Categorizing the music of the Grammy winning Kentucky Headhunters is like trying to explain why the grass in Kentucky looks blue. Some things are best when left to just grow naturally without explanation…wild and unique…
So it is with the Headhunters.
One word of caution: Hide your children, Nashville! A lot of new musical influences are about to reach formative ears that tune into the new Headhunters release. “Soul” is a musical travelogue that transports listeners far beyond the city limits of Nashville to explore influences of Memphis, Muscle Shoals, and rural environs known only to musicians with a steady itinerary of off the beaten path funky, blues clubs where new music is born from the influences of the old masters. Sibling band mates Richard and Fred K. Young, and their cousins Anthony Kenney and Greg Martin, and friend, Doug Phelps are the perfect hosts for the grand tour “Soul” provides.
Their newest project “Soul” is proof positive that with their current label, Audium/Koch, someone is very smart. The band has wisely been given total creative control when the subject turns to music. Listening to their prior project for the label, “Songs From The Grass String Ranch” released in August 2000 leaves little doubt that fans will need to strap on their seatbelts for a total departure on the band’s new collection.
The Kentucky grown musicians, who devised their name as an off shoot of Muddy Waters’ legendary band, have always been proud to forge new musical ground more that just a little left center of the Nashville trends. They’ve made their mark as a controversial band-as influenced by heavy metal and the blues-as they have been by the bluegrass of their heritage. Fans are used to ‘hunting’ through the record bins to find Headhunter product; never knowing if the CD’s will show up in Country, Southern Rock, Blues or Rock categories.
“Soul” is the Headhunters at their ultimate best. The blues are so thick they float to the surface amidst a pot boiling musical recipe that bubbles noticeably with some of the groups collective favorite influences: Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jeff Beck Group, ZZ Top, Nazz, Johnny Winter, The Allman Brothers, Free, and Led Zeppelin.
Wanting to reach into the roots of blues music, The Headhunters invited the best blues pianist in the world, 73-year-old Johnnie Johnson, to play on this project. Johnson, who was on stage with the Rolling Stones in Houston, TX the evening prior to the recording session, didn’t hesitate. He jumped on a plane in Houston, landed in Kentucky, and laid down his signature piano sound for the The Headhunters…. True, ageless, historic, “Soul.”
Grammy nominated Jimmy Hall had just returned from touring with Jeff Beck and quickly answered the Headhunters call to record, as did Reese Wynans (Dickie Betts Band) and legendary saxophonist, Jim Horn. In a recent interview, The Headhunters admit they were apprehensive going into the sessions that produced their newest project with such an eclectic group of musicians, but within hours of arriving in the studio, it was obvious the climate was right. The result: The band calls it the most honest and passionate Headhunter music in years.
The truth of these words will soon be in the ear of the beholder with “Soul.”