Kazoo Legend Chris Black

Chris Black is a local musician who has a new album coming out. In fact the official release show will be during The Lower Town Arts and Music Festival. His favorite holiday, Memorial Day, is right around the corner as well. Things are great is Black’s world right now. Ladies and gentlemen, iMeet the best kazoo player in the state of Kentucky...

Well hello there, Chris. Welcome to iMeet. Tell us about yourself...

I was born in Salem, a small town in southern Illinois with a population of about 8,000 people. There's not a whole lot going on there, but it was a great place to grow up. I went to a Catholic grade school until 7th grade when I transferred to a public school to play on a better basketball team. 

I did the normal high school thing, then spent a year at MSU, before transferring to SIU at Carbondale. Once I started taking classes for my major (Psychology) I realized I didn't care for it and decided to quit school and move back home. I worked as a greens keeper on a golf course and then did some landscaping for a while. I wound up working at a tail light factory for about three years. The money was good for a job in the area, but the work wasn't quite my cup of tea, so I moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 2006. 

So how did you end up back in Paducah?

As luck would have it, I ended up meeting a girl that lived in Paducah and wound up moving here in 2008 to be with her.

Tell us about your family...

I'm single. I have a dog named Snoop, a cat named Carl, and about 20 unnamed fish that live quite comfortably in a 30 gallon aquarium.

You’re a musician, what do you play…

I've been taking music seriously for probably 10 years now. I started writing lyrics when I was 15, started playing harmonica at about 18, and guitar and singing at about 20. It took me roughly five years to figure how to throw it all together in order to write a song I didn't think was terrible That's when I decided to give up the tail light life at the factory and move to Nashville to become the next Toby Keith.

Nowadays I dabble with piano, bass, guitar, harmonica, and I'm widely known as the best kazoo player in the state of Kentucky.

Tell us about your new album...where can we get it?

My new album is entitled 230 West Allmon St. Apt B. The address is a nod to the last house I lived in my hometown before I moved to Nashville. It was recorded in Nashville, at The Stagger Inn ~ House of Immaculate Audio by Ry Evans from July of 2015 to November of 2016. We also had some help from Shelby Preklas of Paducah's Loud and Clear Studio.

It was mixed and mastered by Andrija Tokic of the Bomb Shelter in Nashville. Those three guys did a great job and I couldn't be happier with the final product.

It's available on vinyl with a digital download included (in case you don't have a record player). You can pick up a copy at Pipers Tea and Coffee, Bricolage Art Collective, Herbane Naturals inside the Smedley Yeiser, or if you see me around town I usually have copies in my van.

My friend, Brey, told me the other day that I was like the Master P of Paducah as I was selling records out of the back of my van. I'll take that as a compliment.

Do you work anywhere else besides playing your music?

I do. I work at Paducah Printing in Lower Town. My friend Zack Winding (from Leonard the Band) and I run the wide format print shop down there. If you need a large banner, poster, sign, or really anything imaginable printed, we can do it. We also have an amazing group of graphic designers. 

A couple of the guys at work helped me with the art work for my album and I love it.  It really is a great place to work and I'm lucky to be a part of it.  I've worked a lot of jobs in my life and this is by far the best one I have ever had.

Where can we catch you playing your music?

The official release show for my album is at The Lower Town Arts and Music Festival. We are playing Saturday night at 9:30 on the main stage. It should be fun. Brian Rader and Zack Winding from Leonard the Band, Shaina Goodman from The Savage Radley, and Fate McAfee from Fate McAfee are going to be sitting in with us.

I also need to mention how lucky I am to have Brey McCoy playing drums and Jake Siener playing bass. Those guys are brilliant. I'm hands down the least talented person in my own band. It’s a real privilege to play with them. They make everything feel effortless and words can't express how much I appreciate what they do.

What's the hardest part about being a musician? What's the best part?

I would say the hardest for me is balancing my everyday life with my musician life. It's like you constantly have to switch back and forth from your left brain to your right brain. Go to band practice, stay up late, then get up for work in the morning.

Write a song, push your next show on Facebook, sell your album, and remember to go buy groceries. I really hate the hustle. My favorite thing in the world is the process of writing a song and a close second is performing, but all the self-promotion you have to do when you are an independent artist is awful.

I just try to remember that if I ever want to be able to strictly write songs during the day, play at night, and somehow be self-sufficient , I have to maintain my hustle.

What artists have influenced you and your music over the years?

I would say the two constants for me are Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. Their music never gets old to me. Lately, I have had an unhealthy obsession with Father John Misty. His new album, Pure Comedy, has been on repeat in my house, van, Spotify at work, and mind.

Favorite holiday of the year and why...

Memorial Day. I abhor winter and there's nothing better than a three-day weekend when it's beautiful outside. I also love grilling out and drinking beer. The only thing I don't like about Memorial Day Weekend is that I don't own a boat. I actually bought an inflatable kiddie pool yesterday, so I'm sure this year's Memorial Day Festivities at my house will be off the chain.

Really great to find out more about you, Chris. Good luck with the new album – we can’t wait to hear some of your tunes at LTAMF – and bring that kazoo!