Kyleen Downes celebrates CD release
at Yellow Cab Tavern


Kyleen Downes. Photo: Gary McBride

By Tim Walker

I don’t know who’s in charge of such things, but I’d like to register a complaint. I believe local musician Kyleen Downes was born a few decades too late.

Like one of those singer/songwriters from straight out of the early 1970s, the curly-haired, 33-year-old Fairborn resident would have been right at home with Dylan in New York’s East Village or at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, hanging out with Carole King and James Taylor. Guitar in hand, the friendly, funny musician belts out her songs onstage with her band and draws you right back into an earlier era of music, before digital recording technology, before there was anything called ‘downloading,’ when honest songs spoke about people’s lives and loves and everything was much more real.

“I was raised on classic rock, thanks to my parents,” says Downes, unsurprisingly, when speaking to the Dayton City Paper recently. “I love Led Zeppelin. Creedence Clearwater Revival. I kind of got into a Rolling Stones kick for a little while and I’m still in that. A while back, I had to go through all the Beatles albums, so then it was like ‘Let’s flip over to the other side—the Stones.’ I’m a huge Tom Petty fan, too.” These classic influences certainly make themselves known in her songs.

Now, Downes is poised to release her second CD of original music, entitled “Friends,” and she’ll be hosting a CD release party at the Yellow Cab Tavern this Friday night, March 30th. Also performing with Downes and her band will be area artists Wonky Tonk, The Lovers, Kerchief, and Blossom Hall. In addition, the first 40 people through the door will get a complimentary copy of the new CD.

“The CD’s title is ‘Friends’,” says Downes. “And I will admit, when I initially came to that idea, I wasn’t sure about it. But a lot of the songs have an underlying theme about staying in the moment. I think the people we surround ourselves with—more importantly, our friends—can help us stay in the moment, keep us from letting our minds wander, or get distracted. Two of the songs specifically talk about friendship, and also this is the first time I’ve incorporated the band in the songwriting process and the recording process. And they’re all my friends. So this is what it is all about.”

Downes’ friends and bandmates include Josclynn Garrison on bass guitar, Gub Pedrotti on drums, and Charley Skira on guitar. The band’s new release was self-financed and recorded in Dayton at Reel Love Recording Company, with Patrick Himes behind the board. In keeping with Downes’ throwback, classic style, the band eschewed digital technology in the studio, opting instead to record on analog equipment using old-school production methods.

Downes continues, “it’s kind of cool, because [Himes] presented the option of recording analog, so I recorded that way for the first time, on tape. I’d never done that. I’d always done it digitally in the past, which is easy for punching things in and this and that, but I think doing analog kind of made me come at it a different way, where I was doing a take all the way through, really thinking about the tone of what we’re actually capturing live. I liked it. So many of my influences recorded that way, and I was curious to see how that would affect my sound, putting my songs to tape. I’m glad I did it.”

Downe’s first CD, “Maybe Sometimes,” was released in July 2016 and is available on Amazon.com and iTunes. The recording and release of that album was financed with a successful Kickstarter campaign, a campaign which saw the artist attract over 60 loyal backers who contributed more than double her initial goal of $1,500.

“That campaign was great,” she says. “I had recorded 7 songs which I’d written over the previous ten years, and it was just thrilling that so many people wanted to help me release them. Now, with the new CD, people will get a chance to hear these new songs recorded with the whole band.”

“I’m just really excited about this show,” says Downes, in closing. “I think everyone who comes out will have a great time, and we can’t wait to play for them.”

Kyleen Downes will be hosting a CD release party at the Yellow Cab Tavern on Friday, March 30th at 8:00 pm. Special guests Wonky Tonk, The Lovers, Kerchief, and Blossom Hall will also perform. There is an $8 cover charge. For more information, call 937.424.3870 or go to yellowcabtavern.com.

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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