It's been years since I first met Brent Kirby. It's hard to believe how long it has been since I changed my life. In a way Brent helped out with that. I was seeking a life less ordinary. I was sitting at the same bar stool night in night out. Listening to the same songs on the jukebox staring into the same stale head in my draft beer.
I decided to get out and see what Cleveland had to offer. I used to go to live shows all the time. I knew all the bands. I was a regular at all the clubs. Then I got lazy. I can't remember how I even found out about the benefit show at the now defunct Town Fryer where Kirby was playing. It was probably from GS Harper, but I am cloudy. My wife and I decided to stop down during the day and check it out. The crowd was sparse. Fryer folks usually don't wake up until noon, but we stopped over at one in the afternoon. We watched a couple of solo acts and then out came Brent Kirby.
I think I came up with a wealth of monikers for him; Blue Collar Troubadour, Working class hero, Cleveland's poet laureate, the rust belt Dylan. They really are all true. The guy has won multiple awards for the Best of Cleveland. He works his ass off on multiple projects across the city. He has the Gram Parsons tribute that has won critical acclaim all over the US. He does the 10x3 every week at Brothers Lounge, giving others a mic to showcase their talents. He has the hard rocking Jack Fords that play straight out blue collar rock and roll until last call at some of the best hidden dives in Cleveland. He plays tons of solo shows pretty much anywhere that will have him, and he usually has a guest in tow. Could be Chris Allen, or Tom Pribish, or GS Harper, or Al Moss or Chris Hanna to name a few.
Brent Kirby is the hardest working mother fucker in Cleveland music. He never stops. He picks up pieces from all these amazing people he performs with and redefines his sound again and again. He can go from Ryan Adams alt country to straight out rock and roll. He can make the girls melt and the guys run out buy a flannel and take guitar lessons. He has that kind of swagger.
I have no idea what to expect from the new record. I haven't previewed it nor do I want to. I want to hear it live on Saturday at the Music Box. One of the most bullshit questions I ever ask to musicians is what is their favorite record they made. The answer is always the same; "This one". It's always the new one. 9 times out of 10 that's just to sell a couple extra copies. With Kirby though he means it. He is self and crowd funded. Every penny he gets from his crowd funding attempts goes into making the best possible record he can make. To me at least every record has gotten better with time. So I will completely buy the fact that this is going to be his favorite record he ever made until of course he makes the next one.
He's got a new cast of characters for this one including a guy that has no fucking business being in Cleveland; Chris Hanna. The guy sold his soul to the devil to play piano the way he does. Ben Nieves is on guitar, Kevin Johnson on bass, and JJ Juliano and Travis Payton on drums. I can't wait to hear this come together for the first time next Saturday. If there are still tickets available I would say get them now. You will be turned away at the door Saturday because this will sell out.