Kevin Prater's musical journey began at age seven. His professional gig was as guitar layer in a Southern Gospel Band, soon switching drums. By age nine Kevin has already acquired college credits in guitar. Kevin has entertained in 24 Countries, 49 states.
Forming his first band, "Elkhorn Grass" at age eleven, touring Kentucky and surrounding states for eleven years. Elkhorn Grass became a regular opening band for Dr. Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys. On graduation day Kevin moved to TN. to play for Dolly Parton at Dollywood. Kevin stayed there for three years. In 1997 he was asked to audition for what would become, Grammy Nominated James King Band. Spending 12 years as the "Machine Gun Mandolin Player and High Tenor Vocalist". With James he was part of two "Album of the Year", a "Song of the Year" and a "Recorded Event of the Year", award winning recorded projects. He then toured three years with The Bluegrass Brothers, earning a nomination as "Banjo Player Of The Year". Kevin has played/filled in with many legends of bluegrass including Charlie Waller & Country Gentlemen, Mac Wiseman, Mark Phillips & Third Generation, Melvin Goins & Windy Mountain and many others.
Kevin formed The Kevin Prater Band in 2007. Currently touring the USA and Canada, averaging 100 shows annually.
In addition to traditional Bluegrass, the band preforms Classic Country, Original tunes, Grassed Up Vintage Rock and the band favorite, Bluegrass Gospel & Accapella.
Kevin Prater is endorsed by Martin Guitars, Gibson, GHS Strings, June Mandolins, Cole Mandolins, Ridge Instruments
Walking Rails & Counting Ties
The Kevin Prater Band
This project was originally recorded in 2015 at Sound Makers Studio in Belcher, Kentucky, USA. Kevin Prater, Owner, Engineer, Producer. Since its completion folks suggested getting the project on AirPlay Direct. Though it has long been in Kevin's plan, obstacles prevented completion.
Though there are rarely silver linings to today's current situation with the COVID 19 Virus shutting down the bands travels. However, it provided the time needed to make completion possible. We are very proud of this project and thrilled these great writers will finally gain deserved credit for their contribution to "Walking Rails & Counting Ties".
Many of the songs on this project pull from Kevin Praters youth, bring back memories, both good and bad. True life makes provides a strong platform for a great song.
Kevin Prater Owner, Leader, Mandolin:
Known to many in earlier years as "Waldo, the Machinegun Mandolin player" of James King Band. Kevin has played with many other bands including, Melvin Goins & Windy Mountain, Timmy Cline Band, Jerry Williamson & Red Wing, Mark Phillips & Third Generation, Dolly Parton's House band at Dolly Wood and Elk Horn Grass.
Tyler Robertson, Banjo, Currently travels with Chosen Road Band
Danny Stiltner, Bass
Tom Timberlake, Guitar
Adam Haynes, Fiddle Appears courtesy of The Grascal
Rod Smith, Dobro, Banjo, Steel Guitar Appears courtesy of Cumberlin Gap Connection
Track #1 - "Back In Tennessee", Writers: Mark "Brink" Brinkman & Mike Evans, have written many great songs together over the years. One of their most notable projects, with co-writer Paula Breedlove was "God Didn't Chose Sides". Both Brink and Mike has been long time friends and supporters of The Kevin Prater Band. Having them contribute two cuts (I Pray To The Lord Everyday) on this CD is a true honor.
"Back in Tennessee" deals with the pain of being gone from loved ones, long periods, while working on the road and the joy of the day they are home to stay. Truckers, salesmen and especially touring musicians can relate to the song.
Track #2 - "Borrowed Time & Rented Land" - Writer: Albon Lee Clevenger, life long friend and mentor of Kevin Prater and a former member of the band. As a young lad of age seven, Kevin was in awe of Albon, age 11, playing Banjo in his Uncle Boone Estep's band, The Rambling Grass. Albon played with many bands in his career, most notably, "Five For The Gospel", Traditional Gospel Group of the Year by SPBGMA in 1997 and 1999. Albon is a retired Coal Miner, and involved with Hilltop Line Music & Recording in Grapevine, KY. Albon makes his home in Pikeville, KY. and now considers himself a full time grandpa.
"Borrowed Time and Rented Land" is the memories of a young man growing up in Eastern Kentucky. Folks had little money, raising large families on rented land, working their fingers to the bone, doing the best they can. Times were hard, but faith got them through.
Track #3 - "Good Time Charlies Got The Blues", Writer, Danny O"Keefe, A favorite song of Kevin Prater he not only enjoys singing, but one that many of his fans request. Kevin grew up on Classic Country Music, much do to his grandmother sharing it with him. Kevin developed an attraction to this song during his time with the Timmy Cline Band. Having recorded it with them, he found he really appreciated the song, deciding to add to this CD.
Track #4 - "Hold On" Writer, Kevin Williamson, from Huntington, WV., son of Gerald "Jerry" Williamson & Red Wing Bluegrass, who wrote Track #8 (New River). Kevin Prater played Redwing Band 1995 - 1997. They formed a life long friendship and respect for each others talents. Most will recognize Kevin Williamson as the proud father and Leader of "Williamson Branch" from Nashville, TN.
"Hold On" A song of encouragement and reassurance that a better time lies around the corner and that keeping focus on ones dreams will eventually pay off. Looking at the careers of both Kevin's, that is a proven point.
Track #5, "I Pray To The Lord Everyday", another contribution from Mark "Brink" Brinkman and Mike Evans, who has written dozens of songs together, including the amazing "God Didn't Choose Sides" CD, the wrote with Paula Breedlove. To date Brink has written over 2,000 songs and has 17 #1 hits.
"I Pray To The Lord Everyday" holds a special place in Kevin Prater's heart, as this is the way he lives his life. Though Kevin always considered himself a Christian, he had strayed from his faith, as many do. After going through a divorce that nearly devastated him, traveling some dark lonely roads, Kevin returned to church. Soon a battle began in his heart, feeling the need to make a commitment. December 2012, while playing in the praise band Cornerstone Community Church, a beacon of "Son" light hit him in the face. Realizing that was God telling him it was time, he jumped up in middle of the service. He told the Pastor his need to be baptized, right then and there. With his wish being granted, Kevin rededicated his life to God. As The Kevin Prater band travels across the USA and Canada, they play many churches, sharing their musical ministry, Kevin shares his faith journey as a testimony.
Track #6 - "Joanie", Writer Keith Hatfield of Kemper, Kentucky. Keith is Owner of CARQUEST in Pikeville, KY., Kevin Prater's day job boss. This is the first song he has ever shared or had recorded. At age fourteen, Keith wrote about a true event in his life when he lost his dear friend, Joanie. Since that time Keith has written hundreds of songs that are sure to appear on future projects. Keith is also a Pastor at Kemper Community Church and is part of a local band "Hatfield and Friends", led by his father Randal Hatfield.
Track #7 - "Don't It Make You Want To Go Home", Writer, Joe South. This was a song Kevin Prater played for many years, learning it from the LP recorded by Bobby Bare and assumed he had written it. Kevin had never heard the original, Joe South version. Kevin had the good fortune to work a festival with Bobby Bare. They got to have a conversation about the song when Kevin told Bobby he had hoped to record it one day. Billy told Kevin he had to listen to Joe South's version before he would understand how the song truly felt. It would be several years, but Kevin accomplished his dream of recording "Don't It Make You Want to Go Home".
Track #8 - "New River", Writer Gerald Williamson of Hunting, West Virginia, home of the amazing New River. New River is one of the most popular locations for white water rafting. The song moves along as swiftly as the river currently, taking listeners along for the ride.
As mentioned above, Gerald "Jerry" Williamson was leader of Jerry Williamson & Redwing. Jerry was a respected musician, songwriter and soundman. Kevin Prater played as part of the band from 1995 to 1997, prior to joining The James King Band.
Track #9 - "Pure Love", Writer Eddie Rabbit. Kevin Prater was a huge fan of Ronnie Milsap, who had a chart topping hit of this song. That attraction to Ronnie Milsap began at age three. Kevin was nearly thrown out of daycare for singing "Day Dreams About Night Things" and "What Goes On When The Sun Goes Down".
Track #10 - "The Way I Am", Writer, Sammy Throckmorton. As everyone knows, the incredible Merle Haggard had a huge hit with this song. Many have tried to copy him. However, Kevin Prater chose this song for the "Walking Rails & Counting Ties" CD, in honor of his non-musical hero, his father, Marvin Prater.
Marvin is a retired Coal Miner, battling stage four Black Lung from forty four years underground. He worked nights at the mine, built houses by day. A true honest, hard working American if ever there was one. Marvin has a passion for fishing which he passed on to his son. Every time Kevin sings about watching that bobber, Kevin tears up a bit.
In comparison to the ruff, rugged vocals of Merle Haggard, you will find the soft, gentle and emotional voice of Kevin Prater delivers "The Way I Am" in a totally different format. Also, those beautiful guitar licks are also the work of Kevin Prater, proving his multi-instrumental talents.
Track #11 - "Til I Hold You In My Dreams", Writer John Truman. This song was introduced to the band by original member of the band, John White of Milton, WV. area. John is the leader of Southridge Bluegrass Band that plays in the Huntington, WV. The Johns are long time friends.
Track #12 - "Walking Rails & Counting Ties", Writers, Darrin Compton, Cole Spears & Tom Timberlake. When three special friends get together and write a song, that makes it special. When it totally describes the life of another dear friend, Pastor Ed Wright, from Milton, WV. and moves him to tears, that is priceless.
Darrin Compton was a former boss of Kevin Prater, as well as a dear friend and fellow musician. Cole Spears is not only a former member of The Kevin Prater band, but also of Elkhorn Grass, which Kevin Prater formed at age eleven with Bluegrass standout, David Adkins. Cole is a very talented vocalist and musician. Tom Timberlake, played with many regional bands in KY., and did a stint with The James King Band. Tom's most loved claim to fame was that he played the last Lonzo of the world acclaimed comedy duo, "Lonzo & Oscar" of the Grand Ole Opry. Tom was the one who encouraged Kevin to form The Kevin Prater Band. They had played music together for 25 years and had developed a true musical style.
Writers put pen to paper, creating a song that so many say they can related to. This CD was dedicated to longtime friend, turned family and honorary member of the band, Pastor Ed Wright. Ed stated the song tells what he did most with his time growing up. In this song, you are taken back to the beginning, realizing that the best time of life was walking rails and counting ties.
Track #13, "When You Were The One", Writers Chris Dockin and David Morris, have written many great songs together. David Morris, a former CNN White House Correspondent and currently writes for "Bluegrass Today". They tell a story of a very special former love and their desire to have just one more day to know that feeling once again.
Track #14 - "Willow Creek Dam", Writers, Peter Gobel & Leroy Drumm. Though "Willow Creek Dam" has been recorded by many, Kevin selected it to honor his dear departed friend, Charlie Waller. Kevin always had a deep love for The Country Gentlemen and loved the low tome of Charlie's voice on this cut. Knowing Kevin could not reach that place with his voice, it was rearranged to showcase his High Tenor range.
Kevin Prater filled in for Charlie Waller & he Country Gentlemen on several occasions. Charlie asked him to audition and was eventually offered that position. However it was late in Charlies career, when his health began to fail. Fearing it would not have a positive outcome, he declined the offer. Unfortunately, Charlie passed away not long after that audition.
Track #15 - "You In Love With Another" Writer, Kevin Prater. Based on a true story of the discovery of his future wife being involved with another love. This song sat in a drawer, un-touched for twenty-two years. Since "Walking Rails & Counting Ties" was a project drawn from the well of memories, Kevin decided it was time to blow the dust off and share it with his bluegrass community of fans and friends.