The frontman for Edison Kitt & The Strangers talked about his new solo album for Local Spins on WYCE, which debuted tracks by Joey Frendo, Lee Heerspink, Bond Girl, The Krelboynes, Tail from the Crypt & more.
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Edison Kitt gave up music for a year.
Growing up in Belmont north of Grand Rapids, he’d spent years performing with well-known area bands, including Left Hand Daisy, A Boy Named Clair and Aloe.
But coping with the unexpected death of his drummer and a dear lifelong friend, Kitt found himself without the motivation to play or write or delve back into the pop-punk and electronica music that once inspired him.
“That really set me back musically. The band crumbled and I wasn’t doing anything with music at all,” he recalled, noting it took a year before he really started “to feel the pain of that loss.”
That’s when he sat down with a bottle of whiskey and his guitar, and “this folk song just sort of came out. I had never written anything like that.”
That was the humble beginning to “Whiskey Ramblings,” Kitt’s full-length solo debut released in early October and officially being celebrated with an album-release show at Mulligan’s Pub in Grand Rapids on Oct. 16.
Raised on the music of John Prine and Bob Dylan, Kitt calls the collection of songs “a new way of expressing my pain through music. I actually didn’t do it on purpose. I was never intending to write these songs. They just sort of started coming out of me.”
Spurred on by Grand Rapids producer and Mackinaw Harvest Studios owner Michael Crittenden – and “a few too many” whiskeys – Kitt eventually assembled the 11-track album featuring a host of special musical guests, including Crittenden, drummer Brian Morrill, banjoist Eric Engblade, fiddlers Michael Prokopchuk and Jeffrey Niemeier, and others.
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, Kitt spotlighted two songs from the new album – “So Far to Go” and “Been a Long Time.” Scroll down to listen to the songs and the full radio show interview, with Kitt’s video for “Whiskey on Her Lips (Remix)” here.
VIDEO: Edison Kitt, “Whiskey on Her Lips (Remix)”
With rootsy rock underpinnings, Kitt insisted the new material “doesn’t really have a genre” but carries elements of Americana and “folk music for aging scene kids.”
The music also reflects “self-doubt and heartbreak, but also a bit of hope for a better future.”
“What I would like people to get out of the songs is something you can relate to, something that helps you feel, something that helps you shed some pain or emotion … to help you move through the difficult times in your life,” he offered.
To perform his new material, Kitt also assembled a new band, Edison Kitt & The Strangers, with bassist Nathan Hinkley, drummer Chance Estep, banjoist/guitarist Brandon Gomley, keyboardist Matt Damon, fiddler/mandolinist Zach Henderson and, occasionally, Drew VanderVeen on pedal steel and harmonica.
The band plays the album-release show at 10 p.m. Oct. 16 at Mulligan’s Pub, with singer-songwriter Carrie McFerrin filling out the bill. Edison Kitt & The Strangers also will perform at Grand Rapids’ Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill on Nov. 19, along with Stovepipe Stover.
“We played our first show since the (COVID) shutdown at the Iron Well in July. And we’re just starting to get more shows on the calendar. It’s a still a challenge,” conceded Kitt, adding he hopes to mount a Midwest tour for the band in 2022.
“My goal is to keep writing, keep recording and continuously improve as a writer and musician. My current band pushes me to be better and helps me refine my writing.”
In addition to spotlighting Kitt’s new release, the Oct. 8 edition of Local Spins on WYCE – which showcases Michigan-bred music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org — featured new tracks from Lee Heerspink, Bond Girl, Blondfire (this week’s musician’s pick by Kitt), Pieces, Trail from the Crypt, Dick Chiclet and The Krelboynes, as well as songs by Stovepipe Stover and Rachel Brooke. Listen to the radio show podcast here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (10/8/21)
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