“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.”
popular by demand
Sir Kempson is an Alt-Country trio that started in April of 2018 based in Carbondale Colorado. They are starting to make waves in the regional music scene. Featuring guitar and vocals from songwriter Hugh Phillips who delivers his songs and rare covers with a unique vocal dynamic. The rhythm section made up of upright bass and percussion, from Pete Langford and Duane Moore respectively, rounding out the band’s sound. The band has evolved from the roots of American music. The sound is acoustic but can quickly get jamming and rocking. “The concept is to have musicians come in, play their idea, and roll with it” says frontman Hugh. Improv is the name of the game which can be a delight for the musicians, and the listener is rewarded with a different experience each show.
Duane brings his 40 years of percussion skills to the table with a syncopated jazz jam that always surprises. He loves to play around with the beat and is always thinking of new and different ways to present the music. He may be seen on a Cajon, cocktail drums, or a full kit but one thing is for sure he won’t disappoint.
Pete’s rock and roll and bluegrass background bring up the low end with his quick fingering and hot solos. He has a unique way of ‘reading’ the tune that brings a style and drama that isn’t common with many musicians. You might see him playing his full sized upright or his shrunken Eminence leading you to say what is that thing? But once your ears hear the sounds you’ll know it doesn’t matter; it’s good.
The band is loosely based around an improvisation concept allowing the music to take its course. With that concept the musicians listen and actively work to create in real time. Of course the idea of improv is not new but applying it to an alt-country sound is certainly unique. “What happens in the music becomes somewhat magical” says Hugh. “It’s like we connect on a level that becomes ultra-creative and it can make us laugh or be like what was that? Let’s do it again!” [Laughs]. As one would imagine they end up pulling from jazz, blues, country, folk, and even a little classical here and there. “With only three of us we have to work hard to create a full sound but it give us a nimbleness and delicacy, which a bigger outfit wouldn’t have.” With Duane’s jazz stylings on the drums and Pete’s bluegrass and rock background anything can happen and does.
Much of the songs in their sets are from early folk and blues ideas. They pull from traditional music with its storytelling and emotional trials of the working class. Hugh has always been a sucker for a good coal mining tune he says. He writes a lot of the tunes from his western ideal of cowboys, miners and sawyers. Living in the mountains and surrounded by beauty he pulls ideas that invoke a sense of place, and hard work. They also play unique cover tunes that many a listener has thought a band original!
In all Sir Kempson is worth a listen at one of their shows. Currently they don’t have a record but who knows what the future has in store? Undoubtedly we can expect at least an EP in the near future. Weather at a brewery or a theatre they will certainly bring a sense of excitement and interest to the somewhat mundane pop country music scene.