Kin Faux • Best Country Band Offers Fresh Approach

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, , Review Music Awards,   From Issue 861   By: Matt deHeus

03rd May, 2018     0

There is a reason why there have been so many songs written about “the road.”  The road you’ve travelled.  The road you’re on.  The road from wherever it is you came from to wherever it is you are supposed to be.  It’s a compelling theme because it can symbolize so many things.  Reflection.  Hope.  Action.  Progress.  And the occasional regret.  The human condition can be described in large part by what happens on its strips of asphalt and patches of compacted dirt and gravel.

For Kin Faux, this year’s Review Award winner as “Best Country Band,” the road played a seminal part this their origin.

Their story began when Rico Gonzales, who also won this year’s award as Best Country Musician, moved from his San Antonio home to Lapeer area, where his wife was born.  Gonzales set about a plan of getting acclimated to the area, which included such steps as finishing up his degree in Musical Performance and joining Steve Armstrong and the 25 Cent Beer Band as a fiddler and multi-instrumentalist.  It was in this combo that he met Dan Currier, a long-time fixture in the regional rock and country scene as a first call drummer.

It was during this period that their relationship blossomed, both as they travelled with the 25 Cent Beer Band and on trips where Gonzales took Currier down to his San Antonio home.  It was on these trips that Gonzales also began to introduce Currier to “Red Dirt” country, a brand of music rooted in Texas, with more grit and a lot more swing than its more mainstream Nashville-born counterparts.

It turned out that the two not only shared a love of this type of music, they also shared the goal of making music a career, playing as much as possible.  With this, they hatched a plan for a side project, which they would gig on weeknights, bringing the sounds of San Antonio and southern Texas to Mid-Michigan.

To accomplish this, the two recruited two other veterans of the area’s alternative country.  Bassist RB Sauve (Ross Barkey) and guitarist Jakey Black (Jake Helton). 

The two brought significant experience to the group, as well.  As told by bassist Sauve, I’d been around for that last 12 to 15 years.  Touring with acts like Whitey Morgan or playing with Jake in bands like the Pole Barn Rebels.”

Guitarist Black’s roots in country go even further back.  “My dad, Glen Helton, won the first Review Award for Male County Vocalist.  We grew up with country music around the house.  All the classics.  And then I discovered Kiss.”

It is worth mentioning that, though Kin Faux identify as a Country Band or even more narrowly a “Red Dirt Country Band,” their sound is a hybrid.  Like most original bands, you bring all your influences on the table when you finally get to do your own thing.

In Black’s case, this included the typical detour through prog rock and the fringes of metal while he was pursuing a degree in philosophy.  He then took an extended break from music before getting an offer to audition for a new band.  “I didn’t even own any gear. But next thing you know, I had moved to Nashville and touring and doing music full time.”

It also didn’t take the guys long to realize what started as their side gig was looking more and more like their full-time band.  They shared a lot of the same influences and had a similar goal, as Currier puts it: “Take this thing as far as it can go.  That means a lot of different things to different people.  For us it meant that we want to make music full time.

Another important figure in this story is Auburn native Bernie Nelson, long established as a professional songwriter in Nashville.  The band had met Nelson at the Stables in Bay City.  On one of the trips that Gonzales and Currier made to Texas, they learned that Nelson just happened to be playing only 45 minutes away. (Or next door, in Texas terms.)  When they called and let him know they were coming, Nelson told Gonzales, “Bring your fiddle.” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Nelson has taken the band under his wing, offering mentorship, writing songs with and for them, and introducing them around.  The later activity included things like hanging out with Vince Gill at one of his Nashville-area club gigs, a scene that reported left the normally stoic Currier a bit dumfounded.

But as Currier explained the relationship.  “We love Bernie, because he’s an old school writer.  The songs come first.” 

The band has time booked at Main Frame Studios in Nashville in June, Nelson and Bobby Randall will be helping them record their first set of songs, which they hope to have released later this year.

In the meantime, Gonzales indicated, “We are just excited for the future.  We were very surprised by what happened at the Review Awards and are interested to see what happens next.”

So are we, Rico.  Good luck wherever that Red Dirt Road may take you.




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