An Austin Original: Kevin Gant
By Chris Van Loan [06-28-2000]
In today's music press the words original and eclectic are overused but when applied to Austin, Texas folk musician, Kevin Gant (www.kevingant.com), they ring true. Kevin has opened for Ani DiFranco and the late Jeff Buckley. After a two year hiatus from the live music scene Kevin Gant is back with a new CD and a new determination to spread his musical message beyond the borders of the Live Music Capital of the World.
[Chris Van Loan] Kevin, welcome. Though almost everyone involved in the Austin folk scene knows who you are, most people don't know when you arrived here and how your musical journey started out.
[Kevin Gant] Well, I actually came to Austin in 1988 to work in the electronics field. I remember the first live act I saw in Austin was Tish Hinojosa at the Hole in the Wall. I was really inspired by her performance and that made me want to get out and start performing. At the time I didn't know about Austin's musical heritage. My mother lives in San Antonio and I really moved to Austin for work.
[CVL] Well, how did you get involved with Austin music as far as performing?
[KG] I started reading the local newspapers and found some listings for open mikes. I'd go down and play two or three songs and just started meeting a lot of musicians through the open mike scene. I began to build a little following at the Chicago House and eventually began working there hosting the open mike.
[CVL] How long did you work at Chicago House?
[KG] For about three years. The Chicago House has closed down but it was a strong supporter of singer/songwriters. Hosting the open mike allowed me to meet, influence and be influenced by a lot of talented musicians.
[CVL] I know that one of the people that you got to open for and know personally was Ani Difranco. What does it feel like to see Ani out there making it on her own terms and does her success inspire you?
[KG] First off, let me say that Ani was a real hard worker and though everyone on the scene at the time was strapped financially you could see that she was going to make it. There was little doubt in my mind that she was going to reach her musical goals. I think the most important thing I've gained from knowing Ani is seeing her drive and determination pay off.
[CVL] I've noticed that everyone who hears your music is affected by the original blend of folk, soul, and new age influences which make up the "Kevin Gant sound". How did you develop this sound?
[KG] I feel real fortunate for growing up in the 70's and hearing so much great music. The problem was that I couldn't perform in the styles that I enjoyed listening to. My style is the only way I know how to make music; I wasn't trying to be "unique" or "original".
[CVL] Hmmm...so basically necessity led you to your current style.
[KG] That's right.
[CVL] What was the reason for the musical layoff that started in 1998 and ended about three months ago?
[KG] Well, the layoff was due to the roadblocks that many artists of so called "eclectic music" face. Trying to make music and have it reach as many people as possible without the music being commercialized by the music industry is a constant battle. I also took some time off for some spiritual growth. I think the avenues that are available through the internet will allow me to present my music to a wider audience without compromising my creativity.
[CVL] Tell me about the title of your new CD, "The Capacitor". What's that about?
[KG] Well, a capacitor is an electronic device that stores energy until a trigger comes along and informs it to release a charge. I am using the capacitor as a metaphor for the change that is occurring in our society. "The Capacitor" describes the burst of energy that will be needed to change our world's system and place us on a new path.
[CVL] That's cool. I hope that the capacitor affect takes place in your career, releasing that stored musical energy and hipping the world to what Austinites know already. That Kevin Gant is a true folk music pioneer.
[KG] Chris, you're too kind. But I do think it is time for me to bear the fruit of my musical labor. I want to thank you and Music Dish for giving me the opportunity to spread the word about where I've been musically and where I'm going. Peace.
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