Stephen Dale Petit
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In the age of the TV talent show and the corporate pop cabal, Stephen Dale Petit is leading the resistance. He’s a man on a mission, sworn to establish the blues as a dominant force in popular culture. He’s a riot-starter and rabble-rouser, blowing out speakers with the “thrusting hooligan anthems” (Mojo) of his acclaimed studio work and igniting a new venue each night with his “raw, fresh energy” (The Times). He’s a genre spokesman and bluesman savant, whose BLUnivErSity lectures reboot the old masters for the modern age, while rallying new recruits to the cause. No wonder that Guitar & Bass cited Petit as “proof positive that the blues can move forward in the 21st century”.
At 46, Petit has walked a winding path to the peak of the contemporary scene. Born in California’s Joshua Tree desert – with some prescience, he was delivered by a passing doctor with a passion for blues – the acquisition of a Gibson SG at the age of 12 sparked a precocious ascent on the ’80s West Coast club circuit, where he jammed with titans including B.B. and Albert King.
Petit’s love of the British boom lured him to London in the ’90s, for a period whose dazzling collaborations (David Gilmour, Mick Jones, The Pretty Things) were offset by lost years of addiction. Thankfully, emboldened by the sharp-end experience of busking on the tube, he blazed into contention with 2008’s self-financed Guitararama album, and began the imperious march to 2010’s The Crave and 2013’s Cracking The Code (bolstered by A-list guests including Hubert Sumlin, and dubbed “rampant perfection” by The Blues).
In 2015, as Petit heads out in the support slot on blues-rock titan Walter Trout’s I’m Back Tour, there’s no mistaking a man who means every line, every lick, every fleck of spittle and drop of sweat. “I want to see the blues become mainstream,” he says. “I want to see it become common currency in the discourse of modern popular culture. I want to see it become blues city…”