Guthrie Kennard — A Man on the Move

| December 26, 2015 | 4 Replies

By Billy Keith Bucher, Scene In Town contributorGK 6 10x8 name copy

Swamp music may best be described as a dank and funky music flowing over a jagged and syncopated beat. This describes Guthrie Kennard’s music, like dark meat on a chicken bone.

Guthrie Kennard grew up on the muddy banks of the James River on the south side of Richmond, Virginia. His current five CDs have a number of songs that are not only hypnotic, but they are thoughtful to boot and have their roots in Americana and swamp-a-billy music. Guthrie has a mischievous grin and a slow deep laugh with a taste of rasp in it. He has certainly continued to build on the power of his writing and the imagery of his songs.

“I guess people don’t realize it today, but when I was beginning my music, I was playing the bass guitar and writing songs,” Kennard said recently. “My influences in the late 60s and early 70s were bassists Willie Dixon, Tommy Shannon, and Carl Radle. Like a lot of other young artists of my time, I was influenced by the Beatles, the Yardbirds and John Mayall & The Blues Breakers, Freddie King, Albert King and Muddy Waters. I lean more toward the power of The Electric Blues, but now I’ve gone back to the roots of the blues, which today they may call “Country Blues,” like Lightnin’ Hopkins and all the Delta Blues cats.

“My first trip to Texas was in 1968. I went back up to Richmond and then came back down (to Texas) in ’70 or ’71. In the meantime, when I went back to Richmond, I ended up playing with guitarists Mike Deep, Lynwood Bell, Jimmy Langlious, Mike Parker, and Southside Johnny. The band was called Studio B. That was my first all-musician band. I was the worst one in the band, and now most of the folks from that band have gone on to have very successful careers in music and still stay in touch with one another to this day!

“When I came back to Texas, one of the first musicians I met was Smokin’ Joe Kubeck at Mother Blues. I forgot what year it was, but we ended up playing together some. Not sure what happened, but I ended up playing in band called Big D Stuff with Mouse Mayes, Larry Samford, Russell Stonecipher and Craig Marlow. I played with them for a pretty good while, and then got a call from Mike Deep who was then with GRC Records artist Steve Ball. So, I ended up moving to North Carolina and recording an album with the Steve Ball Band with GRC Records. Then, like everything, all good things must come to an end, and I moved back to Texas.

“I met a guitarist named Brett Reid and we became friends. He was playing off and on with Rocky Hill in Houston. He told me Rocky was interested in a bass player and I said sure. So, I ended up moving to Houston and playing with Rocky Hill, Uncle John Turner and Brett Reid . I really loved that band.

“After that, I went back up to Virgina for a minute when I got a call from Smokin’ Joe Kubeck, who asked me if I wanted to play with Marc Benno and himself and I said ‘I would love to.’ So, I headed back down to Texas and ended up touring in Europe with Marc Benno.”Guthrie 2

Guthrie co-wrote the song “Laverne” with Marc Benno on Benno’s album “Snake Charmer.”

Kennard continued his trip down memory lane. “In 1983, I met Ray Wylie Hubbard at a Vietnam Vet Show that Ray had put on. I didn’t realize at the time what an influence Ray Wylie would have over my music. I ran into him again, years later, coming out of Eugene’s Music Store, and I introduced myself, reminding him that I had met him at the show he had put on and that I was playing with Rocky Hill. Of course, he didn’t remember me, but he asked me what I played. Of course, I answered ‘bass guitar,’ and he said he was looking for a bass player. So that’s when I started playing with Ray. I played with him off and on through the years and our friendship grew and still remains to this day.

“He has produced two of my CDs, Ranch Road 12 and Matchbox.”

For the coming new year, Guthrie is working on releasing a live CD recorded at Magnolia Motor Lounge in Fort Worth, on the Magnolia Label, and also is in the progress of working on a new studio album with Ray Wylie Hubbard. Guthrie said he’s looking forward to getting back out on the road this coming year and back to Europe.

To start the new year out right, Guthrie is playing with his good friend Craig Wallace at The Forge in Ben Wheeler, Texas, and it doesn’t get any better than that!

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  1. Dianna Bass says:

    I met Guthrie through my second husband not only is he a great musician but is one of the kindest humans on this planet he is and will always be a true friend and I wish him many blessings!!!

  2. its so incredibly awesome that hes played all these decades with a true love, id say Guthrie and music is a long lasting love story yep, he just has it , jimmy blue shoes would say Guthrie’s running for congress as we would wait to go home !! yet Guthrie would stay to tell everyone hey , how are you doing !!etc,, he was just meant to be on stage forever !!! , and hes such an intense writer , once he ask if i had an idea for a lyric he was writing i said how about this, he said no , no thats not what the songs about lol man i loved that about him , im a lucky kid brother , to have watched his entire career continue and always wanting to do his best each time he played with hearts and a passion and for all those decades wow awesome just is ,,

  3. William Coolcat Kennard, you really hit it right on in your comments. The first time I heard Guthrie perform I just KNEW I had to write about him. In a way I might have tried too hard to capture his essence and I wasn’t at all happy with all the results. That was my fault. I just tried too hard to capture the Guthrie story. Therefore, I know that this will not be the last time I write about Guthrie. I also want to write about Julie Bonk who often can be heard playing with Guthrie. Yes, I’m always trying to catch up. Thank you for your input, “Coolcat”. Hope I’ll catch you around one of these days. Billy Keith Bucher

  4. Darrel Ladd says:

    I was blessed to have been Guthries Neighbor in Irving Tx. And there a friendship was born. Its really not fair to try and put into words just how special Guthrie is. I met him some 27 years ago, and was blessed to have an opportunity to hear Jimmy, Brett, and Guthrie practice in his garage and that was when they were calling themselves “The Hippy Dawgs”. His style is unlike any other. His songwriting superb. Thank you for calling me a friend, im honored to call you mine. You are more than a friend. Keep jammin and writing songs like,”Catfish Fishin”. Love you brother

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