70s Country Artists LOCALS ONLY: This is a guide to independent and off-the-radar country musicians from the 1960s, 1970s and early 'Eighties, including hometown performers working in regional oprys, jamborees, dude ranches, casinos, pizza parlors and lounges. They included longhaired country-rockers, red-dirt outlaws, Nashville hopefuls and earnest amateurs, as well as the more country-oriented artists in the bluegrass and southern gospel fields. Many of these musicians toured nationally or regionally while others were strictly hometown folks. These are the people who are often overlooked in the history books but who contributed their talents, hopes and dreams to the country music world, and the aim of this guide is to keep their memories and their work alive. Comments, corrections and suggestions are always welcome.

This page covers the letter "K."

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The K-76A Trio "The K-76A Call Announcing Key System" (IT&T/Leson International, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by George Lewis)

This one comes to us courtesy of industrial-musical maven Steve Young (co-author of Everything's Coming Up Profits) who of course had a couple of country-flavored discs to recommend. This record was commissioned by IT&T (remember them?) to promote their new "call announcing key system," whatever that meant. They picked a country band for no particular reason, except perhaps because the company's "apparatus department" was located in Corinth, Mississippi -- or maybe just because they could get some unemployed guys from Nashville to work relatively cheap. Anyway, the K76A-ers -- guitarists Jerry Hensley and Ariliss Scott, with bass player Bob Niven -- were Nashville sidemen who also called themselves Poor Valley. As far as I can tell Poor Valley never recorded anything other than this album, but all things considered, it's a pretty fine legacy. There's only one actual "industrial" track (a song about the new IT&T product line called... wait for it... "The K-76A Song," full of technical details that no easier to digest in printed form, though the enclosed booklet is a hoot as well. After the product plug, the guys were left to record whatever they wanted, and cheerfully pick their way through nice, sweet versions of contemporary 'Seventies country and southern rock classics. "Come Monday," "Country Roads," "Wichita Lineman," "Louisiana Man" "Ramblin' Man" by the Allman Brothers -- basically the same stuff you'd hear if you hung out with these guys at a tailgate party or backyard barbeque. And they were good! It's a good record! Unfortunately the backup musicians (pedal steel, drums, etc.) are unidentified, but they make up for it by inserting a copy of the sheet music to "The K-76A Song," composed by Joel Heron and George Lewis. Y'know, just in case anyone ever wanted to cover it. Thanks, Steve!

The K County Country Band "K County Country Band" (Sound House Records, 1977-?) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Huisings & The K County Country Band)

I guess that would be Kandiyohi County, in central Minnesota, where these fellas were from... They pay homage to their home in songs such as "First Street Bridge" and "Kandiyohi Rag," along with some Merle Haggard tunes, and a few slightly off-center covers such as John Hartford's "They're Gonna Tear Down The Grand Ole Opry," as well as "I Miss A Lot Of Trains" and "The Year Clayton Delaney Died," both by Tom T. Hall. Dan Bates was the band's main guitarist, and Bob Ohman (1932-2008) was their singer, while banjo plunker Neil Nyhus and bassist Don Wickstrom wrote the songs, with the group's drummer, Robert Drogousch keeping the beat. As far as I know this was their only album, though Ohman's obituary mentioned that he had made "a couple of records," so there may be more.

Sammie K "No Promises" (SDF Record Corporation, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Eric Lemmons)

Fairly basic countrypolitan vocals by a gal from Oklahoma City. The set list is pretty unthreatening, a string of cover tunes, mostly of pretty recent vintage, stuff like "Delta Dawn," "Help Me Make It Through The Night," "Me And Bobby McGee" and the Eagles hit, "Take It Easy." One assumes the "K" stands for a middle initial or a last name, but the abbreviation makes it practically impossible to find out who she really was... I did find one old show notice in the Daily Oklahoman for a 1974 gig she had playing for the Hilton Inn West hotel chain, but that's about it. The musicians on this album include Larry Hansen on drums, Steve Hardin (keyboards and dobro), Eric Lemmons (bass), Billy Walker (guitar) and Gary West on guitar... I'm not sure if any of these guys also backed her live, though they did work together on the Tulsa club circuit, notably Hardin and West. Keyboardist Steve Hardin (1946-2015) fronted his own band in the early '70s and later landed a gig with the southern rockers Point Blank; he also became a successful country songwriter and sideman, notably working for Glen Campbell as well as marrying country singer Gus Hardin. Guitarist Gary West (1952-2011) was a popular local picker, as well as the son of legendary steel player Speedy West. So, whoever Sammie K was, she had about the best backup you could get in Oklahoma at the time... I'm mildly suspicious that she might have actually been Gus Hardin, but I have no evidence to back up that hunch.

Milfie Kaiser "Sings Country" (Gem Records, 1974-?) (LP)
Mournful true twang from Canadian honkytonk singer Milford Grant Kaiser (1947-2013), a native of Gold River, Nova Scotia. Although he recorded a few singles as well, this seems to have been his first full album, manufactured by the Jewel Records company in Cincinnati, Ohio. The set list is mostly classic country covers, including songs by Johnny Cash, Ernest Tubb, Porter Wagoner and Hank Williams, although a few tracks may have been originals, notably "Daddy's Song," "She's My Friend" "The One Before Me." Not a lot of biographical info about him online, although he appears to have recorded several CDs later in life, and took on a sort of Gordon Lightfoot-ish tone, unlike the earlier Vernon Oxford style heard on this album. No info on the musicians backing him, alas, although he had his own band, called Northwind, and toured extensively in Canada.

Bill Kaiwa "Paniolo Country-Western" (Lehua Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Murata & Bob Lang)

Hawaiian singer Bill Kaiwa (1934-2011) was a city kid born near Honolulu and grew up in Papakolea, on the island of Oahu. In his teens he was sent by his family to live with a rancher on Kauai, where he learned how to work as a paniolo (cowboy) and became fluent in the Hawaiian language, becoming known as a conservator of traditional music and was a Hawaiian Music Hall Of Fame inductee. Most of Kaiwa's albums were more island-themed, though this one is a solid set of mainland country classics, pairing croonable '60s/'70s-era hits such as "By The Time I Get To Phoenix,""Everything Is Beautiful," "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World" with older material such as "Cool Water," "Make The World Go Away" and "Release Me." Kaiwa apparently worked for several years as a tour bus driver, and would often serenade his passengers with traditional songs... Man, that woulda been a cool tour! He's backed here by fellow islanders Cyrus Green (bass), Bobby Larrison (ukulele), Billy Hew Len (steel guitar), Hiram Olsen (12-string guitar) and Wayne Reis on ukulele. Although Bill Kaiwa's big hit was a song called "Boy From Laupahoehoe" (named after a stretch of the Big Island's north beach) his family didn't actually have connections to the area: like so much of Hawaiian music, it probably just sounded really cool when he sang it.

The Kalson Family "Young Country" (Bandolero Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Knuth)

A family band from Peasall, Texas with Dad backing up four kids who range in age from seven-year old singer Mark Kalson to fourteen-year old Pam Kalson who sings and plays guitar. In his liner notes, Lone Star legend Johnny Bush says they were actually pretty talented and not just a cutesy gimmick band, so I guess I'll take his word for it. (Although there are a bunch of non-family adults pitching in on this one, playing steel guitar, banjo, fiddle and even a small string section... so maybe they had a little help.) Anyway, the repertoire includes some oldies from folks like like Harlan Howard, a version of "Rocky Top," a cover of Hoyt Axton's early '70s anthem, "Joy To The World," and a couple of songs by a guy named Claude Morgan, who I'm guessing was a Texas local.

Kansas City Southern "Kansas City Southern" (NCR Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Johnny Elgin & Al McGuire)

These country-rockers cover classics such as Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville," "Can't Find Me Love" by the Beatles, Neil Young's "Are You Ready For The Country" and also play several original songs on their own Second Chance publishing company, including several written by keyboard player Randy Amborn: "Broken Hearted Lady" and "I'm Coming Home," "Sweet Loving Arms," "After Hours" and two credited to L. Britten (who doesn't seem to hav been a bandmember): "Blow Me A Bubble" and "I Hate To See A Grown Man Cry." Dunno much about the band, though -- not sure if they were from Kansas City or not... I think they were actually from up in Michigan and named the band after a train line. The band included Randy Amborn on keyboards, Joe Bennaka (drums), Bill Lamm (bass) and lead singer Mike Brady.

Kansas Rain "Outlaw" (A&R Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Kelley)

This band really had trouble figuring out their image... First off there's their name, which presumably came from the John Stewart song... Although it implies they were from Sunflower State, they were actually from Texas, with former 'Sixties teen-popper Kirby St. Romain on percussion and a couple of his family members in the band as well -- Laura St. Romain and Richard St. Romain -- along with lead singer Brad Watson and banjo picker Bob Moore, and some pedal steel licks added by Jim Rice of the Brush Arbor band. Then there's the music. The album title and their overall shaggy-haired look say "outlaw," but the music is a mix of bright, perky group-vocals folk-pop (ala the Back Porch Majority) and more contemporary early-'70s AOR (including a straight-up cover of Jim Croce's "I Have To Say I Love You.") The vibe is very day-glo prefab hootenanny, and not at all what you'd expect if judging this book by its cover. The band was based in Texas, though they recorded their album in Las Vegas -- Kirby St. Romain was also connected to the Nevada band called Expression -- and they toured through the South and Midwest, playing campus gigs and whatnot. But, alas, Kansas cannot claim them as their own, nor can the outlaw movement.

The Kapakahi Jug Band "The Kapakahi Jug Band" (Mark Custom Recording Division, 1981) (CD)
(Produced by Fred B. Li)

A musically diverse blues/jazz/swing-stringband from Honolulu, Hawaii, this farflung retro collective included Richard "Pee Wee" Drake (washboard, percussion), Duane Preble (washtub bass), Jan Killam (vocals), Pan Wilson (banjo), Bart Potter (guitar) Janice Hanley, Don Sharp, Autumn Hancock (violin), Jeremy T. Stewart (musical saw ) and many others. Mixed into the repertoire is a bit of hapa haole Hawaiiana, including a version of Gus Kahn's "Ukulele Lady," always a favorite. The band's long history dates back to 1965, when "girl" jugband singer Jan Killam met proto-hippie guitarist Pan Wilson, later joining UH art professor Duane Preble to form a loose-knit ensemble which stayed together in various forms well into the 21st Century. This was the band's only album, lost in the mists of time until everyone was surprised when an Asian specialty label offered to reissue the record on CD... and even sent them some royalty checks!

Hank Karr "Stealin' My World" (Alkon Records, 1967) (LP)
Canadian honky tonk songwriter Hank Karr was originally from Saskatchewan, but wound up working in the Pacific Northwest and eventually moved to the Yukon in 1965, where he really carved out his niche as a regional performer. He specialized in songs about Yukon history and culture, although this album is almost all originals, and is more focussed on romantic material with a couple of songs about the frozen North, but many more heartsongs.

Hank Karr "Paddlewheeler And Other Northland Ballads" (Alkon Records, 19--?)

Hank Karr "Where Do You Go After Yukon" (19--?)

Hank Karr "Through The Years: The Hank Karr Collection" (Karmac Records, 1999)

Randy Karr "Bottle Me Up" (1975-?) (LP)
Can't tell you much about this one, but it's a real vanity album. This was an ultra-indie release, with minimal artwork on the front cover, while the backside was completely blank. The set list includes covers of stuff by Waylon Jennings, a couple of Merle Haggard songs, Jim Ed Brown's "Pop A Top" and Moe Bandy's "I Just Started Hatin' Cheatin' Songs." So that puts this as at least a 1974-75 release... but not much more info seems forthcoming about this off-the-radar recording.

Norm Kass "Buckaroo" (Crown Records, 1966) (LP)
On the surface, a mystery disc, although like many of Crown's cheapo country LPs this had connections to LA's nascent country-rock scene. And, as with other Crown albums, many tracks are probably jam-session originals, padding out their covers of popular tunes such as Bob Morris's "Buckaroo," though sadly there are no composer credits to verify who wrote what. According to the know-it-alls on the amazingly informative Steel Guitar Forum, guitarist Norm Cass -- ne Norman Richard Kastner (1945-2012) and his brother Glen were in various editions of the house band for the Palomino nightclub, originally led by Gene Davis, then by steel player Red Rhodes, and later by Tony Booth. There's no discographical information for this album, so the musicians are unidentified, although it's a good bet that his brother Glen was playing bass, and other fellas from that scene probably round things out. Red Rhodes... maybe Dennis Hromeck; they all played together on one of Rhodes' albums, circa 1968. The Kastners notably co-wrote a song called "Crazy Horse," which was recorded by the Ventures around that time. The brothers seem to have joined Tony Booth's band around 1970, when Booth took the reins at the Palomino. Norm Cass subsequently joined Larry Booth's early '70s band which eventually morphed into Gene Watson's backing group, The Farewell Party Band, touring and recording with Watson in the '80s. Many, many years later -- circa 2009 -- Norm Kass was still picking guitar for the Booth brothers at a venue called the Alvin Opry House, on the south side of Houston, and was living in Alvin full-time when he passed away in 2012.

Kathy & Carol "Holt" (Co-Field Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Olszewski & Terry Jamison)

An uber-amateur duo from Metamora, Illinois, Kathy Grindstaff and Carol Languisch sang with a girl-groupish vocal harmony, paired with perky country twang, a combination that was strongly reminiscent of Nashville star Skeeter Davis. This album was packed with original material and the musicians were, as far as I can tell, all locals, including Billy Mason playing piano, Jan Zilm on steel guitar, and Ron Carroll playing something called "freeman strings." A real obscuro offering here... nice and twangy!

Kay & Garth "If It Wasn't Love" (Bodacious Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Cliffie Stone)

This disco-era disc hardly looks like a country record, but apparently is... Originally from Alaska, Garth Phillipsen and his wife Kay Phillipsen migrated to Los Angeles and fell into the orbit of Southern California producer Cliffie Stone where they probably worked as session musicians on some of his stuff. They penned most of the material on this album, although the cover tunes include the Buck Owens classic "Together Again" along with a version of Alicia Bridges' disco hit, "I Love The Night Life." Kudos to Kay Phillipsen for her fashion-forward image, sporting a sharp-looking, close-cropped platinum blonde hairdo with a sort of proto-Annie Lennox look. The photo on the back cover is pure, scary 'Seventies, though -- a naked, cuddling couples portrait that would make viewers cringe no matter what era they were in.. The backing band, the Phillips Express, included John Hobbs (piano), Jay Dee Maness (pedal steel), Garth Phillipsen (guitar and banjo), Gregg Phillips (bass) and Ray Thomasson (drums). Not sure what the story would up being with these two... They divorced at some point, and he remarried to a California gal named Deborah Malena (who also worked for Cliffie Stone) and they formed a country-gospel duo that also branched out into children's music. Kay also remarried after moving back to Alaska, settling down in Wasilla, just north of Anchorage. As far as I know this was their only album.

Eddy Kay "Live/Dead" (Cotton Mouth Music, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Eddy Kay)

Yeah, I thought it would be a Grateful Dead cover album, too, but this late-'Seventies outing is all original material by songwriter Eddy Kay, of Grosse Pointe, Michigan. The album title refers to one side of the album recorded live at the Hilton hotel in Lansing, Michigan, the other half recorded in the studio. Mr. Kay performed a mix of "folk, rock and comedy" for many years around the greater Detroit area, right up until the 2010s. Apparently he played all the instruments on this album, including banjo, bass, guitar, keyboards and mandolin. Let's hear it for the power of multi-tracking!

Jeanie Kay & Johnny "Boots" (Great River Records, 1968-?) (LP)
(Produced by Meo Stely)

This appears to be a souvenir of a blue nightclub act from Quincy, Illinois, or thereabouts. Singers Jeanie Kay & Johnny Rice cover several contemporary late-1960s pop and country hits, including a version of "These Boots Are Made For Walking." Side Two of this disc includes an x-rated parody of "Harper Valley PTA." There's no date on the disc, but it looks like 1968 or so, based on the song list. I wasn't able to track down much info about these two, even though on their subsequent album we find out Mr. Rice's last name.

Jeanie (Kay) & Johnny Rice "The Mighty X-Odus" (Great River Records, 1969-?) (LP)
(Produced by Mel Elzea, Frank Laughlin & Mark Matthew)

Although this has more of a pop slant than the previous album, there's still a little country stuff in the mix, mainly just a version of John Hartford's "Gentle On My Mind" amid tunes like "Ebb Tide" and "MacArthur Park." The "x" in the title refers to the X-66 Hammond organ, Ms. Kay's instrument of choice, while Mr. Rice provided some rhythm on drums. Twangfans can probably skip this one.

Lisa Kay "This New World Of Mine" (Ace Of Diamonds Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Terry L. Miller & Gene Breeden)

A bit of a mystery disc here... The singer's real name was apparently Lisa Vancise, with a couple of of songs on the album credited to her under that name, "Rendezvous" and "I'll Keep Loving You." There are some cover tunes as well, such as Hank Riddle's "Until I Met You" (which had just been released as an album track on a 1980 Loretta Lynn LP) and one by Dallas Frazier, though mostly this seems like a Nashville songwriter's demo set, with a couple of tunes that are just credited to a publishing house, without an actual composer's credit. The album was recorded in Nashville, with Gene Breeden helming the sessions and Paul Franklin on pedal steel; the label address however is in Hammondsport, NewYork, which is where I assume Ms. Vancise was from, although there's some indication she may have lived in Seattle as well, or perhaps moved there later in life. Vancise's online profile is pretty thin, with no indication that she sang professionally, under either of her names. Anyone know more about her or this disc?

Nancy Kay "Sings For You" (Rosewood Records, 1985-?) (LP)
(Produced by Nancy Kay)

The first and quite possibly only album by Midwesterner Nancy Kay, who covers a couple of Loretta Lynn songs, along with some other standards and more obscure songs. No indication of where this was made, or where she was from, although Minnesota seems to be the answer... The album includes liner notes and two songs by John Volinkaty, a Minneapolis local who wrote Jeanne Pruett's mega-hit "Satin Sheets," but never quite grabbed the bras ring again. Here, he contributes "Whatcha Gonna Do" and a topical tune, "Now I've Got Women's Lib." Kay sings and plays bass, with backing by several Twin Cities professionals: Steve Shoquist on steel guitar and dobro, piano by Bruce McCabe, and Tom Ginkel on guitar, all of whom were well-regarded regional musicians. If anyone has more info about this one, I'm all ears!

Nina Kay "Nina Kay" (MEC Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Buzzy Smith, A. V. Mittelstedt & Jim Johnson)

Country singer Nina Kay was a Lone Star gal, singing at Mack Hayes's Galveston nightclub, the Atrium, in the 1970s near Galveston, Texas, and working with Houston producer A. V. Mittelstedt when she cut this solo album several years later. This seems to be from the early or mid-'Eighties, including covers of "Blue Bayou," Billy Joe Shaver's "Old Chunk Of Coal," as well as a KT Oslin song called "Round The Clock Lovin'," which was the last Top Ten hit for Gail Davies, in 1982 (and was also recorded by Oslin, on her second album in 1988.) The backing band includes Lone Star locals such as Tom Bath on steel guitar, guitarist Randy Cornor, and pianist Buzzy Smith. In the Facebook era, Ms. Kay was in an Austin-area duo called Sassy Sister, with Susan Chase, still recording on MEC, which I'm guessing is her own label.

Pamela Kay "Thank God I'm A Country Girl" (1975) (LP)
A stereotypical perky '70s blonde, banjo-plunking Pamela Kay was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and worked in Las Vegas at the Frontier Hotel's Horseshoe Lounge, originally performing under her maiden name, Pamela Petfarken, in an act led by trumpet player Billy Kay, who she eventually married. By the time this album was recorded, Ms. Kay adopted a country music image, covering fairly rushed, clunky covers of "Country Roads" and "Two Doors Down," in addition to pop oldies such as "Mr. Sandman" and Dixielandish material like "Alabamy Bound," and of course an uninhibited version of the John Denver hit in the album's title. By the way, this isn't exactly a women's lib album: Pamela Kay is pictured on the back cover in short-short cutoffs and a particularly revealing, denim halter top, with the liner notes more focussed on her physical beauty than on her musical talent. "She is beautiful, dynamic, soft, energetic, with a supple, lithe body to enhance her other attributes. Let's just sum it with -- WOW!" Wow, indeed. Yeesh!

Paula Kay "Sleeping In Your Arms Tonight" (Seann Records, 1976) (LP)

Ruby Kay "I Have Returned: Ruby Kay Sings Country Gospel" (Custom KNOF Records, 19--?) (LP)
Hardcore country gospel from a tiny label out of Saint Paul, Minnesota... KNOF was a Christian-oriented religious radio station founded in 1960 by Reverend Fred Adam and Grace Adam; apparently they also commissioned several records by local performers, including this LP and one by a group called The Vagabonds. Singer Ruby Kay is backed by a pretty twangy band, including Mangus Hansen on steel guitar, Faron Hanes (drums), Dick Thompson (bass) and Will Watson (rhythm guitar) and additional backing vocals by Julie Hanes and Marie Mader. Some of these musicians may have worked on other religious records; bass player Dick Thompson seems to have done other studio work, though I'm not sure about the others.

Jimmy Kaye "Gentle To My Memory" (1974) (LP)
(Produced by Louie Swift)

James J. Kaminski, aka Jimmy Kaye (1942-1995) was a country singer from upstate New York, leading a band called the Mountain High from the late 1960s throughout the '70s. He performed regionally in New York State and in Canada, and released this album as well as a single of the title track... Most of the songs appear to be originals, although there are no songwriter credits... These are mostly cover tunes, though the title track was an original, written by Doug LaValley.

Joni Kaye "Can I Depend On You?" (Jeree Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Elmer Willett & Jerry Reed)

Originally from Eastmont, Pennsylvania -- way up in the rural northeastern end of the state -- Joni Kaye (nee Joanne Diulus) was an aspiring actress who started doing community theater in Pittsburg during the early 1960s, and released a few local pop singles during the Kennedy era. She moved into children's theater but kept an interest in music, and at some point caught the attention of producer/nightclub owner Elmer Willett, who was best known for having discovered and promoted the chart-topping 'Sixties pop band The Vogues. This album includes several songs credited to Mr. Willett, including a version of Ms. Kaye's old single, "Can I Depend On You," a country ballad that she first recorded in 1963. There are also a couple of tunes composed by singer Jerri Kelly, who recorded a string of singles in the 1970s. Alas, this album and Joni Kaye's career are both shrouded in mystery -- the back cover tells us that "Piere" performs with her, but there's no elaboration about who or what Piere was or did. Joni Kaye later moved to Ocala, Florida, then retired in South Carolina, where she passed away in 2018. As far as I know this was her only full album. (Note: engineer Jerry Reed is not the hotshot Nashville picker/recording artist of the same name, but rather Pennsylvania-based label owner Jerry Reed, whose Jeree Records label put out dozens of local singles as well as a few odd albums, including some country stuff. )

Lois Kaye "Country Girl" (Ovation Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Brien Fisher)

Singer Lois Kaye grew up in Beecher, Illinois and started working in lounges around Chicago and recording singles while still in her teens. In 1971 she joined Don Barnett's band, the NuJays, appearing with them for several years of their long residency at the Lake-N-Park Inn, where she was spotted by Merle Haggard, who invited her to go on tour with his band The Strangers. She came back to Illinois around 1975 to work as a solo artist, eventually scoring a contract with the then-hot Ovation label. The resulting album includes songs by the songwriting team of John Richard Greenbaum and Thomas Gmeiner, who wrote hits for Mel Tillis, Tammy Wynette and other country stars; there are also covers of hits by 'Seventies songwriters Jim Croce and Kenny Loggins, and backing by Nashville stalwarts such as Fred Carter Jr., Sonny Garrish, Dave Kirby and The Cates Sisters. Ms. Kaye was overshadowed by the runaway success of her labelmates, The Kendalls, who got a huge promotional push, apparently at the expense of Kaye's career. She continued perform locally and regionally, though this appears to have been her only full album. (Thanks to Marlene Cook and the Harvey, Illinois Star Tribune for their highly informative 1983 profile piece, which filled in several blanks on Lois Kaye's career.)

Melvena Kaye "Tennessee Cowgirl" (Cowgirl Records, 1981) (LP)
(Produced by Greg Humphrey)

This Tennessee cowgal made it out to LA to record this album... It's all original material, with backing by Thumbs Carlisle on guitar and Doug Atwell on fiddle... Kaye had kind of a thin voice, but she was real country: songs include "Pour Me A Stiff One," "Hillbilly Blues" and "You're Not My First Man."

Sandra Kaye & The New Breed "On The Road" (1977-?) (LP)

Sandra Kaye & The New Breed "Queen Of The Silver Dollar" (1977-?) (LP)

K. C. & The Easy Riders "Country Man" (Olympus Records, 1977) (LP)
(Executive producer: Roy Klein)

Dunno what to tell you about this one... It's on a vanity label from Hollywood, California, "distributed by International Record Services," but other than that, there's no artist info. The songs are mainly country Top Forty covers, but older songs like "Behind Closed Doors, "Funny Face" and Freddie Hart's "Got The All Overs," that were popular several years before this LP came out in '77, so I'm guessing these tracks might have sat in the can for a while, or come earlier under a different title. There are two songs that are credited to J. Kitchen -- "Rated" and "She's Got To Be A Saint" (which is apparently a different song than the Ray Price hit) as well as "She Needs Someone" by R. Alger, though I don't know if these are originals or not... I suspect that this is some kind of song-poem album with an untraceable history long lost to the mists of time... But who knows? We could be pleasantly surprised.

Ethel Kean "It's Lovin' Time With Ethel Kean" (Guinn Records, 1981) (LP)
A charming album from an unlikely source... Middle-aged pianist Ethel Austin Kean (1928-2013) was a Kansas City native who taught music, played church organ and performed in several local orchestras and the Independence, Missouri symphony. She apparently like country music, too, as heard on this uber-indie album packed with her own original compositions... There are stylistic and vocal echoes of Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells and Jan Howard, with Ms. Kean's not-quite-great vocals getting modest, low-key backing by an anonymous studio band with a slightly bluesy edge. In all honesty, it's not musically that strong, but it's a great outsider-art album, and some of her songs are pretty good for the genre (while others are kind of all over the map...) Apparently one of her songs, "Where Did All The Loving Go," was recorded by the Kansas City-area duo of Connie & Ed (Shaw) although sadly Ms. Kean didn't record a version of her own for this album, which I'm guessing was her only record.

Jim Kearce "Sings All Kinds Of Country" (K & L Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Charlie Bragg & R. Tucker)

A secular album by gospel singer Jim Kearce, who came to country music from a religious background... From 1971-78 he headed the Sir James Singers, a vocal group that toured widely but was based in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where Kearce also had his own local TV program, a religiously-themed variety show... He also seems to have worked in Los Angeles a bit, singing at joints like the Ye Little Club, in Beverly Hills, and appearing on the Jerry Lewis telethon. The liner notes are minimal, though the backing band seem to have been the usual Nashville pros, since on the song credits, several arrangements are credited to studio musicians such as Bill Walker, Hank Strzelecki, et. al. (In 1976, Kearce also signed with Strzelecki's short-lived Omni label, so they may have had a strong professional relationship...) Kearce recorded several other albums, mostly gospel material, and later retired to Florida.

Christopher Kearney "Christopher Kearney" (Capitol Records, 1972) (LP)
(Produced by Dennis R. Murphy & Phil Sheridan)

Rootsy folk-rock from a Canadian singer-songwriter from Toronto. Kearney wasn't full-on "country," but he was certainly somewhere on the spectrum, kicking this off with the gruff, loping, "Country Lady," which eases into a series of twangy, rural tracks. It's kinda catchy, in a hippiedelic folk-boogie kinda way; fans of Jonathan Edwards or maybe even Taj Mahal might really dig this. Most notable among the pickers is the great David Bromberg on guitar. Definitely worth a spin.

Christopher Kearney "Pemmican Stash" (Capitol Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Dennis R. Murphy & Phil Sheridan)

Some nice stuff. Arguably more of a folk, folk-pop thing, but hey man, that's the early 'Seventies for you. Nice interplay of acoustic and electric instruments, pleasantly restrained arrangements. Kearney leans more into the hippie folk mode, again bringing Jonathan Edwards to mind. But Jonathan Edwards circa 1973 is a pretty good benchmark, if you ask me. Certainly if you're looking for some groovy Canadian country counterculture, this is a disc you'll wanna check out. A particularly shout-out for guitarist Josh Onderisin, who was on Kearney's first album as well, and later played with Ian Thomas.

Christopher Kearney "Sweet Water" (Capitol Records, 1974)
As with his earlier albums, this has enough of a grounding in country roots that it fits into the country-rock spectrum, though there is much more of an overt pop slant to this one, with some weird, slick AOR touches on many tracks. The twangy stuff is nice, though, on tunes like "Travelin' Son," though the tinny guitars on tracks like "Chicano Cowboy" are a rough haul, even if the sentiment is interesting. Too rock-pop oriented for me, but still representative of the eclectic vibe of the times. Of interest to Canadian country fans are steel player Al Brisco and multi-instrumentalist Ben Mink, who play throughout.

Ramsey Kearney "Behind A Song" (Nashco/Safari Records, 1982)
A native Tennessean, William Ramsey Kearney was a local teen celebrity in the late 1940s, with a weekly radio show of his own, broadcasting out of Jackson, Tennessee until 1952. He rubbed shoulders with a lot of hillbilly performers, including some artists like Carl Perkins, who wound up as part of the Sun Records scene. Apparently, Kearney recorded a few tracks for Sam Phillips, but they were never released on Sun... After a stint in the Army, Kearney went home and tried to make it in Nashville, but like a lot of talented hopefuls, he found it pretty hard in Music City. Eventually he scored a job as a staff writer for the Acuff-Rose publishing house and demo-ed songs for them to pitch, a gig that also led to him recording a few singles for Roy Acuff's Hickory label, and later one or two for Challenge. Basically, though, Kearny was one of the zillions of pickers and singers who struggled endlessly to get on the radar and never quite made it. Eventually he started his own "song-poem" label, Nashco Records, where aspiring songwriters would send him their lyrics and Kearney polished them up into songs. This album was, I think, the first Nashco LP, gathering several singles as well as new versions of songs that Kearney had written earlier, including "Emotions," a song he co-wrote with Mel Tillis that several Top 40 artists have recorded. The musicianship is generally pretty high-quality, better than you'd imagine from your average song-poem outfit, and while Kearney isn't an earthshaking vocalist, he definitely gets the job done. I'm not sure just how many of these albums he produced, but I think it's well over a dozen... In later years, Kearney has self-released numerous CDs and CD-Rs of his own work, and has been recording and producing well into the 2010s... By the way, it's probably worth mentioning that Kearney started his work as a singer-for-hire back in the 'Seventies, and has cult status as the guy who demo-ed John Trubee's purposefully obscene song-poem prank lyric, "A Blind Man's Penis," which as far as I know has never made it onto any of Kearney's Nashco reissues. And probably never will.

Ramsey Kearney "Autumn Sunset" (Nashco Records, 1983) (LP)

Ramsey Kearney "Portraits And Songs Of Yesterday" (Nashco/Safari Records, 19--?) (LP)

Ramsey Kearney "Memories" (Nashco, 1987) (LP)

Ramsey Kearney "The Shining" (Nashco Records, 1989) (LP)

Ramsey Kearney "Golden Dreams Of Hawaii" (Nashco/Safari Records, 1990)

Ramsey Kearney "Song Autobiography" (Self-Released)

Alan Keaton "Lookin' Back" (Bowman Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Wright & Courtney Sisk)

Dunno much about this fella, but one point of interest with this album is that over half the songs were penned by Razzy Bailey, who was just on the cusp of conquering the country Top Ten a year or so later... Bailey was from Alabama, but spent some time playing gigs in Georgia, so maybe that's where he met this guy from Atlanta. Bailey doesn't perform on this album, and as far as I can tell, the musicians were locals from Keaton's own band: Dan Halloway on banjo, Gary Ruffin (bass and guitar), Stan Ruffin (drums), Tony Shannon (keyboards) and Silvie Tucciarone on pedal steel. Keaton was a Georgia native, and worked mainly in Atlanta: his main gig was headlining at a venue called the West Texas Dance Club, owned by Walter Page. It sound like Keaton, as many before and after, finally got chewed up by the music business, and retired from the scene in 1992. As far as I know, this was his only album of secular country, but after a born again moment in '93 he started writing Southern gospel material.

Billy Keeble "Dy’in’ One Shot At A Time" (Texas Pride Records, 1987-?) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Keeble, Mike McClain & Curt Ryle)

A more "private" private-label album than most... Honkytonker bandleader Billy Keeble moved to Texas in 1978 and took a quick liking to the Lone Star state, naming his band Texas Pride, just to get the locals' attention. This debut album was originally pressed in exceedingly small numbers -- according to Keeble's website, only about a hundred copies were made, though he did revisit it years later and reissued the ten tracks on CD. I ran across this one looking up info about Oklahoma-born neotrad honkytonker Curt Ryle, who plays lead guitar on here, and helped produce this and several other Keeble discs. They're joined here by steel player B.J. Barnett, Bobby Charles, Jr. (bass), Junior Knight (steel guitar) and Mike McClain on keyboards. Apparently Mr. Keeble's career was nearly ended in 1990 by an auto accident with knocked out his voice; he recuperated quickly, though Texas Pride disbanded later that same year. Keeble continued to perform and record for decades to come, frequently collaborating with Curt Ryle and recorded quite a bit of Ryle's music, including seven on the ten songs on here. This first album is certainly a long-lost holy grail for Texas twang fans.

Bunky Keels "Midnight Moods Of Nashville" (Gusto/Power Pak Records, 1973) (LP)
Fabled Nashville studio musician Thomas B. Keels (1934-2004) is one of those guys whose names appears on literally countless albums and session notes... A multi-instrumentalist who played bass, piano, saxophone and more, Keels was in Jim Reeves's backing band, The Blue Boys, in addition to being one of Nashville's most in-demand session players. As far as I know, this was his first solo album.

Bunky Keels "Funky Bunky" (Guinness Records, 1977) (LP)
An all instrumental set including pop standards such as "Mood Indigo" "Walk Don't Run" as well as the Joe Liggins' R&B oldie, "The Honey Dripper." Naturally, there's country stuff, too, such as "The Maiden's Prayer" and a few tunes credited to Keels: "Bunky's Boogie," "Cold Turkey," and "Never Despair." Oddly enough, there are no musician credits in the liner notes... Who knows? Maybe he just played all the instruments himself!

Larry Keen & Co. "The Larry Keen Stories: Ventilated Stetson" (Sky Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Byron David Wagner)

The very essence of a "private" vanity-press album, this totters unevenly between pastoral folk-AOR and mild country twang, kinda like Michael Martin Murphey kicking it with Harry Chapin... The songs are stitched together with an unfortunate conceit, a series of fake "old geezer" interview snippets, with weak jokes that are supposed to sound like campfire field recordings ala Alan Lomax, but they ring false and are pretty distracting. Musically, this mostly doesn't do much for me -- some of the softer, poppier songs such as "Marco Polo" and "River Of My Soul" are just too darn gooey for me, although there are a couple of nice twang tunes, notably "Lone Star Gal," which has some really sweet pedal steel, courtesy of John Call. Not sure where Keen was from -- the album art says something about "The Revenge Of The Nebraska Kid," and this certainly has a heartland feel to it, though the various tracks were recorded in several different places -- Hollywood, "Motown" and Ohio -- so it's hard to pin this guy down. Also, I noticed folkie Steve Seskin and bluegrasser Dick Kimmel mentioned in the liner notes, so Keen had some for-real friends... Anyone know more about this record and the folks who made it?

Buford Kegley "Happy Anniversary" (Princess Records, 1971) (LP)
A veritable force of nature in the Virginia country music scene, Galax, Virginia radio DJ Buford Kegley has been on the air for several decades, well into the 2010s. And he didn't just play country music on the turntables, he made a record, too! Looks like some pretty choice material... when I get a chance to check it out, I'll let you know.

Keith & Donna "Keith & Donna" (Round Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Keith Godchaux & Donna Godchaux)

An album that will test the loyalty of even the most devoted Deadhead. This "solo" set by Keith and Donna Godchaux -- Keith being the Grateful Dead's keyboard player for most of the 1970s -- has kind of a Delaney & Bonnie blues-soul feel, with a big chunk of the extended Dead family pitching in, notably Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders and John Kahn. Unfortunately, the results are less than stellar. Despite Donna Godchaux's vocal similarity to outlaw country queen Jessi Colter, her phrasing is stiff and clunky and the band seems like they're each playing with one hand tied behind their back, trying to slow down enough to not upstage her. The songs aren't that memorable, either, though there's some of the improv-y noodling that Dead fans love so much. Mostly, though, this album seems to try too hard to be what it simply cannot be -- a solid, funky boogie-rock/soul set. Check it out if you're curious, but this is pretty hard to get into. Unless, I guess, if you're really, really, really high, in which case it might unlock the secrets of the universe.

Barbara Keith "Barbara Keith" (Verve Forecast, 1971)
(Produced by Peter Asher)

Songwriter Barbara Keith went from her band Kangaroo into a stint as a solo artist, crafting roots-oriented rock that over the years has drawn comparisons to contemporaries such as Bonnie Raitt and Tracy Nelson. On this solo debut, she was backed by several of the musicians who were in Ian & Sylvia's short-lived Great Speckled Bird band, including guitarist Jim Colegrove and pianist Jeff Gutcheon, along with Bill Keith on banjo and pedal steel... It's not quite as country-oriented as other albums here, but definitely worth having on the radar.

Barbara Keith "Barbara Keith" (Reprise Records, 1972)
Legend has it that after Keith went to Los Angeles and recorded this album, she decided she didn't like how the label made it sound, and -- feeling she couldn't stand beside her own album -- she returned the advance money that Reprise had given her and more or less dropped out of the music business. Well, maybe album was "too LA," but she sure had a lot of cool people playing with her, including Lowell George of Little Feat, Emory Gordy Jr., pedal steel whiz Sneaky Pete Kleinow, as well as more mainstream rock musicians such as Peter Asher and his whole crew. The songs are all originals, except for one Bob Dylan cover, and Keith seems pretty solid throughout, sometimes even sounding a little Jessi Colter-ish... One of the most notable songs on here is her original recording of "Bramble And The Rose," which I know from the version by Mary McCaslin... I'm not sure what Keith did in the intervening years, but in the 1990s she started a band called the Stone Coyotes, and has released several albums with them... For many, though, this remains her best-known record, obscure at the time of its release but becoming, of course, a cult favorite in later years.

Steve Keith & Laurie Keith "Little Hinkley Yawl" (Don Quixote Records, 1998)
A self-released set from picker Steve Keith, who led Albuquerque's regionally successful hippiebilly band The Last Mile Ramblers before embarking on a career as a sideman for rootsy artists such as David Bromberg, Jimmy Martin, Mason Williams and Steve Young. I haven't heard his solo stuff, but I figured this was a good place to include it, even though this wasn't actually recorded in the '70s. It's a slippery slope, keeping track of all these folks!

Steve Keith "Fresh Fish" (Don Quixote Records, 2004)

Albert Kelley & His Merrymakers "I've Found A Way" (19--?) (LP)

Albert Kelley & His Merrymakers "...Sing The Hits Of The '60s" (Hilltop Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Ralph Davis)

A secular set from this traditionally-minded acoustic/bluegrass trio... Lead singer Albert Kelley is accompanied by merrymakers Delbert Gray and Boggie Rhoden on a set of country covers that includes tunes such as "Beautiful Brown Eyes," "Heartaches By The Numbers," "I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name," and "Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On." Obviously, not all of these were 'Sixties hits, but they also cover some Merle Haggard ("Sing Me Back Home," "Swingin' Doors") so I think we'll let 'em slide. Kelley's previous album was all-gospel, though I'm not sure if Gray and Rhoden backed him on that one as well...

Milton Kelley "Milton Kelley's Home Brew" (Two:Dot Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Dean O. Thompson)

The Two:Dot label from Ojai, California was named for their initials of its founders (Tom W. Oglesby and Dean O. Thompson) and is one of those legendarily obscure microlabels that uber-collectors salivate over... This LP, for example, is said to have had only about a hundred copies pressed. It's a hippiedelic blues-roots kinda thing, recorded on the spur of the moment with singer-songwriter Milton Kelley and a few other Ojai locals. While not quite a country record, Kelley went on to forge friendships with several influential SoCal roots-twang scenesters, as evinced by his second album (below) which was recorded many years later.

Milton Kelley "Howlin' And A-Singin' " (Buffalo Records, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Jimmy Monahan & Tim Nelson)

Roots and twang from Ojai, California, near Santa Barbara... Kelley was apparently in the orbit of the fabled McCabe's folk club, and Ed McCabe -- who ran a satellite music shop in Ojai -- plays on this album, along with other local pickers. Chris Hillman contributes liner notes, which gives you a sense of the calibre of players involved... This is far more folk and twang-oriented than his first album which was more of a rock-blues affair.

Patrick Kelley "Patrick Kelley" (Rock Candy, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Patrick Kelley)

A mix of bar-band boogie rock, contemporary country and soft rock, with plenty of electric guitar all around. Not the greatest record ever, but I guess it has its moments... Not enough country twang for me, though. I couldn't figure if this guy was from California or from the South: the tracks were recorded half in Arkansas, half in San Jose, CA, and the private-pressing record label has a San Jose address as part of the handwritten album art, but immediately below that is a small typewritten address in Pine Bluff, AR. Go figure. The tunes were all originals; two tracks seem to have been born-again Christian songs, the soft-rock "If You Beckon Me," and the more-obvious "Tell Someone," which merited one of those little Jesus-fish icons next to it on the back cover and the inner label... the rest of the songs seem pretty secular, though. "Don't Play That Song" is the best country number.

Casey Kelly "Casey Kelly" (Elektra Records, 1972)
(Produced by Richard Sanford Orshoff)

A nice, understated set of contemplative hippiedelic country-rock and cosmic folk, with a mellow mix of laid-back twang and spacier, more amorphous soul-searching poetry songs. Kelly was a Louisiana native who moved up North and worked as a session musician for a while before going on tour with Tom Rush, which led to a series of short-lived recording contracts. On this album, the band is anchored by '70s studio pros like bassist Leland Sklar and drummer Russ Kunkle... even Jim Messina plays on one track! Still, he doesn't sound all prefab or AOR bland, more like a mildly psychedelic indie album. I think many folk-freak fans would find this one rewarding, while country-rock devotees will also enjoy the tasty pedal steel licks from Sneaky Pete Kleinow on the album's opener, "Silver Meteor." Overall, a nice album that reflects its era well... definitely worth a spin.

Casey Kelly "For Sale" (Elektra Records, 1974)

Casey Kelly "Hits Package" (Self-released)
After he recorded for Elektra, Kelly faded into the background, but went on to make a name for himself as a very successful pop and country songwriter, with dozens of songs covered by major artists throughout the 1970s and '80s. The tune I'm most familiar with is George Strait's "This Is Where The Cowboy Rides Away," which Kelly sings himself on this independently-released album, available through his website, www.caseykelly.net.

Jerri Kelly "Everybody's Baby... Nobody's Girl" (Intercord Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by Mick Lloyd, Fred Cameron & Travis Turk)

Slick, poppy stuff, but nice. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, singer Jerri Kelly carved out a solid niche in Nashville, recording a string of singles throughout the 1970s, including duets with Price Mitchell and even a showcase number on one of Ed Bruce's albums. She seems to have had a penchant for convoluted song titles, including this album's "Guess I'd Better Be Strong (And Move Along)" and I'm As Much Of A Woman (As You Care To Make Me)." (Alas, though, songs such as "Diggin' And Grindin' For His Love" which was recorded by Sheila Andrews are not included here...) Along with her business (and musical) partner Mick Lloyd, Ms. Kelly also established herself as a songwriter and music publisher, providing material for stars such as Bill Anderson, Loretta Lynn, Dave & Sugar and many others throughout the 'Seventies and early 'Eighties, and seem to have had connections to various labels in Europe, as seen on this album, which was recorded in Nashville, but released on a German label. I'm not entirely sure it's the same person, but I think Ms. Kelly passed away in Nashville back in 2017.

Matt Kelly "A Wing And A Prayer" (Relix Records, 1986)
This one's really more of a rock record, but there is a roots music element as well... But fans of hardcore hippie music will certainly want to check this out... Originally from the band Kingfish, Matt Kelly was part of the whole SF scene for many years, and calls a bunch of his buddies in for this album, including several members of the Grateful Dead -- Jerry Garcia, Keith Godchaux, Bill Kreutzmann, Brent Mydland and Bob Wier -- as well as other dino-rockers such as Nicky Hopkins, Buddy Cage, and Jerry Miller from Moby Grape... Whew! I think I'm having a flashback, man!

C. B. Kelton "Loving You" (Conestoga Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Beck)

Arkansas-born pianist C. B. Kelton was primarily a Southern Gospel performer, but at the time he recorded this mostly-secular set, he was working as a lounge singer at a place called the Brown Jug, in Decatur, Illinois. He made the pilgrimage to Nashville to get backing by some of the Music City studio pros, and the results are pretty solid. Countrypolitan blends with early 'Seventies soft-pop standards like "Killing Me Softly" and "I'll Have To Say I Love You," given peculiar lounge-singer makeovers... The sound mix isn't that great, and the musicians don't really vary their approach much, but there's a charming authenticity to it all... Maybe more of a lounge record than his other secular stuff (below) but still... Kinda fun, in a corny, old-school way.

C. B. Kelton "...Sings And Plays Town And Country" (Nashville Artists Productions, 19--?) (LP)
Kelton was still playing at the Brown Jug when he cut this one, and once again, he made the trek to Nashville, with satisfying results. As the album title implies, this isn't strictly a country set, but with songs-of-the-day such as "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" and Rod McEuen's "Jean" in the mix, it's a nice time capsule of the era... There are also some original tunes, Kelton's jaunty "Who Oiled The Hinges On My Back Door?" and the more lugubrious "City Life," along with some country and rock oldies covers... All in all, a pretty good vanity album; kinda makes you wish he'd done more stuff like it!

Wayne Kemp - see artist discography

Howdy Kempf "The Talents Of Howdy Kempf" (Hilltop Production Company, 1972-?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Linneman & Howdy Kempf)

A hillbilly singer from 'way back when, Howard C. Kempf (1926-1997) was born in Shelby, Ohio and started his career in the early 1950s, recording for the King Records label in Cincinnati. Like a lot of musicians from that era, he took jobs at radio and TV stations in many different towns, including a stint on the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, WV. But Shelby was his lifelong home and in addition to playing local dances and whatnot, he worked for the local phone company for thirty years, then worked privately as a phone technician for over a decade after he retired. Kempf cut several singles for King and earned some level of immortality as the guy who delivered the oft-imitated raspberry sound effect on Bob Newman's original version of the novelty number "Pffft! You Were Gone." This album collects a bunch of his later recordings, mainly a string of 1960s singles recorded at Starday Records and released on Starday or some of its custom imprints, circa 1962-66. This appears to have been Mr. Kempf's only full LP, though he seems ripe for a more comprehensive Bear Family style retrospective someday.

Buster Kendrick "Plays Favorites" (Gold Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jim Owen)

A native of Shelby, North Carolina, Charles Franklin ("Buster") Kendrick claimed hillbilly-era guitar hero Hank Garland as his inspiration and he followed in Garland's footsteps backing many of country music's brightest stars. He backed old-school artists such Clyde Moody and the duo of Lulu Belle & Scotty, as well as more modern musicians such as Jim Owen, who produced this album. At some point Kendrick found work as a tour bus driver, a job that often led to him also landing gigs as a guitar player for the same artists whose buses he drove. He worked as a driver-picker for Nashville diva Dottie West, for West's daughter Shelley, and for the southern gospel group known as the Chuck Wagon Gang. On this album he zips through some tasty tunes in homage to his childhood hero Sugarfoot Garland, while Garland himself contributes a laudatory quote for the liner notes... The studio crew includes like Jim Baker on dobro and steel, Bunky Keels playing piano and D. J. Fontana on drums. Kendrick retired to his North Carolina hometown, and in 2013 was recognized for his contributions to the state's musical heritage. Not sure when this was recorded, but it may have been a 1980's release...

Gene Kennedy & Karen Jeglum "Door Knob Records Presents..." (Door Knob Records, 1981-?) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Kennedy)

A duets set featuring Gene Kennedy, owner of the Door Knob label, and Karen Jeglum, a professional backup singer in Nashville who started out as part of Christy Lane's road show, then moved into studio work. Door Knob was one of the last really notable indies to crack into the Country charts, fielding singles as late as the early '80s... The liner notes to this album say that Kennedy and Jeglum had a couple of singles chart before recording this album, but if so, it wasn't nationally; no mention of it in Billboard, at least. Anyway, they had a hand-selected Nashville studio crew that included Stu Basore and Russ Hicks on steel guitars, Benny Kennerson playing piano, and Arlene Harden and Bobby Harden singing backup

Mike Kennedy "Louisiana" (ABC Records, 1972)
(Produced by Steve Barri & Alain Milhaud)

This one's just a warning. This was a solo set from Mike Kennedy, aka Michael Volker Kogel, a German-born rocker who was in the Spanish garage band, Los Bravos. Yeah, sure, he's wearing a cowboy hat on the cover, and there are some song titles that seem like they could have been country or Southern rock, but this is more of a Tony Orlando soft-rock-pop kind of record. It was the '70s. You never know. But if you're looking for twang, there's a really nothing here for you, other than maybe the opening track, "Look In My Eyes Pretty Woman," which maybe someone like Joe Stampley could have recorded in his early years. Skippable.

Pete Kennedy "Rhythm Ranch" (Rosewood Records, 1985) (LP)
(Produced by Pete Kennedy)

An early album by folk-Americana guitarist/mandolin picker Pete Kennedy. A bright, cheerful, uptempo set of folkie acoustic swing, with hints of bluegrass, western music, gospel and folk, and swell musicianship all around. Kennedy was living in Fairfax, Virginia at the time and is joined on backup vocals and instrumental oomph by the duo of Cathy Fink and Marcie Marxer -- who were still solidifying their partnership at the time -- and lively fiddling by Mike Stein. A nice, fun record... and man, Pete Kennedy sure could play!

Benny Kennerson "Benny Plays Your Favorites" (19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Louis Swift)

Born in Biloxi, Mississippi, pianist Benny Kennerson (1948-1999) made his way to Nashville and played on a fair number of albums -- and, one presumes, probably played a lot of live gigs as well. Kennerson backed super-indie country singers such as Wayne Perdew, as well as higher-profile bluegrass sessions with Vassar Clements, as well as on some uber-indie gospel records. This is an album of country-flavored piano instrumentals, including tunes like Floyd Cramer's Nashville-Sound pop hit, "Last Date," which kinda defined the genre. Includes some original material by Kennerson, as well as covers of old Hank Williams songs, and the like... Not sure who all plays on this album, though as far as I can tell it was the only one Kennerson recorded under his own name.

George Kent "This Is George Kent" (Rice Records, 1971) (LP)
A native of Dallas, Texas, country singer George Kent had his biggest hit with his version of Tom T. Hall's "Hello, I'm A Jukebox," which peaked out in the Top 30 in 1970. He remained a minor chart artist for Mercury Records for much of the decade, then in 1980 he bought a Texas nightclub called the Cow Palace and used that as his base of operations.

George Kent "George Kent" (Shannon Records, 1974) (LP)

George Kent "Reflections" (ASI Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Bud Logan & Jack Logan)

Kentuckiana Opry "10th Anniversary Album" (1980) (LP)
(Produced by Zane Harbaugh)

A souvenir album from the family-oriented theme park, the Kentuckiana Kampground, which oddly enough was located in Tazewell County, Illinois, and not in Kentucky itself. Go figure. Anyway, the park was founded in 1970 and continued in operation well into the 21th century... This disc marked its tenth anniversary with a pleasantly twangy set, equal parts country, bluegrass and old-timey gospel, with various soloists and singers on every track. Produced by emcee Zane Harbaugh, this is a heartwarmingly modest album, with singers who have flaws and pickers who keep things simple and clean. The repertoire includes mountain music oldies such as "Mocking Bird" and more modern, country-oriented stuff, like "Cup Of Loneliness," "Old Chunk Of Coal" and -- of course -- "Coal Miner's Daughter." Not earthshaking, but authentic.

Kentucky Express "Kentucky Express" (Imperial Records, 1970-?) (LP)
This band was an odd project for a fading major label, Imperial Records, which apparently was trying its hand at mixing country and the perky "sunshine" pop of the late '60s, early '70s. It's mostly so odd because the first Kentucky Express was packed with country material -- covers of songs such as "I Still Miss Someone," "Singing The Blues" and "Wings Of A Dove," along with twangy tune by Dylan, the Everly Brothers and Johnny Rivers -- but the album that followed was pretty strictly not country, and didn't have a lick of twang in the production, either. One suspects some sort of Don Kirshner-esque created-in-the-studio concoction, but I haven't dug deep enough to find out the full story; apparently the band's lead singer John Gummoe was previously in the Cascades, a Kennedy-era pop band from San Diego, California that had a big hit in '62. At any rate, yet another footnote to the hippie-era country scene.

Kentucky Express "That's Not What Lovin' Is" (Imperial Records, 1972) (LP)
Lots of lavish, sunshiny pop with harmony vocals, big, bright production - not very country and lots of cover songs, but pretty strictly from the pop/rock side of the street this time.

Kentucky Faith "Fool's Gold" (Sonrise Music/Mark Recordings, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Twyla Morrison)

A mix of old bluegrass standards and religiously-oriented material... Maybe not the greatest pickers ever, but lively amateurs with a nice, spirited vibe. Despite the Appalachian band name, this was a Southern California band, led by singer-guitarist Ken Munds, who was later recruited to become the lead singer of the Christian country band, Brush Arbor. On this early outing, there was additional assistance from steel player J. D. Maness and bluegrass flatpicker Dennis Agajanian (who went on to record a few albums of his own in later years...) Footnote: on his website, Ken Munds details how the "rock star" aspects of the Brush Arbor band led him into the temptations of substance abuse, and after getting booted from the band, he bottomed out and then pulled himself together for a solo career as an evangelical folkie. But this is him at his most youthful and innocent... A nice slice of SoCal bluegrass-twang and Christian music history.

Arlene Kesterson "...Sings" (Mark Five Studios, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Otis Forrest)

A set of bluegrass, ballads and old-timey tunes sung by Arlene Kesterson, co-director of the Mountain Folkways Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina. I'm not sure how long the Center was around, but among other things it was the place where songwriter Jim Lauderdale took banjo lessons as a teen. Backing Kesterson on several tracks are fiddler Bill Phillips, Ralph Lewis on mandolin, and banjo picker Marc Pruett, who was a member of Ricky Skaggs' band at the time.

Steve Key "My Oklahoma Morning" (Piccadilly Records, 1980) (LP)
(Produced by Chad Heasley & Gene Breeden)

Light, pleasant, commercially-oriented country material, early '80s style. Though the production is pretty slick, there's some nice fiddle and pedal steel in the mix, giving a whiff of old-school western swing. This was probably recorded in Nashville, as the studio crew includes guitarist Gene Breeden and his son Danny, along with steel player Doug Jernigan and Bruce Watkins on bass and fiddle, as well as pianist Benny Kennerson. (Interestingly, Key thanks indie-twangster Frank Hurley, who recorded his album for Picadilly around the same time with roughly the same set of musicians, though as far as I can tell neither singer performed on the other's album. Drinkin' buddies, I guess.) Anyway, fans of Don Williams might enjoy this guy, too, though there are also some slightly rough-edged tunes as well, such as "This Damn Guitar." Worth a spin, though definitely on the lighter side.

Larry Keyes & West Coast Edition "Winning Hand" (Key Edition, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Larry Keyes & Kurt Fries)

It took me a little while to warm to this DIY set of California country... Turns out the opening tracks were the real stumbling block -- a little too glossy and pop-oriented for me. But things settle down as the album progresses and it becomes clear that what singer Larry Keyes was all about was being a smooth-but-rootsy country crooner, very much in the style of John Conlee. Born in Salinas, Keyes was living in Fresno when this record was made and worked with an all-locals band, recording the sessions in the even more remote, nearby town of Madera, California. The music is all original material, though only two songs were written by Keyes himself, including the bombastic post-countrypolitan title track, which opens the album... The strongest tunes come from drummer Mark Giusti and keyboard player Kurt Fries, who contribute the forlorn ballad, "Never Too Late" and the even more heartache-y "Never Found." These are excellent, understated country songs which prove a good match for Keyes as a vocalist, who has an understated quality as well, which may be appealing to fans of more subtle ballad singing. Not earthshaking, but solid and sincere, and definitely a local product.

Gabe Kila & The Nanakuli Sons "Paniolo Country" (J-San Records, 1974-?) (LP)

Gabe Kila & The Nanakuli Sons "Return To Paniolo Country" (J-San Records, 1975-?) (LP)

Johnny Kilgore & The Texas Ramblers "Room Full Of Roses And Other Country Guitar Hits" (Crown Records, 1966-?) (LP)
Amid the mysteries of the el-cheapo Crown Records label, guitarist Johnny Kilgore remains an anonymous, unknown figure... As with most Crown LPs, there are no real liner notes here; no info about the band, or song credits, etc. The album title promises a bunch of cover tunes, though there seem to be several originals, along with re-workings of folkish material such as "Poor Pilgrim Of Sorrow," "Wabash Blues" and "Wabash Cannonball." There are a few pickers named Johnny Kilgore out there; currently my best guess is he may have been from Oklahoma, but no hard info to confirm this... yet. Nice and twangy, with a little hit of rock'n'roll on a tune or two.

Merle Kilgore "Possum Holler Presents Big Merle" (Starday Records, 1972) (LP)
Although he co-wrote of one of the best-known country songs in the world -- "Ring Of Fire," which he composed with June Carter -- nothing really clicked for Merle Kilgore as a solo performer. Kilgore was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Louisiana, starting his career as a teenager as a cast member of the Louisiana Hayride. In 1954 he struck gold as a songwriter when Webb Pierce took his tune, "More And More," to the top of the charts. Kilgore eventually signed to Columbia Records and released a string of singles in the early 1960s -- they were good records, but despite a promising start in 1960, he mostly slid off the charts and made a few infrequent appearances in the Back Forty, spread out over a couple of decades. Kilgore toured with Hank Williams, Jr. for many years, and eventually became his manager. In the early 'Seventies, Kilgore was working as the emcee at the Possum Holler nightclub in Nashville, a venue partly owned by singer-superstar George Jones. Kilgore sang there as well, and recorded this album as part of that gig... He left the Possum Holler job in the mid-1970s to manage the career of Hank Jr., and by all accounts, he did pretty darn good job... (Can you say, "Monday night football"?) Anyway, one thing that's interesting about this album is that Kilgore steers clear of his own hits -- nary a "Wolverton Mountain" or fiery ring to be heard, though covers of "Woman, Sensuous Woman" and "The Key's In The Mailbox" huddle 'round with other, lesser-known tunes.

Jeff Kimball "The Jeff Kimball Show" (Kimball Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Wayne Neuendorf)

I don't usually give into the impulse to tease folks in the past for how they dressed or what they looked like, but... oh my, that's an impressive hairstyle. Truly bodacious. Plus, I'm diggin' that lapel. Mr. Kimball was an aspiring '70s lounge singer who sang some pop, but also a fair amount of country, including chestnuts like "Lord You Gave Me A Mountain," "Make The World Go Away," "Mama's Hungry Eyes," and "Tie A Yellow Ribbon." I believe he was from South Carolina, though it's hard to tell... The album was recorded in Atlanta, Georgia, and the band's photos were snapped in Montgomery, Alabama, although the guys in the backing band -- drummer Dennis Beadenbaugh, bassist Mickey Hewitt and lead guitarist George George, Jr.(!) -- were all from South Carolina. So, I'm gonna go with the Palmetto State on this one...

The Kimberlys & Waylon Jennings "Country Folk" (RCA Victor, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Chet Atkins & Danny Davis)

A folk-country outing made by a restless Waylon Jennings in his proto-outlaw days. The story goes that Waylon was unhappy working with pop-oriented producer Danny Davis and sought to assert some creative control by bringing in the unknown Oklahoma family band The Kimberlys to give this album a little zing. The Kimberlys were two brothers -- Carl and Harold Kimberly -- who married two sisters and formed a vocal quartet. They had done some work regionally, but this was their big breakout on the national stage, and they did score a Top Thirty hit with a fairly outlandish cover of the pop hit, "MacArthur Park," which hit #23 on the Country charts and earned the Kimberlys a Grammy. Two albums followed, sans Waylon, but commercial success was not in the cards. An interesting footnote is that their children formed a band of their own in the '80s and eked out a couple of charting singles in 1984, under the name Kimberly Springs.

The Kimberlys "Road To Entertainment" (1969-?) (LP)
This appears to be a private-press souvenir album from a stint on the road working clubs in Nevada (many of which are listed on the back cover. There's no date on the album, but the liner notes by Joe Montgomery say he'd been with the band for three years and the set list is packed with covers of late 'Sixties stuff like "As Tears Go By," "Norwegian Wood," "Yesterday" "Kentucky Woman," "Those Were The Days" which suggest a 1969-ish release date. Some songs, including their version of Bob Lind's "Elusive Butterfly," were also included on the group's self-titled album from 1970 (listed below) though I can't say whether hey were recycled or re-recorded.

The Kimberlys "The Kimberlys" (Happy Tiger Records, 1969) (LP)
(Produced by Stan Ross & Ray Ruff)

The Kimberlys "New Horizon" (Happy Tiger Records, 1970) (LP)
(Produced by Kenny O'Dell, Stan Ross & Ray Ruff)

Doug Kindred "My First" (Garden Variety Records, 1975) (LP)
(Produced by Doug Kindred)

A honkytonker from Eugene, Oregon, Doug Kindred wrote half the songs on here, including several co-written by Gus Gustafson... The album also includes some cover tunes that were frequent requests from fans... According to Kindred, the Oregon country scene took a big hit from the state's Liquor Liability Law -- which held bars and other businesses that serve liquor accountable for any alcohol-related accidents involving their patrons, and the downturn in the bar scene led him to retire from music. Come to think of it, even though I bet the new liquor laws were a drag for a lot of guys in Kindred's position, that old story sure would make a damn good country song.

Beverly King "A Dobro Dozen" (House Of Guitars, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Sid Kleiner)

The first album of dobro music by a gal rom Revere, Pennsylvania...

Beverly King "Drifting Along With The Dobro" (House Of Guitars, 1972) (LP)

Beverly King "Leave A Lot Of Happy Tracks" (1974) (LP)

Bob King "Keepin' It Country" (San-Lyn Records, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Swanson & Bob King)

A chart-topping Canadian artist in the 1950s and '60s, Ontario's Bob King (1934-1989) started his career in the early 'Fifties and had been plugging away for over a decade before scoring a hit with his version of "Working On The County Road," a song by Maine songwriter Don Peters that brought him regional fame and almost cracked into the US market. King reprises that tune on this indie album, along with several others penned by Peters. The rest of the songs are originals as well, including one by Billy Don Burns, another from Jack Swanson, and three by Bob King himself, "Daddy's Despair," "Josephine" and "Laurel Lee." Two tracks are duets with his wife, Marie King, while the rest of the band is also identified by first name only, including a steel player named Quincy. Bob King recorded this set over a decade after giving up on his solo career: after the RCA label declined to promote him in the States and his contract with Banff Records petered out, the Kings joined the Brown Family road show, and also performed as a duo in the '80s, before Mr. King succumbed to lung cancer. Marie King was an even more prolific artist, cutting dozens of French-language records, including numerous duets with her husband, as well as with their daughter, Carole.

Don King "Dreams 'N' Things" (Con Brio Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Walker)

Although he was ultimately a back-bencher, Nebraska's Don King had a pretty good run in the charts from 1976-88. Like many struggling artists, his big hits came at the beginning, when he scored two Top 20 entries in the late '70s, though after that he was constantly wobbling around the edges of the Top 40 -- still in the game, but not quite able to grab the brass ring. This album was recorded in Nashville with a big "usual suspects" studio crew -- one of the many albums fielded by the spunky Con Brio label during the last gasp of commercially-viable Nashville indies.

King Edward IV & The Knights "Deep In Christmas Country" (Ambush Records, 1979) (LP)
(Produced by King Edward & Harold Thompson)

A holiday offering from radio personality and country bandleader King Edward Smith IV (1929-1981) a veteran hillbilly and bluegrass performer whose uncle was well-known Virginia fiddler Hobart Smith. King Edward enlisted in the Air Force while still underage in order to serve in WWII; after demobilizing he moved through a series of bands and itinerant broadcasting jobs, including a stint as a staff musician at radio station WCYB, which was a hub of the 1950's bluegrass boom. His real calling seemed to be radio programmer, and in the early 1960s he became the music director at WSLC in Roanoke, Virginia and still had the position when he recorded this disc. The liner notes tell us that King Edward had recorded five albums and nearly three dozen singles dating back to 1957, though good luck tracking them down. Anyone out there who has more info or pictures, please feel free to share.

Freddie King "A Girl Like You" (197--?) (LP)
Not to be confused with the sizzling 'Sixties Texas bluesman, this Freddie King was a studly-lookin' fella who was originally from around Cincinnati, but made his career working small clubs in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He previously worked on the Cincinnati-based TV show, Midwestern Hayride with Kenny Price, though at some point he peeled off and headed down South. Backing King on this album are Don Coggins (guitar), Gerry Dee (bass), Mickey Fortune (steel guitar), Ronnie Inscoe (drums), and Jay Stacy on lead guitar... The liner notes tell us this was King's first album, and though there's no date given, it was definitely a 'Seventies affair since the liners also reference All In The Family, which debuted in '71. Most of the tracks are cover songs, primarily 'Sixties hits and chestnuts such as "By The Time I Get To Phoenix," "Cold, Cold Heart," "Together Again" and "Undo The Right."

Freddie King "Something Special Just For You" (CMC Records, 197--?) (LP)
This album is packed with cover tunes, stuff by Kris Kristofferson, Marty Robbins, Roy Orbison and other crooners. Tommy Overstreet contributes liner notes, though I don't think they had any formal professional relationship. Not sure when this came out -- I'd guess mid-1970s, but it could have been later. Once again, he covers a pretty standard set of country hits, including "Drinking Champagne," "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife" and oldies such as "Running Bear," "White Lightning" and "A White Sport Coat" -- not super-up-to-date, but up-to-date enough.

Gary King "One Sided Love" (K-Tone Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Berry, Gradie O'Neal & Tom Tomacello)

Somewhat traditionally-oriented set of country weepers by an uber-indie artist out of San Jose, California. This disc includes four originals by Gary King: "Making Excuses," "Never Leaving Tracks", "One Sided Love" and "My Woman, My Life, My Wife" (not to be confused of course with the Marty Robbins hit, "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife") along with covers of George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Hank Locklin, Johnny Tillotson, and Hank Williams. King is backed by an all-local band, anchored by Bob Berry on bass, drums, and keyboards, Larry Black (dobro and guitar), Barry Blackwood (steel guitar), Hewlett Crist (harmonica) and Marlene Elliott singing harmony vocals. King was a pal of SF country singer Tom Rose, and had known Rose since the early 'Seventies. Not sure when this disc came out, but it looks like an early '80s outing. Honestly, this sounds fairly amateurish, though very sincere.

Joe King "Just Passing Through" (King J Records, 1982) (LP)
Not sure where this guy was from... This album was recorded in Nashville, though his other album was partly recorded in Seattle, so he may have been from the Pacific Northwest. Anyway, this record is all original material, either written or co-written by Joe King. Anybody out there know more about Mr. King and his career?

Joe King "Stories" (King J Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Earl E. Owens, Wayne Carson & Joe King)

Most of this album was cut in Nashville, though some of it was recorded at the Music Source studio in Seattle, with producer Dave Raynor. Like his other album, this disc is packed with original material, though this time around several of the songs were written by Wayne Carson, including a few co-written with bluegrasser Ronnie Reno. King provides most of the other songs, with two co-composed with a guy named A. J. Hartman.

Joy King & Eddie Nash "Live At Ghost Town, Maggie Valley NC" (Hill Country Records, 19--?) (LP)
This record was an early 1970s souvenir of Ghost Mountain Park, in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Eddie Nash played several instruments and also did country music impersonations; his father, "Panhandle Pete" was also a performer at the park. The repertoire was a mix of old-timey standards and contemporary country-pop hits like "Snowbird," "Never Ending Love" and Lynn Anderson's "Ride Ride Ride."

Joy King & Eddie Nash "By Request" (Galaxie III Studios, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Harry Deal)

According to the liner notes, this was their second album... It's a split LP, with Joy King showcased on Side One, Eddie King on Side Two. On several tracks he does his "one man band" bit, and focusses on specific instruments on others. The lineup is the same as on her previous album: Ms. King playing fiddle and 12-string guitar, with a backing band that included Jim Deal on bass, David Johnson (steel guitar), Danny McCoy (piano) and Gerald Taylor on drums.

Joy King "...Sings Country" (Galaxie III Studios, 1978) (LP)
(Produced by Harry Deal)

In addition to her gigs with Eddie Nash, Joy King also seems to have worked with Archie Campbell -- he contributed liner notes to this disc, praising her talent and mentioning they'd performed together for several years. There are two different bands backing her on this album: Side One features Smokey White on fiddle, David Don Berg on bass, while Eddie Nash plays on Side Two, with Denny McCoy on piano, and Jim Deal on bass. with David Johnson playing steel guitar on both sessions. King also recorded several singles on a couple of different indie labels.

Judie King & The Carl Austin Band "By Request" (Tommy Towne Records, 1974-?) (LP)
(Produced by Manny Alvarez, Brad Gong & Judie King)

This set of oldies and sunshine country covers is decidedly an amateur-hour affair, despite the album's glowing liner notes... I'm not trying to be mean, but this is definitely a vanity album, with Central California singer Judie King and bandleader Carl Austin both sounding a bit wobbly and barely holding things together, musically speaking. Although quite sincere, they're still literally playing at about the level of a local talent show, with audio production and arrangements that are equally thin. I guess if you go for that kind of thing, this album could be a real hoot. I'm not one-hundred percent sure where they were from, though it's definitely from the central San Joaquin Valley -- the record label address is given as Visalia, California (just south of Fresno) and the only mention I could find of them playing live was a show notice in the Bakersfield Californian, from February 22, 1974, with matches up with some of the early-'70s cover songs on this album. I don't think either Austin or King pursued music professionally and I doubt they made any other recordings. Years later, they both seem to have moved to the Sierra foothills up around Sacramento. (By the way, this disc was pressed by the United Sound custom label, a well-known vanity service that issued several dozen LPs during the 'Seventies, in all different genres.)

Kirt King "Songs For Uncivil Servants" (Symphonia Recording Company, 1963) (LP)
This one's a real doozy. This is one of those snide, mean-spirited, hard-right "folk" records from Southern California, made by a guy with a real chip on his shoulder. Hailing from San Diego, Mr. King was apparently employed as a juvenile corrections officer for the state of California, and he makes reference to his work on several songs, taking potshots at the bureaucracy and the bureaucrats, including the president of the corrections officer agency ("The CPPCA President") who he accuses of incompetence, arrogance and graft. King is actually pretty clever, sounding a bit like Tom Lehrer, but rather mean-spirited and harsh: the album opens with a vicious screed against premarital sex, birth control, and unwed mothers. "Creep On My Caseload" is a parody of the Everly Brothers oldie, "Bird Dog," in which he basically says how tired he is hearing all these kids whining about their problems, and what they really need is a good smack on the kisser to get them on the right track. Swell guy, right? He also clearly had it in for eggheads and bleeding-heart liberals as well, and reserved special scorn for Governor Pat Brown and the Democratic Party apparatchiks. Oh, Ronnie, where are you when we need you??

Randy King & The Country All-Stars "Live" (Rival Records, 197--?) (LP)
Country bandleader Randy King cut numerous singles on various obscure labels dating back to the mid-1950s, before starting his own label and putting out this lone LP. Although he's known as a Colorado-based artist, King's earliest recordings came out of West Texas, and he made the Rockies his home and even opened a nightspot in Denver called the Club Corners, which is pictured on the cover. Not exactly sure when this one came out, but it seems to have been in the late '70s sometime. (Thanks again to the North Of Pueblo blog for info on this elusive artist...!)

Sherri King "Almost Persuaded" (United Artists, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Steven A. Davis)

The lone album by pianist/singer Sherri King, a Knoxville native who was backed here by a ton of top talent, including studio pros such as Tommy Allsup, Pete Drake, Buddy Emmons, Johnny Gimble, Hargus Robbins, Pete Wade and a couple of stray Gatlins on backup vocals. King is a decent but flawed vocalist with kind of a '70s Olivia Newton John/Karen Carpenter AOR undertone, albeit with a sincere country feel, maybe in sort of a Linda Ronstadt/Lynn Anderson kind of way. She's best on slower passages, and has rough patches on big key changes and big, emphatic moments. But overall this album has a nice feel, with a few mild standout tracks, particularly "I'm Alright 'Til I See You (Then I Fall Apart)". She also has a couple of notable good-girl tunes worthy of Tammy Wynette, "A Good Woman Waits For Her Man" and "I Don't Know What's Wrong (But I Know What's Right)" which show the virtues of suffering in silence. Clearly meant to be a commercial record, this one tanked: the title track grazed the Top 100 (at #95) though I suspect Ms. King must have done some studio work as a backup musician on a record or two. Anyone know more about her?

Zane King "Hooked on Steelin' " (Zanbeck Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Zane Beck)

A pedal steel prodigy, fourteen year old Zane King was a student of Arkansas steel player Zane Beck, who produced this album on his own private label and contributed the liner notes as well. King is backed by guitarist Rick Campbell, Larry House (piano), Randy McDonald (drums) and Eric Nolen (bass). Not a lot of info about what this kid did next; it's possible he's the same Zane King who produced some southern gospel bands in the 1990s.

King's Road "Watkins Glen" (Pickwick Records, 1973) (LP)
Kind of an odd one from the world of early 'Seventies rock... This is a cheapo-label soundalike offering from a fake, anonymous studio band that recorded dozens of singles and LPs in the early 1970s, though this is probably their most country-oriented release. Here they're playing covers of hit songs by three well-established roots-rock bands -- The Allman Brothers, The Band, The Grateful Dead -- who performed at the "Summer Jam" music festival held in Watkins Glen, New York in 1973. Kind of a goofy premise, but it is a reflection of the roots-rock scene of the era, complete with fake "crowd noise," to create the somewhat flimsy illusion that this was a document of the festival itself. Far out, man. Lord only knows who the actual musicians were on this album, but if you wanna hear contemporary, hippie-era covers of stoner classics like "Casey Jones," "Truckin'," "Cripple Creek" and "The Weight," this might be a fun one for you.

The King's Witnessses "The Glory Road" (Charter Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Breeden)

A country gospel group from Meridian, Idaho, recording on a sub-label of Ripcord Records. Unfortunately the band members are not listed, though they seem to have had some standing in the contemporary southern gospel scene: William Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys contributed glowing liner notes. (Even better still, his note included a date, giving us one of the few solid data points for when the various Charter and Ripcord titles came out...)

The Kingsmen "Kingsmen Kountry" (Heart Warming Records, 1968-?) (LP)
Also known as The Kingsmen Quartet, The Mighty Kingsmen, this was a long-running southern gospel group from North Carolina, originally formed in 1956. Not to be confused with the Pacific Northwest frat rockers of "Louie Louie" fame, The Kingsmen recorded several albums, some having more explicit nods towards country twang than others. This edition of the band included Eldridge Fox (baritone), Fred Cutshell (lead vocals), Kermit Jamerson (tenor), Dean Reese (bass vocals) and Ray Talley on piano; not sure who the other backing musicians might have been.

The Kingsmen "Kowboy Gospel" (Heavyweight Records, 1983) (LP)

The Kingston Trio -- see artist profile

Frank Kinsel "At Home" (Epic Records, 1968) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Breault)

Folk-rocker Francis J. Kinsel, Jr. was originally from Detroit, Michigan where he recorded a couple of Northern soul singles and played live gigs around 1963. He mellowed out a bit for this eclectic hippie-era, album which was more of a rock/folk/blues kinda thing, with pedal steel pro Red Rhodes playing on several tracks... Not a lot of info I could find about him online -- I think this may have been his only full album.

Henry Kinsley "Never Gonna Stop Dreamin' " (Ripcord Records, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Breeden & Blaine Allen)

Indie country from northeastern Oregon... Henry Kinsley's local music roots go back to his highschool days, when he played lead guitar in a Wallowa County rock band called the ReActions, which was together from 1964 to the early '70s. Kinsley started working in the local mills, and shifted into a mellower style, getting into country music and recording this album sometime around 1979-80. The record features all-original material, with backing by the Ripcord Studios house band: Gene Breeden on guitar, Danny Breeden on drums, Ron Stephens playing steel, Blaine Allen on bass and Jeff Dean on piano... Tracks include the Kinsley-penned "Just A Rodeo Cowboy" and "Drug Store Caper King" as well as "Mind Games," a song that won a national songwriting contest sponsored by KFC, and was recorded by Brenda Lee as part of the prize. Kinsley tried to break into the business in Nashville, but eventually returned to the Pacific Northwest to start a family. In the 1990s, he and his wife opened a gift shop in Joseph, Oregon, which they ran for over twenty years; he played regional gigs with his own band for several decades, and recorded at least one self-released album in the late 1990s.

Dave Kirby -- see artist profile

Mike Kirby "Mike To Mike" (T.E.M. Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Billy Arr & Mike Kirby)

A pretty solid set with a funky countrypolitan vibe similar to Charlie Rich... Although this LP came out on a Nashville indie, Mike Kirby appears to have been from Augusta, Georgia where he worked as a deejay and music director at radio station WGUS. Kirby's recording career was tightly intertwined with that of fellow Augustan, Terri Gibbs, and for a while they followed similar trajectories. They shared songs, producers, and were on the same label, dating back to the mid-1970s, when Kirby co-produced Gibbs's first studio sessions, a set that was later released as an album after she broke through as a Top Forty star. Gibbs gave co-composer credit on her demo sessions to Dave Hensley, later the program director of WGUS, who contributes liner notes to this album. (Is that confusing enough for you? No? Well, let's keep going...) The TEM label was run by C. Ted Kirby -- who I think was Mike Kirby's father -- and several of the tracks on this album were originally released as singles dating back to 1974-76, around the same time as the Gibbs demos. Mike Kirby also recorded a couple of Terri Gibbs's own compositions, though those are not included here. The rest of the album seems to have been a songwriter's demo, with four songs credited to Ed Perry, and a few random others, including a song by Mel McDaniel, whose career had recently taken off, and one by producer Billy Arr, a Nashville insider who also helped produce Terri Gibbs' 1975 sessions. There are two tracks credited to Nashville tunesmith Don Devaney -- one of them, "You Got To Love Your Baby," was from a 1976 Kirby single, two years before Devaney broke through when his song, "Someone Loves You Honey" topped the country charts in '78. I couldn't track down what happened to Kirby after this; he may have gone back to Augusta and moved into the gospel scene (like Terri Gibbs) but I really couldn't pin it down. Sadly, the session players aren't listed on this album, so it's not clear whether it was cut in Nashville, or in Augusta, with local musicians.

Bill Kirchen -- see artist profile

Chuck Kirchenwitz & The Country Ramblers "Live At The Silver Dollar Club" (Otter Records, 19--?) (LP)
A mix of polka tunes and country standards by the likes of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. This album was recorded "live" at the Silver Dollar Club, in Elizabeth, Minnesota.

Chuck Kirchenwitz & The Country Ramblers "The Old Home Town" (Kirk Records, 19--?) (LP)

Jerry Kirk & The Heavyweights "Blockbuster" (H.W. Records/KBK Custom Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Dan Reid)

Although primarily a pop-lounge group, the Heavyweights also had a little twang in the mix, notably on a couple of songs written by lead singer Jerry Kirk, "Brother Love" and "Love Me Down." Mostly though this is a set of early '70s white soul-meets-sunshine pop... The band was based around Saint Louis and recorded at least one other album, Sketches, with singer Sherry Edwards. I think Kirk also went into Christian music at some point. Not a lot for twangfans here, but there is a tune or two.

Gary Kirkland "As Is" (Rank Buzzard Music, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Kirkland)

A nice set of bluesy retro-twang from some Kansas City-area longhairs, led by singer Gary Kirkland, who croons in a thick, smoky style that reminds me of (future) country star John Anderson. His influences are immediately apparent: Kirkland was a keen student of Depression-era country, particularly the old-time, pre-bluegrass, pre-Nashville style of folks such as Dock Boggs, Vernon Dalhart and, most especially, the great blues yodeler, Jimmie Rodgers, whose distinctive sound echoes frequently on these early recordings. Side One includes a cover of gospel great Alfred E. Brumley's "Rank Strangers," and a version of Hank Williams' "You Win Again," which takes Williams' work back to its roots, singing his plaintive honkytonk in the earlier style of Rodgers. Side Two features three Kirkland originals, including "Goin' To California Blues" and "Doin' Time In The Prison Of Your Love," which may be my pick for the best song on the album. The six-piece band features acoustic guitar, fiddle, banjo, bass and mandolin, instruments taken back to an older mode of playing, with a bluesy, jug-band tinge.

Gary Kirkland "Plain And Fancy" (Rank Buzzard Music, 1983) (LP)
(Produced by Gary Kirkland)

This is very similar to Kirkland's first album, though a little sharper and more stripped-down, with less of a mellow, hippie jug-band feel, and more of an acoustic blues revivalist sound, similar to guys like Bob Brozman or Roy Bookbinder. This time around Kirkland doesn't provide any of his own original material, instead devoting himself exclusively to celebrating historical figures such as Hank Williams and Alfred E. Brumley (again) and a wider range of styles such as "Are You From Dixie?" and Andy Razaf's jazz-swing standard, "Yes Sir!" which kicks the album off. There are also several excellent country songs, such as Clyde Pitts' "Sad Situation" and Jean Ritchie's magnificent ode to the passing-by of smalltown rural life, "The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore." Kirkland puts his own stamp on a lot of this material, for example the fascinating way that he reverse-engineers Merle Haggard's "Today I Started Loving You Again" back to its Jimmie Rodgers-style roots. He had an all-new crew backing him on this one, with more musicians though interestingly enough, a tighter, more compact sound that almost feels like it's just him and his guitar. Not super country-sounding, but nice.

Gary Kirkland "Bluesabilly" (1990)

Gary Kirkland "Shootin' The Works On Love" (Dark Horse Productions, 2003)
Yup: this is the same guy, still keeping it real and ultra-indie in the 21st Century. Haven't heard this one, but apparently Iris DeMent sings on a tune or two...

Charles Kirkley "Shade: The Music Of Charles Kirkley" (Panda Productions, 1984) (LP)
(Produced by Andy Murphey & Larry Seyer)

Surprisingly, I really couldn't find much info about this guy... Apparently Charles Kirkley (1954-1984) was a real up-and-comer on the Austin singer-songwriter scene, having played the Kerrville Folk Festival in the early '80s, around the same time that Lyle Lovett was struggling to break through. The liner notes inform us that this was a posthumously released collection of songs written by Kirkley, but although he died the same year this came out, there was no info out there about what happened to him. Kirkley was still playing local shows at venues such as the Waterloo Ice House as late as August, '84, so whatever happened must have been pretty sudden. At any rate, he had high-powered friends: this album includes LeeRoy Parnell on electric guitar and Lloyd Maines playing pedal steel, along with a slew of other locals I didn't recognize. His only album, alas.

Kirsty "Mackinaw Music Show Presents: Kirsty" (19--?) (LP)
This young gal was a featured singer in the country-oriented Michigan-based variety program, the Gary Davis Mackinaw Music Show, which was a five-piece band that toured throughout the Midwest during the late 1970s. (Davis also sponsored a band called the Diplomats who put out an album as well.) Not sure when this one came out, but she does sing a cover of the song, "Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For," which was a hit for Crystal Gayle in 1978, so I'm guessing 1979, 1980 on this one...

Jo Kiser "To Get To You" (Rome Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by Jack Casey & Marvin Jones)

There's not a lot of info out there about Jo Kiser, a country singer from Columbus, Ohio who apparently put out two albums in the 1970s. This first one has what I think are remakes of several singles -- "What's The Difference" first came out in 1967 on the Jack O' Diamond's label, and in 1971 she cut Harlan Howard's "He's A Good Old Boy" as a single for MGM. She also released at least one teen pop/rock single in the '60s, but the details are a bit fuzzy. Only so far back I can dig. Anyway, I haven't heard this album, but its cover art is pretty, well, striking... Ms. Kiser fills the image, with her big, beehived hair, but mostly it's her gams you'll notice as she's sitting sideways with a brisk midi pulled up tight, revealing quite a bit of thigh. I guess that's one way to sell a record. This includes a lot of covers of country standards, as well as the remade singles mentioned above. If I give in and buy this, I'll give you an update. But after listening to album #2 (reviewed below) I'm not sure how big a hurry I'm going to be in...

Jo Kiser "With Love" (Concorde Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Walker)

I was all excited to find a "new," obscure female country singer and had high hopes for this Ohio local. But, jeez, this is a not-great record. Kiser's voice irritates me for some reason, and the arrangements on this album are flowery and pop-oriented, with a small string section that included cello and viola... Kiser may have been "more country" on her earlier work, but here she's trying too hard to sound classy, and the listener is constantly aware of the effortfulness of her performance. I actually couldn't listen to the whole thing -- it's not quite on a par with Mrs. Miller or the Shaggs, but headed in that direction.

Jimmy Kish "The Flying Cowboy: Square Dances And Calls" (Pickwick Records, 1976) (LP)
Singer-guitarist Jimmy Kish (1925-2010) was true veteran of many levels of the country music business, first working in medicine shows(!) as a teen during the 1940s, as a radio DJ and performer in the 1950s, as a western movie actor and as a nationally-known square dance caller. Kish was born in Ohio, but like a lot of musicians from the hillbilly and honkytonk era, he moved around a lot and held jobs in various states. Kish was also a licensed pilot and got his nickname when he was working as a DJ back in Ohio and gave a group of listeners an airplane ride to see the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. In 1972, he took part in Nashville's first Fan Fair gathering, and participated in the event every year up until his death in 2010... This album is pretty much a straightforward square-dance "calling" record, and pretty dull to my way of thinking, even though there's some nice fiddling in the background. It's the album art that's irresistible, though: Kish poses next to a Piper Apache, which was apparently his plane of choice. I tell you one thing, though -- you'd never get me up in one of those things!!

The Kistners "Meet The Kistners" (Little Devil Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by The Kistners)

A family band from Sunnyvale, CA doing a bunch of folk and country covers, sometime probably in the early 1970s, probably around '72 or '73. The album includes "Rocky Top," "Me And Bobby McGee," "Last Thing On My Mind," "Snowbird," "Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues," "Milwaukee Here I Come," "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" and the like... In the liner notes Jane Smith, owner of Sunnyvale's Jamaica Inn tells of Kistnermania... And here's where it all began!

Ken Kitching "Sydney To Nashville" (Midland Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by DeWitt Scott & Rusty Thornhill)

A highly-rated Australian steel guitar player, Ken Kitching played with Ned Kelly & His Western Men, Jimmy Little and with the LeGarde Twins for much of the 1960s. He moved to the United States in 1977, and recorded this disc in Nashville. Great liner notes; very informative about the Australian country scene.

Sneaky Pete Kleinow "Cold Steel" (Ariola Records, 1974) (LP)

Sneaky Pete Kleinow "Sneaky Pete" (Shiloh Records, 1979) (LP)

Arnie Klick "Half Country And Half Oldtime" (Cuca Records, 1967-?) (LP)
Up around the Great Lakes, "old time" is what they used to call polka music, and like many polka bandleaders, accordionist Arnie Klick mixed a healthy dose of country twang into his repertoire. Klick and his wife June led a band around Beloit, Wisconsin throughout the 1960s and early '70s. She's spotlighted on Side One, which is all country songs, while polka tunes dominate Side Two. Their band was made up of locals from Beloit, Janesville and nearby Rockport, Illinois, with a couple of the guys Klick's co-workers at radio station WGEZ, including steel player Leslie Hollis. The country songs split between older stuff from the 'Fifties and newer "girl singer" material like a couple of Connie Smith covers and a cover of Connie Francis's pop hit, "Jealous Heart." Not sure how long this lineup was together -- it was a whole new band when they made their second album a few years later.

Arnie Klick "Half Country And Half Oldtime #2" (Blue Eagle Records, 19--?) (LP)
The Klicks were still clackin' away in the early 'Seventies, although with an all-new band and a hipper repertoire, reflecting the era of Kris Kristofferson and the incoming outlaws. As on the previous album, one side showcases vocal numbers with Mrs. Klick singing lead, while the other side is mostly polka instrumentals, including a country cover or two. The backing band includes William Bailey (banjo), Ronald D. Baney (drums), Chuck Blake (lead guitar), Ralph Jump (lap steel), Paul Zastrow on bass, and of course Arnie Klick playing accordion and both him and his wife singing throughout. Most of the guys were from small south Wisconsin towns such as Chippewa Falls, Colfax and Lannon, while a couple lived in nearby Rockford, Illinois, on the other side of the state line, which I suspect is where the band most frequently performed.

Jim Klink & The Silver Spurs "...Sings Your Country And Gospel Favorites" (Process Record Company, 19--?) (LP)
This undated vanity release was pressed by a custom label in Franklin, Pennsylvania, with one side of the LP country, and the other side gospel, all of it resolutely old-fashioned. I'm not 100% sure, but I'd date this to around 1963... the Buck Owens/West Coast sound doesn't seem to have reached these guys yet, but their group photo has a Kennedy-era look to it. The back cover is blank - that's how cheapo and DIY this one was.

Frank Knapp "Knapp" (Aztec Records, 197-?) (LP)
In the early 1970s, Frank Knapp was working with fellow songsmith Red Lane, kicking around together in Nashville, where they wrote tunes with Mickey Newbury and others. Red Lane had more commercial success, both as a composer and performer, but Knapp was in the loop as well. This album mainly spotlighted him as a performer, with a bunch of cover songs, including late '60s/early '70s hits like "Desperado," "Good Hearted Woman," "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line," Freddy Fender's "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" and Keith Carradine's "I'm Easy." There's only one song credited to Frank Knapp, "Marie," along with a couple by Red Lane.

Frank Knapp "Songbook" (1978) (LP)
(Produced by Red Lane, Terry Choate & Tom Knox)

The epitome of a songwriter's demo album... A decently produced set of looking-for-a-hit, formulaic country songs from a time when Nashville was kind of adrift and in a lull. Frank Knapp was in synch with the times, but that meant he was still crafting slightly over-written, post-countrypolitan material at a time when the industry was starting to list towards simpler, singalong stuff, ala the Oak Ridge Boys and Alabama. Also, to be totally honest, Frank Knapp didn't have the greatest voice, and while it's always interesting to hear songwriters play their own stuff, there isn't much on here that catches fire or really wowed me. Still, it's a well-crafted set that shows a journeyman musician plying his trade, and is definitely worth a spin. Frank Knapp and Red Lane co-wrote several songs on this album, though as far as I know none of these tunes were picked up by any stars.

Dewey Knight "Shiny Long Limousine" (JEMKL Records, 1974) (LP)
(Produced by E. Petitte)

Though born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Knight was living in Denver when he cut this album album, having previously cut a string of singles in the 'Sixties and early 'Seventies. According to the liner notes, he was playing at a Denver nightclub called the Ramblin' Rose, and seems to have been working with some of the same people who helped him record his second album, Velvet Street. There are two songs credited to Bill Goodwin, who is mentioned on the other album as well, two others by Bobby George, and four tunes that Knight co-wrote with R. Johnson (possibly Little Richie Johnson, the record producer and promoter?) No info, alas, on the musicians backing him, though most of these vague but laudatory liner notes were recycled for the next album.

Dewey Knight "Velvet Street" (Knight Record Co., 1983-?) (LP)
(Produced by Ron Young)

Knight traveled to Nashville to cut these sessions, though unfortunately there's no information about who was backing him in the studio. The songs are all originals, solely written by Dewey Knight, or co-written with producer Ron Young. Also no date on this one, though possibly it's from 1983, just guessing from the matrix number (33-3811331). Hard to say, really.

Kenny Knight "Crossroads" (Calop Records, 1980)
(Produced by Sylvia Brady)

A compelling country-folk-adelic set with a distinctively retro sound (and I mean retro for 1980, when it was released...) This gentle, contemplative, nicely textured album has the sound of nearly a decade earlier, branching from the clumsy but earnest country sounds of early, classic Grateful Dead albums into the odder, freakier eclecticism of the hippie-twang experimentalism of 1971-74, folks like Brewer & Shipley and their lesser-known brethren and sistren. Plenty of deft, lackadaisical, amateurish steel guitar and gauzy 12-string strumming, amid drifting, navel-gazing lyrics. It's a nice album, one that will resonate in surprising ways, perhaps because it's one of those records that's so singular and personal... Apparently singer-songwriter Kenny Knight was a former rocker, having been in a series of hopelessly obscure Colorado garage bands as a kid, but obviously he mellowed out quite a bit during the 'Seventies... Anyway, this one's definitely worth a spin!

Lonnie Knight "Family In The Wind" (Symposium Records, 1975)
(Produced by George Hanson)

Minneapolis guitarist Lonnie Knight came up through the Great Lakes '60s rock scene, but turned towards more introspective, acoustic material in the early '70s, going solo while also working as a session player and backup musician for a variety of artists. These two mid-'70s albums were put together by folk producer George Hanson... By decade's end, Knight went back into rock music, but these records capture a more contemplative time, and there was a fair amount of twang in these two albums.

Lonnie Knight "Song For A City Mouse" (Flashlight Records, 1975)
(Produced by George Hanson)

Knight Riders "First Time Out" (BOC Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by Brad Edwards & The The Knight Riders Band)

Let's just start out here by mentioning that there were a bazillion bands in several genres that went by some permutation of the Knight Riders/Night Riders name, and the trend doesn't look like it's going to stop anytime soon. This group was from around Columbia, Missouri and featured rhythm guitarist Virgil Bevans, bass player Norman "Wayne" Brown (1956-2018), Matt C. Kelly (lead guitar), Rusty Lawson (drums), Dave Sublett (piano) and Greg Sublett on guitar, with some help in the studio from the BOC label's B.J. Carnahan on fiddle and steel player Myron Smith. As far as I can tell, all the songs were originals composed by various band members, with Kelly penning over half the tunes. This seems to have been their only album, though they may have been in other local Boone County bands.

The Knight Ryders "The Knight Ryders" (Cuca Records, 1965-?) (LP)
A different (and earlier) group than the Knight Riders listed above, this four-piece band from the Rust Belt featured two lead singers, Bill Davis (1932-1982) and Mel West, who each took the spotlight for an entire side of this album. They're backed by John Robinson and drummer Jim Russell and seem to have come together in the early 1960s, with the band forming around 1961 and various members joining the lineup before they cut their first singles in 1964. The group was from Rockford, Illinois, just west of Chicago, though they went to Wisconsin to record at Cuca Records, a regional custom recording powerhouse. About half the album is original material, with Bill Davis penning "Talking In Your Sleep," "Yesterday (About This Time)," Mel West contributing two songs, "Lonely Mr. Blue" and "Longer Than Forever," and a fifth track, "I'll Be There When You Call," which they wrote together. Several of these songs were released as singles under one or the other singer's names, though it's unclear when this LP came out. It's also worth noting that there was another country singer named Mel West, from Saskatchewan, Canada, who led a group called The Meteors, though the guy from this band was born in Missouri.

Vicki Knight "Let's Have A Party" (American Sound, 1977-?) (LP)
(Produced by Cliff Ayers & Dale Mason)

Hailing from Iowa, singer Vicki Knight covered some rock'n'roll classics such as the Wanda Jackson oldie, "Let's Have A Party" and "House Of The Rising Sun." She also offered a wealth of original material, including several songs co-written with album producer Dale Mason. One song, "To Elvis In Heaven," was also released as a single... She did a lot of traveling to record this album, with sessions in Hollywood, Miami and Nashville, doubtless over a long period of time. Unfortunately, the various session musicians weren't listed on the album, so who played what remains a mystery... for now.

Knob Lick Upper 10,000 "The Introduction Of Knob Lick Upper 10,000" (Mercury Records, 1963) (LP)
This folk-bluegrass trio were signed by Dylan's manager Albert Grossman and swung a major label deal which resulted in two albums and frequent, high-profile gigs in the New York folk scene... The band included Dwain Story, nephew of bluegrass great Carl Story, along with Pete Childs and -- perhaps most notably -- future folk-rock producer, Erik Jacobsen, who got into rock'n'roll and produced albums by The Lovin' Spoonful and Tim Hardin before hitting the West Coast scene, where he worked with California artists such as the Charlatans and Norman Greenbaum... But it all started out with a little bluegrass twang!

Knob Lick Upper 10,000 "Workout!!!" (Mercury Records, 1963) (LP)

The Knox Brothers "This Kind Of Happiness" (Verla Records, 197--?) (LP)
(Produced by J. A. Thompson)

Marion, Paul, Victor and Wayne Knox were a gospel quartet from Harrisburg, Oregon in the Willamette Valley... They recorded this set at the fabled Ripcord Studios, over in Vancouver, Washington -- other than that scant info, this one is a mystery to me.

Ron Knuth "Fiddle Favorites By Ron Knuth" (Atwell Records, 19--?) (LP)
Fiddler Ron Knuth grew up in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, in the heart of Cheeselandia, but he played on a lot of uber-indie albums from the Southwest and Texas, and did a lot of work with Tex-Mex twangster Augie Meyers. This was his first solo album, with Knuth backed by a full band, including piano, steel guitar, electric guitar and drums. He includes a bunch of standards, tunes such as "Old Joe Clark," "Faded Love," "Tennessee Waltz," "Orange Blossom Special," as well as his own signature tune, "Ron's Rag." This album was also issued on the Stoneway label, although I'm not sure who put it out first.

Ron Knuth "Hoedown Wisconsin Style" (Stoneway Records, 19--?) (LP)
(Produced by R. M. Stone)

Koko The Clown "Nashville's Greatest Clown" (Door Knob Records, 19--?) (LP)
Egad. I was familiar with Koko the country music clown from his appearance as part of the Webb Pierce road show back in the early '70s, but I had no idea the character had persisted this far into modern-day Nashville. (I'm not sure exactly when this record came out, but it had to have been after 1976, when the Door Knob label was founded...) Apparently Koko was the nom-de-greasepaint of actor/singer/songwriter Rusty Adams, who also toured with Webb, Ernest Tubb and others, and also worked as a solo performer and recording artist. The Koko character dated back to the late 1950s, when Adams was rustling up any gigs he could find -- in addition to recording a random major label single now and then, he also cut several sessions as a "soundalike" artist for cheapo labels such as Somerset and Alshire. As far as I know, this was his only album made as "Koko," and unfortunately it's all clown-themed material, from straight covers of songs such as "Send In The Clowns" and "Rodeo Clown" alongside revamped oldies like "From King To A Joker To A Clown" and, of course, his prefab theme song, "I'm Koko The Singing Country Clown." Be afraid... be very afraid.

Papa John Kolstad & Soupy Milton "Mill City Blues" (Symposium Records, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by George Hanson & Skip Hotchkiss)

Lively acoustic recordings from Minnesotan blues revivalists John Kolstad and Milton Schindler, who are joined by Cal Hand, Bill Hinkley and Bob Stelnicki -- members of their "other" band, The Sorry Muthas, a trailblazing Twin Cities group that helped form the core of the early Prairie Home Companion band. This is a fun album a hippie-era outing with high-level musicianship, close in style to John Hammond Jr's uptempo acoustic blues, and with a little hint of the nutty eclecticism of the jugband scene.

Bob Kornegay's Opry House Band " A Night At The Opry House" (Mega Sound Studios, 19--?) (LP)
Not to be confused with the old-school R&B/doo-wop artist, "Big Bob" Kornegay, North Carolina country bandleader Bob Kornegay headlined at a local dive called the Pork Palace Opry House, near Fuquay-Varina, NC. The place was apparently a real-deal, push-back-the-tables honkytonk, with a house band that featured several musicians -- steel player Clyde Mattocks, lead guitar Tommy Mercer, fiddler Dave Cavenaugh, and drummer Danny Vinson -- who were stalwarts of the regional country bar-band scene. After Bob Kornegay died in an auto accident in the early '70s, the band broke up, with Mattocks and Vinson going on to co-found the Super Grit Cowboy Band, which recorded several albums in the late '70s and early '80s. I couldn't find a date for this album, but with the inclusion of the Marty Robbins hit, "My Woman, My Woman, My Wife" and Waylon Jennings' "Good Hearted Woman" it's certainly sometime in the early '70s, possibly around 1972-73. (Many thanks to The Steel Guitar Forum for providing background on this band...)

George Kostenko "...And The Country Cossacks" (19--?) (LP)
(Produced by T. Gaiser & Jim Shaw)

A family band from Penryn, California, north of Sacramento, led by songwriter George Kostenko, along with his wife Zelma and brother Fred Kostenko (1939-2008), as well as several other local musicians who traveled down to Bakersfield to record this album at the Buck Owens Studios. The Kostenko family were longtime residents in the rural Gold Country town and participated in all sorts of civic activities, including local school talent shows and the like, although I don't think they really had a "band," per se. They don't seem to have performed live, although George Costenko seems to have been in a band called The Solar Tones, which cut a single that included two of the songs on this album, "Yesterday's Love" and "Rumbling," and he copyrighted a novelty number called "New Sock Rock" way back in 1961. There's no date on this LP, although it was dedicated to their father, George Peter Kostenko, who passed away in 1972. All but three of the songs were written by George Kostenko, with three others variously credited to Terry Crouson, Fred Kostenko and Glenn Tarver, who all play on this album. Tarver was a Texas fiddler who moved to Sacramento in the late 1940s and played with stars such as Luke Wills and Tiny Moore, and who cut a few records of his own.

Leo Kottke - see artist discography

Pete Kozak "Drinking Friends" (1984) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Hanson)

Belly up to the bar to pound down this set of locally-brewed honky-tonk/bluegrass blend... All but three of the songs were written by Pete Kozak, with Great Lakes folkie Cal Hand playing pedal steel on four tracks... The album was produced by Kozak's sister, soap opera actress Harley Jane Kozak, and features one song written by her, "Under The Table Again." Pete Kozak apparently later moved to Corvallis, Oregon, but grew up near Lincoln, Nebraska, where this album was recorded.

The Krater Brothers "Singin' For Fun" (Flight 7 Records, 1965-?) (LP)
(Produced by Ray Connelly)

Born in Hobart, Oklahoma, the Krater Brothers grew up in Oregon and formed a gospel trio as young men... Thurm (bass), Jess (mandolin and guitar) and Jack (guitar) recorded this set at Pacific Northwest Sound Productions in Salem, Oregon, picking their way through a set of standards such as "Jordan River," "Pastures Of Plenty" and "Swing Down Sweet Chariot." (sic.) They also play a few more secular tunes, such as Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." As far as I know, this was their only record.

The Krawl Family "Krawl Family Album" (Callfaye Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Gene Breeden & Ellis Miller)

At first blush, this seems to be another uber-indie mystery disc featuring an unknown family band from the Pacific Northwest, as there are no liner notes to speak of, and no indication where they were from. The group included Roscoe M. Krawl (1916-1993) and Grace E. Krawl (1923-1999), along with their daughter and son, Karen Kenyon and Randy Krawl. The elder Krawls appear to have had a long history playing country music over the years... archival photos on the back cover show family members in full western regalia performing way back in the 1930s or '40s, including one picture of Mr. Krawl at the mic of radio station WMRO, an old AM station in Aurora, Illinois. Hmmmmm... Well, as it turns out, a little diligent poking around reveals that the Krawls were in fact the post-WWII country stars Idaho Call and Boots Faye, who toured with Ted Daffan's road show and recorded prolifically as a duo between 1945-52, then somewhat sporadically thereafter. Mrs. Krawl (nee Grace Eloise Tarch) was originally from Springfield, Missouri, and earned her stage name as part of a hillbilly act called the Faye Sisters, which she formed with another local girl in the late 1930s. She met "Idaho" after the duo broke up, and they soon became popular recording artists, notably on Capitol Records. This disc was recorded at the fabled Ripcord Studios in Vancouver, Washington, and may have included a few of the studio's in-house musicians. Although they lived in many parts of the country, the Krawls ultimately settled in Boise, Idaho, which is where I'd guess they were when they made this album.

Shirley Kreutzjans "From Me To You" (CVS Records, 1980) (LP)
Ms. Kreutzjans hailed from Columbus, Indiana and seems to have been in the orbit of the Little nashville "opry" venue. She covers hits by Lynn Anderson, Johnny Cash, Jessi Colter, Crystal Gayle, Linda Hargrove... A pretty straight-up '70s country-pop lovefest, and I mean that in a good way... Her band included Don Davis on banjo and steel guitar, Joe Edwards (fiddle), Rick Ferguson (bass), Roger Fish (piano) and Dave Rugenstein on percussion, with arrangements by local producer Marti Mae.

The Krier Brothers "It's Lovin' Time" (Sun Rize Records, 1982) (LP)
(Produced by Shot Jackson & Terry Crisp)

Wow! This is a really impressive, rock-solid uptempo hard-country set, with strong vocals from Lonny and Roger Krier who seem to have been devotees of George Jones and other old-school country balladeers, but also were on the edge of the whole early '80s country sound, in maybe kind of a Moe Bandy style. The musical backing is from Gene Breeden and his Nashville crew, with Shot Jackson on dobro, Terry Crisp playing steel and Willie Rainsford playing piano, playing straightforward '70s-ish honkytonk, but with a western swing undercurrent that brings Red Steagall's stuff to mind. Of course, this is an indie/private pressing album and if you listen critically, you might hear a few flubs (like Breeden's lead guitar on the otherwise awesome novelty song, "I Lost 118 Pounds") but overall, this is an impressive album, particularly the stuff front-loaded onto Side One. Roger Krier was also a good songwriter, contributing four songs to a set list packed with originals... It's possible that some of the other tunes, written by folks like Hal Bynum, were shoehorned in to fill out the album, but it's all good, as the saying goes. There's also a nice cover of Guy Clark's "New Cut Road," where everybody gets to show off their chops. Apparently, the Krier Brothers were from Tiff City, Missouri --a microscopic town in the Southwestern-most tip of the state -- though obviously they went to Nashville to cut their album. At any rate, this records's a good find, and a great snapshot of some musicians that really coulda almost made it... The Krier Brothers toured pretty extensively, especially throughout the Midwest, though sadly Roger Krier died in a motorcycle accident in 1990.

Kris Kristofferson - see artist discography

John Kriston "Bits And Pieces Of Life" (Vanax Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Cliffie Stone)

Michael Kroll "The First Album" (1981) (LP)
(Produced by Ben McCullar)

True twang from Enid, Oklahoma, with plenty of country and rockabilly covers, with tunes from Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Ernest Tubb, and Eddie Cochran. The record also includes a version of "Sixpack To Go" -- huzzah!

John Kroon & The Country Revue "Embassee Records Presents..." (Embassee Records, 197-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bill Prine)

A distinctly low-rent, off-brand custom album recorded in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and pressed in Nashville for a "label" with an address in Artesia, CA... Country Revue included John Kroon and Harlan Kroon, part of a large extended family of Dutch-Americans living around Rock Rapids, Iowa and the upper Midwest... They are joined by Allan Van Hill and John Minette, though the liner notes don't say who played which instruments or give any biographical info, just some dry technician/business data with barely a pretense of this being a regular record. The front cover is a generic stock photo of a lakeside scene, with no text, while the back cover sports headshots of each of the bandmembers, shirtless, from the collarbone up... Ah, the 'Seventies!! The lads look pretty shaggy for the Midwest, and are singing a mix of country and oldies rock... Dunno if this group played live much, though I did find mention on Facebook of Harlan Kroon playing in a bluegrass band called Country Grass, while running a farm in Rock Rapids, Iowa. I originally thought singers John Kroon and Harlan Kroon were relatives of drummer Jerry Kroon, a prolific Nashville session player who from came from Madison, South Dakota, though poking around the large (and confusing!) Kroon family tree, I didn't find any evidence to support this. Either way, this one's pretty obscure!

Benny Kubiak "Tulsa On A Saturday Night" (Homa Records, 1975) (LP)
Both as a bandleader and a studio pro, fiddler Benny Kubiak was a mainstay of the 1970's Oklahoma indie-twang scene. A former member of Ray Price's band, Kubiak recorded a popular regional pride song, "Tulsa On A Saturday Night," and ran the house band for the Homa label, which released several LPs and numerous singles by other, less well-known Oklahoma artists.

Benny Kubiak & His Tulsa Saturday Nighters "Geronimo" (Homa Records, 1976) (LP)
(Produced by Mickey Sherman)

John Kuiper "Me And My Friend" (Pinebrook Recording Studio, 1978-?) (LP)
(Produced by John Darnell & Bob Whyley)

A country gospel singer from Lowell, Indiana, and gosh, does he look wholesome and all-American! This includes steel guitar by Rex Thomas, fiddle from John Darnall, drummer Steve Hanna and Mike Lucas on keyboards, and Steve Dokken on bass!.

Danny Kulick "Jones Hollow Trilogy: Part One" (Beggar's Banquet Records, 1977) (LP)
(Produced by Warren Dennis)

Alas. Unfortunately, this one fits into the "consider yourself warned" category... Despite the promising album title the Gothic iconography and the undeniable DIY-ishness of it all, this isn't a twangy nor folkie album, at least not so's you'd notice. Instead, it's a weird, introverted excursion of just a guy half-singing his own weird, rambling songs while accompanying himself on keyboards. I suppose in some ways it's a precursor to the weird, wanky "lo-fi" recordings of outsider artists such as Daniel Johnston... So, if you like that kinda stuff, you might want to check Kulick out. But if you're looking for some old, hippie-era indie-twang, this ain't it. (Apparently Danny Kulick was a child actor, and had bit parts on Lassie and The Twilight Zone, at least if it's the same guy...)

H. J. Kuntry "They Call Me H. J. Kuntry" (Nashville Record Productions, 1975) (LP)
Hailing from the North Florida/South Georgia border, songwriter H. J. Carter wrote all the material on this album... Locals-only, Southern style!

John Henry Kurtz "Reunion" (ABC-Dunhill Records, 1973) (LP)
(Produced by Steve Barri, Harvey Price & Dan Walsh)

A lavish pop-rock album with a strong dose of Southern, swampy soul from actor/songwriter John Kurtz, a native of Havertown, Pennsylvania who had formerly been in the band Country Coalition... This album is best known for the debut rendition of the song "Drift Away," which later became a huge hit for pop singer Dobie Gray. This album's not all that "country rock" (although it does get listed in a twang-ography or two....) Mainly the sessions have a Muscle Shoals-y feel, with a hint of Southern rock as well... As far as true twang goes, there is a nice version of Jesse Winchester's "Brand New Tennessee Waltz," and Doug Dillard plays banjo on a version of "Songbird," but that's about it. Other studio heavyweights include some of the dudes from the newly-formed Steely Dan, as well as Kenny Loggins -- who I guess had been working with Kurtz for a while -- singing backup on several songs, including a version of his own "Danny's Song." It's an interesting record, worth checking out both from a '70s soft-pop perspective, as well as for truly devoted twang fans. Kurtz had a long and notably diverse entertainment career -- he spent most of the '70s in Colorado, then moved to New York where he found success on Broadway, and later as a voiceover artist and announcer for various programs. Kurtz (who passed away in 2008) was also known as a hardcore Civil War reenactment buff -- he's posed on the cover of this album in full military regalia -- and he lent a hefty chunk of his memorabilia to documentary filmmaker Ken Burns to use in the PBS series on the Civil War.

The Kustoms "Electric Cowboy" (RR Records, 1972-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Reynolds)

Originally formed in the late 1960s, the Kustoms was an eclectic heavy rock band with a fair amount of twang and the kind of country roots you'd imagine from a bunch of kids growing up in South Texas. They hailed from tiny towns like Poth and Goliad, roughly between Corpus Christi and San Antonio, and played gigs throughout the region. They covered Merle Haggard on an early 7" single and Don Gibson's louche 1971 tune, "Woman Sensuous Woman" on this LP, but those country songs are sandwiched between a lot of thumping boogie, soul and acid rock riffs, including a cover of Santana's "Oye Como Va" and a weird freakout number called "Don't Eat The Children." The liner notes on this disc say they had been holding down a residency for the last two years at a place called Randy's Rodeo -- a San Antonio honky-tonk bar later made famous for a catastrophic appearance by the Sex Pistols during their lone American tour in 1978. One imagines things were simpler and perhaps more placid back in the days when the Kustoms played at Randy's every Thursday night, but if this disc is any indication, the music was probably pretty wild. There's no date on this disc (darn it) and also no musician credits, though apparently the lineup was pretty stable and was probably about the same here as on the subsequent album below.

The Kustoms "Nostalgia" (Kustoms Records, 1975-?) (LP)
(Produced by Bob Reynolds)

Like their first LP, this is a mix of heavy rock, pop oldies and a little bit of twang. The lineup on this mid(?) 'Seventies album included Dell Cherry on drums, John Haese (bass), Mark Hilbrich (lead guitar), Larry Horwedel (pedal steel), Rock Rakowitz (organ), Chuck Taylor (rhythm guitar), and Mike Zolkowski on unspecified horns. This one seems less specifically a country album, and more of a latter-day frat-rock outing, though the twang is still there, as heard in their covers of country classics like "Fraulein" and "Your Cheatin' Heart." The Kustoms apparently broke up around 1975 when some of the guys started a new, short-lived group called Wheatstraw, with lead guitarist Hilbrich later joining The Taylor Brothers Band, which became a South Texas party-band powerhouse.

Jim Kweskin - see artist discography

Kyle "Times That Try A Man's Soul" (Paramount, 1971) (LP)
(Produced by Artie Ripp)

Singer-composer "Kyle" was definitely a '70s pop second-stringer, although he did record three albums in the early '70s, with this first one often cited as a "country-rock" milepost. I'd mostly peg it as an overblown pysch-orchestral set, with spacey, impassioned lyrics and lots of zonked-out jam-band grooving by the hired hands. There is some pedal steel on several tracks (uncredited, alas) and although the twang is mostly a stylistic affectation, the musicianship is still pretty sweet. You might dig this one if you're into self-important, grandiose '70s groove-rock, either straight up or as an ironic inside joke... Personally, I find all a bit much. [Note: there's difference of opinion online about whether this guy's real name was Kyle Garrahan (pianist/lead guitar for Boston's pre-fab psych band Chameleon Church) or William Kyle Eidson II (Edison, perhaps?) but either way, this album doesn't really float my boat.]

Hick Music Index

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