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North Georgia musician kick off inaugural CD with concert

Jason Kenney to perform Saturday night in Dahlonega

POSTED: April 3, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Last fall, musician Jason Kenney of Dahlonega didn’t know if he would even record his first solo album because of the financial involvement.

But after a successful Kickstarter campaign and support from fellow musicians and the community, he’s celebrating the release of that very record this weekend at the historic Holly Theater in Dahlonega. The show begins at 7 p.m. Saturday at 69 W. Main St. in Dahlonega. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through Kenney’s website, www.jasonkenneymusic.com, or through the Holly Theater website at www.hollytheater.com.

“Turn This Sorrow Into Joy,” is based on Kenney’s personal experiences in recent years, but he wrote the songs in a way which he hopes will relate to listeners. He hopes to remind his audiences sadness is not permanent and it’s important to move past the sadness and into happiness as soon as possible.

Kenney said music is a healing method for him. He hopes his lyrics will help listeners heal and change as well. He also wants others to be inspired by his songs and success, so they can pursue their musical dreams as well. So far, those who have heard Kenney’s new CD have had the “emotional movement” he hopes for, and he’s glad to be making an impact in some way.

Before the public release of “Turn This Sorrow Into Joy,” Kenney answered a few questions for The Times.

Question: How have new technologies like Kickstarter helped you develop your career?

Answer: I raised $10,000 last year. I was like, if I raise the money, I’ll make a record. Because I made the record, I was able to get a distribution deal. I’ve never been able to make a record that was as professional as this one. Because I raised all that money, a lot of people rallied around me, like the musicians. Because of the product I have, I’ve got a whole team of people on board.

Q: Who are some of the most influential people you’ve met or performed with?

A: There’s a lot of them — John Keane, Rob Henson, Gerry Hansen, Amy Ray and Jonathan Byrd. They all taught me different things. John Keane taught me how to listen in a different way. Rob Henson and Gerry Hansen did the rhythm section on my record, and they taught me a lot about groove and how to develop it. Jonathan Byrd and Amy Ray both kind of influenced me in the same way. Vocally, the stuff they do is so good and so developed, they gave me a goal to shoot for. They both also really influenced my songwriting because they’re so good at it. It’s like OK, that’s the bar.

Q: Why did you choose to learn so many different string instruments?

A: I was primarily a guitar player until about seven years ago, when I found a mandolin that kind of spoke to me. I wanted to learn how to play the mandolin before my son was born. I wanted to teach the banjo, so that’s how it came about. I was in a string band for a while when I played all of them. I’m more of a rock band now.

Q: How did your hometown, the mountains, and places you’ve lived influence you when developing your style of music?

A: I’m very much rooted in bluegrass. That came straight from Dahlonega. If there’s a scene in Dahlonega, it’s a bluegrass scene. I don’t really play bluegrass anymore, but I think it’s really cool that I know it and understand it because it’s kind of a sneaky influence.

Q: What’s it like for you to balance having three sons with touring and creating music?

A: Right now, I have to work so much, 20 gigs a month, and I teach. I try to spend quality time with them when I’m at home, but they understand that I have to work more right now than I might in like, a year. My goal is to make more money so that I can take time off. The balance isn’t there yet.

Q: You also teach music locally; what does teaching your craft to others teach you about your own music and style?

A: I learned a lot from teaching. One of the things I try to teach is freedom on your instrument, not just playing what’s on the page. I learned how to communicate ideas to people better. It helps me focus and understand what I’m doing when I teach it to people. Teaching gives me a clear understanding since I’m looking at it from the outside.


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