A familiar face is soon to return to the Elk Valley, easily recognizable by his cowboy hat and blue denim shirt.
Kenny Hess is back for yet another hometown concert, set to go live at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 13 at the Fernie Community Centre.
The country music Hall-of-Famer and his award-winning band are expected to perform some of their all-time favourites, including the work of George Jones, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and many more.
The concert will also feature daughter Becca Hess, who will be honouring some of the all-time best female country singers.
Born and raised in Fernie, Kenny says it’s always a pleasure to come home and play.
This will be the first time in two years he has been home to play.
Fernie will be one of 25 stops around the country where Hess and his group of hall-of-famers will be performing.
“We said, lets go out and do a tribute to all the great songwriters,” said Kenny. “Which of course is very close to my heart, because that’s where I make most of my living, is off of writing songs for myself and other people.
“A lot of these guys like Merle Haggard, George Jones and Johnny Cash, I had the pleasure of working with them. So now to go out and pay tribute to them and to the great songs that they and the writers that worked for them (wrote)… it’s been a riot for me.”
Hess has been singing with his dad ever since he was three. As he grew older he dabbled in other genres but found himself always coming back to country.
“My love for it,”responded Kenny when asked what brought him back. “My absolute passion for it. I’ve been writing country music literally since I was seven-years-old. I remember up at Leroux Trailer Court there out on Cokato road at seven, eight-years-old… singing to Monette Bouviae and a few of the other girls, Bonnie Chardon, flirting with them, Bonnie Menduk… I always wrote those real traditional country love songs. I just loved them.”
Since then Kenny has written about 2000 songs and had over 200 recorded, most of which he describes as ‘hurtin’ or love songs’.
“There’s only six topics on the world, and you’ve got to find a thousand different ways to write them each,” he said.
Kenny’s life changed dramatically when he was taken in as a protege by songwriter Harlon Howard, who is now known as one of the all time greats. He considers this time in his life like working at the foot of the throne.
In his upcoming show, Kenny will be not only singing and performing some of the best country songs ever written, but also giving first-hand insight into the stories behind each song and how they changed the country music scene and how they impacted music, forever.
Kenny said music has been in everyone since the beginning of time. For himself, if he didn’t do music, he figures he would have probably been a politician.
“It’s the only other place you can be full of s**t and get along just fine,” he laughed.
“Let’s face it, I get to tell a story any way that I want, as a writer.”
His direction in life, Kenny discovered at a young age. But he credits this discovery to two teachers when he attended Ridgemont Elementary School; Mrs. (Mary) Menduk and Mr. (Gordon) Winstanley.
“She was so influential on my life,” said Kenny. “Her and another fella that has since passed away, his name was Gordon Winstanley, they were both teachers in elementary school.
“And I swear to you, they told my mum, Mrs. Menduk said ‘if he’s not an entertainer, a preacher or a politician, it’s a waste’… and Mr. Winstanley was the first person to say ‘Kenny, you’re not a liar’ because I used to love to tell these big stories in front of class, it didn’t matter if they had a lick of truth in them.
“He literally told me, he said Kenny, you’re not a liar trying to escape reality. You just are the storyteller. You’re a writer dying to find his way out of yourself. And I thought, what a wonderful thing. And I made a living off of writing for the rest of my life.”
Tickets to his show are available online at Brown Paper Tickets for $25 in advance, or from the Fernie Meat Market on 5th Street downtown Fernie. Tickets will also be sold at the door, for $35.