By Jeffrey Allen Federowicz
For The Daily Item
BLOOMSBURG — Happy is singer and song writer Kris Kehr, for he wouldn’t care a smidgen if the grass really was greener on the other side of the fence. That’s because his grass of choice is bluegrass and he’s pretty darn good at cultivating music that is both impressive and fun.
Best of all, no mowing required.
Tonight, the Berk’s County resident will bring his signature bluegrass style of tunes to the Turkey Hill Brewing Company in Bloomsburg for songs and sounds that capture his commitment and fascination with music.
“When I was about 5 years old I was listening to the radio at my grandmother’s when the Beatles’ ‘Help’ came on. All of a sudden I got sad and, well, felt something,” Kehr said. “Very revealing, that something can make you feel emotion and yet I was just sitting there staring at a small black box with silver trim.”
And so began his connection to the wonders of music.
Kehr’s music and style has a realistic undertone wrapped in pure sincerity, since his own experiences in life could be put to music.
A multi-instrumentalist, including gigs with the mandolin and guitar, Kehr has been playing professionally for more than 25 years, taking on both band gigs and work as a soloist traveling the highways and country roads of America in search of gigs.
“My solo acoustic work is a combination of a lot of the stuff that has informed my writing, so along with the originals I’m covering songwriters like Steve Earle, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt and even some of the more country kinds of Grateful Dead,” he said. “But I also incorporate the styles of influential music in my DNA, such as the flat-picking guitar style of Norman Blake, the finger-style of Doc Watson and Leo Kottke, the percussive approach of Michael Hedges and some of the kinds of improvisation associated with bands like the Dead and acoustic Hot Tuna.”
Kehr said he loves that people can connect to his music and how it has the power to affect them physically and emotionally. He rediscovered how music can impact people on both a conscious and unconscious level when he started playing soft acoustic guitar tunes to stop his newborn daughter from crying.
“My life is music on most every level. I met my wife in the touring jam band The Recipe and share references to songs and their meanings constantly, illuminating our shared knowledge and life,” he said. “If I’m having a particularly difficult time expressing myself in a song I will listen to the music that has lit the way for me in the past and find a new dimension to it or search out something new, usually pointed out to me by one of the many musical friends in my life.”
Kehr said music is such a driving force in his life, he finds it difficult to relate to a few of his friends who do not understand or appreciate music in the same way, adding, “I find it difficult to relate on any kind of meaningful level to anyone who can’t find self-illumination in art or music.”
For Kehr, self-discovery and expression can be found in writing his own music and he finds the greatest rewards as a musician isn’t the pay or even the applause, it’s when an audience member seeks him out to say how one of his songs touched them personally in some way.
“In many ways I’m not the best communicator in conventional terms, but I try to be as honest and open as I can with my songwriting and consider it a triumph when I do hear personal, positive remarks. Plus I don’t feel so alone in my feelings, and what is more comforting than that?”