Couple of months ago I had this urge to track down a musician I used to listen to. His name is Richard Kemp. I got to know him a few years back when I lived in Ulverston, saw him play in several open mic nights and generally got to know the guy. Then things turned a little sour, and I moved to Lancaster. And contact was lost. I sort of tried to keep at least one eye on what he was doing musically, but then it just seemed to go quiet one day. But as I mentioned, I decided to go on a little Google/Facebook hunt and see if I could track him down again. And lo and behold I find him, under a new name. KeMPR.
Now for a little background (Pieced together from some fragments of my memory). Richard Kemp (mostly known as Kempy, when I knew him that might have changed since) used to be in a band called 12ft Machete, that apparently created quite a stir on the Furness peninsula. From what I've been told mostly through Richard's phenomenal stage presence. Sadly I moved to late into that area to actually ever get to see them play. The only track I could track down by them is a song called 'Albino Twist' but only as a remix by master local Furness producer Howie Venton. Which to be fair is a cracking remix and makes me really want to hear the original. But on this track you can hear what a great rock singer he is and why 12ft Machete managed to create a name for themselves.
When 12ft Machete called it quits out of those ruins came essentially two(Now three, possibly four) different projects. One that I became quite fond of was/is called Runt Hörnet, who play a delightful punk rock music with some aid of home made instruments like their monobass (Usually played by Howie Venton) that is played with wrench instead of a plectrum
for cryin out loud from runt hornet on Myspace.
and Lobe which had Richard Kemp in it and they played more of acoustic ballady stuff with some folky over tones.
Stars Above Headlights from Lobe on Myspace.
Since then Lobe has disbanded for whatever reason. (With one half now doing instrumental acoustic stuff under the name 'dogmusiC'.) I had heard that they had been active around the open mic arenas around the Furness peninsula. The last song was from 2007. And then on-line activity seemed to cease from them. The Grapevine had been telling me that there had been a few personal issues that needed to be resolved and suchlike. Which just saddened me because Kempi (Kempy, Richard, whatever!) always struck me as someone who really could go all the way with his music. Thankfully, due to some Facebook browsing and Googleing, I managed to find him. Only to find out that he had relocated to Halifax and thankfully was still making music!
Few years back I used to own a album of Richard's (Kempi's, whatever!) in which he worked with Howie Venton, and I loved it. But due to many many computer formatting, rebooting and rescheduling those music files were lost. Amongst those songs was an orchestral version of one of his most played songs
Though my personal favourite song from that album was a cold industrial song called 'February'. This song always somehow made me feel a little homesick.
Currently he seems to be making a name for himself both as a musician and as an artist. And has recently published a new album called 'Some Days are Harder Than Most'.
Since renewing my interesting in his music what I have found both excellent and surprising is the fact that he's pretty much continued with the folk/acoustic stuff from Lobe. And that's not a complaint by any means. Kempi has a very gentle singing voice which also makes you feel so much better about yourself. Most of the songs do seem to centre around not losing hope knowing that there are friends around. Even during the most dejected and downtrodden song 'Reject-0' has that element to it.
Possibly the best example of this Hope Prevails/Friends song type is "We'll be around".
In amongst those acoustic songs we get surprises like 'Supersizer' a delightful raunchy rock n' roll song.
I do hope he just keeps on cranking the songs out. Hopefully go on a bit of a tour. There is no doubt about it, he's got the song writing skills and he's got a bloody good voice, both for ballads and rock. And he's got the personality.