Spartanburg Herald-Journal on KK's 'AGCM': The result is worth the wait.

Kinney, Fier promoting new album with tour

by Jeremy L. C. Jones for the Spartanburg Herald-Journal

February 23, 2012

Kevn Kinney of Drivin’ N Cryin’ and Anton Fier of the Lounge Lizards spent three years getting their new album, A Good Country Mile, just right. The result is worth the wait. The CD is "good and clean like liquor." It's “a shotgun shell full of black-eyed peas."

t’s an album that warrants a full-blown tour, but we’re only getting four nights scattered throughout the South. Last night Kinney and Fier were in Asheville, N.C., and tonight they hit Charlotte, N.C.

But they weren’t alone.

They had guitarist Audley

Freed with the. Freed has backed the Dixie Chicks, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Joan Osborne, and Jakob Dylan. He’s toured with Peter Frampton, the Black Crowes, and Jimmy Page.

If it’s possible to be a legend and still fly under the radar at the same time … that’s Freed.

For the last 12 years, Kinney and Freed have paired up during Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam in Asheville. They’ve been threatening a tour together ever since.

"Audley Freed is one of the top guitar players in the world,” said Kinney. “Anton Fier is definitely one of the best drummers in the world. And we add to that (Drivin' N Cryin’s bass player) Tim Nielsen? It's a real high caliber thing.”

First thing you’ve got to know, said Kinney, is that this won’t be a Drivin’ N Cryin’ show. Sure, they’ll “deconstruct” a few early Drivin’ N Cryin’ songs like they do on the CD and maybe a Jason Isbell song, but “you’re not going to hear ‘Fly Me Courageous.’”

"Anton and I really needed a special guitar player for these songs," said Kinney. "Playing with Audley is relaxing. I can do what I do. I play a lot of acoustic guitar and sing. I'll be a rhythm guitar singer. I can let the band be a band, you know what I mean? It's not a competition where I'll be trading licks with Audley.

On second thought, Kinney joked, there very well might be some

lick trading toward the end of the night, but the core of the show will be more reserved.

“It's really groovy mix,” said Kinney. “It's powerful but it’s not a bash. The subtleties really shine. The slower, prettier parts of songs really come to life."

The second thing you need to know is that you’re going to hear a different set of musicians at the live show than you hear on the album. There was "a cast of characters" from the Lower East Side of New York in the studio.

The live shows are stripped down in terms of numbers, but not necessarily simplified. There’s a big difference.

"Anton is a very intricate drummer and Audley is a very intricate guitarist, so this is going to be a very cool little blend,” said Kinney. This isn't representative of the recording, this is just going to happen live for these four shows.”

Kinney has played with musicians as diverse as members of Jane's Addiction, members of the Butthole Surfers, and Edwin McCain. It all sounds good.

"I keep my songs simple so that people can communicate through music,” said Kinney. “Anyone can play with it. It’s fun to see what happens when people clash. I like to provide a nice palate and let people see what happens."

In many ways the touring quartet is a perfect blend of Kinney's two styles — the power pop of Drivin’ N Cryin’ and his solo acoustic material. It’s a musical middle ground that, in no way, shape, or form, sounds like a compromise.

"It's a missing link kind of thing," said Kinney. "I'm not selling anything too hard, and I'm not doing any folk songs in the show. It's hard to describe it. Google Anton Fier and Google Audley Freed and see who they are and what they sound like and you’ll be like, 'Wow, I wonder what would happen if these two people played together with Kevn Kinney as the catalyst.' "