November 28, 2010

Hoppy Holidays Countdown

In anticipation of Hoppy Holidays, I will be counting down the top five keyboardists whom have had the most influence on my playing. I’ll post a different artist every few days between now and the first day of Hoppy Holidays: Friday, December 10th.

I am often asked to name the most influential keyboardists in my life. I usually just rattle off my favorites from then and now, but I wanted to really take a look at who influenced my playing. I didn’t want to select just keyboard players that I admire and study, but those that have made an impact on my performance and writing. So I scanned my iTunes library and dug up my old cassettes from the basement and this is what it came down to…

#5: Stevie Wonder

Growing up, my family was the Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary-type crowd, nothing musically challenging, just good songs with lyrically provoking themes. Of course, the Beatles were right in there as well, but the R & B and Motown sound didn’t really make it through our door. It came down to me looking outside my family’s genre to find new music. By the time I was in high school, I was listening to the Talking Heads and discovering new sounds, such as African rhythms through the albums Remain In Light and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts and funk from Bernie Worrell and Parliament. This road eventually wound its way through Billy Preston and The Meters into Ray Charles and landed on Stevie Wonder. It was not just Stevie’s soulful playing, but also the songwriting that hooked me in. Tunes like “You Haven’t Done Nothing” and “Higher Ground” spoke to my sense of funk, but also to my feelings on social consciousness. And I loved the quality of those recordings, so raw and so much energy. And his voice has such great versatility, I enjoyed all the nuances that decorated the ends of his phrases. Stevie was able to bridge my early pop influences with some real soul and lead me in a new direction musically and compositionally.

Hoppy Holidays
12/10 Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom | Denver, CO – KHB feat. DJ Logic & Liza Oxnard w/The Nu Classics plus signature beer by Kyle and Boulder Beer
12/11 Hodi’s Half Note | Fort Collins, CO – KHB feat. DJ Logic & Liza Oxnard w/the Nu Classics plus signature beer by Kyle and Boulder Beer
12/12 Avery Brewing Co. | Boulder, CO – KHB plus signature beer by Kyle and Avery Brewing and much, much, more!

For more information on Hoppy Holidays and to purchase tickets go to