Friday, May 14, 2010

Guthrie Kennard - A Texas Blues King

Guthrie has been writing songs since the age of 16. With an enviable array of legendary musicians surrounding him including Ray Wylie Hubbard, Grammy Award winner Mark Benno and the legendary Buddy Miles (the late drummer of Band of Gypsy’s), Kennard’s meaty, skillful songwriting and unmistakable growl take the listener down a dusty road filled with juke joints and fishin’ holes. Each song, be it a meditation on life lived and life to come, or his spooky account of the celebratory Day of the Dead with “Streets of Jaurez”, or a swampy tribute to “Catfish Fishin’,” is sure to climb inside your head and spin it around. 

Kennard’s music is steeped in Texas tradition, influenced by blues, and is a shining example of all that is great about Americana. Upon first hearing his gravelly voice, you might expect an album full of rocker songs about booze and regret — and there are definitely plenty of those on Matchbox, but Kennard’s songs will also surprise you with their subtlety and insight. Kennard is something of a sage, and an unassuming wisdom comes through particularly in his hit song “My Mind Rolls Like a Wheel”. Of course, then he turns around and cranks out “Monkey Wrench”, a long and lean ode to a lady mechanic, just to keep everyone guessing.

Kennard fits in among such luminaries as Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Ryan Bingham, Billy Joe Shaver, Robert Earl Keen, and of course Ray Wylie Hubbard who produced the album. Kennard’s punchy and authentic style is unmistakable but also retains an elegant uniqueness that puts Matchbox at the top of the heap.

Kennard’s lyrics are often inky dark, but he never takes himself too seriously, as shown in songs like “Catfish Fishin’”, “Monkey Wrench”, and especially the insanely catchy and brilliantly simple hit song “Motorcycle”, which gives Arlo Guthrie a run for his money in the competition for the best folk ode to two wheels. There are plenty of surprises when you start to dig below the surface of Guthrie Kennard’s music. For example, the undeniably affecting album closer, “Bristol”, is not about Bristol, Tennesee, as most roots music buffs would assume, but rather about Bristol, England, where Kennard has experienced great success, perhaps more so than on his native soil. 

Matchbox is collection of the truest, grittiest, most soulful songs to be released this year. Guthrie Kennard’s got something to say. Y’all listen!

A short doc­u­men­tary about Guthrie Ken­nard, a blues mu­si­cian from Texas. Renowned for his blues rock bass gui­tar skills, Guthrie has played with some of the most em­i­nent mu­si­cians in Amer­i­ca. In the past few years he has emerged as an ex­treme­ly tal­ent­ed singer/song­writ­er. The film looks at this charis­mat­ic ris­ing star and the jour­ney his mu­sic is tak­ing him on.

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