BJ Baartmans biography 2023

BJ Baartmans

Guitarplayer, singer/songwriter, producer

BJ Baartmans is a highly acclaimed musician from The Netherlands. He's born in 1965 in a small town in the southern east part of the country, Boxmeer, where he's been based ever since.

A professional musician since he was in his late teens, BJ has done over 4000 gigs playing mainly his own original material or backing up singer songwriters from both sides of the Atlantic. He toured all over The Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, France and Italy and even a little bit of the US with people like Iain Matthews, Kerri Powes, David Corley, Lynne Hanson, Cara Luft, Shannon Lyon, Amy Speace, Eugene Ruffolo, Terri Binion, Jenee Halstead, Rod Picott and many more..

Baartmans can be heard as a sessionplayer on countless (inter-)national recordings. As a producer he's been responsible for easily a 100 albums released between the mid 90s and now, most of them in the 'americana' genre, music fuelled by blues, jazz, country or folk, sometimes with a hard rockin' vibe too. He worked with acts like Jeff Finlin, Eric Devries, Plainsong, Israel Nash Gripka, Shannon Lyon, David Corley, Matthews Southern Comfort, Carter Sampson.

BJ's own artist catalogue, songs he brings as a singer songwriter, has often been labelled as 'americana' . He is a storyteller at heart, writes deep personal stories and sharp observations with a nice way of putting things into perspective and a good sense of humour.

The instrumental records that he also regularly puts out show a more jazzy, impressionistic approach. Since the late 90's there have been a good 15 albums released under his own name or under the bandnames BJ's Pawnshop or BJ's Wild Verband. Some in Dutch, some in English. BJ's also a member of Dutch top rootsrock collective Hidden Agenda Deluxe and the latest version of Matthews Southern Comfort, a band formed around legendary singer Iain Matthews.

In 2018 BJ formed The Space Age Travellers, an all instrumental trio that plays original music from BJ in a wild mixture of Surf, Rockabilly, Jazz, Spaghetti Western Themes, Cuban grooves and Middle Eastern melodies. 

The last few years also saw the release of 3 video guitarcourses BJ wrote and performed for the American based True Fire, digging deep into slide guitar on the first one and then into "space age" 50s and 60s guitar styles for the next two.

BJ Baartmans as a guitar player can be described as eclectic. He draws from a lot of sources in a way similar to what players like Ry Cooder, Richard Thompson, Nels Cline or Bill Frisell do. Hard to pinpoint him to a specific style, although he has a characteristic tone, a bluesy laid back feel quite his own.

He is a really gifted slide player, channeling some Lowell George, Bonnie Raitt, Derek Trucks with an original approach to the use of open tunings and typical scales.

And he's been digging deep into the roots of what made players he loves into what they are, exploring old school jazz, blues, rockabilly and soulmusic.

On the side he plays a lot of bass and string instruments like mandolin, lapsteel, bouzouki, banjo, mandocello and some keyboards and drumparts too on a lot of recordings.

Baartmans' got a pretty impressive collection of over a 50 vintage or new guitars and other string instruments in all sorts of configurations from all sorts of brands and he plays them through some cool vintage guitar amps. All set up to work and be ready to be played anytime.

BJ Baartmans work as a producer is usually done in his own backyard studio, Studio Wild Verband, where a nice collection of good old vintage studio equipment (mics, preamps, outboard gear) sits well in an 'in the box' recording and mixing setup.