Sunday, August 21, 2005

Kenny, Live On The Deck...


Click on photo to enlarge

Our friend, singer & guitarist Kenny Hamsley, came over and played for us today.

The photo on the left was taken on our deck this afternoon, and, on the right, is the cover of the Georgia Boy CD I produced with Kenny in September of 2003.

I met Kenny at a bus stop in December of 2002, and, after inviting him over for dinner to hear him play & sing, I just had to get him recorded.

We recorded 18 songs (most of them in one take) during three sessions at Superchief Studios here in Big Bear at a cost of about $400.

Kenny has sold several hundred of these CDs at local clubs in the past 2 years and I was able to realize one of my lifelong dreams, to conceive, design, and produce an album with an unknown musician.

It was a great experience for both of us and the CD turned out great.


Below are the liner notes I wrote for the CD.

Kenny Dale Hamsley was born on January 6th 1953 in Unadilla, Georgia---42 miles south of Macon---where highways 41 and 230 intersect.
He was the 13th of 15 children born to Melvin and Alice Hamsley, and, at the age of 6, was given his first guitar---a gift from older brother Herman.
Kenny has 11 brothers and 3 sisters, all but one of which play musical instruments or sing, yet interestingly enough, neither of their parents were musically inclined.
Kenny's mother Alice gave birth to the first of her 15 kids when she was only 13 years old, and reached the ripe old age of 84, even after her husband Melvin died at 59, leaving her as the sole parent, and loving matriarch, of their very large family.


In his teens, Kenny fronted a 'Future Farmer's Of America' sponsored string-band, which he named the K-Hams Band, while attending Unadilla High School where he was also a notable quarterback for the Unadilla Blue Devils until 1970, when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, training to be a Navy Seal.


By the age of 22 Kenny was back with a new version of the K-Hams Band, playing all around his part of Georgia, as the band cooked up their own steaming renditions of the best 'Southern Rock' of the day, adding some original songs to the mix as well. Reveling in the music of bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band, Alabama and the Doobie Brothers, the K-Hams Band worked all the local towns, including Cordele, Warner Robbins and Perry, where they were regulars at places like the Flamingo Club, The Commodore Lounge, Mount Chalet and numerous VFW halls.

Kenny also sang and played piano in church and, at his mother's insistence, performed often for the elderly at various nursing homes. "Those nursing home performances are among my best memories", Kenny said, "seeing the sparkle in the old folks eyes when we came to play for them".


Life, and the circumstances of reality being what they are, Kenny wouldn't find a lasting career in music, but he never stopped playing or sharing his rare natural talent with all who would listen. And while living in Big Bear City, California for the past two years, Kenny, when he's not pounding nails at some construction job, is still at it, gracing the front porches of a few fortunate mountain friends as he sips his vodka, plays guitar, & sings the hours into sweet oblivion.


Kenny is old school and his sensitive handling of songs by the likes of Merle Haggard, Hank Williams and George Strait can melt even the hardest of hearts, but he can pick the hell out of a guitar too, so just when you think you've had enough of them sad ol' songs, he'll lay into some old-time country pickin' or classic southern rock wicked enough to raise the dead.

Finally, after more than four decades of playing & singing, Kenny Hamsley is on CD, his first recording. I hope you enjoy this heartfelt down-home front-porch music as much as I do. Straight from the heart, this good ol' Georgia country boy, dedicates the CD to his daughter, Angelica Christina Hamsley.


What we recorded through musical kinship, is now passed along to friend and family, especially Kenny's siblings. So here's to the rest of the Hamsley clan!

Frank, Bob, Mary, Nell, Herman, Willy, Carolyn, Horace, Melvin Jr., Roy Elbert, Floyd, Larry Eugene, Ronald (Terry) and Benny (Butch).

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Bobbi Lamberth said...

I am Kenny's niece and missing him so much right now. The CD you made with him has helped me through the loss of him. I grew up listening to him and his family entertain us anytime we were together and he was one of my favorite uncles. Thank you so much for being his friend. All he ever wanted to do was sing. Now he can sing for us always through the CD. We are having visitation tomorrow afternoon and his music will be played there. Afterwards, we are pickin' and grinnin' in honor of Uncle Kenny singing his favorite songs and sharing stories of him. I am writing for his funeral. I will share the poem with you when I have it complete. I am waiting on family input now. Thank you again for being his friend. It means a lot to our family.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MY NAME IS NIKKI HAMSLEY AND I AM KENNY'S NEICE, I BELONG TO HIS YOUNGER BROTHER TERRY...I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HIM AT MY GRANNY'S W/ ANGEL SITTIN' AT THE TABLE OR IN THE LIVING ROOM JUST SINGIN' HIS HEART OUT. IT JUST SEEMED LIKE HE OPENED HIS MOUTH AND IT CAME OUT. I LOVED TO HEAR HIM SING AND HIS CD IS ONE OF MY MOST PRIZED POSSESSIONS. I HAD NOT SEEN HIM FOR A VERY LONG TIME WHEN I HEARD OF HIS DEATH, IT IS A DAY I WILL NOT SOON FORGET. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEFRIENDING HIM. HE WAS ALWAYS A TROUBLED SOUL BUT I LOVED HIM AND I KNOW MY GRANDMOTHER DID TOO. THEY ARE TOGETHER NOW.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Bobbi & Nikki-

Peggy and I both thought the world of your uncle Kenny and it was one of the highlights of my life to be able to get him recorded.

In many ways Kenny was a tortured soul, but through music, a beautiful sensitivity from his deepest being shined brightly through.

Kenny was a natural musician, truly gifted, with a stunningly tender voice, and I'm very fortunate to have been among his friends.

The Georgia Boy CD we made together was a gift to all of us from Kenny, from the sheer luck of good timing, and because of the providence of our chance meeting at the bus stop.

Kenny is gone now but his memory will be kept alive in the recordings he made for us.

If any of you, family or friends, ever need more copies of 'Georgia Boy', please let us know.

Much Love,

Jim & Peg

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Bobbi Lamberth said...

I would love to have a copy of Uncle Kenny's CD to have and not open. I have my mom's CD and downloaded it to my phone. You should have been there to hear Uncle Kenny sing at his own funeral. Amazing Grace never sounded better. I would love to send the CD in for a buzz cut on sirius radio. I want to hear him on the radio! I completed his poem. I will send it tonight. I am looking to see if I have a copy on my flash drive. His brother Horace is not doing well. In ICU now. I miss Kenny very much. He was the creative, playful one in the bunch. Anyway, let me know what to send you so you can send a CD. I will be more than happy to pay whatever to get my own copy.
As far as being a troubled soul...I dunno if I agree. He was free from some of the boundaries we find in life. He was also able to find peace in what he wanted to do. He never met a stranger and loved everyone. Money wasn't all that to him and he was happy most anytime you were with him. He shared his happiness with us.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Dear Bobbi-

As long as I'm alive Kenny's CD will always be available to you and his family (for personal use) at no cost.

Just e-mail your address to me at
nativegarden@charter.net and I'll send one off to you as soon as I get some more burned and printed up.

I'm looking forward to reading your poem and I very much wish I could have been at Kenny's funeral.

1:13 PM  

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