Artist of the Week: Ian Kennedy (I)
by The Milton Measure on Friday, September 19th, 2014
Ever since Ian Kennedy was a child, musical notes have reverberated off the walls of his house. His parents have always played music, and his brother often plays the guitar around the house. It is not surprising, then, that Ian, also, fell in love with music. Ian’s career as a bassist started in 7th grade when he looked up videos of bass tunes that interested him. After three months of being a self-taught bassist, Ian started taking lessons. However, his music career really began to blossom when he arrived at the Milton Academy Upper School.
Some of the courses Ian has taken during his Milton music career include Jazz Combo with Mr. Sinicrope and Music Theory with Mr. Whalen. Over the years, the best music advice Ian has received from a music teacher was from Mr. Sinicrope, who told Ian to “first and foremost, be a good bassist. The role of a bassist is to support the band, and if the band doesn’t sound right, you’re doing something wrong.”
Ian’s favorite musical performance at Milton was “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison which he played with Mr. Kassatly during Beatstock last year. Ian said the impromptu nature of the performance made the experience special. The pair decided to perform together the day before Beatstock, so the performance itself was the first time the duo had ever played together live. Ian added that “not knowing how the performance would end up sounding added an excitement to all our playing, but the absolute best part was how great Mr. Kassatly made us sound. When he hit this one note in the chorus, everybody in the crowd went crazy and we all got lifted up. Mr. Kassatly is such a great person and the most amazing singer, so playing one of my favorite songs for him was an amazing experience.”
Ian gets his inspiration from “old soul music” produced in the 60’s and 70’s. Ian is inspired by the music group The Grateful Dead, which has greatly impacted Ian’s music style. The Grateful Dead is a music group from the 1960s that “popularized the concept of the jam band, influencing thousands of songwriters and basement improvisers and earning themselves maybe the most loyal fans a rock band have ever had,” according to the Rolling Stone magazine. A jam band is a type of musical group that typically features extended musical improvisations over rhythmic grooves and chord patterns and often crosses different genre boundaries.
In the future, Ian wishes to utilize his knowledge of music by working in the music industry not as a performer but as a producer. However, Ian does plan to continue playing the bass as well as the other instruments he plays, the guitar and the mandolin, as hobbies. Inspired by his favorite bassist, Victor Wooten, a five-time Grammy award winner who in 2011 was also voted by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the top ten bassists of all time, Ian said that “the best advice [he] can give to the freshmen is ‘don’t be an instrumentalist, be a musician.” What Ian means by his advice is not to feel restricted by what instrument you play or what sounds your instrument is supposed to make. Music is your own creation, and your instrument is merely a tool that helps you express it.
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