By Dariel Bendin
Kerry Michaels Band reunion show at Kono Lounge, 8 p.m. Feb. 17.
I watched a video earlier today, circa 1990 maybe, of the Kerry Michaels Band opening for Buddy Guy in Winston-Salem, N.C. This band kicked butt! Michael Stallings, better known as “Pops” was putting out one sweet guitar riff after another. Kerry (still going by Kerry Martin then) was belting out the blues, her voice powerfully rich and textural. I read somewhere, that when asked to describe their music, she said, “Baby, it’s white hot soul.” Now I get it. Yowza, that girl is making Etta proud!
Pops and Kerry first met in a little country bar in Greensboro, N.C. She had moved there from Galveston, Tex. to be closer to Duke University Hospital where she was being treated for cancer. She was tending bar, he was playing in a country band called Stampede.
The band hasn’t played together for years, but they’re coming together for a one-night, one-time reunion show (at least that’s what I’m told), and I’m excited!
A popular band in the Piedmont after forming in 1987, KMB’s first big break came when they were sponsored by the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society after winning the area’s Piedmont Amateur Contest (now the regional IBC Challenge) in Greensboro, N.C. They went on to the National Blues Amateur Contest finals in Memphis, Tenn., where they came in third.
At this time, band members of were Kerry Martin (lead vocals and keys); Michael Stallings (lead guitar and vocals); David Hutson (bass guitar and vocals); Ronnie Skidmore (keys and vocals) and Brandon Cardwell (drums).
Says Michael Stallings, “After Memphis, we started gigging all the time; we were playing so often, we had to bring in band members who wanted to play full time.
Says Kerry, “That’s when we added Bryant Bowles on drums; Mike Stevens on bass; and then Jimmy “Grub” Thornberg on keyboards. This is the Kerry Michaels Band you’ll see with me and Pops at Kono Lounge.
“These were guys I’ve played with forever,” she continues, “I met Mike Stephens in 1979, playing an after-hours gig at Sockeye’s, a place out on 501 called Sock’s Lounge.
“Bryant Bowles is the kind of drummer you don’t even have to turn around and look at. He already knows what I’m thinking. Musically, Bryant is my soulmate.”
Kerry adds, “We had met Albert King, who came to see us play in Memphis. We started opening for Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, even Charlie Daniels. We did shows with Valerie Wellington and Denise LaSalle. We were going strong.
“But because of some bad decisions I made, I lost my boys. We haven’t played together for 15 years or more. It’s was all my fault, but they’ve forgiven me. I still can’t forgive myself. But I’m tickled pink to be playing with them. I want to make this music one mo’ time.”
I plan to be there for it!
Tickets are $15 ($20 VIP) including hibachi buffet. Kono Lounge is located at 1901 N. Kings Hwy. in Myrtle Beach, S.C. For more info, email BonoProductions@yahoo.com.
SxSE presents Barefoot Movement at 8 p.m. Feb. 18.
The folks over at South By Southeast have planned another wonderful night of music for us. The Barefoot Movement is a group I haven’t seen live yet, but I’ve been listening to their music and I’m looking forward to the show. They’re a quartet of accomplished acoustic musicians who seamlessly meld old-time Southern music with Americana, jazz and even modern rock.
Players are Noah Wall (lead vocals, songwriter, fiddle); Tommy Norris (mandolin and harmony); Quentin Acres (guitar, vocals, songwriter); and Hasee Ciaccdo (upright bass and harmony).
The group’s sweet energetic vocal harmonies are supported by topnotch instrumentation. I was tempted to label them as bluegrass or maybe “new grass,” but after talking to Noah on the phone earlier,I’ve changed my mind.
“In the world of bluegrass,” she explained, “people are very particular about what’s included. We like to experiement. We call ourselves an eight-legged bench with our feet going in different directions. We don’t want to close the door to any kind of sound we might make.”
Whatever you want to call them, this group is on the rise, one to watch. So, once again, Trust the Frog.
The opening act, which starts at 7 p.m., is folk duo Debbie Daniel and Jack McGregor from the Columbia, S.C. band, Slap Wore Out.
Music Feasts are $25 per person ($20 for SxSE annual concert series members). Admission fees include a range of potluck meals and often homemade dessert (to which you are invited to contribute), wine, beer, soda and coffee. Reserve your spot by sending an email to southxsoutheast @aol.com, with the number of tickets you need and your zip code. They’ll put you on their A list.
The Myrtle Beach Train Depot is located at 851 Broadway in Myrtle Beach. For more information,log onto www.southbysoutheast.org.
This was originally published (along with additional portions of the Kerry Michaels interviews) at DarielB – Flying Under the Radar (http://darielb.wordpress. com). You can connect with Dariel on Facebook, Twitter and Live Blues World.