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Same town, new venue for Kenneth Brian Band

WANT TO GO?

The Kenneth Brian Band

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Capitol Center Theater, 123 Summers St.

COST: $10

INFO: www.facebook.com/KennethBrianBand CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kenneth Brian isn't a West Virginia native but passing through the state on tour is still like a homecoming for the musician.

"My dad was born in Beckley," said the Decatur, Ala.-based singer and guitarist. "I have family all over West Virginia, from Huntington all the way up to West Liberty -- the whole state pretty much.

"My great grandfather came out of north Georgia to work in the coal mines. My family has a huge coal mining history on both sides."

He also has guitarist Travis Stephens, who is a Belle native. The pair and the rest of the Kenneth Brian Band -- drummer Richard Pryor and bassist Frank Rische -- come to Charleston Saturday for an all-ages show at 8 p.m. at the Capitol Center Theater. (Stephens will also perform some material from his upcoming, as-yet-untitled album).

The outlaw country players are no strangers to Charleston, but the Capitol Center Theater is a new venue for them.

"We usually played the Empty Glass. The last three or four times we filled it, so we figured we'd bump it up a notch," said Brian.

They'll still head to the Glass after the show, though. An after-party starts there at 10 p.m., featuring Americana trio Underhill Rose.

With all its West Virginia connections, the Kenneth Brian Band is a frequent Mountain State visitor. Earlier this month, it played shows in Morgantown, Clarksburg and Beckley. The guys also stopped in Charleston for a day to rehearse at the theater. 

"It sounded so good," he said happily.

"Those old buildings are kind of like old houses," he explained. "Like my grandmother's house, it was built in 1810, and it doesn't need an AC even out in the middle of Alabama. [In the theater], you can go in there [without a microphone] except vocals, and everything sounds great. Other places are not like that."

The band has played plenty of those other places. It's been touring relentlessly in support of its debut album, "Welcome to Alabama," which was released last October. Brian estimates they'll tour for another six months, including some gigs overseas.

"We did really well in Europe. We were No. 2 on the Americana charts for a good while," he said. "We're going to go over there and do a bunch of festivals, probably around the first of the year.

"That's one of the really great things about playing music," he added. " I don't know how I'd get to see places like Poland, Russia or France otherwise."

One of his favorite places, he said, is Scotland.

"Scotland looks like West Virginia," he explained. "A lot of my family is Scottish, and it really looked like the areas my family settled in. When you're doing that drive from Charleston to Morgantown, that's kind of what Scotland looks like -- but with lots more sheep."

While he likes visiting big cities when he's on tour, Brian would prefer not to stay there.

"I'm not a huge fan of big cities," he said. "I like to go to places and be there for a day, but you'll usually find me out in the middle of nowhere, if you can find me at all."

That's why he's quite content in Decatur, which is an hour south of Nashville. (Pryor also lives in Decatur; Stephens and Rische live in Nashville.)

"I lived in Nashville for a long time," Brian said. "Decatur was my escape out of the city."

He's also lived in Austin and Los Angeles. Those weren't really for him, either.

"I enjoy not living in a big music town. I kind of prefer to live someplace where people are people. I'm more mellow and get a lot more done. There's a lot of putting on airs in big music towns."

Brian originally came to Decatur for "Welcome to Alabama." The band worked with legendary southern rock producer Johnny Sandlin on the album.

"We hit it off and became such good friends I've been working with him ever since."

After the band finishes its tour for this album, it will work with Sandlin again on the follow-up. Brian said he and his band have already produced some song demos for it.

Though the group is called the Kenneth Brian Band, Brian emphatically points out that it is not his band, but a band. Making the music is a collaborative process.

"I was out for 12 years as a solo artist, but this is the band we have and everybody contributes," he said. "It's really a band thing, not me and a bunch of hired guns from Nashville."

They spend a lot of time together, he said.

"All day every day. In tiny hotel rooms."

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4881.


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