By | Teri Briggs
Wednesday at The Portland Playlist was a special night because Ken DeRouchie stopped by to talk about his musical influences, family, the band and their original material. Ken is the front man of the popular 8+ piece, The Ken DeRouchie Band. Joining him this evening were band members, Jeff Knudson and Arietta Ward. Their live performance was the first time they had performed together acoustically and they were so good that we decided they could perform as the “KDB Trio.”
The Ken DeRouchie Band is an 8-piece Soul/R&B/Funk/Blues band featuring a crisp horn section, a tight rhythm section, and amazing 4 part vocal harmonies, performing original music written by Ken as well as a few handpicked twists on classic tunes. Along with the man himself, Ken DeRouchie, the band is made of some of Portland’s finest: Arietta Ward (DooDoo Funk All-stars), long-time KDB bassist Rob Busey (Al Perez Band, Robbie Laws), virtuoso guitarist Jeff Knudson (Lisa Mann and Her Really Good Band), keyboardist Ben Turner (Ants in the Kitchen, Manimal House, Curtis Salgado), drummer Chris Lay (Tim Snider Band, Mother Bunch), Clayton Daffron on tenor sax and David Chachere on trumpet (Groundation). They are a band that will please any audience, and provide you with music to dance by.
We spent the first hour talking to Ken and listening to his musical influences which covered Lenny Kravitz (Lenny’s music had a profound impact on Ken in the early 90’s and he wanted to play guitar-driven music with soul like Kravitz did), Steely Dan (Babylon Sisters is his all-time favorite song. The album “Aja” blew his mind), Otis Redding (Ken was influenced so much by Redding that he wrote In My Arms in homage to Otis), Marc Broussard, (when he heard the song Home for the first time, he actually had to pull over while driving to listen to it), Bill Withers, Erykah Badu, and Ken’s older brother, Doug DeRouchie.
Ken has so many interesting stories that we might have spent more time talking then actually listening to the music. His musical journey began as a toddler when his older brother, Doug, decided it would be a great idea to put Ken on his lap behind the drums. At the age of two he could play a full kit, and by age four, he had his own, but not just any ole one, an actual full Ludwig kit! Doug had a profound impact on Ken’s life. Being 16 years his senior, he was the older brother/father figure to a young Ken. He introduced him to music, and changed his direction when he wandered down the wrong path. It was one of those times that he had Ken pack up and move West to Portland. Ken became a touring drummer, in punk rock bands, until U2’s “War” came out which changed his musical path. Picking up the guitar, he began playing the more soulful, r&b and funk that he is known for today.
The second hour focused on the band’s original material, playing many tunes off their 2013 release, “Muse.” This is an album that Ken and Doug engineered together but Doug sadly passed away right before they started mixing it. It is comprised of songs Ken wrote in the early 2000’s to newer ones from 2011 on. After Doug’s passing, guitarist, Jeff Knudson, picked up where Doug left off, and mastered it to the finished product. It is an album to make anyone proud.
Ken, Arietta, and Jeff performed three songs Live, one of which Ken calls, “Etta’s song,”Peace of Mind. It is more of a traditional Blues song that Ken wrote long ago. When Etta joined the band, he said this is a song she has to sing, and when you hear her sing it, you just feel those Blues coming right through. They also performed Cups & Flying Saucers and This Too Shall Pass off the album, “Muse.”
The evening came to a close much too quickly, with many stories we didn’t even get to cover from Ken, Arietta, and Jeff. The band has a GoFundMe campaign to raise monies for their new album so we’ll just have to get them back in the studio when the album is ready to launch and hear the rest of the stories along with their new music. You can help fund the new album at https://www.gofundme.com/kdbcd5.
If you would like to see video footage from Ken’s session, go to: https://www.facebook.com/teri.briggs.3/videos/10209343927136388/, and