Meet Kenny Alexander: professional musician and longtime Bryan County resident.
How long have you lived in Bryan County?
It’s been about 20 years now. I grew up in Savannah but moved here when I married my wife Betty. We have a place on Daniel Siding Loop Road.
In your opinion, is Bryan County a good place to live?
Oh yes. In the 20 years that I’ve been here, things have expanded and exploded somewhat. Traffic and population and things of that nature, but that’s to be expected in a growing community like Bryan County. It gets a bit frustrating at times, but it’s not too bad.
Recently, you’ve been seen at Station Xchange as the sax player in Larry Barker’s band, and I understand you’ve been in the music industry for quite a while. How did you get started in the business?
Like so many others, it started at school. At 15, I played in the Beach High School band. Before I graduated, I impressed my band director enough that he approached my parents about playing some engagements with him.
I played in the concert and marching band at Savannah State College. During all this time, I was still touring clubs and even went on the road a few times.
Rumor has it that you’ve played with James Brown. Is that right?
Yes, but only for a brief period of time. To be candid about it, James Brown is not the easiest person to work with. Some of the things he was asking for, I wasn’t prepared to give him at the time, so it was a brief experience.
Who else have you performed with?
I had a wonderful time playing in Dionne Warwick’s back-up band. I’ve also played with Jackie Wilson, Lloyd Price, Joe Simon, Little Esther Phillips, the great organist Jimmy Smith – the list goes on. Mostly I’ve played with local bands. I played extensively in the New England area in a band called the Seven Blends.
It’s been a blessing to make a living doing what I love. I can’t think of anything better that I would want to do. I could have done some things that would have been more financially rewarding, but the other part of it is satisfying the inner man. Looking back - even knowing what I know now and being where I’m at now – I would still be a musician.
Do you still play live gigs very often?
I’m playing on a regular basis in the band Deas Guyz, based out of Hilton Head. The band gets its name because our lead singer’s name is Reggie Deas. We play a lot of weddings and private parties, and we play at the Hilton Head restaurant The Jazz Corner every Sunday night.
What musician or musical group inspires you most?
As far as the saxophone is concerned, the one who inspires me most is Stanley Turrentine. That’s a name that might escape a lot of people, but in some circles he’s widely known. He’s very widely known among other musicians. Unfortunately, he passed away a couple years ago. His approach to music was truly inspiring.
Do you have kids?
None of my own, but I have some great stepkids: Zachary, Angela, Darryl and Eric. Their last name is Blige.
If you could change one thing about Richmond Hill/Bryan County, what would it be?
This is my home and I take living here very seriously. One of the things that concerns me most is witnessing people who live here ignore the speed limit. Everybody is in a hurry to go practically nowhere, and they’re putting their own neighbors at risk. I could tolerate people from other places being a little inconsiderate, but not a person that lives here. What’s the rush?
On another topic, I wish the younger people would form a better appreciation of what I consider real music as opposed to much of today’s popular music. The music of yesteryear seems to have a lot more substance than much of the newer stuff. I’m disappointed in the crudeness in the lyrics of many newer artists. Sex and relationships have been in music forever, but it’s been in a way that was subtle and acceptable. Now it’s right in your face. It’s raw and gritty and just unnecessary. There’s the whole argument of ‘freedom of speech’, but you don’t have the right to yell ‘fire’ in a theater. It has to be tempered with some level of responsibility when you want to express yourself.