Kevin Burgess chosen as one of Metronome Magazines top 20 artist of 2012!!




Kevin Burgess talks with Metronome magazine June 2012
by Brian M. Owens

Kevin Burgess is an articulate songcrafter that gets right to the heart of the matter with his songs. Whether he learned how to capture that delicate essence of humanity from working in a Boston emergency room or he's just naturally tuned in to those fleeting emotions, Burgess evokes a universal sensibility in his lyrics. We talked at length one warm March day and he explained how music has become his true calling and what it's like fitting in to a 10" x 10" box...

METRONOME: Where are you from?
Kevin Burgess: I grew up in Connecticut. I moved to Boston after going to college in Rhode Island.

METRONOME: Did you go to college for music?
No, I went to school for nursing. I worked in the ER in Boston as a nurse, then went back to school for anesthesia.

METRONOME: Are you still in that line of work now? 
I am and it's draining me because I want to do music.

METRONOME: I know you play saxophone, guitar, sing and write music. What got you in to wanting to play music as a kid?
I started playing saxophone in the fourth grade. I played and played and played the horn all that time. Then in high school, I started playing a little rock and stuff on the horn. When I went off to college, I picked up the guitar and started playing and doing singer-songwriter stuff. Then we started playing coffeehouses down at URI.

METRONOME: Was it a duo or did you have a band together?
It was a duo and every now and then I would play in a band with the horn. When I finished college, I came to Boston and joined an original rock band playing percussion and saxophone.

METRONOME: What was the name of the band?
It was called Tango Reflex.

METRONOME: What year was that?
1986 to 1988. We played at Bunratty's and The Channel. After that band broke up, I started playing jazz because I had young kids and the hours were better. I started studying jazz and went to Longy's taking some courses and studied with Miles Donahue. I was still playing guitar and doing the singer-songwriting thing on the side. Once my kids got a little older, I started playing more and more and realized this is really what I wanted to do. Then the singer-songwriter thing began to merge with the horn parts.

METRONOME: How long did the jazz career last for you?
I still play jazz gigs now. GB gigs and private parties.

METRONOME: Do you play with anybody notable?
The guys on my CD are great jazz players. The rhythm section, Greg Loughman and Mike Connors. They play all over the place. You can't nail them down they're so busy. Molly Flannery is a good friend of mine. We play jazz gigs together too.

METRONOME: What year did the singer-songwriter thing kick in for you?
I was doing that in college, so I started in the early eighties.

METRONOME: Were you putting out records at the time?
  No. I was doing all covers and stuff. I had some originals, but never really put it together. Then around 2006-07 I started cranking out tunes. I had some relationship issues.  Then the first CD came out. I just started writing and kept going. I knew this is what I wanted to do and started playing solo acoustic shows.

METRONOME: What year did your first CD come out and what was it called?
 2009. It was called Put Yourself Out There.

METRONOME: So  your new CD The Real Place is your second CD release?

METRONOME: How did you hook up with Eric [Kilburn] at Wellspring Sound?
He did my first CD. I went in with a demo of some tunes on my first disc and he said, "Yeah, we should definitely work on this." We did and became pretty good friends. He did a bunch of mandolin tracks and weisenborn tracks on my first album. We had a good working relationship. He also brought Lori Diamond in there with me on the first CD. She did all the backup vocals on that.

METRONOME: How long did it take you to record The Real Place?
As soon as I finished the first CD, I immediately started writing again and had more material. I turned around and went back in the studio pretty quickly. It took me two years to record.

METRONOME: Was it just a matter of getting people together and coming up with money, or did you choose to take your time with it?
Kind of both. My day job is demanding so it was energy-wise too. It was a creative process and more stuff was coming and I had more ideas to work with. Finishing it up just took a little while. I was very happy with the way it came out.  
We got Kevin Barry to come in, in between tours with Ray LaMontagne and Peter Wolf. We had him for two days in the studio. He was just great. All the texture he added to the tunes. He’s a very gracious guy. It was great to get him on there.

METRONOME: Did you know Kevin before the sessions?
No, but Eric knew him because he’s done a lot of sessions there. He got a hold of him and said, “I think you should play on this.” He said, “Sure.” I sent him the stuff and he came in and played. He was great.

METRONOME: Did you send him rough tracks?
Yeah. I had roughed out some stuff ahead of time and then went in to the studio and did the vocals and rhythm guitar work. I sent that to Kevin, Mike and Greg. Then they came in. Mike and Greg were phenomenal. Without the three of those guys supporting me... I felt so fortunate to have them playing my music and supporting me with their great skills. It was just awesome.

METRONOME: How did you connect with singer, Perry Desmond/Davies?
Through Lori Diamond. I asked Lori to come sing on this, but she was too busy. She said, “Give Perry a call.” Perry came over and we did a couple of gigs together. Then she came in the studio and did backups.

METRONOME: If you play the material off The Real Place live, do the people who recorded with you accompany you or do you have a different band for live shows?
I've been basically doing it solo with a harmonica and guitar. A few cover tunes but mostly all this original stuff.

METRONOME: Are you using any prerecorded tracks or looping devices?
No. I'm stripping it down and playing it raw.

METRONOME: Are you playing the horn at all during those solo shows?
I have. I’ve brought the soprano and alto. Not for original tunes, but songs like “Ain't No Sunshine” I played horn and sang with it. My plan is to put together a bunch of musicians and get the music out there. That would be great.

METRONOME: I liked your tune “Together In A Song.” What inspired that one?
That tune is pretty much about relationships or people you don’t necessarily see anymore. There will be a particular tune that will come on and will bring you back to a specific time and place. Even though you may never see that person again, every time  you hear that tune  you go back and it reminds you of that person.

METRONOME: Are the songs personal for you?
A lot of them are. Personal stuff, yeah. Although, I’d have to say for this CD, I ventured off. My first CD was a cathartic, personal venture. For this CD there are a couple of tunes like “Come Back Home” where I projected myself on to somebody and their situation and then wrote the tune versus it all being personal. That was a new thing for this recording.

METRONOME: Did you find that to be challenging for you?
I think that you draw on emotion from other aspects of your life that relate to that and then transfer it over. A transference of feelings from something else in your life.

METRONOME: I liked “Alone Together.” It reminded me of something The Byrds might have written. What influenced that tune?
That’s an old tune that I had. It was from way back, before my first CD. I was watching friends of ours and their relationship was breaking up. I was trying to think of what they were feeling like. It started out not being personal and then becoming personal with things that happened in my life later.

METRONOME: “Monday Morning” is a really good, uptempo tune. What’s that one about?
The end of a relationship that meant a lot. It didn’t necessarily get to where it could have been, but it had it’s moments.

METRONOME: When you sit down and write, does anyone ever collaborate with you or are these all your own ideas?
It’s pretty much all me. Eric is totally great in the studio bouncing things off of. He was definitely a co-producer. It was a good collaboration between the two of us, but I’m pretty much scribbling lyrics all the time. I remember in an interview with Joe G. at “Dropping Knowledge,” a radio show at MIT on Thursdays at 4 pm. He does all local stuff. He had me come in and do an interview like this. I was telling him a story about being at work in the operating room and scribbling on pieces of paper. When I went to do my laundry a week later and I pulled these strips of paper out of my pocket. It turned out to be one of my better tunes off my first CD (laughs). If I hear a hook or a phrase that I think sounds cool, I sometimes start with that and then back it up and go from there.

METRONOME: Songwriters tell me it comes in a stream of conscience. Is that how it works for you?
Yeah. I remember the tune “Give Me Rain.” It was the winter and I was looking at the lake. The wind was blowing and it was cold. That line just came out, “The trees are bleeding today.”

METRONOME: “Show Some Love” was one of your rockier songs. Where did that one come from?
I think it’s just about letting go and being open and not being bound up. Just let yourself be receptive.

METRONOME: What kind of guitars did you use for these sessions?
I play a OOO-18 Martin. I actually brought a Taylor, but couldn’t play it because it was too bright of a sound. In college I used to play a big Guild. In my style of playing, the guitar is more of a percussion instrument for me. I also have a DC15  that I use for gigs. I have a habit of bringing two guitars because I always break something. In my style of playing, I beat on the guitar (laughs).

METRONOME: What kind of saxophones do you prefer?
I’m playing a Selmer Super Action 80s Series.

METRONOME: Does the saxophone still resonate with you as your first instrument?
A lot of times musically, I think vertically like the scales on the horn.

METRONOME: That must make for some interesting guitar lines?
Yeah (laughs). I’m a rhythm guitarist, but I will come up with a lick like I used in “Get Up And Dance.” That was pretty much a penatonic movement where I laid three horn parts on top of it.

METRONOME: When you put three horn parts together in a song, is it planned ahead of time or are you just winging it to see what sticks?
I do the vocal and rhythm guitar tracks and take that with me. I bring it home and work on either another vocal harmony or horn parts. When I come back to the studio I have three or four ideas. Some are simple. I’ll lay them down and be done with it, but then as far as solos I’ll take a couple of takes.

METRONOME: Being a lead singer and horn player is a lot of work. Does it ever become tough for you to do both?
 It’s daunting to think about trying to put it all together. In the studio I’ve done the guitar, the horns, the percussion and the vocals. It is tough trying to figure out what to do. Do I hire another horn player? Do I hire a guitar player? I haven’t figured that out yet. I’m looking forward to the day when I can get a group of guys together.  

METRONOME: Did you have a CD release party yet for The Real Place?
No I haven’t. I’m looking at doing something in late spring.

METRONOME: Do you work a lot solo?
I actually had back surgery in January of this year, so I’ve been laid up for a bit, but I’m ready to go. That kinda delayed me. Once I get everything ready, I’ll be set to go.

METRONOME: I really dug the album artwork of you falling down in mid air. How did you create all that?
My friend Rick Kyle at 5000K runs this great color studio. He knew this guy Cary Wolinsky who is a National Geographic photographer and he had this idea. First we sat down and they said, “Tell us, what is the real place?” I said, It’s not even a place, it’s a feeling. It’s a place you get yourself in to emotionally. Their whole concept was, you’re going to fall in to that place and your instruments are falling too because you landed in “the real place” with your music (laughs).  
They had this box... his wife Babs Wolinsky was working with these shadow boxes where he would take a picture of it and they would use it in an art show. He said, “We’re going to  put you in this box.” They sent me a picture through email. I said, Okay, that sounds cool. Then I went to his studio and the box was 10” x 10” (laughs). So they had me lay on the floor and stretch my arms in different ways...

METRONOME: So they didn’t have you jumping on a trampoline and taking photos of you in mid air? Was there some type of “green screen” behind you?
He actually ran out to Home Depot, got three doors, put them on the floor, mounted the camera and shot downward. I never sat in that chair in the photo when you open up the CD jacket either. I was actually sitting in a different chair. They did a very cool job.

METRONOME: Obviously you weren’t leaning against the box with your guitar for the back jacket photo?
No, I was leaning on a door. They stood up a door. I didn’t even really lean. The door just fell over (laughs).

METRONOME: How did they get the instruments to float on air? Were they hanging on wires?
They were laying on the floor and then we propped them up on little pieces of wood. I’m sure Rick Photoshopped every little shadow and every little nuance in to it.

METRONOME: Is there another CD project in the future?
Yeah, I’m still writing. I have another 10 tunes to record. I have another album’s worth of material.




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Singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Kevin Burgess offers up a set of spirited originals on his latest CD The Real Place that incorporates the best of Americana, roots, country, pop and rock in the vein of folks like Delbert McClinton and John Hiatt. Employing musical guests Kevin Barry on guitar and lap steel, Perry Desmond-Davies on vocals, Eric Kilburn on guitar mandolin & weisenborn, Greg Loughman on bass and Mike Connors on drums, Burgess steers the proceedings with qualified weathered vocals and life-affirming prose along with some tasteful guitar work from Kevin Barry and the tight rhythm work of Greg Loughman and Mike Connors.
The Real Place is great listening material and songs like the beautifully emotive "Together In A Song," the chiming "Alone Together," the uplifting "Monday Morning," and the rock & roll bounce of "Show Some Love" appoint Burgess as one of Boston's finest storytellers. Good stuff! [D.S.]


CD Review in the August 2009 Metronome by Douglas Sloan



"Singer – songwriter – guitarist - saxophonist Kevin Burgess delivers a diverse recording of original songs on his new album PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. This is not your typical 4 chord rock and roll drivel, but a well planned CD that incorporates an amalgam of styles from funk to country folk with a dash of island and Middle Eastern tempos fueled by Burgess' tasteful saxophone work. A stable of fine musicians includes bassist Greg Loughman, drummer Mike Connors, Singer Lori Diamond, singer (and daughter) Sofia Burgess, Djembe bongo player (and daughter) Gabrielle Burgess, and Eric Kilburn handling the mandolin, weissenborn, and guitar chores, as well as recording, mixing and mastering the sessions.

With a flair for the big picture, Burgess spins a handful of hits in "Little Bird," the Middle Eastern flavored "Stuck," the funky R&B flavoring of "Screamin," the fusionesque "So Beautiful," and the gorgeously composed and arranged "Mother's Love" (sadly, Burgess' mother passed away during the recording of this project).