Brian Kramer has shared the stage and traded licks and recorded with Taj Mahal, Toumani Diabate, Bob Brozman, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Robben Ford, Geoff Muldaur, Bobby Rush, Bernard Allison, Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges, John Mayall, Sven Zetterberg, Michael Barretto, Otis Grand, Jimmy Dawkins and many others; and performed at international events such as the Cambridge Folk Festival, Bull Durham Blues Festival, Chicago World Music Festival, Notudden Blues Festival, Portugal Simply Blues Festival, etc.
A native of Brooklyn, Brian was barely out of his teens when he began hanging out with legendary blues men, picking up tips and advice from folks such as Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, whenever they visited his hometown of NYC. Junior Wells took a particular liking to Brian and paid careful attention in showing him the right moves and how to play from the heart.
In 1989, Junior joined Brian on his first record, Brian Kramer and the Bluesmasters featuring Junior Wells, Win or Lose, with Junior backing up Brian on almost every track and Brian supporting Junior on four of his songs. On these sessions were a gathering of the finest, most respected sidemen in the US, as well as former Rolling Stone, Mick Taylor.
Throughout much of the 90s, Brian toured and continued to be a fixture within the New York club scene, performing frequently with the great Blues man Larry Johnson, until relocating overseas to seek a broader range of opportunities.
On moving to Sweden, Brian began to be featured on the tracks of several established artists such as Cyndee Peters, Derrick “Big” Walker, and others. He produced a number of projects, recording some of the country’s most unique and talented blues artists. On becoming an active part of Scandinavia’s club and festival scene, Brian began appearing often at Club Fasching, the Stockholm Water Festival and Stockholm’s International Jazz and Blues Festival.
In 1998, Brian joined internationally acclaimed artist Eric Bibb, performing the next two years on four successful coast-to-coast tours of the US and Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Scandinavia and Japan. Brian was featured on Eric’s Home To Me album, his National slide guitar present from the opening notes of the first track to the final riff of the last cut. Eric’s father—60’s icon & folk singer Leon Bibb—later released an album called A Family Affair, featuring Brian’s slide guitar playing.
That same year, Brian began hosting the weekly Saturday Stampen Blues Jam. These jam sessions proved to be fertile ground for nurturing Sweden’s hottest new young blues talents. Emil Arvidsson, Daniel Kordelius, “Little” Chris Shorooi, Anna Christoffersson and many others have developed their craft alongside Brian. The Encyclopedia of the Blues by Edward M. Komara (2008) now lists Brian’s contributions to the Swedish Blues scene: “One important step in broadening the interest in blues music was the starting in the late 1990s of jam sessions at the club Stampen in Stockholm by the American singer and guitar player Brian Kramer.”
In 2000, Brian released an intimate, all acoustic recording titled Brian Kramer Trio and Friends, Live at the Folklore Center, which caught the attention of renowned writer-producer Sam Charters, who called it “wonderful, spirited music.” The following year saw the international release by Armadillo Records, UK, of Larry Johnson featuring Brian Kramer & the Couch Lizards, Two Gun Green.
From 2001 to 2005, Brian began releasing a series of albums in his own name: No Regrets (Armadillo), Everybody’s Story and I Want My Illusion (BKB). Each was very well received, with acclaim in both local and international press. The Tavla Foundation for the Arts, awarded Brian a culture prize in recognition of his positive focus within the environment with his music. He also toured throughout the UK, US, Poland, Thailand and the Netherlands during this time.
In 2007, the S. African Dept. of Culture invited Brian to perform and conduct workshops at one of the largest cultural festivals in South Africa. Specifically with Brian in mind, the Aardklop Festival initiated the “Empowerment through Music” program where he was able to meet with many young musicians in the local Township area and share his ideas on how to use music in a positive, value-creating way. Just prior to this event, Brian had collaborated with the great World/Blues man, Taj Mahal and local South-African musicians on a recording—Cross Boundaries—for use on a promotional CD for the Aardklop Festival.
In 2008, Brian celebrated 10 years of performances at Stampen, commemorating the anniversary with a newly-recorded album: Brian Kramer & the Nights of Blu-topia, Live at Club Stampen (BKB/Rootsy 0004)—a high-quality, multi-track live recording capturing the vibe and essence of the magic that happens every week with BK & his band, when he invites you into his home-away-from-home, taking you on a journey to Blu-topia.
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Brian Kramer plays/records with:
- Flat tops:
- AER Domino
- Ampeg Reverb-O-Rocket
- Diamond Bottlenecks (endorsee)
- Bo’ necks
- select Reso-strings which are perfect for slide & open tunings are named after Brian Kramer