Monday, April 12, 2010
Time for an update:
I spent 5 days of my recent vacation sleeping on the very comfortable futon in the computer room of Kevn Kinney's place in Brooklyn, New York. I got there on Friday April 2nd & C-Bass joined me on the 3rd to shoot a lot of footage for the documentary thru April 7th. My buddy, and NY resident, Greg Russ helped out for the first round of interviewing on Friday night. We started the first interview with Kevn around 9p. then took a break around 10:30 so Greg and I could run into Manhattan to grab more equipment. Kevn waited patiently until we returned and we resumed the interview and kept on until about 1:30 or 2a. before breaking for the night.
We concentrated on the early years back in Milwaukee, his trek to Atlanta in the early 80's, and the eventual partnership with Tim Nielsen that led to the formation of Drivin n Cryin. Kevn talked a lot about his songwriting, his dad, and the personal demons he was fighting during the period leading up to and following the recording of the 'Smoke' album.
The plan on Saturday was to set up in a local park for an interview, but along the way we spotted a rocking chair waiting for a trashman and decided to situate Kevn in that chair on a street corner, guitar in hand, to tell some stories. We spent most of that interview talking about New York and Kevn's nearly magical ability to not fit into any musical scene. He was never really accepted by the rockers or the grungers with Drivin N Cryin & his brand of Folk music isn't at all accepted by the NPR crowd. At one point Kevn kind of admits that 'Build A Fire' is his least favorite of the DnC hits- but then played an acoustic version of the song that knocked us out. One of the things he explored a couple of times was how different things would have been if 'Peacemaker' rather than 'Fly Me Courageous' had been the biggest hit from the early days.
One of the biggest eye-openers for me was to find out that Kevn Kinney is an amazing cook. We were lucky enough to be on hand for one of his legendary Brooklyn barbecues on Saturday night. Kevn and his wife Shayni Rae invited assorted friends and artisans for a party/feast that combined amazing food with good music, good conversation, and general chaos. We had a camera set up in the living room and cherry-picked artists to sit down and talk about Kevn and Drivin N Cryin. We let everyone get a little drunk before sitting them down- ensuring good interviews from all.
The next day was Easter Sunday. I gave C-Bass the day off and decided to leave the cameras at the apartment when we took off to Manhattan to see Anton Fier backing up a singer/songwriter in a small cafe. I hadn't seen Anton play before- so that was a real treat. After that brief set I arranged a time to interview Anton the following Tuesday and Kevn and I made our way over to the Bar 2A. Tom Clark was tending bar with good humor and we spent the better part of the day mixing inebriation with laughter. Shayni joined us as the sun was setting and we all made our way over for a hamburger and good live music at The National Underground- then finally found ourselves at another bar, a sort of speakeasy until about 1:30 or so. Then it was back to Kevn's kitchen where the three of us stayed up talking for another hour or so before turning in.
On Monday morning Kevn peaked his head into the living room to inform me that we didn't have to drink all day again. I agreed it was time to give the liver a break. We did another interview with Kevn on his side patio. This time I spent less time on the musical timeline and more time on pop culture stuff and his love of cooking, etc. At noon Tom Clark came by for an interview, then sat around the kitchen table jamming with Kevn for the better part of an hour. It was during that session that he and Kevn improvised a country version of the Drivin N Cryin power rocker 'Detroit City'. It was the first attempt at this version and I've included the video below. It's just great.
On Tuesday C-Bass and I went into Manhattan to interview Anton Fier who produced the second album (Whisper Tames The Lion) and the latest album (Great American Bubble Factory) for Drivin N Cryin. Anton was very open and gave us a great interview. He admitted that he didn't really get the band the first time around and felt that he had a better appreciation for them this time around. He also revealed that he thinks he was hired the first time based on the grade of marijuana he had on him when he met the band.
After leaving Anton's place we raced back to Brooklyn to interview Andy Shernoff from The Dictators. Kevn has often said that Drivin N Cryin was set up as a southern version of The Dictators. For those uninitiated, The Dictators were a pre-Ramones New York rock band that fostered a legion of loyal fans, one of which was Kevn Kinney, when he came across their first album as a teenager in Milwaukee in the late 70's. Andy gave us a great overview of the Dictators scene- then Kevn joined us to talk about Andy's influence on him. The whole thing culminated in another great musical session featuring both Andy & Kevn singing 'I Stand Tall'- the Dictators song covered by DnC on their new album.
After Andy left we relaxed until it was time to go shoot Kevn with his friends at the National Underground in a musical outfit known as Mexican Dirt Weed. Kevn did four songs. The first was a great new tune followed by 'Smoke', 'Underground Umbrella', & the song 'Mexican Dirt Weed'. All great stuff- all captured by our cameras. After the set there was much drinking followed by another late night talk around the kitchen table until everyone admitted exhaustion and turned in for the evening.
Early afternoon Wednesday was spent listening to records with Kevn and talking till it was time for me to head to the airport and back to Atlanta. Kevn gave me all sorts of gifts- books, cd's, etc. Then he gave me the first 45 he ever pressed with his punk band The Prosecutors- for the documentary. He laughed as he handed it to me because somebody paid $800 for one on E-Bay.
As we stood out front waiting for my car to the airport we kind of compared notes and came to the conclusion that we had become friends in the preceeding days. That was a cool feeling. You couldn't have better friends than Kevn and Shayni Rae. Kindness and hospitality are in endless supply with them. It was a great 5 days. We came home with an abundance of material for the movie and some great memories to boot.
Source Material #2:
Detroit City- Kevn Kinney & Tom Clark
Posted by ericvon at 5:41 PM