The Kentucky Headhunter’s new Alligator album, Live At The Ramblin’ Man Fair, is out now.
The band — guitarist/vocalist Richard Young, his brother drummer Fred Young, guitarist Greg Martin and bassist/vocalist Doug Phelps — had never before been to Europe in their 30-plus year career. This set, recorded at The Ramblin’ Man Fair in Maidstone, UK, captures them at the height of their powers.
Live At The Ramblin’ Man Fair finds the band blazing through a 10-song set in front of 25,000 screaming UK fans. Combining old-school blues and blistering Southern rock with country overtones, The Kentucky Headhunters cross borders and genres with ease, as the elated UK audience roars its collective approval throughout the concert. The album closes with three recently rediscovered studio tracks from the legendary Meet Me In Bluesland sessions featuring late blues piano icon Johnnie Johnson (known for his seminal piano work driving Chuck Berry’s most famous songs).
Although The Kentucky Headhunters have been recording and touring together for over 30 years (and making music together for over 50 years), they had never, until 2016, performed overseas. That year, Richard—a notoriously uneasy flier—let his son John Fred (drummer for internationally beloved hard rock group Black Stone Cherry) talk hi m into bringing The Kentucky Headhunters to Europe. A tour of Sweden and the United Kingdom was booked, and the band was on its way to earning a whole new audience for their raucous and rowdy music.
Since their multiple award-winning debut album in 1989, Pickin’ On Nashville (Mercury), the band has released 12 more albums with total sales reaching over 11 million. Constant touring has kept the band busy and each new release has kept them in high demand. 2015’s Alligator CD, Meet Me In Bluesland (recorded in 2003 with Johnnie Johnson), brought the band to the attention of many new fans. No Depression called the album, “A raucous, rockin’ romp that’ll put a big ole grin on your face. Johnson pounds out licks like a wrecking ball.”The Wall Street Journal called it, “a collection of rollicking, loose-limbed songs rooted in the blues and vintage-style rock ‘n’ roll.”
2016’s On Safari (Plowboy Records) led to the band’s first European tour and in turn to the album Live At The Ramblin’ Man Fair, their second career live album. “Truth is,” says Richard, “we didn’t even know we were being recorded. I found out later the festival folks recorded our whole set. After hearing it, I knew it captured us exactly as we really are, and I knew we had to release it.” With the new album and another UK/European tour in the works, The Kentucky Headhunters are excited to visit their new friends and fans across the ocean, as well as hitting the highway across the U.S. and Canada.
Whether they’re turning Southern rock fans on to blues or turning blues fans on to Southern rock, The Kentucky Headhunters are simply thrilled to be enriching the lives of so many music fans for so many years. According to Richard, “When the four of us get together, it’s a powerful thing. It makes people happy. It’s really good music.”