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Hello and welcome again to “BISCUIT’S BASSMENT”…A Bass Musician’s Review. Firstly I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year for 2011 and hope that you have all enjoyed your Christmas and the accompanying festivities of the holiday season.
In this first issue of the New Year in Bass Musician Magazine, I would like to introduce to you a hard working bass player, who still has that real “passion” for his instrument and indeed life as well. He still is realizing his musical dreams to this very day. So please join me in welcoming Mr. Ken Arnold.
Ken was born to parents Gerald and Lucy in Rochester New York in the mid 60’s and was introduced to music almost from birth, as both of his parents were great music lovers, and listened to a wide variety of musical genres while he was growing up. His father was a mechanic, who also enjoyed playing the guitar and writing songs in his spare time. Ken’s mother was also a very enthusiastic singer as well, so there was lot’s to latch onto in those early years in a musical sense.
Ken reveals that his family came from very humble beginnings and had to survive on very little money, and had only few material assets in those early days, but he remembers that there was more love in their home than you could ever imagine, and that was more important than anything else.
Ken’s father began teaching him to play the guitar when he was barely old enough to hold one. Later on he also taught him how to read sheet music as well, and by the tender age of six he was already able to play all of the major and minor chords. Just a few years later the Arnold family and Grandma Lucy moved to Jacksonville, Florida when Ken was just eight years of age. Ken explains that Jacksonville was where most of his father’s side of the family lived at that time, and that the move to Florida was a very exciting time in many ways for him and that this would also eventually prove to be a place that would boost his music career in so many ways.
Ken found that the schools were very different in the South, but was eager to make as many friends as possible in this new environment, which led to a very fun filled upbringing and he quickly found that he had many “cousins” with which to pal up with. Ken’s family then moved away to Illinois for a brief period where Ken graduated at high school and then met up with many more experienced musicians including Jon Gentry, John LaTessa and also Jim Fitzgerald. Jon helped Ken with a proper technique for playing bass with his fingers, and Ken was never more enthused to play this way, than he first saw Geddy Lee playing bass with Rush on his favourite show at the time… Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert Ken was now totally in awe of just what the bass guitarist could do, and began to realize that maybe the higher you reach, the more you can accomplish, and this is where his tastes in music became more defined, as did his style of playing.
This was also the time when the quality of sound and tone began to really matter to Ken as well, and he found himself paying much more attention to his tone instead of just how loud he could play. Ken was now nearing the age of fifteen and he had already played two outdoor shows and a school dance, which fuelled the urge for him to accomplish even more. But despite all of this, Illinois did not hold the promise the family had hoped for and they would all ultimately move back to Jacksonville, which was a decision that made the entire family very happy. So indeed it was on that very last day of high school that the Arnolds hit the road and made their way back towards Jacksonville. But there was to be a twist to the tale.
Along the way Ken’s father decided to stop off just outside of Nashville Tennessee on that return to Jacksonville. On a fine bright summer’s day they all decided to stay at a National Park for the weekend. Ken and his father ventured into town where Ken found himself overwhelmed with excitement as this was to Ken, the Music City Capital of the World and here he was, standing right in the middle of it! The entire family fell in love with it there, so they decided to forgo the move all the way back to Jacksonville for the time being and to see what Nashville might hold for them all. The family all agreed they had found a new home meeting many great friends and quite a few Nashville legends along the way.
Ken’s family gained a position managing a motel on the Nashville strip which attracted many local and national touring acts, one being a band called “Bratz” (long before the dolls were ever a thought, ha-ha) and they happened to be staying at Ken’s parent’s motel. Bratz were playing the local hot spot called “The Brass A”, where Ken also helped with the lighting. It was at that very show called “Rocktober Fest” that Ken got his first taste of working with a high calibre production band. This earned him a spot working as the lighting engineer for their band on an ongoing basis, and he would also enjoy sharing stage time with them as well. When the tour ended it was now time for Ken to make his way on stage as the bassist for a touring band himself.
Upon returning from that first tour, Ken wasn’t even home a full day before he was introduced to Kari Reeves, the daughter of country music legend, Del Reeves, who hired him as her bassist to tour her first album.
So here was Ken Arnold at just 18 years of age touring with a band filled with musicians who in his own words, were “miles above his level”. And at last, he felt that he had finally accomplished his dream, but this was only the beginning.
Ken toured with Kari for several months, then returned to recording and playing with other acts such as “Damsel” touring in and out of Nashville until those bands eventually dissolved or moved on to other things. Now Ken wanted to get back out there as soon as possible and back on stage where he belonged, so he decided to leave the comfort of Nashville and head out to where the action was really going on at the time, in southern California. His Grandma Lucy was now living in San Diego and as she was always a huge supporter of Ken’s musical endeavours and really enjoyed having him around again. Los Angeles was just up the road and he had already met several great musicians there, so it was now time to try the L.A. scene and test his abilities there.
Talk about a complete shock to the system! The L.A. club scene was littered with bands that were dressed in the most wildly flamboyant outfits, and all of this was unlike anything Ken had ever seen before in his life.
Bands such as Motley Crue and Racer X were the hottest ones to go see back then, and it was in that environment that Ken found out just how fiercely competitive the music business really was, and still is of course. Talent seemed to be only a small part of what you needed in your repertoire to give you any chance of gaining gigs and recognition. Another problem was that at the height of only 5’6” (wearing boots) Ken found himself disqualified from many bands before even getting to play a note, simply due to his height (or lack of it ). But determination ruled Ken’s soul and he went on to relentlessly work his way through band after band, playing in and around the western area of the U.S., all of which was a wonderful experience, although this did nothing to ease the fact that he was feeling extremely home sick.
After his grandmother passed away, Ken felt that it was time to be back with the family. So in1987 he went back to Nashville only to find that the family had just decided to move back to Jacksonville, Florida again. After a couple of fruitless years in Nashville he eventually returned to Jacksonville himself in October of 1989 where he has remained ever since.
Looking back, Ken was now only 24 years old and had accomplished several tours all across the country, played on two albums and stepped up on stage with, what were in his eyes “superstars”. So what was left to do now?
There was, and still is so much more that Ken Arnold would want to accomplish, but so far all that he had achieved had only just barely managed to pay the bills, and he was certainly not rolling in money by any stretch of the imagination. But what he did realize was the fact that he had gained so much priceless experience, which left him with the determination to achieve even bigger and better things.
Throughout the years Ken Arnold has played with several bands, but few that would venture out of their “comfort zone”. But this all changed for him during the spring of 2005 when he hooked up with drummer Charlie Ost, who then also introduced him to keyboardist, guitarist and lead vocalist, Greg Arena. Ken also brought in a good friend of his called Mike Reilly on lead guitar and formed the band 629. After several live performances at places like the Hard Rock Live in Orlando and Jones Beach Band Shell in New York, 629 were eventually signed to an indie label called ‘Dobe Records’ who released their first album ‘Reflections’ in 2008. Just prior to that time Ken was approached by P.J. Rubal, who is the Artist’s manager for Spector Bass guitars, and it was he who would grant Ken an artist’s endorsement with Spector after seeing Ken’s rack of Spector basses at the Hard Rock Live shows. Ken has also just recently became an endorsee for Hartke Amplification Systems, so as we are both connected by Spector and Hartke, I guess Ken and yours truly are almost related, Ha-ha.
Ken Arnold and 629 are now currently working on their second album, which will be followed up with a tour very soon, so watch this space and keep your ears to the ground and watch out for them, and of course, Ken Arnold…On Bass!
Email Ken for further info at……… firstname.lastname@example.org
Band website…………………………. www.6-2-9.com
Ken Arnold on Facebook………….. www.facebook.com/KenArnoldJax