By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
If I had any say in the matter, I would make a strong case for Myles Kennedy as one of the best singers in music today. He has a powerful, soulful voice that sounds like he belongs in a church choir. Possessing a four-octave range, he has often been compared to the late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. Balancing between his duties in Alter Bridge and Slash, it amazes me that is able still sound the same after so many years of performing. He has now decided to venture onto a new path by creating his first solo release, Year of the Tiger. Unlike his previous projects, Year of the Tiger is a stripped-back acoustic album that is heavily influenced by blues and folk rock. He is now on the road, performing an unplugged version of his new album and other works. One of his stops included visiting the world famous Troubadour in Hollywood, Calif., where Matt and I caught him.
Traveling along was Thomas Wynn & the Believers, a soulful Southern rock, R&B group consisting of siblings Thomas and Olivia Wynn. Matt and I got there in time to hear one song, “Mountain Fog.” The brother and sister duo nailed it with their soulful reach. I will be sure to catch them next time around.
The room goes dark, and the music plays in the background. Myles Kennedy then comes down the stairs, with an acoustic guitar in his hands. He then starts to play “Devil on the Wall” to an excited packed house. He was amazing on the tiny stage where Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, the Eagles, and Van Morrison made famous. For the entire evening, it was all Myles Kennedy. No smoke, strobe lights, electric guitars, or blazing solos, it was just him and his collection of acoustic guitars. After performing “Standing in the Sun,” made famous in his Slash and the Conspirators group, he got intimate with the audience. He would mention that with each new show on this tour, he would treat the event like he was performing in his living room for his friends. He made this special connection with fans, making them feel like family.
During his set, we would switch to different guitars, including a steel guitar. He would perform songs not only from his record, Alter Bridge, Mayfield Four and Slash; he would also play a few covers. Some of these covers included Led Zeppelin and Robert Johnson, songs that have inspired him as an artist.
There are a lot of people who do not know just how good he is on guitar. He certainly knows his way around the frets. He had such a drive, and poured out his heart and soul into his beloved instrument. He was not all alone in his performance though. Tim Tournier, who played bass on Year of the Tiger, joined in on guitar for a couple of songs. Mostly keeping the rhythm in check, Tournier sounded solid, adding more harmony to the songs. Kennedy developed a special bond with his fans, treating like they are his family. Whether he played “Blind Faith,” “All Ends Well,” “Mars Hotel,” “Songbird,” or “World on Fire,” the audience became his backing vocalists, singing with passion and joy. After “World on Fire,” he retreated upstairs to take a little breathier, and then returned for a two song encore, which included the title track “Year of the Tiger.” For nearly 2 hours, we were in music paradise.
Full Myles Kennedy slide show below:
It was an epic evening filled with wonder and awe. Kennedy is known mainly for his extravagant shows, but he made it more personal. He brought intense energy to the stage, particularly when he was strumming his guitars. He would also joke with the fans as well. He even gave a shout out to my good buddy Gonzo; complimenting his famous warrior makeup he likes to wear when attending a concert. Matt and I wear at the Ride for Ronnie charity event earlier that day and were exhausted. However, once he started to play, it woke me up. It was probably one of the best unplugged performances I have ever seen by any artist. To Myles Kennedy, I salute you. Horns up!!!