Kevin Wayne: Local Legends in the House
Written by Amy Modesti on April 29, 2021
Ever wonder what it’s like to travel through a time warp to 1950’s Mid-Century Americana & Rockabilly? Ask “Kevin Wayne and the Retrobilleze”!!
Tuesday, July 21,2020, I took a step back in time with singer/song writer/ guitarist, Kevin Wayne, and his band mates, Anna Finn (spoons/vocals) and Peter Murphy (guitar/bass), at the Eden Advisory Services and Café in Loudonville, NY to discuss all things “Retrobilleze”, the “Local Legends” series, and Rockabilly music. At the time, Season 2 of “Local Legends” begun and Kevin’s band was only a trio.
Fast forward nine months later to April 2021. Season 3 of “Local Legends” began April 5 with a special interview and music session with local Rockabilly favorites, “Big Frank and the Bargain Bingers” (Frank Novko & Johnny Hoffman) and “Kevin Wayne and The Retrobilleze” is no longer a trio; it became an ensemble. Murphy is no longer with the band (for the moment). Its current lineup features Wayne, Finn, Jim Holshue (lead guitar), Zac Myatt (bass), Vinnie Terrell (Djembe), and Meghan Craig (“Meg De’Lish” on tambourine & vocals). Times have changed but “The Retrobilleze” are rejuvenated, revived, and ready to roll along the tides of change & retro music.
Let’s back track to the day when Kevin Wayne first met with Peter Murphy & Anna Finn.
KW: Okay, oh jeez. I’ve known Pete & Anna for over 10 years each. I met Pete, uh, “The Flood Road Band” & I used to do this series called “Rhythm on the Ridge” at the Maple Ski Ridge and I was lucky enough to play there. And so, I used to play solo when they had us there and back in those days I used to write. I used to write kind of humorous songs. That’s what I started out doing. And I saw Pete playing bass. He had this cool little stand-up bass, Blue.
And I always admired it. It was good. And so, I used to watch some guys play and I knew Anna from The Moon and River Café in Schenectady and she would always have her spoons & shakers and all the shows she would play with different people and I always admired that, and we watched those people and, so I would see Anna at a lot of shows and a lot of times. I would just be watching too so that’s how we got to know each other.
RRX: Now I know when you originally did, originally formed “The Retrobilleze”, you had a wide variety of people coming through.
KW: I had the revolving door. I probably had the most band mates of any band in the world. Yeah, I had different, different people over the years. And it was just with different people’s schedules and everything, I was always, I was always really, always realized that people had things that, that they had to do & you’re always honored when you’re writing original songs and people like them enough that they want to play them with you. That’s really, so over the years, it started out as more of a comedy-type of songwriter. Over the years as the rhythm improved, I was able to get more of a rockabilly sound, which I was, that’s what I was aiming for all along. But I couldn’t do it when I first started doing songs. It was just the timing, but over the years I started & wrote songs about with Americana, 50’s lifestyle of writing songs, and bomb shelter songs.
RRX: What was the reason & story behind originating “Local Legends” for those who may or may not know?
KW: Kind of like, kind of like we thought that there are so many, so many great musicians around the area, that, that this area. When you think about it, it’s supposed to be, it’s really supposed to be not really that big of an area, you know. And, and it’s a melting pot between NYC & Canada. And you’re getting those big city influences in a small town so the music, quality of musicians here, you could put them anywhere in the country and they’re not going to get any better. You know, it’s just that good. And there’s so many, so many great stories from these older guys, you know, and they’re trying to do this, and they’re trying to do this while they’re alive, and we just started asking, to be able to gain the confidence to ask people.
Anna Finn: And it’s starting to bring people in here too, so that’s good.
RRX: Oh absolutely! And what was fun too is just hearing the backstories as to how our “Local Legends” got involved in music or how they got involved in art, or into people that they met, and the experiences that they’ve had over the years and what they’re doing today to keep music alive or to keep themselves going in our scene. And these have been fascinating to hear about because you don’t really get that opportunity to talk to them sometimes in person a little bit longer. So, in a way it’s great to be able to preserve the history of what they were and what they did to contribute to the scene.
KW: I think so, yeah. I think you know, it’s kind of cool, you know & also it’s on a Monday when nobody’s gigging so when you do something on a Monday, it’s at a time when a lot of musicians could go to something like that because it’s not when you’re out playing gigs and stuff. So, it’s kind of an off night which is great.
RRX: Now talk about how, I know I also helped with the photography and had a pop-up art show and now we’re also adding Meghan Craig into it too. The pop-up art show opportunity.
KW: That was always a good thing, because Amy, you always had like, all the musicians’ photos & that tied in with the “Local Legends”. When we were being interviewed, you had your photos in the exhibit which is kind of cool and people really liked that.
RRX: Thank You!!
KW: And it was nice because it was a different part of the art scene, which is kind of neat and kind of puts the local arts scene along with the music which is cool. We just have so many of these people have opened for some of these big names. So, it’s just incredible and Meghan, she’s a photographer like you are, but she does, she’s into the Rockabilly scene and like the fashion stuff and glamor photography. And we thought that would be something nice for the ladies when they come to the show they could, you know, maybe look at her products she sells and stuff. And it’s kind of nice, she kind of acts like a host when you come in. It kind of goes along with the look cause that people in costume, kind of goes along with the look. Cause with people, kind of more makes it more of an event.
Pete Murphy’s Reaction to the “Local Legends” series: I mean, the “Local Legends” series has just been fantastic learning about the history and getting to know somebody like Michael Eck and then start asking him questions and you’re just like ‘I didn’t know that’ right?! You know, so really learning about when people started playing and their history and even more of what they are doing now so sometimes you think of somebody and you don’t realize what they’re working on right now and so it’s, it’s the blend of the local historical nature of dealing with that.
Anna Finn’s Reaction to the “Local Legends” series: Oh, I enjoy being a part of Kevin’s band and “Local Legend” and being a part of this place here. Yeah. And I also, um, in another band that’s at The Moon and River Café. I’ve been playing at that place playing my spoons and sing with a guy named Mike Kailas, yeah. And that’s another one of my favorite places, yeah.
RRX: What other guests would you like to include for the “Local Legends” events in the future?
KW: Hopefully, Kevin Maul, Kevin yeah, he’s a great steel/pedal steel. There are so many others too like I’m thinking next year (2021) here, I got to try & ask but I would like to get. I want to get Dick Spazz, Dick Spazz for the next show in the future. Those are all the people I’d like to get. I want to get people that are really from the early era.
“Kevin Wayne And the Retrobilleze” & “Local Legends” 2021 Schedule
May 17,2021: “Kevin Wayne and the Retrobilleze” Tiki Bar Happy Hour Featuring Jimmy Holshue 4:30-7:30 p.m. @ Eden Café
June 7,2021: “Local Legends” Featuring “Off the Record Trio” @ Eden Café, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
July 12,2021: “Kevin Wayne and The Retrobilleze” Tiki Bar Happy Hour @ Eden Café 4:30-7:30 p.m.
August 2, 2021: “Local Legends” Featuring Paula Bradley & Kevin Maul @ Eden Café 4:30-7:30 p.m.
September 13, 2021: “Kevin Wayne and The Retrobilleze” Tiki Bar Happy Hour 4:30-7:30 p.m.
October 4,2021: “Local Legends”, Guest TBD @ Eden Café 4:30-7:30 p.m.
November 8,2021: “Kevin Wayne and The Retrobilleze” Tiki Bar Happy Hour @ Eden Café 4:30-7:30 p.m.
December 6, 2021: “Local Legends” Grande Finale @ Eden Café 4:30-7:30 p.m. Guests TBD