The only thing Guthrie Kennard ever started early was his music career. By the age of 14, he was playing with friend and fellow musician Joe Russell in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia. He left home to travel to Atlanta, Georgia, where Joe was signed with the Bill Lowery Agency, whose roster included artists such as Billy Joe Royal, Classics IV, and Joe South. In Atlanta, Guthrie met people who were successful doing what they loved to do; his path was chosen.
Guthrie's Daddy eventually called the authorities to get him home and back in school, but Guthrie just wanted to play music. Back in Richmond, Guthrie formed the band Studio B with Mike Deep, Mike Parker, Linwood Bell, and Jimmy Langlious, and had his first opportunity to get serious and grow musically. Southside Johnny (of Asbury Jukes) later moved down from Jersey and became the band's lead singer.
Guthrie originally came west in 1968 to stay with his Texas cousins and to be with a friend who was stationed in El Paso, waiting to be shipped out to Vietnam. He bounced between Texas and Virginia for a couple of years, but decided he was a Texas boy at heart and moved here to stay in '71. During this time he started playing with Smokin' Joe Kubek. His first "official" Texas band was Big D Stuff with singer Larry Samford, who is now with the Rocky Athas Group.
The next few years were filled with great music and great musicians. He recorded with Smokin' Joe Kubek & Doyle Bramhall, Sr. on Bird Records, and opened for numerous national touring acts, including Robin Trower, John Mayall, Taj Mahal, Leon Russell, and Donovan. He toured Europe with Grammy winner Marc Benno, and co-wrote "Laverne" on Benno's album Snake Charmer. While in Europe, they performed on Ohne Filter, Germany's top televised music show.
By the early 80s, Guthrie was playing with Rocky Hill, along with Brett Reid & 'Uncle John' Turner. Rocky and the band opened for such Texas music legends as ZZ Top, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Johnny Winter, and Ray Wylie Hubbard.
Guthrie and Brett joined up with drummer Jimmy 'Blueshoes' Pendleton to form The Hippie Dogs, a band with "the soul of a hippie and the howl of a dog." The Dogs recorded a self-titled CD in 1994, and opened for Lee Rocker and Delbert McClinton. Buddy Magazine named all three-band members "Texas Tornados," calling them "the best musicians in Texas, perhaps in the world."
Guthrie has also played with Buddy Miles, Jack Morgan, Curly 'Barefoot' Miller, Jim Suhler, and Robert Ealey. He has toured extensively through Europe with Smokin' Joe Kubek, Eddie Martin, and Marc Benno, playing some great venues like the Womad Festival, the Colne Festival, Nuits de Blues, and the International Music Festival in Turkey.
After a career of collaboration with some great musicians, Guthrie is finally breaking out on his own as a singer / songwriter to tell his own story in the new CD 'Ranch Road 12' produced by Ray Wylie Hubbard. Have a listen.
GUTHRIE KENNARD HAS ALSO PLAYED ON
Take Your Best Shot - Smokin' Joe Kubek, Bullseye
Something's Gotta Change - Kenny Traylor, Topcat Records
Pillowcase Blues - Eddie Martin & the Texas Blues Kings, Blueblood
Jump the Joint - Eugene 'Hideaway' Bridges, Armadillo
Without Further Adieu - Paul Byrd, Bluestone
I'm Not Saying I'm Just Saying - Dynamo Rhythm Aces
The Hippie Dogs - The Hippie Dogs
Miracle - The Rocky Athas Group, Armadillo
Live at the Crossroads - Jack Morgan
Voodoo Moon - The Rocky Athas Group, Armadillo
Coming Home - Eugene 'Hideaway' Bridges, Armadillo
'His songs are dead-to-right eloquent, funky and righteously cool.'
- Ray Wylie Hubbard
Guthrie Kennard is one bad ass song writer and this is no mediocre compliment. This man can write a song that is as true as an angel on the witness stand.
- Roots Music Report
With a voice that recalls Bob Dylan and Keith Richards, Kennard spins his tales of rural disaffection against a backdrop of rough-hewed melodies and backwoods percussion.
classic Texas music, a soundtrack to the Hill Country, and the slow country songs sound like a drive on patchy, paved roads that lead to all sorts of interesting places.
- Darryl Smyers, Dallas Observer
A debut album of absorbing originals from Ray Wylie Hubbard's longtime bass player that was also produced by the progressive-country Texas legend at Dripping springs' fabled Zone Recording Studio. Throughout, Kennard exhibits a real flair for old-timey, often strangely compelling melodies and memory-driven lyrics, refreshingly free of theatrics or false sincerity, that offer personality-rich snapshots and vivid word sketches of the world of the rust and dust-filled Lone Star hill country he calls home.
Hubbard can't resist joining in on a few tracks (two of which also feature the disarmingly elastic back-up singing of Jessica Walker). His crisp mandolin work adds to the expansive mood of the opening "My Third Dream" and his lonely harmonica accents his buddy's drawling, Dylan-like vocal on the sensuous "Pouring' Rain". And while his guitar playing gets lost in the mix on a contemplative, brightly arranged "Hummingbird" it's Hubbard's lingering Dobro slide phrasing on the closing, bittersweet "Mother" that lends the elegy a fitting musical glow.
Kennard also engagingly recalls a folk-era Dylan on the off-handed, foot-tapping "Somewhere in France" and a quiet, leaving blues "Totterdown", the project's sole solo track. Also noted is the cautionary, hard-scrabble saga of "Johnny Dallas" (that Steve Earle was born to sing), the brooding "Preacher" and "Country Town", a dizzyingly detailed look at one of those small burgs, well off the highway, that no one ever notices.
Seriously articulate, captivatingly confidential music that grabs hold hard.
Guthrie Kennard's debut CD is filled with moody, brooding, thoughtful songs with a bluesy, often acoustic feel delivered in a soft, raspy voice somewhere between Bob Dylan's and producer Ray Wylie Hubbard's. In a career that's stretched to nearly 40 years, Kennard has played bass with Hubbard, Smokin' Joe Kubek, Doyle Bramhall Sr., Rocky Hill, Buddy Miles, Curly "Barefoot" Miller, Jim Suhler, Marc Benno, and Robert Ealey. Kennard helped found The Hippie Dogs, all of whom Buddy magazine has named "Texas Tornados."
His songs on Ranch Road 12 - he wrote 10 and co-wrote the other three - are very human songs, with a bit of the cosmic in them: shaking hands with space and time, people who star into mirrors searching for their souls, trains that run out of track, and angels dying on the backs of crosses.
On the opening song, "My Third Dream," Kennard and supporting singer Jessica Walker negotiate sleepless nights. From there, in "Country Town," he evokes a not-so-long-ago town along Highway 80 in East Texas, from the holy rollers to the midnight hour to the rooster's crow. "Preacher" is a sort of lament and prayer for things that are wrong in the world, and "Ain't Enough," a co-write with Brett Reid, covers some of that same territory, complaining that there "ain't enough radio playin' rock and roll, ain't enough rosin on that fiddler's bow," and moving down the list of twenty-first century woes. The CD never gets in too much of a hurry. Although there are a couple of electric guitar solos, the feel remains acoustic. Guthrie does the vocals and plays bass and guitar. Hubbard adds mandolin, guitar, harmonica, and Dobro. Among the other musicians, Reid and Seth James add guitars, and Pat Manske and Peter Kaplan handle percussion.
Guthrie Kennard is one bad ass song writer and this is no mediocre compliment. This man can write a song that is as true as an angel on the witness stand. His songs are intense and none on this album are run of the mill. His gravely vocal performances deliver the songs with such realness that it is hard not to hang on every word. This album is forceful and has a realness very few recordings ever achieve.
A winning project.