the Kenny Hill Group
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the Kenny Hill Group

Detroit, MI | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | AFM

Detroit, MI | AFM
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Fusion




"Interview: Kenny Hill Group talk new single, gigs By: Tracy Heck Oct 20, 2016"

ree-piece instrumental band, The Kenny Hill Group, recently released their debut single "Bridges (Burning)". The Redford band features guitarist vocalist Kenny Hill, bassist J.J. Johnson and drummer Paul E Cobb.

Influenced by artists like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani, The Kenny Hill Group have already begun making a name for themselves on the Detroit music scene recently playing a number of shows with names like Carl Verheyen, Stu Hamm, Andy Timmons Band and The Alex Skolnick Trio. The band seems to have found a home base in Westland's Token Lounge.

Last week, AXS spoke to Kenny Hill himself and got the inside scoop on the band's origins, the new release and where they go from here.

AXS: You have the new single Bridges (Burning) out. Can you talk a bit about making the track and the upcoming video?

Kenny Hill: Yeah the video is in production so it's not quite done yet but the single is available. It went on sale on October 11 and we recorded that in Macomb, Michigan at The Sound Shop. It was pretty straight-forward and it's pretty traditional. What we try to do is reproduce what we do live in the studio. That's essentially what we go for. I think it turned out great and we're really happy with the product. I don't know how many we've moved thus far but we've definitely been moving some units since it became available. I'm pretty excited about that. We've been getting some reviews back and everyone seems to be pretty positive.

AXS: What does this debut single mean to the band? Do you think what you want people to know about the band comes through on this track?

KH: I do. We are a bit more than a, I want to carefully word this because I don't want to piss anybody off because I respect and admire all genres of music, but essentially we are a rock band but are a bit more on the progressive side without necessarily needing a gradient mask to appreciate what we do. Half of what we do is instrumental and the other half has lyrical content.

I sing as the "frontman". We're a three-piece with a primarily guitar-driven sound and the instrumentals are very, well we leave a lot of room open for improvisation depending on the liberty that we're given at any particular performance. The vocal stuff is not intentionally but sincerely just happens to be a little more, I guess you can say from our point of view, radio friendly-type stuff. Once again, that's not something that we necessarily try to drive towards but it just tends to happen as it happens.

I think in the "Bridges" recording, what we really wanted to come across was the whole-roundedness of the band. We wanted to demonstrate the musicianship as well as the fact that we do have a positive message. Also that we can sing and harmonize as well. So I think that's a pretty good combination and I think a lot of other instrumental type bands don't really have a lot of singing and even some of the greatest players in the world find that getting people to watch a hour and a half to two hours of playing can sometimes be very trying on even the most avid music aficionado.

So I think when you mix it up, it doesn't necessarily sound like a different band, but it just gives the audience different flavors and different colors. I think it offers quite a bit more and that's what we try to do and it gives us the opportunity to grab that many more listeners. We tend to have a fanbase pretty much across the whole age spectrum from younger admirers up to people in their fifties and sixties so it's kind of cool. So hopefully that all comes across in the songs. Ultimately we're working on a full-length and will probably release a couple of singles along the way. Then probably around the end of the spring/beginning of the summer we hope to have a full, at least ten songs together for a album and then hopefully touring in between. That's the plan.

AXS: You've opened a number of shows at The Token Lounge recently and you've done a really great job of capturing the crowd's attention. What do you think it has meant to the band to get out there and play with so many big artists?

KH: I think it's awesome to be thought in the same category of the cats that we have been playing with. That just totally blows my mind. Everyone we have played with, for example the Alex Skolnick Trio, Stu Hamm and Carl Verheyen, are all people that I grew up looking up to and admiring so it's a really good feeling to be able to share the same stage with them. Going out before them and actually talking to them afterwards has been pretty cool. They're regular people just like everybody else. I've found that some of the baddest cats are usually the most humblest cats and to have their admiration for what we're doing is awesome! It's kind of mind blowing.

There will be more of that coming up. We're actually looking to hooking up with the same booking agent that handles most of the artists that we've been playing with, which will mean continuing to tour alongside them. So we're looking forward to that as well.

AXS: Now all three of you have been in the music scene for a long time but what led to forming this particular band?

KH: Well it's kind of my gig and my baby to be honest with you. Me and Paul E started jamming together just over ten years ago and a lot of people don't know this, but he and I are brothers. So after all these years this is the first real opportunity that we've ever had to really make music together for one reason or another. I essentially pulled him out of retirement back in 2006. He was kind of done after really experiencing the music scene, doing a lot and accomplishing a lot and doing a lot of touring.

He can tell this story better than I could, but he was sort of done with music. I was coming out of a interesting part of my life raising kids and being involved with the ministry and it was kind of just time to get back into it. I found myself just kind of being pulled back in by some unknown force and I got back to playing music and writing music and doing just what I feel to this day is what I'm supposed to be doing and what I was put here for. So I've been with a lot of other groups and always had to compromise my particular vision and so I came to Paul with my ideas and said, hey, let's do this.

So we've kind of been alongside one another chasing this down for the last almost ten years. Now it's to the point where over the last year, it's become my group, The Kenny Hill Group and I'm not compromising my vision for anyone or worried about pleasing anyone. The cats that are involved, J.J., my bass player and Paul E, my drummer, are out there and they dig my vision and give it a hundred percent. They are very happy to be involved in it and it's just been a excellent experience.

AXS: What's the biggest goal moving forward?

KH: The biggest goal really is just to get what we are doing out there into people's ears and heads and ultimately their souls and spirits. I think music has the ability to more than just entertain; it has the ability to influence and to compliment situations and open people's minds. Music has the ability to play a part in everything in a good and positive way. I believe what we do does that. The reactions that we get from the people who come up to us afterwards just encourage us to keep doing what we're doing and let's me know that I need to stay true to what I've started.

Yeah, so that's the biggest goal, just to get it out there and then to play as many gigs as possible because ultimately, on a album we can capture what we do but the ultimate experience is live. So having the two together: a solid recording and a good live presentation is what you need these days.

AXS: Any gigs coming up?

KH: We have the 89X Rock Fest November 6 at The Crofoot in Pontiac. We're generally doing about one or two gigs a month that make sense and not playing a whole lot of "shot gun blast" type gigs where you have five people at this one and fifty at this one and a hundred at this one. We're just trying to make sense of what we're doing until we have the products in place and then we can actually set up a nice little tour where we go out and play for a couple of weeks and then do something around town before we head out again.

AXS: What have you found is the best thing about the current Detroit music scene and what have you found has been the most difficult part?

KH: Well the first thing that comes to mind is the most difficult: trying to get people out to shows. I think everyone would agree with that and I believe the problem or challenge is that everyone you know knows somebody either in a band or is in a band directly. Everyone is affiliated in some way with a band. So everyone is constantly trying to get people out to their shows so to try to get someone who has never seen or heard you to come out is very hard. Somehow you've got to figure out a way to get the music in front of them and get it heard and find a way so there's incentive for them to come out and see you.

Now one of the best things about the scene is really the people. Musicians are great cats. Like I said, the best players in town are always the coolest. Of course there's arrogance in every genre, but I think the humility and the modesty outshine that. I think the talent is backed up by the right attitude. We have such a tremendous musical legacy with Motown and all of the rock acts and artists that came out of the scene in the late sixties and in the seventies and then into the eighties and the nineties with guys like Kid Rock, Jack White, Ted Nugent, Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and MC5. I mean punk was basically born right here in Lincoln Park.

Detroit just has such a rich musical legacy. it's amazing that the scene within the city isn't better. It's really hard to figure out. Nashville's got a great scene and L.A.'s got a great scene and Chicago's got a great scene and then there's Boston and New York. Then there's the Detroit scene. In certain circles it can seem like it's a great scene, but in many ways it's really weak. How to strengthen that, I'm just not sure about. Some of it has to do with the bar owners. Obviously the owners need to make money but it comes down to what the bar owners are really willing to do to draw people in and the bands really need to work harder at promoting themselves. A lot of younger artists expect the venue to really do most of the promoting and that's really ludicrous; it's just not going to happen. I mean if you are a national act, you're lucky if they promote you so we should be fully aware in this day and age that it's the band's responsibility to promote themselves. On the venue's part they can do things like offer drink specials and things like that, but in the end, the artist needs to really hustle to draw in the crowds.

It's all about working with each other. The stronger the scene is as a whole can make for a utopian environment that benefits everyone. -


Stu Hamm: Live at the Token Lounge
Keith Mansfield

Stuart Hamm is an American bass guitar player known for his session and live work with numerous artists as well for his unconventional playing style and solo recordings. Full Bio Here

When I first got the assignment to go see a bass solo show I thought, really? When I found out that bassist was Stu Hamm, my thoughts changed to, well, this could be interesting. Stu Hamm, for the uninitiated, has played with pyrotechnical guitar shredders like Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen & Steve Vai. Stu has recorded and toured with everyone from Bette Midler to Chic Corea, Michael Schenker, and everyone in between.

This intimate show at the Token Lounge on Sunday night was unique and delightful. There were no backing tracks, no loops just Stu, his bass and his stories. He opened the show with, according to him, an old Irish drinking song made famous by Jimi Hendrix.

That would be The Star Spangled Banner followed by America the Beautiful. He told the audience about moving to California at the behest of his old college pal Steve Vai. This little story, one of the many he shared, was followed by his bass solo of Zeppelin's Going to California.

Stu performed songs from The Beatles, Satriani, Vai and even the Partridge family. All in all, a different but very enjoyable evening with the promise of returning in August with his full band.

The show was opened by special guests The Kenny Hill Group. A tight three piece band from Redford that rocked several instrumentals and got the small but passionate crowd cranked up and ready. - Detroit Rock n Roll Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



The idea of the band started out after guitarist/singer Kenny Hill was frustrated with comprising his vision in "band" settings, decided he was going to pursue his musical quest uncompromisingly. He sought out Paul Cobb to be percussionist/drummer for the project and soon after invited James "JJ" Johnston on board as bassist.

The three musicians have been performing regionally, writing and recording together since  Jan. 2014.

Prior to the Kenny Hill Group, all three members have had successful careers with other bands. Kenny Hill is known as former member of bands  Rif Raf, Halloween, Soldier Soul, The Brotherhood, Mansfield Park, as well as having a consistent solo career with many recordings released. Paule Cobb is known for his bands Subsidence, Simple Wisdom , Aries, Smile and Mansfield Park. JJ Johnston is know his bands The Scam, Monkey Paw and Bonestitch.

When asked about the band's main influences, Kenny Hill commented that there sound comes from a very passionate, colorful yet color blind place that is influenced by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Eric Johnson, Rush, Muse, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Ramsey Lewis, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd,Joe Satriani, Christopher Cross, Motown, Rush, Tony MacAlpine, Steve Vai, Led Zeppelin.

The band's first single was released worldwide October 11, 2016 done independently, financed completely by the band. It was co-produced by Kevin Wesley Williams, accompanied by a video. Follow-up has been released as a 3 song EP entitled "FORESIGHT" (which can be heard on this EPK) with a video for the current single "SURVIVE!" to be released worldwide June 17, 2017.

The Kenny Hill Group is currently touring regionally in support of the latest release as well as continuing the recording of the debut of the full length album to be released late 2017.

The Kenny Hill Group is always interested in charitable events and utilizing music as a way to communicate and convey a positive message that sometimes may fail in words alone.

Band Members