Homeward Bound

Contributing Writer

Kenny Olson and friends set to rock Southside Hideout

BUCKLEY – It’s a safe bet that when Kenny Olson hits the stage at the Southside Hideout in Buckley Aug. 14, it will be an exciting time.

That’s according to no less an authority than Olson himself.

“I’m excited. People will enjoy a good show,” he said. “It’s a great bunch of guys.”

The Kenny Olson Cartel features vocalist/guitarist Paris Delane, formerly with Sonia Dada, and Olson promises some other special guests. The show also includes opener Maka Rouge from New York and country star Colt Ford (“Chicken & Biscuits,” “Cricket on a Line”).

But whoever is on stage with him, the Traverse City native guarantees a good time.

That’s something he learned from years on the road with his former employer Kid Rock. Olson spent better than a decade with the Motor City superstar as guitarist in Kid Rock’s Twisted Brown Trucker band, garnering acclaim for his gritty guitar work.

Going out on his own in 2006, Olson first repaired to Traverse City, where his family had moved from Detroit when he was 16.

“I love Traverse City,” he said. “I was there for a year. I love being with my family. My parents are great. I wasn’t the easiest kid to raise, and now with my own I know a little bit what they went through.”

But he ultimately decided to get back into the business full time, and headed south to Nashville.

“I had to make a move to get back out there,” Olson said. It was there that he put together a band called the Flask, which recorded one album, before moving on to his latest group, the Kenny Olson Cartel.

Olson has experienced the highs of major tours and top label support, but says the current state of the music business is very different from when he first got involved more than 20 years ago.

With the proliferation of digital media, personal and social marketing, and the consolidation of labels into just a few heavyweights, Olson likens it to a football game that’s gotten totally out of control.

“It’s like you’ve got a pro team, and suddenly there’s a bunch of people from the stands in the way,” he said with a laugh.

During his time in the industry, Olson has played either onstage or in the studio with a bevy of heavyweights, including Metallica, Chaka Khan, Sheryl Crow, Faith Evans and Run DMC.

Not bad for a kid from TC.

“I’m really blessed,” he said repeatedly.

Olson revels in the opportunity to play with different people in different settings. Kid Rock was one of the first to meld hard rock and metal with rap. Olson then branched out to the Experience Hendrix tours, where a variety of performers gathered to pay tribute to and play the music of the iconic guitarist.

“There was always an array of different people,” he said. “You never knew what the lineup would be.” Among those on hand could be Hendrix associates Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox, Buddy Guy, Noel Redding, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Mick Taylor, Vernon Reid and others. The current Experience Hendrix tour is moving on without Olson, but his contributions are immortalized on the Experience Hendrix Tribute Concert DVD and on YouTube.

Meantime, there’s that little matter of his local show at the Southside Hideout Festival Grounds, the acreage behind the establishment in Buckley. With a capacity approaching 3,000 people, it’s sure to be a good time.

Kenny says so.

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