As soon as this Louisiana native finished high school, he relocated to Denton, Texas, near Dallas, where he got a degree in Jazz Studies from the University of North Texas.
He lists Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Cliff Gallup, Danny Gatton, Chet Atkins, George Harrison, Dick Dale, Brian Setzer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robben Ford, B.B. King, Brent Mason, Johnny Hiland, Brad Paisley, Andy Timmons, and Carl Verheyen as some of his influences. In other words, his tastes are broad (and impeccable), and he has mostly “old ears” for a 37-year-old.
His CD opens with an impressive instrumental arrangement of “And Your Bird Can Sing” that could almost be mistaken for the Beatles’ backing track. The repertoire is entirely instrumental (ranging from covers of Dusty Springfield to Stevie Wonder to Elvin Bishop – mostly utilizing a modeling Fender VG Stratocaster), save the original jump blues “What Do You Want With Me,” sung by Corry Pertile with a Leslie-fied solo by Knirk.
Another original, “Gallup ’n Gatton,” lives up to its estimable title, and across 11 tunes Knirk (pronounced “kuhnirk”) strikes a deft balance of chops and restraint. He still lives in the D/FW area, where he has his own trio and gives private guitar lessons.
This article originally appeared in VG April 2014 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.