Kyle Ledson – New Music
(Written by Jeff Ledson) Kyle Ledson was born into the music festival world. He’s always been surrounded by live music. Inspired by his “real life heroes” on stage, Kyle started playing fiddle at age three. They were giving free lessons to the kids at the Strawberry Music Festival at Camp Mather. Kyle got up early each morning to put his name on the list and soon started figuring out how the fiddle works. Three years later, at the Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival in Grass Valley, CA., Kyle was drawn to some very talented teens playing the mandolin and he was instantly hooked. We picked him up his first starter mandolin and Kyle put in countless hours teaching himself the roadmap of the fretboard. We give thanks to our “living off the grid” lifestyle that long hours have been spent picking music instead of playing video games or watching TV.
Kyle just turned 14 years old this year (2016). Along the way, he never missed a talent show, open mic, or any opportunity to play music on stage. By now, he was ready to enter the recording studio with a stack of original songs he had written. We contacted our old-time friend, Nat Keefe, from Hot Buttered Rum to see if he would be interested in helping us through the process. Nat listened to some of Kyle’s rough demos and could see the potential of a great project in the making. Nat agreed to produce Kyle’s first album at the studio Hot Buttered Rum just used to record their new 3-EP project titled The Kite And The Key. The recording studio was Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco- an highly acclaimed analog studio. We recorded on 2 inch tape with most of the members from Hot Buttered Rum backing us in the studio. Bryan Horne played standup bass, Erik Yates played dobro and banjo, Zebulon Bowles played fiddle, and Nat played guitar on a few tracks. We also brought in the amazingly talented Molly Tuttle, now living in Nashville, to play a duet with Kyle and help with some backup vocals. The T Sisters added some heavenly vocals on a few tracks as well. Additionally, Kyle gave the green light to let his dad, Jeff Ledson, play guitar on a few songs too concluding with a father-son duet for the final track of the CD. It was so amazing for Kyle to hear his creations take shape with the talent from these amazing musicians. A dream come true. Not bad for an 8th grader, not bad at all. Now we are all enjoying the process of sharing Kyle’s music with our friends and family and music lovers everywhere. Next step is to get Kyle up on the big stage so he can live his hero’s dream and help to inspire more kids to follow their passion.
The music? It’s hard to classify art. Kyle has a strong bluegrass background but he doesn’t write all traditional bluegrass tunes. I guess we could call it progressive bluegrass at best. But as you’ll hear on the CD, his songs don’t all fit the same category. As far as the instrumentation goes, Kyle enjoys the acoustic string band lineup with no effects added- the twang of the banjo, the thump of the standup bass, and the rhythm of the 8-string mandolin. Kyle’s biggest musical influence would have to be Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers.
String Summit Documentary: We were on our annual String Summit trip of 2015 and we had just parked the car and threw up the tents and before I could catch my breath, Kyle was already pickin’ away to the new neighbors. I grabbed my guitar out of the case and looked up and there was the film crew asking us to take some footage. Absolutely! So it was a one take warmup and Kyle laid down his magic. When the crew left, our neighbors ran over and put their hand on our shoulders and said, “You’re in the movie”. We had a jam”-packed festival from that point on which just got better each day.
Next year, we were at the 2016 String Summit and we are boogying to Brothers Comatose and a couple comes up and says, “That was a great show! Oh, you haven’t seen it yet? You are in the Return of the Peacock and the audience cheered you on during the premiere”. We were so excited to hear the news. A few other people were recognizing us at festival so we just couldn’t wait to see the film. Kyle walked one of his new CDs to Pastor Tim, (the MC), and he recognized Kyle right away so that was pretty sweet. We really love these small, family-friendly festivals and now we were feeling really connected to it all. At first, we were nervous to watch but we are so happy how the entire documentary turned out and honored to be sandwiched in the middle of all that greatness. We couldn’t buy a gift like that. Grateful. And hopefully some day, Kyle will be doing his thing on the main stage in his own documentary.