Music : Lockwood at the Old Whaling Church
Home again. Musician Kenny Lockwood has returned to the Vineyard to perform after living for a year and a half in New York City where he refined his pastoral style of folk music. This Saturday he will perform with his nine-piece band, Red Road, in a concert featuring Nancy Jephcote at the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown.
After spending years on the Vineyard, regularly performing and developing his mixed brand of bluegrass and folk music, Mr. Lockwood looked to the big city for new inspiration.
"The city is more edgy and competitive," says Mr. Lockwood. "It's just a harder life, and I needed that to move my music forward. I had to focus inward more and synthesize my music style."
He has just released his second album, "Strong Love," a unique mixture of Mr. Lockwood's expressive lyrics with the many influences that contribute to American country music. Like a chef, he combines different elements into a complex structure in a way that makes the whole better than any one of its parts.
"The genesis of my music is shifting," explains Mr. Lockwood when asked to describe his style. "My first album was a fusion between folk and bluegrass. This new music is more folk-pop with alternative country undertones."
That aside, Mr. Lockwood has stayed true to the elemental sounds of country music. He seamlessly dashes a little bluegrass into the mix in songs like "Just Sing About It," with Banjo rifts, fiddles and the strummed rhythm of a mandolin.
He tops the album off with a pop sound that is characteristic of much contemporary country music. The title track of the album offers the best demonstration of this. "Strong Love" has inspirational lyrics that reach out to the listener in a longing plea for understanding. Although more produced then the other tracks, the instrumentals bellow in subtle arrangements, creating a dark tone that shows the maturity of the artist.
Photo courtesy of Kenny Lockwood
What cannot be missed when listening to this album is Mr. Lockwood's deep sense of faith. Borrowing from his own beliefs in Christianity, he endorses a greater sense of collective spirituality that is non-secular.
"I have a very deep and abiding faith, but I don't push that on anyone," says Mr. Lockwood. "What I live by is the fact that, by virtue, we have to follow the laws of nature. We are all subjected to that law. That is what I express in the way that I write and the way I perform.
"There is a lot underneath my music and it is grounded with a strong foundation of faith. It's not simple music but it is easily accessible to those who want to understand it. I think when you get everyone on the same page with the music, it just expands. Everyone who is baring witness to it expands. Music is one of the things that is close to God. Not concerning religion, per say, but the close spiritual nature of God."
Mr. Lockwood's spirituality is evident in his explanation of what "Strong Love" means to him.
"Strong Love is unmoving, ever changing, with a depth that you can't forecast. Living true to myself. Loving myself in a whole way so I am able to love and to be of service to others in a true way. It is infinite. The thing we all live in. Unbreakable. It is the law of our world."
Mr. Lockwood also brings with him a desire to reconnect with the Vineyard community. For him this show is not about showing all he has learned from city life; it is, he says, more about just having fun.
"It's going to be one of the better concerts of the summer. I don't mean that in an egotistical way. But with these musicians, I know it will be full of spirit. It's going to be a happening."
Kenny Lockwood & Red Road with Nancy Jephcote, Saturday, August 30, 8 pm, Old Whaling Church, Edgartown. $15 tickets available at Alley's General Store and Above Ground Records.