his obituary: A professional singer-guitarist, with a loyal
and loving following from Greenwich Village to Arizona, Kenny will
be remembered for the warm and generous heart he shared through
This is a website I made to honor the memory of my father, whom
I missed for most of my childhood, but miss even more now, knowing
that he left a hole in my heart, and also for 100's of people who
loved him for his generosity, his heart, and his remarkable, awe-inspiring
talent as a singer and guitarist.
My Dad and I had a rocky relationship. Mostly that was because fatherhood
was never his biggest priority. He was a musician first, and he
had a serious problem with drugs and alcohol for most of my life,
which put his children (and spouses) much lower on his list. It
doesn't make for a great father child relationship, but I'm not
a child anymore. I try to work with what I have now. I have a lot
of good memories of Dad. Aside from singing and playing (which he
did I guess every day) he also loved to read. He would get absorbed
in a book and it would seem like he had left the room. He loved
science fiction books, as I recall, but lots of others. He could
run really fast, which was surprising considering that he never
really "exercised" and he certainly didn't take care of
himself. He loved jokes, telling stories, and hanging out with friends.
Some of his favorite foods were: fried eggplant, fried calamari
rings, saltines with sardines and hot sauce on them, ketchup (on
nearly everything). He also loved to listen to all kinds of music,
but he mostly sang a lot of 60's and 70's rock songs. He never became
a commercial success, but everyone who heard him knew he had great
talent. I have been collecting all the recordings I can find of
him so that they won't be lost.
He had lots of friends wherever he went, and most of them were good,
true friends. I miss him, of course, and I really feel sad that
my children will never meet him, but at least they can hear him
sing. Please contact me if you have photos or recordings of Dad
to share with me, or if you would like recordings of him. We also now have a group on Facebook: Late Great Kenny Gwyn Fans, and welcome you to share memories there. - Sasha
32 Breeze - Ken Gwyn - guitar, Kevin
Candio, Guitar, Frank Wildeman, John Forsdahl - Keyboards, Tom Arnold
- Bass, Lou Sellari - Drums, Joey Brennan - Drums, George
Gangi - Guitar,
Venues: Back Door, Rochele Park, D Place, Dover, NJ
Trilogy - Ken Gwyn, Linda Pierro, Kate Comeau
Board of Directors - Ken Gwyn, Linda
Pierro, Kate Comeau, Andy Rogenstein & Vinnie Hancock Venues:The Village Gate, Inner Circle,
Kenny Gwyn and Friends - Silver Dollar Saloon, Harrison,
Restless with Steven Weinglass
- Tucson, AZ
Bill Haley & the Comets Ocean City, MD
Kenny Gwyn Band
The Leaves - Kenny Gwyn - Lead Guitar & Vocals,
Marc West - Bass & Vocals, Mike Daly- Guitar & Vocals, Jeb
Stuart - Guitar & Vocals, Nat Seeley - Drums.
1994 to 1996
Gwyn, West, and Inzeo
- Ken Gwyn - Lead Guitar & Vocals, Marc West - Bass & Vocals,
Lou Inzeo - Drums, former soundman at Kenny's Castaways, they played
a lot of Holiday gigs through those years. Also, John "Cisco" Cusak was another friend of Dad's who played bass with him over the years, based in Alexandria, VA and still playing.
This is from a photo Memory Book. Dad in a nutshell: 1957
Movie Actor: Rin Tin Tin
TV Show: Roy Rogers
Song: Back in the Saddle
Grandma & Dad about 1966
Paul Kulkosky, Alex Thomson, Ken Gwyn
1967, Tappan Street
1969 Kearny High School Play
Dad, Mom & Me
Dad & Sandy MacDonald
circa 1970 - LeRoy "Jerry" White, Jamie LaVecchia, Tom
Arnold, _____, Kenny
circa 1970 - Tom Arnold, Kenny
from: "a shot away" by Steve Kenety The Dickinsonian, Carlisle, PA
February 11, 1972
The old school was certainly treated to some fine rock and roll
last week in the person of Black Forest Rhodes... We think that
there should be more functions like this - but then, how much rock
and roll is there in Carlisle, anyway? Before now, mark that at
almost zero - now, give it a chance.
Their music was certainly tight and well arranged, and their original
material was some of the best we've heard in a long time. In addition
to that, their renditions of other people's songs was, well, quite
We especially enjoyed a somewhat bizarre version of the old Spencer
Davis tune, "Gimme Some Lovin", which put you on your
feet and dancing, if you weren't there already, like you should
Add to this the use of two fine guitarists, and you've got yourselves
quite a band. Guitarist Kenny Gwyn's voice was certainly something
- he alternately sounded like Roger (ne Jim) McGuinn, Joe Cocker,
and Jim Messina.
We found them all to be an engaging, friendly bunch of guys, free
of all the hang-ups that one often finds in rock bands. They especially
played down their house, which could have become a big ego trip...
We should be glad to have them around. Thanks go to WDCV for making
If you think playing rock and roll is easy all the time, think again.
As soon as they finished playing Thursday, they packed everything
up, put it in a trailer - and drove straight to Mt. Snow, Vermont,
where they had to play the next night. Quite a trip. 12 hours away,
with the snow pouring down...
This film recording was made by "Sebastian" Bud Styple who
gave me permission to post his video on YouTube. It is a soundless
movie of Black Forest Rhodes performing at Rutgers Newark campus in
Leroy Jerome White - Vocals and Percussion
Ken Gwyn - Guitar and Vocals
Jaime LaVecchia - Drums
Tom Eckstein - Rickenbacker Twelve String Guitar
Thomas R Arnold - Bass and Vocals.
Time: 6 minutes, 27 seconds.
Early 1970's - Black Forest Rhodes - Leroy "Jerry"
White, Ken Gwyn, Danny Schiano, Jamie LaVecchia, Tom Arnold
Dad's buddy Alex - August 1971
Jerry Leroy White - August 1971
(l-r) Frank Sgro, Jamie LaVecchia (drums) Kevin Candio
Ken Gwyn, John Forsdahl
1970's - 32 Breeze (l-r) Frank Sgro, Wally Katula,
Ken Gwyn, Kevin Candio, John Forsdahl
I recently learned that my
Dad's band opened up for Bruce Springsteen way back when. Since Bruce
went on to enjoy far more popularity and fame then Dad did, there
is a wealth of archival information about him on the internet, which
is how I was lucky enough to find the two posters above from 1971.
December 1972, Friends at Paul's house
Ken Gwyn, Linda Pierro, Kate Comeau, circa 1979
Ken & Kate in Washington Square Park
From a note paid to Dad in his guitar case:
To the Under the Arch Singers,
As I am currenly in financial straights myself,
I have no spare change to reward you for your wonderful songs. However,
some day I will be repulsively wealthy, and then I will fill the
guitar case with Gold Krugerant as there is nothing better to do
with money than repay you folks for the times you have cheered me
up. New York city is a bitch when you're alone and your music reminds
me that there are nice things still around. Thanks Much.
Chuck - a devoted fan
(The Arch is in Washington Square Park, where Dad
played with Linda, Kate and other friends. Dad saved this note in
his address book)
Ken Gwyn and Albert Owens at Washington Square Park (early 80's?)
Poster advertising Kenny Gwyn & The Board of Directors Debut
at the Inner Circle for David Mamo's art show opening.
Board of Directors at the Inner Circle.
Ken & Board of Directors at the Inner
Ken in his room at the Jane St. Motel, December 1985
the one and only Kenny Gwyn: Everyone knows he'll be star, 'cause
he can play that there guitar, on Jane St."
by Joe Glickman & Lydia Saiger The Daily News New York, NY
December 27, 1985
Prince, George Thorogood, Steve Forbert and Marianne Faithful drop
in to hear him play. Paul Butterfield, Rick Danko and Jaco Pastorius
come to jam. What draws these stars to the Inner Circle, an obscure
club located at 113 Jane St. in the Village?
Kenny Gwyn, resident guitarist extraordinaire, rips out hits of
the '60s and early '70s with a virtuosity that has earned him a
cult following. Regulars claim to have seen him every weekend -
some say every night - for the last three years.
At age 21, Gwyn played lead guitar for Chubby Checker. Later with
his band Black Forest Rhodes, he shared the stage with Richie Havens,
Ike and Tina Turner, John Hammond, Edgar Winter and The James Gang.
Now at 34, Gwyn labors six nights a week on the outskirts of the
Village - a talent so compelling one wonders how success has eluded
him. "The only success I have," Gwyn says, "is the
mastery of my craft."
Kenny Gwyn spent most of his childhood feeling isolated. The youngest
of three(sic) children, he grew up in Kearny, NJ, one of the handful
of blacks in a working-class Irish/Italian town. "I was made
to feel inferior," Gwyn says. "I was called 'Nigger,'
spat at and was always getting in fights." When his sisters
went out on dates, Kenny sat alone in the car singing along with
the radio. At home if the radio wasn't wailing, the sounds of Ray
Charles, gospel and Johnny Mathis were. When his Mom finally handed
him a guitar for Christmas, he was 14 and "horny to play."
The guitar became a means of expression as well as a vehicle of
escape. "Music was an obsession that I couldn't get enough
of, " he says in an animated voice. "My mother would send
me out to the yard to sweep leaves and I'd be out there playing
the broom. I played eight hours a day." By age 16 he was drawing
crowds with his singing and acoustic guitar in Washington Square
Twenty years later, Gwyn and his band The Board of Directors, fill
the Inner Circle with the sounds of Clapton, The Grateful Dead and
Hendrix. Hunched over the neck of his Ovation, the ashes of a cigarette
in his right hand growing and falling, Gwyn calls on his repertoire
of some 700 songs. His curly black hair flops in front of tinted
glasses; the veins in his neck pop out as if he were tearing notes
from his chest. "Besides being an incredible technical guitarist,
" raves one of the regulars, "Kenny puts out so much."
On weekends, crowds of 200-plus jam the Inner Circle. Photos and
paintings by students from the School of Visual Arts line the walls.
Between a red-eyed poster of Albert Einstein and the seductive gaze
of Clark Gable across the room, scores of students in patched jeans
and tie-dyed shirts dance as long as Gwyn plays. Here is the best
of the '60s they were too young to remember, and for those who are
starting to gray around the temples, it's a chance to recapture
Outside the lights of Hoboken and Union City stare across the Hudson
River. Around the corner at the Jane St. Hotel, Gwyn and his girlfriend
Linda Pierro, (she tends bar and sometimes sings with the band)
share an 8 x 20 room with their kitten Georgia. Were it not for
the five guitars leaning in the corner, this would be another anonymous
room with no phone, bathroom or kitchen: A stopping place for people
in transit. "I don't find it depressing, "assures Gwyn,
"People here have personality."
Gwyn is a street musician at heart; a man who has spent many nights
under the arch in Washington Square Park. "I just want to be
known as a musician. To some extent I'm successful, although not
in my own right since I'm playing other people's music. I'd love
to be discovered and fulfill some of my dreams, make Linda's life
a little easier; give my two daughters some of the finer things
in life; repay my parents. But I'm not an aggressive person. I'm
just a player. I don't know how to go about promoting my self. Though
in my own slow way I'm making an effort."
After a month in the hospital - the longest he's been away from
the guitar in 20 years - Gwyn beat a long-standing addiction to
drugs and alcohol. Now that he's back dazzling inner Circle patrons,
Gwyn is constantly asked why he doesn't play original music.
"Maybe some of it's fear," says Paul Butterfield. "His
originals are melodic, beautiful songs." Says Gwyn, "It's
not that I'm afraid of success," he says without hesitation,
I'm just not at that stage with this band to be comfortable enough
to play my own music." Butterfield agrees: "Kenny needs
to play with a higher caliber of musician."
In the meantime, Gwyn recognizes the conflict. "There won't
be any success until I start playing original music," he says.
"That's partly my fault - something I'm conscious of. We've
worked on originals, but the band as a unit .... I don't feel all
that comfortable... they're just not approaching the material right."
Kenny Gwyn is a study in contradictions: An accomplished musician
showered by applause while laboring in obscurity, a guitarist who
jams with stars like Danko, Butterfield, Pastorius and Jimmy Page,
while leading a band he must carry, a versatile musician who, to
date, has not played his originals in public.
I plan to use him on my next album," Butterfield says. "Jaco
(Pastorius), Kenny and I are working on some songs and we're thinking
about touring. This is a turning point for Kenny. He has a shot to
A typical backyard party in Tucson, Fall 1989
Dad playing at a party in Tucson, AZ
Ken, Linda & Eden
Ken Linda & Eden
On the Mall at University of Arizona
Ken Gwyn & Reuben Riera
with a Master Musician (The Hendrix of Downtown)" by Stephen
The Street Singer's Beat, Village Voice, New York,
October 10, 1990
Last Saturday, while purchasing some strings at Matt Umanov guitars,
I ran into Kenny Gwyn, who was also purchasing strings. It was good
seeing Kenny, who had been away from New York the last few years
playing in Tucson, Arizona, and touring with The Comets of Bill
Haley and The Comets fame. I had learned Kenny was back in town
a few weeks earlier from the buzz among musicians in Washington
Square Park and on Bleecker Street.
Musically speaking, Gwyn, a singer/guitarist/interpreter of songs,
is about the closest thing in the village to Jimi Hendrix. His understanding
and use of total music theory, including complicated chord structures,
rhythms, and lead playing are watched and studied by many local
musicians. He is also one of the most pitch perfect and soulful
singers around. Among his followers are such notables as Buzzy Felton,
Jimmy Page, Jorma Kaukonen, and Rick Danko, who from time to time
seek out Kenny for gigs or to jam. While Gwyn was playing at the
now defunct Mills Tavern, the previously mentioned musicians, as
well as the late Paul Butterfield and Jaco Pastorius, would often
come by to listen or sit in.
Like Hendrix, Kenny has had a rough go of it in New York. Although,
he is able to eke out a living by playing beneath the arch in Washington
Square Park and in the clubs that line Bleecker Street, his talent
deserves a better income. He is a tall, light skinned black man,
with wild hair, thick glasses and a large flat forehead.
"I got kicked out from playing underneath the arch yesterday.
The police said my voice is too loud even though I was playing without
an amp," Kenny told me, as we walked west on Bleecker Street
from Matt Umanov's. "It always smacks of surrealism to me that
given the volume of trucks, cab horns and sirens, which are omnipresent
in the city day and night, that they would chose to persecute singers
"Did they stop you before or after the big marijuana sting
operation," I asked, referring to the two-day police operation
to bust nickel and dime marijuana dealers and buyers in Washington
Square Park. "They stopped me right after the operation."
"That was one stupid drug bust operation," I said. "Yeah.
Especially seeing that most of the reefer in Washington Square Park
is bogus anyway, and in light of the violent crime situation in
the streets, it seems like a tragic waste of police manpower."
We arrived at Kenny's Castaways, where Kenny had stashed his guitar.
There over a beer, we continued our conversation.
"I'm from Kearny, NJ," Kenny told me. "My mother
bought me my first guitar when I was 14. I was basically until that
time a singer. I just wanted to learn how to accompany my voice,
but then lead guitar became popular. There was a fellow on a tv
show called Shindig. His name was James Burton and he already achieved
nororiety as a session man on a lot of Ricky Nelson albums and later
with Elvis Presley. Watching him play guitar like that made me want
to learn, also. Subsequently, I've been influenced by Clapton, BB
King, Freddy King, Albert King and Django Rheinhart. I don't see
myself as a composer of songs. I'm more of a song stylist. I like
songs like 'Everybody's talkin" by Fred Neil, 'Colorado' by
Rick Roberts, or 'Georgia on my Mind' by Hoagy Carmichael."
"How do you see music as an artistic and spiritual force?"
"Music is an extension of the oral folk tradition. It has the
ability to transport individuals and groups out of otherwise mundane
experience to places, climes and encounters as varied as the wealth
of music available at the present time. As a musician, I get as
caught up as the audience in any given song."
"How was it in Tucson, Ariz.," I asked.
"It was great. I played the clubs and the parties around the
University of Arizona. I also played the streets behind the Pima
County courthouse, and also on the mall at the campus. My band also
played the 4th Avenue street fair. It is an annual street fair that
features some great Indian arts and crafts. The only problem with
the music scene there is that it's seasonal. You can only find work
when school is in session."
"Do you ever think about getting a record contract?"
"I would like to get a record contract. I'd like to make a
million dollars just to take care of my kids, and my mom and dad."
After we finished our beers, we walked outside with our guitars
and Kenny showed me how to play "Danny Boy." I had asked
Kenny if he could show me the song for my gig later at the Sine-e
Cafe. I had remembered Kenny moving me very deeply with this song
a few years back. Anyway, he played the song with a very complex
arrangement featuring major chords, minor chords, major 7ths, and
miner 9ths. However, all the chords seemed to fit into the melody
in a very logical order. Indeed, playing with or learning music
from Kenny Gwyn is a humbling experience.
Yes, that's Dad
The things we do for love...
Jason Aberbach, Ken Gwyn & Marc West at Eden's 3rd birthday
Old Westbury, NY
Dad on the Himalayian with niece Pam and her son Trevor
Pt. Pleasant Beach, August 1996
Ken and his daughters Alison, Sasha & Eden
August 31, 1996 (the only photo of us together)
We danced to "How Sweet it is to be Loved by You"
August 31, 1996
Ironically my last photo of my dad, waving goodbye at the wedding.
He died less than 2 months later on October 22, 1996.
This photo was taken by an old friend, Bud Styple.
Some Memories of Kenny written
by Kevin Hinninger: Kenny Gwyn was an underground musical
legend and a fixture on the Greenwich Village streets and music scene
from 1967 until his death in 1996. Besides being such a phenomenal
guitarist and singer that he was an inspiration and mentor to a generation
of NYC musicians, Kenny helped spawn the jam band scene, and held
down the fort, keeping good old fashioned guitar driven rock and roll
alive in New York throughout the punk, new wave, dance music
explosion, and metal years.
Kenny was a New York institution and a legend in Washington Square
Park and on Bleecker Street. Tourists, suburbanites, and New
Yorkers alike were awed by Kenny's talent, and spread the lore of
"The guy with the Afro and glasses who is Jimi Hendrix reincarnate."
This is where I was lucky enough to stumble across the man who
inspired me to go from music fan to musician.
Kenny made many of his musical connections on Bleecker Street, which
was hopping with all kinds of different music clubs, as was down town
New York in general. Jazz musicians from the Blue Note or the
Village Vanguard would show up at Kenny's shows and jam with
him. Folk, bluegrass, and blues artist from Folk City would
do the same thing, singer songwriters from the Bitter End or the Bottom
Line would drop by, as would classic artist from the 60's and 70's
who were playing the Lonestar or the Ritz. Countless musicians
who came through New York would hit Bleecker Street, be blown away
by Kenny, and want to Jam with him. Prince was one of them,
so was Maryanne Faithful, Jorma Kaukonen, Paul Butterfield, Jaco Pastorious,
and Rick Danko.
I want to focus on Kenny's time at a club called the Inner Circle,
that revolved around his talent. He performed there 6 nights
a week, I believe from late 1984 to early 1986. This club was
on Jane Street and the Westside Highway, right on the Hudson River
in a desolate part of town right below the meat packing district that
was crawling with nothing but transvestite hookers.
The story as I got it is that Rueven Adam Halperin, a fellow musician
who played with Kenny at Mills Tavern and in the Park, was a resident
of the Jane West Hotel. He pushed for the owners to open the
vacant basement bar as a venue to showcase Kenny's talent, and Kenny
played his heart out there 6 nights a week. This is the year of heavy
metal and hair bands, Madonna rules the charts, rap is gaining momentum,
NY has a thriving hard-core scene, MTV and NY rock stations are inundating
our ears with Duran Duran, Hall and Oates, and Phil Collins.
There was no good rock radio in NY and no such thing as a classic
rock format at this time. WPLJ, WNEW, and WAPP played a few
classics, then it was heavy metal, Journey, and some Huey Lewis and
There was a good old fashioned rock and roll void in NY, especially
at the grassroots level, no good rock clubs or rock radio. At
this time NY was crawling with classic rock fans, quazi-hippies, and
Deadheads who were starved for entertainment (It should be noted that
NY has always been a hot bed for the Dead, even in their lean years,
and Kenny's connection to them goes deep, the sound man from his old
band Black Forrest Rhodes, went on to do sound for the Dead).
An important segment of these New York City rockers was made up of
college kids from NYU, Columbia, and the School of the Visual Arts,
along with a contingent of suburban loyalists from Long Island
and New Jersey. These kids knew Kenny from the park and from
Mills Pub on Bleecker Street, they were not into the metal, punk,
rap or dance scenes that were sweeping NY. It was into this
climate and rock and roll void that Kenny reappeared from rehab and
the kids flocked to him.
When Kenny reappeared from rehab it was the longest he had been away
from his guitar and it seemed to unlock some sort of magic in his
playing. He was playing dangerous, scary, frustrated, mind expanding,
emotional guitar. The formula was simple, drums and bass lay
down a back drop, and at every possible break Kenny jams like a man
possessed, and he truly played like his life counted on every note.
It should be noted that there was no Jam Band scene at this time,
the Grateful Dead was all there was, the Allmans had yet to reunite,
and Phish and the Jam Band scene as we know it today did not exist.
The kids who went to see Kenny play at the Inner Circle spread the
news like the gospel to their friends scattered in colleges and towns
across the US. Every Deadhead, classic rocker or hippy who had
connections to NY knew of Kenny and this cool little club by the river.
Kenny would leave jaws hanging when he played, people would laugh
- dance - jump up and down - and shake their heads in disbelief at
his solos...he was quite simply amazing, words can't describe it,
you had to be there. Never, before or since, has a musician
made me see colors when he played, Kenny did, and just when you thought
he could take a song no further, he could raise it to new heights,
It is important to mention his band, The Board of Directors, which
consisted of his partner in crime Marc West on Bass and backing vocals,
there were two different drummers this band used, and I do not recall
either of their names. The group was also augmented by a hot
little keyboard player who had his own show at one of the bars on
Bleecker Street, I think he went by the name of Little Mike, and a
guitar player from one of Kenny's old bands, either Black Forrest
Rhodes or 32 Breeze. There was a very special connection between
Kenny and Marc one could not help but notice, it was as if they had
been through wars together. They were like Batman and Robin
or Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid, their voices were fabulous
together, they obviously had musical telepathy, and they brought out
the best in each other musically.
There were a lot of factors that went into making the Inner Circle
a special place, there was the music, the charm of Kenny and Marc,
and the rock and roll void in NY. There was also no cover charge,
it was so far out on the fringe of the city that it was ignored by
the authorities and no one had to have ID, drinks were also cheap,
and the cliental were overly friendly, you could also openly
smoke marijuana...it was heaven. The Inner Circle had
a charming decor to boot, the place was decorated with works
from the kids at The School for the Visual Arts and the ecological
and political concerns of the rest of the growing hippy army.
Eventually the heavy hitters who knew Kenny from Bleecker Street made
their way out to the Inner Circle to Jam with him, and Paul Butterfield
could be seen passing the tip jar to make extra money for the band.
Two of the goofier guys in the crowd during those days were these
clowns from Princeton, NJ. I remember the big guy bringing a
tank of nitrous oxide to the Circle one night and passing out, and
the skinny cat giggling like a school girl and dancing like a moron.
They turned out to be John Popper and Chris Barron of Blues Traveler
and Spin Doctors respectively, two of the first bands on the Jam Band
scene that was about to be born.
Eventually there was an article written in the Daily News about Kenny
and the Inner Circle, and this was really the beginning of the end
for the club. The small dive bar became over crowded on weekends,
limos with the curious and beautiful posers would line up outside,
and this small, anonymous little oasis began getting a little
too much attention.
A pivotal moment came occurred in the winter of 1985 or 86 via the
son of music impresario Billy Graham. The kid was going to school
in NY, wanted to get into music management, and had his eye on Kenny
and another young band. Big Daddy Graham was coming to town
to take a look at the bands and advise his son.
So here was Kenny's big break, the bar is packed and rocking, Kenny
and the band played a great set, and while smoking a joint with a
cute little Asian girl, she informs me that Billy Graham has just
shown up to check out Kenny. After a hideously long break the
band reappears, but they all look scared to death and Kenny looks
down right sick. They slowly start launching into a song, but
it falls apart and Kenny slumps down on his amplifier and proceeds
to nod out.
Legend has it that Billy Graham went across town and signed Blues
Traveler later that weekend, a clever band that lured the Inner Circle
crowd with free nitrous oxide and mushroom tea. By the summer
these guys were opening for the newly reunited Allman Brothers Band, and
on their way to success, opening up the gates to the new Jam
Band scene that was about to explode.
The Inner Circle closed down soon after the Billy Graham debacle,
we showed up one night to a chain across the door, seems they were
an illegal club, or didn't pay their taxes, anyway our little nirvana
Kenny went back to Bleecker Street after that, he was basically resigned
to playing Mills Pub again with his sideman and brother in arms, Marc
West on bass. This was a big step backwards for Kenny, he was
heartbroken, and it was evident in the slow, sad dirges he fixated
on. He basically sang and played with a seriously broken heart
from that point on.
Soon after this the Wetlands opened up in NY, using the old Inner
Circle as a blue print, and gave the Jam Band scene a home base.
Bands whose members gathered at Kenny's feet such as Blues Traveler,
Spin Doctors, and God Street Wine went on to commercial success and
toured the world, while Kenny Gwyn slipped further into obscurity.
Kenny kept right on playing his heart out, he moved to Arizona for
a spell, toured with Bill Haley and the Comets, returned to NY and
assembled a hot band called Restless, and he continued to perform
as a duo with Marc. Kenny's two main supporters and running
mates in the music industry Paul Butterfield, Jaco Pastorious,
passed away, and sadly enough Kenny followed them on October 22, 1996.
Although I know Kenny is no longer with us, every time I am on Bleecker
Street I feel him there, and I expect to turn around and see him.
I believe it is because Kenny Gwyn poured his heart and soul out all
over that street, and his soul and presence are imprinted there.
New York City misses Ken Gwyn, an unsung musical hero, and so do I.
Go into Kenny's Castaways on Bleecker Street (The former Bleecker
Street Tavern where my parents met in 1963) and you will see Kenny's
picture behind the bar. Raise a glass to the best guitar player
you never heard of. Lots of Love Kenny and thank you for all
the great times. Kevin Hinninger