Kevin Ross
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Kevin Ross


Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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Second Hands And Empty Pockets (2008)



"Bob Dylan without the acid trip."

That is how one friend described a performance by Kevin Ross. The tongue-in-cheek, hyperbole-laced review still makes him laugh almost ten years later. A musician will take any compliments he can receive, especially when they reference one of the greatest names in music history. But several years later, Kevin doesn’t have to reach very far to find good reviews. Putting a modern-day spin on the folk-troubadour mold that has brought music from the front porch to radio and television and back, Kevin Ross is making a name for himself with his own unique brand of storytelling.

Around the time of his eighth birthday, Kevin got a Dixon acoustic guitar from his grandfather. It would wait ten years before he got to college when, in his freshman year of school at Ball State, a little downtime between classes gave him a desire to pick up the instrument. It was very ugly at first, but he progressed quickly. By the middle of his sophomore year, he started writing songs. Often, these songs were kept to himself. But as the songs improved, his confidence soared, and more people listened. And they liked it. The reactions inspired him to press further.

His playing style continued to develop as his musical horizons evolved. With his roots firmly planted in the music of The Beatles and Tom Petty, he reached out into the worlds of folk, country, and roots music. He picked up a harmonica, which added another layer to his sets, where he mixed in obscure songs with more well-known covers and his own originals to hundreds of people at a time.

Kevin's recorded output was limited to low-fi cassette recordings until the Kevin J. Ross EP, released in May 2001. This class project was well-reviewed by all who listened, and to this day continues to hold some of Kevin's favorite compositions. He followed it with three more homemade albums: 2002's "Footsteps," 2005's "Talkin' To Myself," and 2006's "...On My Way".

Those projects have led to his most recent collection, 2008's "Second Hands And Empty Pockets". Working with producer Brian Doerman, guitarist Paul Seevers, and drummer Eric Fudge, Kevin's songs blossomed. What had been basic acoustic demos turned into an array of sounds: electric guitars, pianos, accordions, and mandolins. The music that Kevin has been listening to all his life--the twang and harmony of country, the punch of rock, the stories of folk--finally came to life. The songs are a document of where Kevin has been and where he is going. "Burn" and "Lights" are an attack on the everyday complacency that lets someone settle for less. "Shell Game" and "Satellites" show someone who's looking for how to find their place in the world, while "Please Don't Ask" is a somber look at a relationship falling apart. The title track, on the other hand, closes the first half (and in a reprise, the album) with a message of hope to a child, reminding us all that there is always another day and another chance to make your dreams come true.

"A lot of the songs on the album kind of deal with figuring your place out in the world..." Ross said, "what the next step is in life, trying to figure out your identity ( ... ) trying to make the most of the life that you're given."

Those who have followed Kevin from the beginning know to expect the unexpected. And for Kevin, the unexpected is exactly what he's looking for. "I'd like to see where this road takes me," Kevin says. He is always trying something new, and is unafraid to test a brand-new song in front of an unfamiliar audience. "It's often hard to speak my mind when something comes up, but in song, I can talk to the world about those issues that I am trying to deal with. I no longer have to bottle up the emotions that weighed me down before. There's just something that I really love about that—to be able to connect with the audience and help them with their lives, and maybe even make a little sense of my own."