Hey Negrita are a roots music combo from London whose music combines the tough side of American country and the sharp emotional edge of the blues. Named for a song by the Rolling Stones, Hey Negrita were founded by singer and guitarist Felix (full name Felix Bechtolsheimer), a musician born in Germany and raised in Britain who got a crash course in American music when he spent two years living in Florida. But Felix's decision to come to America in 2000 had little to do with music; he had developed a serious drug problem, and came to Florida on the advice of his uncle to enter rehab and kick his heroin habit. During his time in the Sunshine State, Felix became friends with an American guitarist who had played with Little Feat and Gram Parsons, and they played regular club gigs together, piquing his interest in American roots sounds. When Felix returned to the U.K., he formed Hey Negrita as a vehicle for new songs he'd written about his struggle with addiction as well as his fondness for musical Americana.
Felix teamed up with an old musical colleague, Hugo Heimann, who played bass and keyboards, and the two cut Hey Negrita's debut album, 2005's We Are Catfish, with Felix handling lead vocals and guitar and Heimann overdubbing everything else. Soon Hey Negrita expanded to a full band with the addition of Neil Findlay on percussion and Gus Glen on banjo, guitar, and lap steel, and in 2006 the group cut its second LP, The Buzz Above, which like the debut was originally released on the U.K. independent label Fat Fox Music -- though as the group's profile rose, a deal was soon struck with Universal, which reissued the album. Hey Negrita toured extensively, both as a headliner and as opening act for their friends Alabama 3, though by the end of 2007 the group's busy schedule led to some changes in the lineup. Both Hugo Heimann and Gus Glen left Hey Negrita, and Will Greener on harmonica, Paul Sandy on upright bass, and Matthew Ord on guitar and vocals were added to the membership. In June 2008, the new edition of Hey Negrita released the single "Rope," with a full-length album, You Can Kick, following shortly thereafter. The group is also featured in a documentary on the rise of the U.K. Americana music scene, We Dreamed America. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi