STARK: Blues with a banjo

Stark3Stark brings together three highly creative musicians – lead singer and guitarist Jamie Francis, drummer Evan Carson and bassist Josh Franklin. Together, they are pushing the boundaries and taking the blues somewhere very new.

Jamie grew up in Maryport, West Cumbria, and played his first ever gig on the Maryport Blues Festival Trail at the age of 12. As a teenager, he was lucky enough to see legends like Hubert Sumlin, Pinetop Perkins and David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards play the main stage at Maryport. Then, as he got older, he was blown away by The White Stripes – and found out that Jack White was influenced by blues greats like Son House and Robert Johnson. Somehow all roads led back to the blues…

Jamie paid his dues in several Cumbrian bands, including Feed Me, who made a name for themselves in the blues world – opening the main stage at Maryport in 2010, getting a track played by Paul Jones on Radio 2, performing in venues like Charlotte Street Blues, and receiving rave reviews for their CD ‘Blood on the Moon’ from ‘Blues in Britain’, ‘Blues Matters’ and ‘R2 Magazine’.

By the time he turned 19, Jamie had played over 200 gigs and had opened for famous blues artists including Sherman Robertson, Matt Schofield, Marcus Bonfanti, Ian Siegal and The Hoax.

He then headed down to the Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM), which has produced some outstanding young blues musicians in recent years, including Dani Wilde and Ben Poole. There, Jamie gained a first-class music degree and became known as one of the best young guitarists on the Brighton scene, specialising in top-class slide and finger-picking. While studying at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, he met drummer Evan Carson and bassist Josh Franklin, and Stark was born.

Evan is a gifted and versatile drummer who has studied with renowned percussionists, including Damian Manning, Pat Garvey, Cormac Byrne and Alex Reeves, and has toured Europe several times. His performing experience has encompassed everything from samba to prog rock, and he once had the great pleasure of playing with jazz legend Sir Johnny Dankworth.

Brought up in a musical family, Josh grew up playing an eclectic mix of Motown, funk, Beatles and hard rock. Starting on piano before moving onto bass, he built his musical knowledge on solid foundations. He is a brilliant bassist, who brings unique melodic flair and feel to the band.

Stark have come a long way in a short time. They have already started making waves on the British festival circuit, having appeared at Tenby Blues, Bowness Bay Blues, The Alternative Escape and the Brighton Festival Fringe. They have been featured as a Critic’s Choice in Time Out, and R2 magazine described their last CD as ‘an unexpected joy’.

StarkFor the last three years, they have been honing their songwriting and performance skills, recording, producing and releasing their own music – to huge critical acclaim. Their highly original blend of 1930s American blues and British prog rock, their infectious melodies, poetic lyrics and unique arrangements are winning Stark a dedicated and growing fan base. Their latest release, Stories From The Ground, will put them on the map as a force to be reckoned with.

‘… bursting with tight, driving melodicism’ – Time Out, Critic’s Choice

‘Fantastic technique and full of feeling’ – Tenby Blues Festival

‘Next up were the startlingly youthful looking but exceptionally talented Stark, with a harder powerful sound that took us out of 1950s rockabilly into a late 60s bluesy heavy rock vibe, akin to Led Zeppelin. All three members of Stark were incredibly impressive, and the sound whilst rocking was also soulful and full of great tunes.’ – Brighton Music Blog

‘full of intense, frantic, captivating instruments blended with rich vocals, and delightful harmonies. Stark has it all!’ – Fatea Magazine