Ken Ledbetter-Songsmith
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Ken Ledbetter-Songsmith

Greenville, South Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1995 | SELF

Greenville, South Carolina, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1995
Solo Americana Singer/Songwriter

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Tambourines & Demonstration-2016

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KEN LEDBETTER: SINGER/SONGWRITER/PRODUCER /ROCK & ROLL BELIEVER

Give “Tambourines & Demonstrations” a listen.

You know that feeling you get when you listen to a Tom Petty album? Like you’re slipping on the audio equivalent of a well-worn pair of jeans? That’s what’s going on in Ked Ledbetter’s music. The Greenville, SC singer/songwriter has been making music since he was 17 years old, and on his album Tambourines & Demonstrations, you can feel his love for, and knowledge of, straightforward, open-hearted rock & roll. 

Listen to the way those crunchy guitar chords kick off the album opener, “Pollywood,” drawing you into a sparkling, melodic rocker of a tune. This is wide-open-spaces music, which is handy since the narrator is “movin’ on.” It scratches that itch most of us have for damn catchy guitar rock. 

But then we immediately change things up on the next track, where sparkling acoustic guitars and mandolins usher us into a wistful moment of reflection Ledbetter finds in the “Clothes Pile On Your Floor.” 

“My Neighbors Think I’m Crazy” mixes the rock and folk feel from the first two tracks, creating a rough-and-tumble shaggy dog story that lopes along like vintage Drivin’ N’ Cryin.

If you haven’t caught on yet, these are damn well-crafted songs, built from the ground up and given a polished production treatment by a guy with a long history of work both as a musician and a producer/engineer. You can find his fingerprints on various releases from Greenville’s Sit-N-Spin and Black Sneaker Souls studios. 

There are a few decades worth of craft in Ledbetter’s songs, and there ain’t nothing wrong with experience. That’s what you hear on the rest of “Tambourines & Demonstrations,” from the lovable country-bluegrass head-nodder “A Little Something Else,” to the delicate acoustic folk-pop of “Music Girl” (think early-‘80s Elvis Costello with a bit of Southern twang), to the vulnerable, wistful ballad “Welcome.”

Lyrically speaking, Ledbetter specializes in small moments of triumph and longing, a bit of throwback feel-good nostalgia (check out “Lazy Play Day” a rocker that’ll make you want to ditch your shoes and feel the grass under your feet) and good old-fashioned love. Y’know, the stuff that LIFE is about. 

Ledbetter isn’t just a studio hound, though. Right now, he’s planning an ambitious live album recorded at different venues around the south, a collection of old and new material that spans his career. 

In the meantime, ditch the layers of irony, pretension and image we tend to find in our modern music and enjoy “Tambourines & Demonstrations” for the unassuming, rock-folk-country gem that it is. 

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