DROP THE MIC - RONNI KAY
Ronni Kay grew up in Southern California in a musical family. “It started with my dad. There was always a studio in the house.” In school, playing in a ’60s surfs-up band taught her the ins and outs of working with a group, gigging and even recording. She moved to the Yamhill Valley six years ago, at the age of 19. After a couple years, she started performing at local open-mic nights and has now become a celebrated member of the local music scene, frequently performing at Dan Seymour’s open jams and playing at about every tasting room that offers live music. She works at Fusion Headquarters Art Glass with owner Gil Reynolds, one of many musicians she gigs with (and learns from) in the area.
Q: When did you first start playing guitar?
RK: When I was 14, my brother taught me my first four chords. From there, I’m self-taught, with some help from musical friends along the way.
Q: What music did you listen to growing up? Has your taste changed?
RK: I loved the music both my older siblings and parents listened to. My older siblings were about 10 years older than me, and they only listened to 90s tunes, so a lot of Nirvana, Bloodhound Gang, The Offspring, Radiohead, Soundgarden. My parents listened to ’50s to ’80s tunes. My favorites were Sam Cook, (a lot of) The Beatles, Elton John, David Bowie, Queen, The Eagles, Styx, Kenny Loggins, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Brown, James Taylor, Simon & Garfunkel, Journey, Hall & Oates, Joe Walsh, CCR, and so many others.
My taste has grown, of course, as I’ve explored, but I’d say 80% of what I listen to today are ’90s tunes and prior, with a few exceptions.
Q: What’s the best concert you’ve ever attended?
RK: My first-ever concert was Styx when I was seven years old. I’ll always remember it, and it will always be a favorite. Other favorites were The Eagles, Don Henley (twice), The Who, Bonnie Raitt, America, The Offspring, Danzig, Pennywise, Nothing But Thieves and The Growlers.
Q: What are a couple lessons you’ve learned from open mics and jam sessions?
RK: The importance of listening to the players playing with you to better serve the song, and communication while playing live with others.
Q: You’ll be in the studio soon. Is this your first time? What songs will you be recording?
RK: When I was about 16, I won a year’s management representation along with a free recording session in a local studio with my band, Something Clever. We recorded my original “What Mother,” and that was a good experience. I learned what is expected in a studio vs. playing live, and, of course, the importance of practicing with a metronome.
This time around, I’ll be recording one of my dad’s original tunes, “Black and Blue,” along with two covers with my very talented friends Gil Reynolds (guitar and vocals), George Edmonston (bass) and Jason Foidel (drums).
Q: You perform mostly covers but said you have some originals. Do you enjoy writing or just feel the need to write to grow as a musician?
RK: Covers are perfect for the type of gigs I play; people like to hear what they know and can sing along to. I have a few originals, but it’s been awhile since I’ve finished one. I’m always writing lines, here and there, in hopes that someday they will go together. Writing is something I enjoy and definitely feel a pressure in doing it to grow as a musician.
Q: Do you have a favorite song to perform?
RK: I have a few songs in my set that I favor: my dad’s original, “Feeling Good” made famous by Nina Simone, and Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”
Q: What beverage pairs best with a Ronni Kay live set?
RK: I’d say any beverage that gets you moving and singing would pair well with my music, but I think wine best suits it.