Kinsey Report’s blues run deep

When The Kinsey Report first hit the stage in 1984, “Big Daddy” Kinsey was still the frontman.
The Gary, Ind.-based bluesman had deep roots in the sound of the Mississippi as well as the music of the
Pentecostal church.
It was a sound the bluesman passed on to his sons, Donald, Ralph and Kenneth, and they stretched it into
other areas, including funk, soul and reggae.
Almost eight years since Big Daddy’s death, his sons keep the tradition alive. Perpetuating that sound
becomes more important, said Ralph Kinsey, as more and more of the older masters like their father pass
“Every time we get to play it’s an honor and a privilege because we’re preserving that art form,” he said
in a recent telephone interview.
The Kinsey Report — will play a free concert March 12 at 8 p.m. at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St.,
Bowling Green.
A coffeeshop is not the usual venue for the venerable blues act, which has shared the stage with The
Black Crowes, The Allman Brothers and Widespread Panic as well as blues clubs around the world.
Still with the blues scene shrinking, Kinsey said he and his brothers have had to be creative.
“A lot of places we used to play 10, 15 years ago are no longer there,” he said. “You have to be
clever… You have to step out of your comfort zone. We’ve always done that as musicians.”
Playing for rock audiences helps as well. He’s disappointed that the Lollopolooza festival, which has
added Chicago, the capital of the blues, to its schedule, has no blues acts. “It’s an insult.”
He looks back fondly on the days of Bill Graham’s Fillmore East and West clubs where the promoter would
toss a mix of musicians from different styles together on one bill. If young people get a chance to hear
(the blues) I think it’ll sell itself,” Kinsey said.
With the music industry in a slump. Kinsey said, “what’s important now is the quality of the music. It
still comes down to doing the gigs and getting the music out.”
Though the music is firmly rooted in the blues and gospel traditions, it’s also been colored by a wide
gamut of styles.
Gary, Ind., Kinsey noted, was a regular stop on the itineraries of traveling musicians, right on the way
between Detroit and Chicago.
Vee Jay, one of the first black-owned record label was founded in Gary, he noted. The city was “a rhythm
and blues Mecca,” he said. “You just can’t close your ears to those influences.”
He and his brothers took it all in.
They toured with their father in the 1970s as “Big Daddy” Kinsey and his Fabulous Sons. But then Ralph
went into the Air Force, and Donald set off on a career as a sideman first with Albert King, and later
with reggae stars Peter Tosh and Bob Marley. Ralph, the eldest, and Donald did launch a short-lived
heavy metal band White Lightning in 1975.
In 1984, though, The Kinsey Report with brother Kenneth on bass and family friend Ron Prince as the
second guitarist took shape, and has been a force on the blues scene ever since. And the roots music
they absorbed growing up is ever present in their sound.
“You can always hear that in our music,” Kinsey said. “The urgency, the longing, the looking forward, the
looking back” is all part of the band’s DNA, he said.
The music, though growing out of the African-American experience, also touches everyone, he said. “We all
cry,” he said.
“We have an outer ear, we’ve got a middle ear, we have an inner ear,” he said. The Kinsey Report, he
said, aims to deliver its blues to that deepest place.