1 month ago
August greetings to y'all,
It's hard to pretend anything is even close to ordinary during this pandemic. We've all had to make sacrifices and individual decisions about how to survive. Any fans of mine reading this, I hope you've been able to find a way, and to keep yourself and loved ones healthy. No music or concerts matter that much if you are physically suffering in some major way. But without a doubt, music continues to be a soundtrack for many of us during hard times, and if anything I've written has spoken to you these days, I am truly grateful. And I thank you for caring, just as I care about YOUR health and safety out there, folks. I only had one indoor gig in the past five months, and it was fun if sparsely attended. I have outdoor shows coming up on Aug. 9 (Lake Creek Winery near Marthasville, MO) and Aug. 22 (Alpha Brewing in St. Louis), but I am not actively pursuing gigs right now. There are just too many destabilizing factors. Most musicians I know will regard this as one of the worst periods EVER for our profession. It has required looking at all sorts of ways to find "alternatives" to what we normally wouldn't even have to think about. I do continue to plan an EP, tentatively for fall. Anxious to get some new songs out there when the signals are more clear. But I won't lie, it's tough to be an artist right now. I enjoyed a recent photoshoot I did with photographer/filmmaker Wolfgang Lehmkuhl (one of his pics is included here) and I've entered a few songs in songwriting contests just for the discipline of doing so. The next tune I post is almost certainly going to be my extensive remix of "Call It, Friend-o" which is getting close to the finish line. And I have a couple of new things under way, including a vaguely pandemic-themed song. Mostly, however, I have been writing reviews and essays for a couple of blog sites. One of these is called CINEMEMOIR, a cool new forum featuring writers' in-depth stories about how a certain film or aspects of film impacted their lives. This is going to be an active, evolving blogsite and I'm thrilled to be part ot it. You can check it out at link if the subject appeals to you. A writing contest with cash prizes will launch very shortly and is open to the public.
I want to say that I really appreciate it when you guys send me messages. I have always LOVED one-on-one communication. And I try to respond to every message I get. So don't be shy! If you have a question or just want to comment about a certain song, drop me a line. I'll love it, and chances are you will hear back from me quickly. In the meantime, folks, be good to each other out there and be attentive to what is happening in our country and your community. These are absolutely unprecedented times, and everyone is running scared. Through love, a sense of community and appreciation of the arts and other disciplines, we can find our common humanity and learn more about being decent human beings. I work on it every day, and can't wait to share new music with you as soon as I am able. So keep yourselves sane and healthy! Blessings, everyone... And enjoy the rest of your summer!
SDH (socially distant hugs),
4 months ago
Hello again, everyone!
I know it has been a long time since I sent out a newsletter here. In fall of last year, I lost my dear brother to a heart attack...a guy who had always been very supportive of my music. it was a big loss. Then in late winter of this year, just as I was gearing up to record some new stuff, the Pandemic hit, and all of us were thrown into an unprecedented crisis. It has been unbelievable. I hope and pray all of you out there have stayed safe and healthy, and that none of your loved ones caught this horrible virus. I'm healthy so far, but obviously almost all music activities were shut down, and I am waiting to see what happens later this spring. To say this period has been challenging would be an understatement...
Before Spring is over, I will release my vibrant new remix of "Call It, Friend-o," an older song of which I'm particularly proud. We are sprucing it up quite a bit. When I can, I will record the songs "Broken Joe and Broken Jane," and "Walking Along," which were planned for an EP. Can't give a timeline on that right now. Just taking everything one day at a time. My goofy party song, "Beer and Wine," has been near the top in the Country Rock genre for months now, even making it to the top 10 internationally. Some of YOU may have helped this happen, and if so, I thank you. Sharing a drink or three with friends remains a great pleasure, although during this pandemic, we haven't always been able to get together with people. "Beer and wine" are not quite as enjoyable when you're drinking alone, in my opinion. I hope things get back to normal soon.
If you have a taste for luminous, melodic female-fronted pop music, I want to recommend the Norwegian trio Ephemera to you all. I've loved them for many years, but they just released SEASONS, their first new platter in about 15 years. This is simply delightful, immaculately arranged music from the heart...check it out at either Tidal, Spotify or Amazon Music. The song "When the Best Ones Are Gone" is my favorite for the pandemic era, an absolutely gorgeous song about losing people and dealing with life's "undertow." The video Ephemera made for it shows empty streets and shuttered businesses in their hometown of Bergen...it is spellbinding and sad, yet still beautiful. I heartily recommend you check it out. I listen to these three ladies almost every other day; their music is that good. If you are still checking out MY songs, just know that I am grateful...some of you have written me sweet messages in the past few months and it means a lot. For those who don't know, my secondary project is lead singer of a Neil Young tribute band called "Shakey Deal." We have a sterling reputation here in St. Louis. I unearthed a solo performance recently of me performing "The Needle and the Damage Done." You can find it on our Facebook page, and it will likely be on YouTube soon, as other performances of ours such as "Cortez the Killer" are. Look into it if you dig Neil!
Please be good to each other, and be smart when you are out in public. This virus is nasty business, and no one wants to get it...none of us want to endure that sort of misery. I hope by the time I post again, the numbers will be down and life will at least resemble what it used to be. Time will tell. Keep writing to me if you are so inclined; I do try to answer as much as I can. And enjoy your spring (and upcoming summer), your family and friends, and all the good music that is out there. I toast to y'all from the quiet of my bedroom, where I am writing up a storm and hoping for better days SOON!
11 months ago
As I write these words, nature is being totally bipolar here in St. Louis. We had 90-degree weather last week, and this morning, my car windshield was iced over, it was cold as hell, and I'm struggling to stay warm. Just plain weird, and I wonder if we are in for a long, bitter winter. I hope not! Anyway, things have at least been heating up for me personally. One thing I am particularly good at is keeping REAL busy! KSDK Channel 5 broadcast a nice segment on me last night. You can watch it here: link It includes a bit about Up in the Air "ten years later" (yes, it has been a decade since that remarkable film came out, if you can believe that!), a nod to my Neil Young tribute band "Shakey Deal" (and by the way, to that other Neil tribute act called "Shakey"...didja HAVE to? Really?), and a mention of my exciting new project "Time To Write a Song," which is an album of original songs by my songwriting students at St. Louis Community College. Most of these people are older and have not recorded any of their songs before, so I feel great that my first job as a producer was facilitating the experience for them. Caroline Steinkamp is the youngest and likely most promising artist in this group and is already out there performing on her own. I drafted her to sing backing vocals on my contribution to the album, "Something From Your Heart." The tune was partially my message to the class, to remember that no matter how busy or preoccupied they get in life, remember to find a way to channel their heart into either music or general life experiences (hopefully BOTH). The engineer paid me a real compliment by saying that the tune reminded him of composer Philip Glass. PG is partially in my DNA for sure...his solo piano piece "Opening" would go on my list of favorite compositions of all time. Anyway, the album "Time To Write a Song" will be on sale for only $10 starting in late October; it will have two songs by Ms. Steinkamp on it as well as cool songs by John Vullo, Michael DeLeon, Amelia Beckmann and quite a few of my other students, all amazing. I posted "Something From Your Heart" as streaming audio here for a short time. You will also find two other completely different songs: a raucous drinking song called "Beer and Wine" that I recorded just for fun (it probably won't be on any album) and a melancholy travelogue from my previous album called "Just Movin' On". I never made that song available before; it's very personal in ways I can hardly do justice to. Three of the people who took part in it have passed away, including producer Lou Whitney, drummer Bobby Lloyd Hicks and my dear friend Rick Haegg, all Springfield pals. But I'm okay sharing this tune now that a few years have gone by...
The student project took up much of my time in the last couple of months, and we will be rehearsing for a couple of upcoming live shows in coming weeks. Shakey Deal, the Neil Young group, will play at the Pub House in St. James on Sat., Oct. 19 and at Sky Music Lounge in St. Louis on Sunday, Nov. 10 (we're teaming with a Dylan tribute act, Hard Rain, for that particular show). I continue to make plans for my next recording; hopefully that will get under way right after Christmas. All the songs are written. As an aside now, it is very cool and inspiring to meet people in the industry who paved the way ahead. One such performer is Liz Phair, who gave an utterly amazing interview/talk with a local journalist at the St. Louis County Library. Liz has a new memoir called "Horror Stories" that I plan to read shortly. Besides being an effervescent, lovely person, Liz had so many things to say about being a musician, things I truly related to. One insight had to do with the process of writing songs. Liz advised prospective songwriters to "put listeners inside a story or scenario that is already under way," an approach that has paid off well for her. She is a rather singular force in indie rock, and has a new album coming very soon. Her energy was absolutely infectious, although she has certainly had to deal with some "beastly" forces in her own career. It was an honor to get pictures with her and exchange even a few words of appreciation.
In conclusion, Happy Autumn to all of you out there! Remember to support live music and promising new artists wherever you encounter them. They need every one of you, something that has been brought home to me big time in the music classes I am teaching at STLCC!
Warm hugs to all,
Hello again, my fans and friends!
I constantly surprise myself with how busy I get these days. Get a load of this: I've just finished recording and mastering a new one-off party song; it's called "Beer and Wine." It's just goofy fun. I've also finished recording an ambient collaboration with Walter Whitney (known for his participation in such past experimental entities as Delay Tactics) to be called "Lost In Familiar Territory." It awaits only some minor tweaks, and then the mastering process. I will likely post a track from it here in the next month. Meanwhile, I'm preparing my next song-oriented album and can't wait to get in the studio again to dive into that. The songs for this record are among the most personally meaningful I have ever written. If all that weren't enough, I am adding "producer" to my list of credits with an album of songs recorded by my Songwriting students at St. Louis Community College at Meramec. They are a remarkable bunch, mostly beginners or budding artists who've not yet shared their efforts in public. These amazing individuals have really shown their understanding of what a song can be, emotionally and musically. The album will be called "Time To Write a Song," fittingly. There will be a limited number of copies made, but I'll announce official information when we are done. This has truly been one of the most gratifying projects I've ever been involved with! I just LOVE it when angsty creative types can push through the many pitfalls and scary obstacles and bring their art to fruition. It has never been more meaningful to do that sort of thing than RIGHT NOW.
I've been going through some of my older recordings, also, seeing what might be suitable to post for you guys. I'm enjoying some early tracks that I did not deem worthy of sharing before, but time has made me appreciate them a lot more lately. So stay tuned. As for "Beer and Wine," it will be available for download real soon. I may post it for streaming for a week free, shortly. Watch this space. Also in the cards: I am probably going to redesign or alter my website in some manner, soon as I figure out the logistics. I would really like to hear from any of you who had a certain experience with one of my songs or have thoughts to express about my music in general. I will use some of these quotes in promotional material and on the new site. You can send me a message through N1M or email me personally at kevinarenick@link. I'm grateful to anyone who feels they have something to share. Finally, if you are a Neil Young fan, my Neil tribute band Shakey Deal has gotten more and more attention. One of our best shows EVER was at the Jacoby Arts Center in Alton, IL in July. We really showed the power of our band. We have shows coming up on September 21 at Naked Vine in Chesterfield, MO and another on Oct. 19 at the Pub House Brewing Company in St. James, MO. And something is in the works for November, to be announced. If you like what I do and you also like the genius music of Mr. Young, you should definitely enjoy Shakey Deal! We have a killer lineup right now!
If you are in the St. Louis area, come see me play in a trio with Mark Arnold and Denise Chappell on Sat., Aug. 24 at the Irish Corner Bar at the intersection of Lemp and Cherokee. We have one heck of a show planned. After that except for a loose date or two I will be concentrating on recording and rehearsing until the next Shakey Deal concert. By the way, I highly recommend that y'all go see the David Crosby documentary "Remember My Name." It is unflinchingly honest and hard-hitting, and since CSNY were among my most influential songwriting heroes, this film affected me on multiple levels. It shows you almost every potential pitfall you can encounter on the road to artistic fame and it also depicts a rock legend who has somehow survived multiple traumas to outlive many of his contemporaries. Unforgettable stuff. See you all again real soon. link. Keep on rockin' in the freak world! That's what it feels like we are living in right now.
Truth and singing birds...
Hello good people!
Time sure gets away from me; this is only my second newsletter this year! It's nuts, really. I have been busy as usual, writing like mad (have a couple of new songs almost done, one of them is titled "Awkward"), performing shows, working on my book and tending to all sorts of business. My song "Sad Song #217" was supposedly chosen for a TV project, but I am waiting for the official word/contract on that and holding the excitement in check. Also, we will wrap up the recording of "Beer and Wine" shortly, my first "party song." I'll give you guys a sneak peek as soon as possible. Upcoming shows if you are in the St. Louis area include a Neil Young tribute show (my band for that purpose is called SHAKEY DEAL) at Naked Vine in Chesterfield on Sat., June 15 at 8pm, an appearance in Waterloo, IL at Vintage Wine Bar on June 22, 5-8 pm; a solo appearance as part of Acoustic Night at Imperial Pub & Club in Granite City, IL on June 27, a big rocking "Kevin Renick Band" appearance at OakGlenn Winery in Hermann, MO from 6-10pm on July 13, and then a rare theatre show for Shakey Deal on July 19 at the Jacoby Theatre in Alton, IL. Got my hands full for a while. Mostly that's a good thing for a musician! By the way, if you are interested in booking me or Shakey Deal in your town, please contact Trish Cook at Everywhere An Entertainer, LLC. It might be easier than you think. I can be had! :-) Facebook
If you're like me, you wonder what professional musicians listen to in their fleeting moments of spare time. Well, I give plenty of playtime to Brian Eno and Neil Young, of course. But my actual favorite band, the group I listen to more than anyone else, is a Norwegian girl group called Ephemera. It wouldn't be accurate to merely say I LIKE this band. I REVERE them, in fact. I regard them as creators of a sound that is so melodically bright and soothing, so rapturous, that it literally alters my view of reality. I can be in the worst mood imaginable, and if I listen to Ephemera, I soon feel better. I'm not likely to get in the habit of promoting other artists here, but for this gifted Nordic trio I will happily make an exception. Here's a link to the official music video of their song "On the Surface": YouTube
That song is from their album MONOLOVE, which I recently decided is my favorite album of all time. Yes, that's how much I love it. Ephemera have had an unusual career trajectory. They were super active in Norway from 2000-2005, releasing four killer records in that time, winning various awards and conquering the hearts of fans everywhere. Then they simply vanished for 14 years. They were doing normal things like raising families, but there was no particular reason to think they'd be back. And yet they finally ARE in 2019, with a killer new single called "Magic." A great word to describe this transcendent trio. Check them out if you like lush, beautiful, female-driven pop music. I launched my own discussion group for them on Facebook. THAT's fan-ship, right?
You know, a lot of people don't buy CDs anymore. I personally love them, especially for road trips, but I'm constantly told there are way more popular methods of listening, especially for "younger" folks. But there's just something about having an object you can hold and look at, with a COVER illustration, the artist's image, lyrics and credits, that I will always cherish. I'm proud to be old school. And I'm glad there are still some record stores around where I can obtain these things! I've got a handful of them out under my own name, and I'll sure be grateful to any of you who purchase them. As an experiment, I want to offer all five of my released CDs to the first 5 people who write to me, for only $25. THAT is a bargain. You can either send a check made out to me, to PO Box 31785, Des Peres, MO 63131, or pay via Paypal, to: kevinrenickbusiness@link. Add the words "Ambient Lift" to your order, and you will also get a free copy of my upcoming ambient collaboration "Lost In Familiar Territory." The thing has been in the works for two years. We are just trying to wrap it up. Everything takes TIME. You all know that, right?
I'll close with my non-musical message to everyone, really. Be KIND to each other out there! Spread love, friendship and compassion. There is too much divisiveness, ignorance and hate in the world right now. It pains my heart. Remember the chorus of that classic old Youngbloods song? "Come on, people now/Smile on your brother/Everybody get together, try to love one another right now." What could possibly be the down side?
NumberOneMusic © 2003—2020
Kevin promo pic
Kevin closeup pic
Kevin at the Ivory Theatre 2-28
Kevin AA Japan pic
Kevin and the Springfield Boys at the Flea
Kevin at Chapel 6
Kevin alone, beige hat
Kevin alone, beige hat 2
Kevin with guitar, by truck
Kevin, relaxed pose at winery, taken by Sue
Kevin at a winery
Kevin today, on Pascal show
Kevin at Innsbrook with guitar on deck
Kevin, Denise and Mark at the Muny
Kevin at Vintage Vinyl appearance
Kevin closeup at Sept. SD show
Kevin by firelight, with glass of wine
Kevin at SD show in Sept, solo pic
Clear The Way CD cover mockup 2a grey with blue
Kevin, HQ alternate clear photo from Tokyo in March 2010
Shakey Deal at DH, cool pic in red light
Shakey Deal Sept. show, another energetic fivesome
Kevin with cordless mic
Kevin at Innsbrook lake, cropped
Kevin and band foursome, Vintage Vinyl Jan 21
Kevin at Three Squirrels, relaxing
Kevin and Denise mostly, Vintage Vinyl
Kevin at Montelle Winery, pic taken by Sue, cropped
Kevin with Graham Nash, partner in the UITA closing credits
Kevin getting ready to autograph a CD for fan
Kevin and Ted at Soulard Art Gallery July 7
Kevin posing near rock wall and fall leaves at Laumeier
Kevin with cordless mic, cropped
Liz Phair and Kevin 2
Kevin and turtle statue
Kevin photo with guitar, taken by Wolfgang Lehmkuhl