I’ve never really made it past the “three chords and the truth” phase of technical guitar playing ability.
I’ve also never, ever, been inclined to shred, jam, or riff. The guitar would undoubtedly have remained forever a mystery to me if I had not met two particular people: Thomas Juliano and Kevin McKendree.
I’ll be sharing plenty of posts in the future about how Thomas saved the band from an even earlier exit, and how he finally taught me a 4th chord, but today’s post is about Kev.
Kev went to middle school with Giti. By the time I met him, he was already a highly respected B-3 player, pianist, and music director in Nashville. Kevin played keys on all our records. “Tug”? Kev. “People Like New”? Kev. “Player Piano”? Kev’s magic is that he makes being a multi-instrumentalist look easy. During the time I spent with him between touring for American Standard and making Rock Crown, I got my first glimpse into a real musician’s life—far different from the “get in the van” experience I’d been living in dirtbag rock clubs.
I’ve made a few trips to Nashville over the years to record with Kev, and, in every instance, we experimented, moving in and out of the musical comfort zone (or at least mine). Most of the time, I just brought whatever I was working on, and Kev would help me bring it to life.
Today’s track is titled “Lifesize Drag.” I’m singing and playing guitar. Kenneth Blevins is playing drums. Kev’s doing all the rest. A simple song, for sure, but something about it still feels new to me, and Kev and Kenneth are in a pocket I’d love to visit again.
And even after 20+ years, my guitar playing remains a humbling affirmation of my limitations.
Yet the songs still arrive. And I’m grateful for them to be revealed—whether by my own struggling hand, or with the help of an old friend.