midweek". BBC. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  25. ^ "Stephen Dale Petit Biography" (Press release). 333records. 1 February 2008. The reason I am on the planet is to play blues guitar. I'm on a mission to spread the word about the blues and about the guitar – especially to young music lovers 
  26. ^ Wilkinson, Sam (June 2007). "Stephen Dale Petit gets his point across". Blues Matters Issue 38. 
  27. ^ Yates, Henry (April 2012). "The New Rock Revolution". Classic Rock Magazine p81. 
  28. ^ Heathman (8 November 2007). "Heathman's Diary: Stephen's still got the blues for you". Ham & High p22.