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Santa Barbara News-Press

IN CONCERT : Remembering Kenny - Colleagues gather to pay tribute to late local troubadour Kenny Edwards

March 18, 2011 12:00 AM


When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Where: SOhO Restaurant and Music Club, 1221 State St.

Cost: $10

Information: 962-7776, sohosb.com

Few musicians have made an impact upon the local music scene as the late veteran troubadour Kenny Edwards did.

A pivotal figure in the evolution of West Coast rock music, Edwards resided in Santa Barbara from 1997 until his passing in August of last year. On Monday night, a cast of his colleagues, led by the local ensemble Headless Household, will gather at SOhO for a celebration of Edwards and his contribution to contemporary music.

In the late '60s and early '70s, Edwards was a key figure within the burgeoning Californian folk-rock scene. His unique musical empathy, which blended various musical genres, influenced a range of artists, but perhaps none more so than Linda Ronstadt.

Edwards was a founding member of the Stone Poneys, the collective that brought Ronstadt to mainstream attention.

Along with Ronstadt, Edwards collaborated with a collection of artists that defined a musical generation. He forged an enduring musical alliance with Karla Bonoff while quietly contributing to work by J.D. Souther, Warren Zevon, Bonnie Raitt, Don Henley, Stevie Nicks and Emmylou Harris.

"I first met Kenny while we were both based in Los Angeles in the mid-'80s when he was working with all those greats," recalled Julie Christensen who will be a guest vocalist at the forthcoming tribute night. "He and his wife were friends with my bandmate at the time and would come along to our shows. What a huge yet humble presence he was."

As impressive as his résumé was, Edwards' greatest legacy may be felt right here in Santa Barbara. In the 13 years he spent in town, he was an enthusiastic catalyst within the local acoustic music scene.

It was also here that Edwards blossomed as a singer-songwriter. A heartfelt writer and endearing vocalist throughout his career, in the '90s he branched out as a solo artist. Edwards released two solo albums, the latest, "Resurrection Road," surfacing a year prior to his passing.

When not touring the country as a troubadour, Edwards would side up to a bevy of other local singer-songwriters and champion their cause. He was also a regular contributor to the Headless Household collective where he was a driving force behind the eclectic ensemble's Americana tangent.

Joining Headless Household in their tribute will be an offering of local artists Edwards collaborated with over the past decade. Along with Christensen, the evening will feature Rebecca Troon, Natalie D-Napoleon, Rich Phillips, Julia Baucke and Susan Reeves.

"When you worked with Kenny, he led you to another level," Christensen recalled. "It was amazing how much more music you could make with him on the stage."

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