Over the past five years I’ve talked to countless artists, but I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of coming into contact with someone as seasoned as Kenny “Big Daddy” Williams. His first guitar wasn’t much, but he remembers wanting to play so badly that it didn’t matter. It paid off because he went on to land on the Sunset Strip during a time when it was more about rock and roll than family photos. If you ask him what it was like back in the ’80s, he’ll say it was “like Woodstock” also noting the apartment he shared with some friends basically had to be taken down after their time there. When you have parties that house some 600 people, that’s understandable.
Today Kenny, is the only remaining member of The Bluespower Band, and notes that when he started out his mission was “to develop a sound based on the blues which took traditional blues and mash it together with other genres which are blues based, like rock, jazz, reggae and even country and try to write songs that were stories that theme driven.” It’s safe to say he’s stayed true to that all these years later with a couple of talented friends by his side he’s keeping blues alive. He’s not only doing that by playing it himself, but also putting new and old on the airwaves as a DJ here in Southern California on KX935 FM.
Now we’ll get to what drew Kenny to his new bandmates, advice for budding musicians and artists as well as what’s next for The Bluespower Band.
Kendra: It’s not uncommon for us to surround ourselves with like minded people, but let us know – what drew you to make music with Joe Dolci and Rich Smith?
Big Daddy: Joe and Rich are some the best musicians I’ve worked with. When we first got together we instantly knew 40 songs note for note and the harmonies were right on from day one. Plus it was cosmically in the cards because we are all air signs. Joe is a Libra, Rich is an Aquarius and I’m a Gemini. When we started writing for the new album they got what I was trying to do and instantly got on board with it and also had great ideas. My record company heard the first song and told me it was the best work I’ve done so far, and my last album with The Papermoon Gypsys got a lot of praise and is still in rotation around the world. Rich has been my drummer for many years and is in high demand so he does work with other bands but he’s always made my music a top priority even though he does around 250 gigs a year. He brought Joe in from one of the bands he was playing with which got them both fired but they were going to quit anyway because the leader of the band was treating them very good.
Kendra: Do you guys have more arguments about music or general topics like TV, politics and whatnot?
Big Daddy: You know being in a band is like being married in some respects, but these guys are so calm and collected and they both have great senses of humor. Joe is from Brooklyn so you have to get used to his humor, but him and Rich both are like brothers to me. I know everyone out there would probably not believe me when I say we don’t argue. That doesn’t mean we agree with on all things, but I think we respect each other so much that we would find it a waste of time to argue about things. We don’t talk about politics or religion because those are personal beliefs and we’re not trying to convert each other into our way of thinking, we’re just trying to make good and meaningful music that appeals to everyone. Our themes for our songs have universal appeal, I hope. If there are lessons in our music, it’s lessons we ourselves are learning in life and life lessons are universal. We talk about the human condition and sometimes that’s dark but like someone commented on our new song “It’s a Long, Long Road,” “It sounds cinematic.” I want to be known as a s good storyteller. So we just don’t waste our time with arguments, we have too much else to do.
Kendra: When you’re not performing and making tunes, you’re selling instruments down at your shop down in Laguna Beach. Every day a teen wants to pick up a guitar and start a band. What guitar do you think a beginner should start out with and why?
Big Daddy: I usually suggest an acoustic to start with because one, it’s cheaper than getting an electric with an amp and cables, etc. plus it’s great for strengthening up the fingers, but I do suggest getting a nice one from the start because you want to make sure the action (distance the strings are from the fingerboard), is good. If you buy a nice guitar and decide that you’re not really into it then at least you have something that has value if you want to sell it.
Big Daddy: I started out as a co-host on the jazz program because I have a pretty good knowledge of jazz being as my stepfather played with Les Brown’s Band of Renown. At one point they lost their blues guy and I presented them with a program concept they liked and I got on the air starting with an hour every Friday 7-8pm and worked my way up to two hours during prime time 5-7pm on Friday. It’s been over two years now and I’ve a lot of great response with my listeners being from all around the world. You can find me on KX93.5 FM or online every Friday 5pm PST.
I would say part of my success on the radio has been the knowledge I have of blues and jazz and music in general. My voice is something I was born with but you can work your voice into being radio ready but first you have to get use to hearing it recorded. A lot of people don’t realize how you hear your voice is way different than how others hear it so practice recording yourself. I believe anyone can be on the radio if they can get past the nerves, and like I said the sound of yourself being so different than what you would imagine. I also studied broadcasting in college but I know DJs that didn’t study it and do just fine.
Kendra: You guys were performing all over the place at the beginning of September. Will you be doing some more shows this fall?
Big Daddy: We did do a lot of festivals and shows this summer and we do have some slated for fall, but right now our main concern is to finish this album. Our PR guy Doug Deutsch has gotten us a lot of press already which created a real buzz about this new project so now we feel we need to finish the album. We have a lot of great songs coming out of us but time is always tough to find. We hope to have it in the can by the first of the year. I released my last album in December so it’s certainly time for more music to come out.
Kendra: Being a deejay and having a radio show, you come across new music all the time. Who is a new artist you’d like to give a shout out to right now that you think our readers and your fans need to check out ASAP?
Big Daddy: One of my favorite new artist is Eric Gales. He’s got so much soul and personality I feel excited every time I see him play. There really is a lot great new artist out these days and Alligator, Cleopatra and all the smaller record companies send me stuff all the time and I get excited every time I get something new because they are really trying to keep it alive. I play a lot of this stuff on my show along with playing old vinyl which a lot of kids are starting to discover now. If vinyl comes back we might just see a change again in how artists make money. Right now it is almost impossible to make money off your music because downloading it is virtually free. Personally I love the sound of vinyl and play some every week so I buy lots of records every month.