Drivin’ ‘N’ Cryin’ Brings Out The Ledfoot Messiah At Rhythm & Brews

Monday, July 28, 2014 - by Mark Herndon

The very best in “LIVE” music keeps arriving in Chattanooga as Drivin' n' Cryin' parked their bus at the House of “Rhythm & Brews” Thursday evening.  Really, it wasn’t a laid back or as some call throw back Thursday at all.  When I noticed one of my favorite mid-80’s Southern rock with a wide area of musical influence (i.e. Southern rock folk alt-country punk jam band) was heading to Chattanooga.  I am always up to capture the essence of the evening and maintain a real interest having the chance to talk with the most talented people in the music business and learning how songwriters, singers, and musicians craft their beginning and their skills.

It's impressive when you have all of these attributes as a leader of a startup band from the 80’s with a long stay in a roller coaster environment that never seems to begin with the end in mind. Kevn Kinney‘s was there at the beginning just Drivin’ N’ Cryin’. 

 The photo series associated with this story is my attempt to capture the moment for both Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ (Kevn Kinney w/ featured Jessy Lynn Martens vocalist/fiddle) and Ledfoot Messiah as both bands connect with Chattanooga’s Live music fans. These guys, with special feature the talented Jessy Lynn Martens vocal and fiddle, treated the fans to a very intimate private type concert.  You know when an Artist steps off the stage and plays on center floor is truly connecting with the fans.  I don’t think I have ever seen such a natural connection with a class act band interact with a couple of hundred people as Drivin’ N’ Cryin.   

I eased into the venue I call the House of “Rhythm & Brews” on Market Street during sound checks as Doug (sound jockey) worked feverishly as he usually does setting up each instrument’s sound channel with designated mics (microphones)  - first Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ then Ledfoot Messiah band members.  During sound check is a perfect time to get familiar and current with what the Bands are doing.  Also, to preview the merchandise table for latest CD’s, sticker, etc.

 Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ was the typical start with young 20ish boys playing their music in small bands looking for their own identities.

 Kevn tells the story this way ..

I met Tim Nielsen (bass player)  just after I moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee. One night I was playing in a pickup band with Die Kreuzen, my good friends from back home.  They were staying on my floor, just passing through on tour. We played a lot of shows together a couple of years back when I was in a punk band called The Prosecutors.  Let’s see what happens.

 Tim was there that night. He played in the big 688 band The Nightporters and was a rock star in Atlanta. He pulled me aside after the show and asked me if I lived down here. I told him that I had just moved to town and was working at the sewage plant, retired from the music world for good at age 24.

 Tim stopped by my apartment one afternoon a couple of weeks later and told me he was gonna find me a band to be in. My music was on the folk side of Dylan at the time but I decided I was up to playing just for the fun of it. He got me practicing with a few guys but it wasn’t really happening, so eventually he decided we’d just start our own band, stated Kevn

 Kevn said Tim quit the Nightporters and stole their drummer and we played our first Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ show at 688 in October 1985. A little over a year later, I’m sitting in my living room with an album, a real, freakin’ 12-inch vinyl LP record called Scarred But Smarter, it was the start.

I wanted to be in a band that would be unafraid of changing genres, mostly because I’m easily distracted and change subjects mid-sentence. “Needs help with self-control,” read every report card after fifth grade….underground comic-readin’ journalistic wannabe…too lazy to write a complete story….I settled on the song format…it’s perfect…a short poem…with its own soundtrack.

Scarred but Smarter was the inspired thoughts of a 24-year-old boy and his varied music directions. 

At 24, Kevn wrote:  Nobody said it would be fair… They warned you before you went out there .. There’s always a chance to get restarted.

To a new world, new life …… Scarred but smarter.

At that time, I had restarted myself, said Kevn. I come from an industrial land of things that used to be: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, class of 79…a town, back then, that encouraged you to leave high school, get a job in a factory, get injured and then get workers compensation while picking up a side job at a liquor store or record shop where you got paid under the table.

Today, Drivn’ N” Cryin” has traveled around the world a few times  .. shared the stage with many iconic bands and now, after almost 40 years, become Iconic in their diligence, patience and dedication to their dreams. The singer/song writer/ musician and lead vocals Kevn Kenny thinks the band (with Tom Nielsen-bass, Dave V Johnson-drums, Aron Lee Tasjan-guitar)  found the true essence of what started to build back in 1985. It’s the truth as we see it set to a soundtrack fueled by music we love, everyone from The Ramones, The Clash, The Seeds, Iggy, Dylan, Patti Smith Group, R.E.M., Thin Lizzy, The Rolling Stones. You get the point.

Tonight, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ pulls their Music Bus onto Market Street in downtown Chattanooga, park to the curb and looks out the window at a neon sign…. “Rhythm & Brews” … perfect being thirsty from the road and with a song in their hearts to share their classics and new material to Chattanoogans who are ready to quench their thirst…. The songs included in their set were from their early CD’s to the recent releases include songs from Fly Me Courageous, Songs From The Laundromat, Songs from the Psychedelic Time Clock. Songs For The Turntable and more..

It started with the opening performance of Ledfoot Messiah,  a rockin’ band based in Atlanta. LFM is the culmination of a collective 100+ years’ experience creating music. The band is solid and its members  Jeff Langston, lead vocal, guitar, J J Chance, bass,  Tom Collins, guitar  and Mike Roberts, drums.  I walked around the stage to check out the lay of the business floor.  The first things as sound checks were nearly completed was the wealth of Les Pauls and Marshalls labels. It's getting back to no frills rock without the FX. You will see from the photo captures it's not about cool haircuts, shiny shirts, or white belts. It's fist pumping, foot stomping riff-rock at its finest. The members of LFM have independently shared stages with artists such as White Zombie, Ace Frehley, Ted Nugent, Anthrax, Saliva, Train, American Hifi, Drivin and Cryin, and Our Lady Peace...just to name a few.

Since their inception in September 2007 LFM has directly supported Vince Neil, Skid Row, Daryl “DMC” McDaniel, and Speed X.   “We’re NOT reaching for the brass ring, LFM is about making music that fans of rock want to hear because at this point in our lives we have to play or someone is gonna get hurt.”  I picked up their CD “Finding What Hurts” with 8 Rockin songs played during opening performance before Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ stepped up.

Their best closing statement in their BIO.  LFM is not for people who like paper, it’s not for people who like scissors it’s for people who like ROCK!

Check out their websites at www.drivinncryin.com and www.ledfootmessiah.com also the featured musician Jessy Lynn Martens, all found on Social Media Facebook.  

Drivin’ N’ Cryin’

Kevn Kinney, vocal, guitar

Tim Nielsen, bass

Dave V. Johnson, drums

Aaron Lee Tasjan, guitar (not available)

Jessy Lynn Martens, featured vocal, fiddle

Ledfoot Messiah

Jeff Langston, vocal, guitar

J J Chance, bass

Tim Collins, guitar

Mike Roberts, drums

(Mark A Herndon, certified professional geologist and professional photographer grew up in Chattanooga area, graduated from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.  He is the Entertainment and Chattanooga cityscape photographer affiliated with Chattanoogan.com and contributor to several magazines, venues and Friends of the Festival events.   Welcome to catch him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/m.a.herndon or https://www.facebook.com/LastingVisionStudio  or email address m.a.herndon@comcast.net)

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