Brian Kenney Fresno — We'll Always Have Fresno
(Bonghit Records no#, 2013, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2013-09-18We’ll always have what? Those in the know, and almost anyone who’s ever lived in California will know that Fresno is one of the state’s largest cities, located about 200 miles south of Sacramento in the state’s fertile San Joaquin valley, and remains an important part of California’s “bread basket.” Home of Cal State Fresno and Fresno City College, the city has an undeserved bad reputation. Brian Kenney Fresno (henceforth BKF) is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who pretty much marches to his own beat, well outside the mainstream, but certainly one who deserves greater acclaim than the obscurity that he now seems to wield. He has three or four recordings prior to this one, and a few live DVDs also. Oh, and did I mention? Most of his songs are about, or somehow related to Fresno! BKF’s approach is a good fun, singalong absurdist style that covers a variety of topics: The opener “Gina Pepe” is about a girl he used to know in high school; “Daddy Doggy Daughter Day” is a song about his adorable little dog that’s featured on the CD cover with a little red coat; “Chick with a Dick” is... well, a hilarious true story I guess. The latter is performed by his band E Is for Elephant, but on all the other tracks here, BKF plays all the instruments – his main instrument being a 12 string Warr Guitar – and sings all the vocals with a little help from his friends. A couple of the dozen tracks are just short narratives, and there are a couple of ‘serious’ tunes here also: the first one you’ll encounter is the beautiful acoustic instrumental “Prelude de Fresno in E Minor” (he had to get Fresno in there somehow); others include “Orcas Island” and the surprisingly avant-garde exploration “Trees,” written by fellow traveler Mark Growden. “Ozone” is another fairly avant-garde piece dealing with Fresno’s air pollution issues. So what is this comparable to? BKF is certainly operating on his own wavelength, but I am occasionally reminded of Captain Beefheart (but without the strong blues roots), or his acolyte Zoogz Rift; and the crude stuff is actually more just injected humor, nowhere near the raunch level of Flo & Eddie era Zappa. So all taken, this is probably like nothing else you’ve ever heard.
Related artist(s): Brian Kenney Fresno
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santana, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more