The Examiner Reviews Kevn Kinney & The Musical Kings

The Baseball Project and Kevn Kinney hit a homerun at the Star Bar

by Chris Martin for The Examiner

March 14, 2011

To say the Star Bar is small would be an understatement, but

then that is most of its charm. This past Friday night, March 11th, The Baseball Project and Kevn Kinney & the Musical Kings filled that small room with some sweet tunes.

As the evening grew later, more and more people crammed into the little hole in the wall on Moreland Ave in the heart ofLittle 5 Points for a night of great music and cheap ass beer. The crowd varied, there was the avid music fans, the taper, the drunk chic, friends of the bands, some old guys, fans of the bands, regulars who hang out at the Star Bar, some who just ended up there and 2 dudes who looked like they stepped right out of a 1970’s baseball card, complete with matching caps, warm-up jackets and handlebar mustaches, I guess they were there to see the Baseball Project.

A little after 10pm Kevn Kinney & the Musical Kings hit the stage and began to jam some tunes piercing the smoke that had engulfed all that braved to enter. Consisting of Kevn Kinney, Tim Nielsen and Peter Buck, the trio mainly stuck to tunes off of Kevn’s solo record MacDougal Blues and some tunes off of Drivin N Cryin’s Mystery Road album. Peter Buck had a big hand in both of those records. Classic tunes such as “Tina’s Grocery”, “Maddie Hope” and “MacDougal Blues” were performed as if they had been playing together for years. Towards the end of the set, Linda PitmonSteve Wynn and Scott McCaughey all joined in thus adding, drums, keyboards and more guitar to the mix. They treated the room to a great version of “Indian Song” and one of the best live versions of “Underground Umbrella” I have had the pleasure of treating my ears to. As Mike Mills jumped up on stage they ended their set to the joy of several fans with the traditional “all in” version of “Straight To Hell”. I know hating this tune has become the “in” thing to do these days, but personally I still enjoy hearing it. From start to finish, a great set, they were sharp, Kevn’s vocals sounded great and the set list was full of killer tunes you don’t get to hear live very often. The crowd was into it, the lack of “drunk talkers” was great, and Kevn left them wanting more.

After a quick break the room was once again filled with music.The Baseball Project (TBP), consisting of Steve Wynn(Dream Syndicate), Peter Buck (REM, Minus 5), Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5) and Linda Pitmon kicked right into “Don’t Call Them The Twinkies”.Even though they pissed off the room with lyrics regarding a controversial call against former Brave Ron Gant, their quirky pop/rock tunes about our National Pastime quickly won the crowd over and all was forgotten. After refusing to play on the song slandering his hometown BravesMike Mills (REM) climbed back on stage and manned the keyboards for the rest of the night minus a song or two. TBP pulled from 3 albums of material about baseball’s past and present. Their tunes told the stories of “Harvey Haddix” who’s record day on the mound was anything but good, “Panda and the Freak”dealing with Tim Lincecom and Pablo Sandoval of the World Champion San Francisco Giants and had the crowd singing along with “Ted F**king Williams”. As they ripped through“Fair Weather Friends” their musical prowess and love of the game of baseball was obvious. They played late into the night weaving tales through great rock music that could be enjoyed whether you are a baseball fan or not.

When all was said and done this was one hell of a night of music. Both bands were tight and their sets were on the money. While they could have done this at a larger venue, the small intimate confines of the Star Bar made the show that much better. It was as if they were jamming in someone’s basement and a hundred or so friends were hanging out, drinking beer and enjoying the tunes. Can’t beat that.