Billy Kemp - Another Life
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Biography

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Billy Kemp 615-947-7183

billykempmusic@gmail.com

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Billy's short bio

Song and music maker, Baltimore native and Nashville resident,
Billy Kemp performs original songs and tunes, mostly roots music. Kemp is a multi-instrumentalist but is best known for his tasteful and inventive guitar playing. His latest self-released recording, Another Life, is “a sort of autobiographical collection, the songs are mainly centred around his growing up years in the Paradise neighbourhood of Baltimore, yet despite this they are very much universal” says Alan Cackett, former editor of the UK based Maverick Magazine. An amiable and entertaining performer, Kemp’s songs and stories are both humorous and enthralling.

Billy's long bio

From the Land of Pleasant Living, Baltimore native Billy Kemp is a musician, songwriter, singer, composer and producer. He is a multi-instrumentalist but is best known for his tasteful and inventive guitar playing.

From 2005 through 2016 Billy was half of the Appalachian Folk duo Jeni and Billy, which toured extensively in the US, Canada and the U.K. and released seven CDs.

Billy first made points in the Baltimore area by forming the Paradise Pickers, a hybrid of country and rock which released one record in 1980. From the outset, Billy swung between the Willies—Nelson and Dixon—hitting an upbeat two-step for one song and hammering down a classic Chicago backbeat the next.

During the ‘80s Billy followed his heart and went to Nashville, where he made it to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. While based in Music City, he toured internationally with Tommy Overstreet, Terri Gibbs and Bandana. In town, he performed with Opry member Jeanne Pruett.
Billy returned to Maryland in 1988 and released one album with the reformed Paradise Rockers before landing the spot as lead guitarist for renegade rock-n-roller Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers. The next three years marked a loud exposure to the rock-star life of fine studios, high volume and constant touring.

During the '90s Billy decided to go back to school and earned a music degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). He composed and recorded music for Maryland Public Television, worked as a music facilitator at the Baltimore City Detention Center, taught as adjunct faculty at UMBC and produced numerous CDs for regional artists in the Baltimore/DC area. He also recorded and released two CDs on his own label, Willbilly Records.

In 2000 Billy formed a new roots-rock ensemble, Willbilly—his nickname in high school because of his love for country and Appalachian folk music. He also expanded his role as a producer and studio-owner, establishing a successful recording facility in a barn in rural Maryland, as well as continuing his teaching work at UMBC.

Billy released a new solo CD in September of 2017, called Another Life. His concerts include songs from Another Life and selections from a rich and extensive back-catalogue. From Lone Star country to urban shuffles and Appalachian waltzes, Billy remains a songwriter with a love of story.

Song Notes from Another Life

Another Life is my first solo record released since 1994. The record was recorded in Nashville at my home studio, Artland, between February and June 2017. It is a collection of homemade heart songs and songs about Baltimore, where I grew up. The recording features cinematic melodica drones, finger style two beats, reminiscent parlor piano, dogwood waltzes, junkyard percussion, banjo and other spare parts and pieces. The heart songs are about lovers of the patient, reluctant and forsaken variety. The Baltimore songs are about race trackers, stonecutters, an astronomer, an aunt with a blue car, an organ player and a sailor. Welcome to Another Life.

Actual order of songs from Another Life.

Harbor
© Copyright 2017

Contact Info:
Billy Kemp - 615-947-7183
billykempmusic@gmail.com

Release date: September 1, 2017

Composer: Billy Kemp
Publisher: Willbilly Music, BMI

Melodica - Billy Kemp
Guitar - Billy Kemp
Mandolin - Craig Eastman
Lap Guitar - Craig Eastman
Violins - Craig Eastman

Billy's Notes:

Harbor began with an improvisation one night in November, 2016. I was playing the melodica with headphones on with lots of plate reverb. I started to repeat a chordal motive and liked it. I set a mic up and recorded the melodica part. Then I put an arpeggiated guitar part on with my 1930 Martin 2-17. I lived with it until sometime in March. During that interval I began to think that the sound reminded me of the container ships coming into the harbor of Baltimore. Then I thought of my friend, Craig Eastman, who is a multi-instrumentalist in Los Angeles, and thought he could add some more colors to the track. Craig played mandolin, lap guitar, violin and tenor violin. This track always takes me back to Baltimore. I sometimes walk with my Dad at Fort McHenry’s one mile loop, and we usually hear and see a container ship arriving to the port to unload. When they blow their horn, it echoes off of the brick buildings that surround the harbor.

Note to DJs

Harbor (3:02) Slow moving instrumental cinematic, with a sustaining wash of melodica, violins and lap guitar featuring Billy on melodica and guitar, with Craig Eastman on everything else.

Kings of the Grandstand
© copyright 2015

Contact Info:
Billy Kemp - 615-947-7183
billykempmusic@gmail.com

Release date: September 1, 2017

Composer: Billy Kemp and Jeni Hankins
Publisher: Willbilly Music, BMI- Lulu Wall Music, BMI

Piano - Billy Kemp
Banjo - Billy Kemp
Horn Arrangement - Billy Kemp

Billy's Notes:

When I was growing up my Dad would take me and my brother to the horse racing tracks in the Baltimore area. We would go to beautiful Bowie, lovely Laurel and pretty Pimlico. I was always struck by the horses, the jockeys, the colors, the sounds as well as gamblers themselves. There were two areas for the horse players, the clubhouse and the grandstand. The clubhouse was enclosed with heat in the winter, air conditioning in the summer and fine dining. The grandstand was open air, exposed to the elements. There were bleachers you could stand on and cheer your horse on to the finish. Between the clubhouse and grandstand was an area called the paddock, where the horse players could take a close look at the horses. This was where the jockey, the trainer and the owner would go over last minute strategies and the jockeys would mount up. They’re off…

Note to DJs

Kings of the Grandstand (5:28) Slow to medium rubato arrangement for voice, piano, banjo and a horn section at the finish line. Nostalgic, heartfelt, dream-like and fuzzy. A reflection on classism at Pimlico racetrack in Baltimore.


Another Life To Live
© Copyright 2017


Contact Info:
Billy Kemp - 615-947-7183
billykempmusic@gmail.com

Release date: September 1, 2017

Composer: Billy Kemp
Publisher: Willbilly Music, BMI

Banjo - Billy Kemp

Billy's Notes:

One evening in February I was at home looking at a collection of Farm
Ballads by Will Carleton, first published in 1873. One ballad struck me, “Gone with a Handsomer Man”, the story of a wife leaving her husband for a han’somer man. It reminded me of country music’s first family, The Carter Family. Sarah Carter left her husband A.P. for another man in 1932.

Note to DJs

Another Life to Live (2:49) Up tempo, fast moving, old timey two beat for voice and finger picking banjo only. A sparse, lonesome arrangement about a forsaken lover.



Mr. Wilson, the Stonecutter
© Copyright 2011

Contact Info:
Billy Kemp - 615-947-7183
billykempmusic@gmail.com

Release date: September 1, 2017

Composer: Billy Kemp and Jeni Hankins
Publisher: Willbilly Music, BMI - Lulu Wall Music, BMI

Guitar - Billy Kemp

Billy's Notes:

The neighborhood I grew up in, Paradise, on the west side of Baltimore had a bar called the Paradise Tavern. There was an older gentleman named Mr. Wilson who was there nearly every night. He sat on a stool on the corner of the bar that had his name on it. I knew a man from an AA group in the neighborhood that called drunkards stonecutters because they would have too much of the falling down water and hit their heads on the marble stoops in Baltimore.

Note to DJs

Mr. Wilson, the Stonecutter (4:00) Slow, arpeggiated finger picking guitar and voice arrangement, close and present sounding. A Baltimorean remembrance of a neighborhood drinker who has too much of the falling down water.

Benjamin Banneker
© Copyright 2017

Contact Info:
Billy Kemp - 615-947-7183
billykempmusic@gmail.com

Release date: September 1, 2017

Composer: Billy Kemp, Jeni Hankins and Alfred Hickling
Publisher: Willbilly Music, BMI - Lulu Wall Music, BMI

Melodica - Billy Kemp
Banjo - Billy Kemp
Percussion - Billy Kemp

Billy's Notes:

Just west of where I grew up in Paradise is a community called Oella. It is on the Baltimore county side of the Patapsco river just across from the 18th century mill town, Ellicott City. Oella had a famous resident named Benjamin Banneker. He was an African-American who lived there from 1736 to 1806. While on tour in Florida I picked up a book, The Life of Benjamin Banneker by Silvio A. Bedini at a library book sale. I had heard of him and went to where his grave was thought to be up in Oella when I was in high school. There was even a Benjamin Banneker elementary school in Catonsville. Now there is a Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum. His story is remarkable and if it weren’t for him laying the cornerstones of our nation’s capital, we wouldn’t have the traffic we all enjoy and love on the Washington beltway.

Note to DJs

Benjamin Banneker (3:50) Medium, dirge-like shuffle on finger picking banjo and vocal with junkyard percussion and melodica. A lamentation for America’s first African-American man of science.

Down Where The Dogwoods Bloomed
© Copyright 2017

Contact Info:
Billy Kemp - 615-947-7183
billykempmusic@gmail.com

Release date: September 1, 2017

Composer: Billy Kemp and Alfred Hickling
Publisher: Willbilly Music

Guitar - Billy Kemp
Banjo - Billy Kemp

Billy's Notes:

In late March, early April a good friend from the U.K. visited me in Nashville. We drank coffee and tea, took long walks, recorded some older songs from his back catalogue, wrote some new ones and went to the Opry. While he was here two dogwood trees, one white, one pink, blossomed and we had some severe storms. In the evenings we would listen to WSM, the legend, and hear the storm warnings from the great Eddie Stubbs.

Note to DJs

Down Where the Dogwoods Bloomed (3:14) Medium waltz for two vocal harmony, with guitar and banjo picked in an old timey, Carter family style arrangement. A ghostly, stormy story of loss and love.

Seven Mondays
© Copyright 2017

Contact Info:
Billy Kemp - 615-947-7183
billykempmusic@gmail.com

Release date: September 1, 2017

Composer: Billy Kemp and Sue Ellen Griffiths
Publisher: Willbilly Music, BMI - Duzyboo Music, BMI

Guitar - Billy Kemp

Billy's Notes:

Mondays are generally work days for most folks but for some, they are like Sundays, a day of rest. Those Mondays can be long when you’re wishing to be next to the one you love who is so far away. In the days of the American Civil War, letters were written between lovers and loved ones and they could take weeks to be delivered. In this day of modern ways and miracles, we are able to have instantaneous communication through text, email, phone and even video chat. But those inventions don’t stop us from counting the days till the next time we see the ones we love in person.

Note to DJs

Seven Mondays (3:49) Up tempo, two beat, flat picking, Maybelle Carter-like guitar and voice arrangement. A love letter adult counting song.

Lillian & the Blue Car
© Copyright 2016

Contact Info:
Billy Kemp - 615-947-7183
billykempmusic@gmail.com

Release date: September 1, 2017

Composer: Billy Kemp
Publisher: Willbilly Music, BMI

Guitar - Billy Kemp

Billy's Notes:

In October 2016 I received an email from a painter friend and
collaborator, Ann Phelan, who was announcing one of her works to be on exhibit in Zurich. I liked the curated painting and wrote back to compliment her work. She told me that an image in the painting was most likely inspired by a car I had years ago, a blue Pontiac Ventura, 1972. She asked about the car. I began remembering things about it and as I wrote down my thoughts, I realized that they would work well in a song. Aunt Lil was my paternal grandmother’s sister and everything in the song is just the way I remember her. She never did remarry but there was a man in her life, though they never shared an abode. We called him Uncle Bunk.

Note to DJs

Lillian and the Blue Car (3:48) Relaxed, medium tempo two beat with finger picking on a 1930 Martin parlor guitar and voice. A narrative on an eccentric great aunt and her 1972 blue Pontiac Ventura.

Night Time Sky
© Copyright 2017

Contact Info:
Billy Kemp - 615-947-7183
billykempmusic@gmail.com

Release date: September 1, 2017

Composer: Billy Kemp and Sue Ellen Griffiths
Publisher: Willbilly Music, BMI - Duzyboo Music, BMI

Guitar - Billy Kemp
Banjo - Billy Kemp
Bass - Billy Kemp

Billy's Notes:

I know folks in Baltimore that have never left the neighborhood that they grew up in. That’s okay. Happiness comes in many places. And one of those can be the very place that you come from. The Irish poet Michael Longley has said that “place is inexhaustible.” Some think that travel broadens the mind. Being a troubadour, I tend to agree with that. Though we may be separated by geography, the night time sky can connect and give sustenance. When Sue Griffiths sent me the lyric I was struck by the small town, big city part of the story, a story so often repeated. It made me think of the Tompall Glaser/Harland Howard
song, The Streets of Baltimore. One of my favorite lines is, “It was all my hallucination.”

Note to DJs

Night Time Sky (5:02) Slow finger picking banjo, strum and pick guitar, acoustic bass, pad organ and voice heartache. A hopeful letter from a small- town lover left behind by a lover who has moved to the big city.

Requiem For An Organ Player
© Copyright 2014, 2017

Contact Info:
Billy Kemp - 615-947-7183
billykempmusic@gmail.com

Release date: September 1, 2017

Composer: Billy Kemp, Jeni Hankins and Alfred Hickling
Publisher: Willbilly Music, BMI - Lulu Wall Music, BMI

Guitar - Billy Kemp

Billy's Notes:

There was a man who lived down the street from me when I was a kid who I knew as Uncle Buddy. In those days we called close neighbors, though not blood related, aunts and uncles. He would fix my bike for me. He also loved to play the organ. In the summer, when the doors and windows were opened, he would fill the avenue with sweet music.

Note to DJs

Requiem for an Organ Player (3:48) Two-beat, syncopated finger picking parlor guitar and voice arrangement. A lament for a west Baltimore musician and neighbor who’s life ended in a senseless killing.

Chesapeake Narrows
© Copyright 1984

Contact Info:
Billy Kemp - 615-947-7183
billykempmusic@gmail.com

Release date: September 1, 2017

Composer: Billy Kemp and Geoffrey Himes
Publisher: Willbilly Music, BMI - Red Wheelbarrow, BMI

Guitar - Billy Kemp

Billy's Notes:

I’ve only lived in two cities, Baltimore and Nashville. I grew up in Baltimore and though I have lived in Nashville on two different occasions, Baltimore is still home to me. I have done so much touring during both of my stays in Nashville that I have never felt as connected as I do to Baltimore. Nashville is a transient city with people coming and going everyday. It’s not often you meet someone from Nashville. But it is Music City. And music certainly has a sense of place. So in that respect, I am home-with the music. Those walks with my Dad around Fort McHenry have always connected me to the place I call home. My Dad was born not far from Fort McHenry on East Randall Street in South Baltimore and you can see him light up with winsomeness when he comes into the neighborhood from West Baltimore where he lives now. There is a vitality to ordinary things.

Note to DJs

Chesapeake Narrows (6:02) Medium tempo, 6/8 to 4/4 and back for fingerpicking guitar, melodica and voice. A sailor’s narrative of romance, frivolity and yearning for home.

















2
  • Members:
    Billy Kemp
  • Sounds Like:
    Randy Newman, John Prine, Richard Thompson, Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett, Steve Forbert, Ry Cooder, Loudon Wainwright
  • Influences:
    Willie Nelson, Mark Knopfler, Randy Newman, B.B. King, Reverend Gary Davis, Merle Haggard, Charlie Poole, The Carter Family, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Leadbelly, John Prine, Neil Young
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
    12/21/17
  • Profile Last Updated:
    02/20/19 09:19:32
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