Multi-platinum guitarist Kenny Olson has announced the upcoming release of his long-awaited, debut solo album “Kenny Olson Cartel” on February 7th through Foxy Music/Firebird. While Olson may be best known as Kid Rock’s 11-year axeman and founding member of his Twisted Brown Trucker Band, music fans around the globe are soon going to know him by the music of his ground-breaking, genre-bending rock band, Kenny Olson Cartel. Listen to the album’s first single “Up All Night” now online at KennyOlson.com.
Following a short run of warm-up dates this past December, the Kenny Olson Cartel will tour throughout 2012 in support of the album release with dates to be announced. The album is available now on Kenny’s website www.KennyOlson.com, iTunes in early February and stores and online retailers everywhere in April.
Featuring an all-star cast, the Kenny Olson Cartel’s self-titled release features vocals by Jon Nicholson, founding member of Nashville’s famed musical collective MuzikMafia; Hugo Ferreira from multi-platinum rock band Tantric; Paris DeLane of Chicago-based R&B rock band Sonia Dada; Detroit’s Brandon Calhoon, best known as a finalist from the music show Rock Star: INXS; Emanual Cole on drums, keyboards by Peter Keys (George Clinton, Lynyrd Skynyrd), bass by legendary Billy Cox (Jimi Hendrix) and more.
From the blistering rock stylings found on the album opener “Loaded,” the blazing rock riffery of “Up All Night,” and the old-school groove of “Sweet Rosie’s,” to the sexy R&B in “Heaven on Earth,” the infectious funk and lyrical romp of “Left Sock,” and the smoking instrumental “Psychedelic Lap Dance,” the album is a diverse mix from a lifetime of musical influence and “the Cartel lets me put it all out there in one fell swoop,” says Olson.
The Kenny Olson Cartel is the product of a life lived in music from the time Olson was young. Born and raised primarily in Detroit, Olson recalls that "there was always a guitar around my house" belonging to his father or uncles, who also instilled in the fledgling musician a love of blues and rock classics -- including Howlin’ Wolf, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin and Miles Davis. From Seventies R&B, Motown and Funk to Iggy and The Stooges, Olson was soaking it in and rooting himself.
Olson started playing in earnest when he was 10, and it was indeed love at first riff. By the age of 14, he was hitting the stage as a serious six-string gunslinger and Detroit teenage rocker. Out of high school, Olson’s raw talent was discovered by Roger Probert, who signed AC/DC to Atlantic.
By his early twenties, he was bouncing between LA, Detroit and New York working live and in the studio on numerous solo and band projects. Olson worked with many Detroit legends including Scott Asheton of The Stooges, Scott Morgan of The Rationals, members of the Funk Brothers and even George Clinton. Olson opened for numerous national acts including appearances at Lollapalooza, but when the ‘94 earthquake destroyed his LA apartment, he saw it as a sign to head back to his roots in Detroit.
Olson’s claim to fame came when he joined forces with Kid Rock the following year, making an indelible contribution on stage and in the studio. Kenny and Kid wanted to experiment with new song structures and rock sonics, taking the evolving rock-rap blend to a new level. As a founding member of The Twisted Brown Trucker Band and co-writer, Olson wrote and performed on Kid Rock’s major albums, all of which reached platinum status, several or many times over: Devil Without A Cause (1998); History of Rock (2000); Cocky (2001); Kid Rock (2003); Live Trucker (2006) and appeared on other various releases.
From the soulful guitar work in “Only God Knows Why” and the guitar antics on “Cowboy” … to the funky elements in “Devil Without A Cause” and hip-hop-flavored riffs on “World Class Sex Rhymes” (featuring Snoop Dog)...to the meat ‘n potato in-your-face guitar action on “Bawitdaba”... and even the teary guitar solos of “Picture” (featuring Sheryl Crow) Olson happily reflects, “It was a smorgasbord of musical expressions for many years.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the world took note of Kenny Olson’s muscular yet intricate style. He contributed to works including Uncle Kracker’s double-platinum debut Double Wide (2001), Run DMC’s Crown Royal (2001), Desmond Child/Bif Naked’s Purge (2001), Hank Williams, Jr.’s Almeria Club Recordings (2002), Sheryl Crow’s The Very Best of Sheryl Crow (2003), Billy Cox & Buddy Miles’s The Band of Gypsys Return (2004).
The decision to leave Kid Rock was difficult for Olson -- but necessary. "Those guys are like family," says Olson. "I was with (Rock) for 11 years. I love that whole band. We'll be 80-year-old guys and we'll be able to look at each other and go, 'Can you believe...?!' But I felt like I was at a point where if I didn't do my ultimate dream thing, then I never would. And I knew the journey would be the kind it should be - tough and long."
Kenny Olson shared stages the world over with artists such as Metallica, Aerosmith, Buddy Guy, Paul Rodgers and Run DMC, as well as performed live and in the studio for the Hendrix family. Other musical endeavors have included projects with Les Paul (Les Paul & Friends), Sheryl Crow, Billy Cox, Chaka Khan and Faith Evans. Add GRAMMY, AMA, Billboard, VH1, MTV awards, late-night shows, Super Bowl, world tours with Aerosmith and Metallica and even his own Simpsons character to begin to top it all off.
When Olson began an association with the Hendrix family and Experience Hendrix, LLC - which consider him “family” according to Janie Hendrix, Al Hendrix (Jimi’s father) wanted Kenny on the album, Power of Soul: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix (2004), with Chaka Khan - hence “Little Wing.”. On Hendrix and Olson, Carlos Santana said, “First of all, Jimi Hendrix was a seeker, an explorer for the rest of us. He didn’t copy anyone’s style and he wouldn’t expect that out of us. To copy him or to try and sound like him would not honor him. As for Kenny Olson, Jimi would have loved him. Kenny is quiet like Jimi was; he doesn’t seek the spotlight for himself. He lets his guitar speak for him. In musical circles Kenny Olson is known as the cat that plays with Kid Rock, not for him.”
He also joined several Experience Hendrix tours and formed groups such as Flask, Motorflys and all-star band, 7daybinge. Having the chance to play with some of his heroes including Hendrix cohorts Billy Cox, Mitch Mitchell and Howlin’ Wolf’s guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Olson says, “I learned so much, heard so many stories and made such great friends. It was the greatest education. I really feel like they’ve passed me the torch and it’s my job to keep it burning.”
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