Smoke And Steel
The Kinsey brothers return with searing, hard-edged industrial strength blues, with a touch of rock, reggae and funk and up-to-the-minute streetwise lyrics. "Brawny, blistering blues, gritty as a Gary steel mill"--MUSICIAN
Donald Kinsey, Guitar and Vocals
Kenneth Kinsey, Bass
Ralph Kinsey, Drums, Percussion and 2nd
Lead Vocal on Dead In Your Tracks
Dave Miller, Rhythm Guitar on Time Is Running Out, Rattlesnake Highway and When The Church Burned Down
Will Crosby, Rhythm Guitar on Can't See The Hook, Loved Ones, When The Church Burned Down, Down In The Dungeon and Fire Down Below
Roosevelt Purifoy, Keyboards on Dead In Your Tracks, This Old City, Must Be Love, and Down In The Dungeon
Anthony Space, Keyboards on Can't See The Hook, Loved Ones, When The Church Burned Down, Fire Down Below, and Code Of The Streets
"Mad Dog" Lester Davenport, Harmonica on Down In The Dungeon
The Kinsey Report, Nancy Shaffer and Lasandra Maloney, Background Vocals
The Kinsey Report is booked by:
High Tide Booking
Tel (912) 634-4571; Fax (912) 634-5676;
Produced by The Kinsey Report and Bruce Iglauer
Recorded and mixed by Danny Shaffer at Velvet Shirt Studios, Chicago, IL
Mastered by Jason Rau at Monster Disc, Chicago, IL
Design by Matthias Minde
Cover and inlay photos by Paul Natkin/ Photo Reserve
Booklet inside photos by Chuck Winans and Paul Natkin (*)
For the Kinsey Report--brothers Ralph, Donald, and Kenneth--the blues are just part of the family's rich musical heritage. They're sons of bluesman Lester "Big Daddy" Kinsey, who in turn is the son of powerhouse Pentecostal minister Lester Kinsey, Sr., who pastored Gary's Chase Street Church of God in Christ for nearly a half-century. "My grandfather's church had so much energy going on with the music, people would shout and jump," Kenneth describes. "That's where a lot of our musical influences--especially our rhythm--comes from."
Big Daddy Kinsey grew up in the Mississippi Delta, learning harmonica and gospel slide guitar. He moved to Gary near the end of World War II to work the steel mills, and began performing Muddy Waters-style blues after the births of Ralph in '52 and Donald in '53. A few years later, he outfitted Ralph with a parade snare drum and taught Donald to chord a guitar. "I first put the guitar in Donald's hands when he was five years old," Big Daddy recalls. "He played in church, and by the time he was ten, he was good." During his early teens, Donald was nicknamed "B.B. King, Jr." "I used to sing B.B. King tunes and play a lot like him," Donald says, "so people got to know me by that name." Kenneth, born in '63, eventually became bassist for the family band.
Big Daddy, Ralph, and Donald made their recording debut as the Constellations, backing Eddie Silvers on his 1969 DJO single, Funky Fun In The Ghetto. Billed as Big Daddy Kinsey & His Fabulous Sons, they toured the Midwest and South until 1972, when Ralph enlisted in the Air Force and Albert King hired Donald as his backup guitarist. Donald worked with King for three years, appearing on I Wanna Get Funky, Montreux Festival, and Blues At Sunrise. He paid careful attention when the big man told him, "Hey, when you solo, slow yourself down. It's better to play four or five melodic notes that really connect with the people than to play a hundred and fifty notes." Donald left King in '75 to join Ralph in the bluesy metal trio White Lightning, recording a self-titled album for Island Records.
During the next half-decade, Donald ensured his place in reggae history, playing alongside his Island label mates Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. As Jim O'Neal writes, "The incorporation of blues/rock-oriented lead guitar licks into much contemporary reggae music is due in no small part to Donald's tours and recordings with Marley and Tosh." After playing on Tosh's Legalize It album and tour, Donald was invited by Bob Marley to join the Wailers in time for the Rastaman Vibration sessions and 1976 tour, which led to his appearances on the concert album Babylon By Bus and several Marley anthologies.
In what he describes as the ultimate freakiness of his life, Donald was in the room when a would-be assassin shot Marley on the eve of the politically charged Smile Jamaica concert; wounded but undeterred, Marley played the show with Kinsey at his side. Donald headed home afterwards, touring with the Staple Singers and organizing a funk-reggae outfit, the Chosen Ones, with Ralph and their guitarist friend Ron Prince. Donald rejoined Tosh for Bush Doctor and the opening slot on the Rolling Stones 1978 stadium tour, and was back in the Wailers for Marley's final concerts. After co-writing material covered by Tosh and releasing a 1981 Chosen Ones EP, Donald and Ralph worked together with singer Betty Wright.
The Kinsey brothers and Ron Prince reunited in Gary in '84 as The Kinsey Report. With Kenneth on bass, their first studio collaboration was Big Daddy's debut album, Bad Situation, produced by Donald for Rooster Blues. The Kinsey Report sans Big Daddy next appeared on Alligator Records The New Bluebloods anthology, followed by their own Edge Of The City in '87. A downbeat review proclaimed the band telepathically tight, but the best was yet to come Midnight Drive, with Donald's streamlined, street-tough solos soaring above driving blends of Chicago and Mississippi blues, rock, funk, soul, reggae, and R&B.
After a pair of rock-edged albums for Pointblank, Smoke And Steel marks the Kinsey Report's return to Chicago's Alligator Records. "We're very happy they've opened their arms to us," Donald says, "because the blues is really where our hearts are at."
The Kinseys of Gary, Indiana, remain a tight-knit clan. Donald lives across the street from Big Daddy, while Kenneth resides nearby and Ralph's on the north end of town. When they're not on the road, most evenings you can find the brothers rehearsing and songwriting in Big Daddy's basement. Meanwhile, even younger generations of musical Kinseys wait in the wings, ready to carry on what Rev. Lester Kinsey, Sr., started all those years ago.
Jas Obrecht is the author of Blues Guitar: The Men Who Made The Music
All praises to the Creator for faith, strength, and guidance. We dedicate this CD in memory of two very special people, our mother, Christine Kinsey and Donald's wife, Sharon Kinsey. You both will always be missed and loved by us.
Very special thanks to our father Lester Big Daddy Kinsey for his invaluable support and advice. Also, special thanks to our families for loving and supporting us and understanding the ups and downs of this business. Thanks also to Bruce Iglauer and Nora Kinnally and the entire Alligator staff for welcoming us back. To the great musicians who helped us and performed on this CD-- thanks, brothers. Thanks also to Paul and June Gray, Danny Shaffer and Velvet Shirt Studios, Tom Gold Agency, GHS Strings, and Rich Mangicaro at Paiste, Vanick and Maria at Regal Tip. Last but not least, thanks to all fans and the blues community around the world for supporting the careers of The Kinsey Report. God Bless.
Special acknowledgement and tribute to blues legends Luther Allison, Junior Wells, Jimmy Rodgers, and Johnny Clyde Copeland --The Kinsey Report