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Thursday, Nov. 17, 2005 06:56 am

Reporting on Kinsey

Kinsey brothers, stretching the limits of the blues, play Springfield Friday

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When I worked at Appletree Records, in the Chatham Square Center off Wabash Avenue, in the late ’80s, the Kinsey Report was a hot new band with a debut release on Alligator Records that was the talk of the town. They were stretching the limits of blues music with a rock attitude and a funky feeling. I remember playing the record in-store, pushing copies of it (I even sold some vinyl LPs), and just thinking how fresh and cutting-edge this was for contemporary blues. The group was all the rage, playing blues festivals and opening for major acts in the States and in Europe. I haven’t heard much of them since until, lookee here, they’re playing on Friday in Springfield. The group comprises the three Kinsey brothers, on bass, guitar, and drums, with an added second guitarist, usually a family friend. The oldest sibling, Donald, was touring with blues great Albert King at age 17, then did guitar-playing stints with reggae masters Peter Tosh and Bob Marley during the ’70s. He was an official Wailer on Marley’s acclaimed Babylon by Bus and persuaded Tosh to record his hit version of the Chuck Berry classic “Johnny B. Goode.” In 1984, after years of touring and recording with Tosh, Marley, and a group of his own called the Chosen Ones, Donald returned to his home town of Gary, Ind. He joined brothers Ralph and Kenneth to form the Kinsey Report (no relation to Alfred Kinsey or his famous report), and they began playing with their father, Delta-blues guitarist Big Daddy Kinsey. The boys backed Dad on an album combining their rock-funk blues with his more traditional fare. Not long after that, Bruce Iglauer, founder of Alligator Records, heard the Big Daddy recording and pitched a record deal to this for-real blues-brothers band. Edge of the City, the album that caused such a stir in Appletree Records, was released in 1988 and received the same reaction around the country as it got in our little store. It won blues awards, garnered high critical praise, and sold well, too. Since then the brothers Kinsey have toured regularly, recorded four more albums, and made themselves at home in the blues world.

The Kinsey Report plays at American Legion Post 809 (1800 E. Capitol Ave., 217-522-3110), 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18.

Feeling simultaneously evil and thankful? Then you must attend the Thanksgiving Metal Feast at Viele’s Planet (126 E. Jefferson St., 217-525-9029) on Saturday, Nov. 19. FeastFest as I lovingly call it, is described thusly by Chris Hupp, our resident metal man on the street: “I am sure the pilgrims would have loved to have heard death metal music back in the day. This festival is in their honor. I can picture them now with their horns up in the air, headbanging to their little hearts’ content and burning off some of those calories from their righteous Thanksgiving feast.” That sort of says it all, doesn’t it?

Marley’s Pub (9 W. Old State Capitol Plaza, 217-522-2280) continues its run of cool, hip bands with singer/songwriter and rising star Josh Holmes, 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18. Holmes, who recently got a sweet break when ABC used his song “Greener on the Other Side” in a network series show called Beautiful People, describes his music as “soulful rock.”

He has most definitely stationed himself to be radio-friendly and is anxious to make it the music world, but works hard on, and takes seriously, the artistic side of things as well. “I have to separate myself from being a musician to do the business part,” he says. “I take so much damn time from doing what I want to do, which is playing music.”

Holmes recently signed on with a new management team and already has label backing for his newest CD project, so, with any luck, the professionals will be handling the business dealings in the near future. He plays about 200 dates a year, about two-thirds of them as a solo acoustic performer. On Friday he’ll be rocking with a full band, mixing mostly originals with covers by the Dave Matthews Band, Counting Crows, and various Motown artists.

The past couple of years we’ve done our best to inform you, our curious and thoughtful reading public, of the great happenings on the night before Thanksgiving. It should be common knowledge by now that it’s the greatest American party night of the year. So check out the extra Pub Crawl listings for Wednesday, Nov. 23, and go gobble up the fun on Thanksgiving Eve.
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