By DJ Dave Hoffenberg
Kenny Mehler makes his long awaited return to Killington at 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, June 4-5 at Jax Food and Games. Mehler got his start at the Wobbly Barn in 2001 with his band Five Wise and became a Killington staple, but it’s been a few years since he’s been back.
Kenny Mehler and I are great friends and he’s one of my favorite performers. Jax owner Chris Karr agrees. He once said, “Kenny is the best front man I’ve ever seen.”
You can expect to hear his amazing originals mixed in with some obscure covers, played with his personal twist. He remixes the song in a way that you may know the hook but you won’t know the song until that hook comes up.
He can loop and play percussion with his guitar. “It will sound two to three times bigger than a solo act,” Mehler explained.
People have described his sound as a mix between Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, OAR, Sublime and Jason Mraz. I agree but his music is so original sounding that you really do need to see him live.
Mehler is a hard working singer-songwriter from my hometown, Glastonbury, Connecticut. He currently resides in Portland, the town next door. And for the past 11 years, he’s been busy taking care of his three beautiful triplet daughters Ellie, Mia and Brooke. They were part of a pandemic show of his last April and they’re adorable. Covid completely wiped his playing out since Connecticut shut down music entirely and even now is slowly coming back.
“It’s been brutal,” he said. “There’s no guarantee these venues will bring back live music and have the entertainment budget they had in the past.”
But he’s grateful to Chris Karr for bringing him back to Killington. “To see old friends I haven’t seen in a long time is huge in itself. Killington is a huge part of my history and I’ve always had a blast up there. It will be nice to be up there again,” he said. “Even though venues change, the people stay the same.” He’s hoping to continue this relationship through the winter and wants to bring the band up a couple of times.
Mehler recently signed with UMG/Universal Records encompassing his entire back catalog in Jan of 2021. They said, “We are proud to announce that Kenny Mehler has partnered with Universal Music Group. Kenny has now been given the tools to reach out to his existing audience and the ability to access thousands of new fans all over the world. This is the most exciting and rewarding opportunity that he has been afforded to date and he will be sure to share his passion for music with the world.”
Mehler also agreed to a five-year contract extension with Martin Guitar and is proud to continue his long-standing relationship with one of the most prestigious guitar and string companies in the world.
Mehler is currently working on releasing as much past content as he can. He spoke with many musicians during the pandemic and that’s what everyone is doing. Digital is the way to go and releasing to all the streaming platforms is the plan, Mehler said. “I don’t need to make hard copies, nobody owns a CD player anymore,” he said.
Mehler got right to work. He said, “I have thousands of live shows because I record every show. I picked out some good ones and have three I’ll be releasing in the next four months.”
Two months ago he re-released a 2011 solo acoustic show, “Live from the Hard Rock” at Foxwoods. It’s called a “Deluxe” version because he added five new tracks. “The reason you’re doing it is to inundate the streaming platforms and the more you get on there, the hope is that it leads to some revenue,” he explained.
Mehler has been a full-time musician for over 20 years. His last “normal” job was as a waiter at TGI Fridays for two months in 1998, before getting fired. He said, “I love being my own boss but that was the worst possible thing during Covid. It’s nice not answering to anybody but it came back to bite me.”
He, unfortunately, didn’t get much help from the state or unemployment. He added, “It’s tough now but it will turn around.”
His passion for what he does is what keeps him going, he said, “It’s gratifying to see people you don’t know singing something you wrote. There’s nothing better than that. Turning up in a new market and seeing that, you know your online presence is doing it’s job or people are starting to get the word out.”
Mehler still writes music constantly and wrote about 30 new songs during the pandemic that he’ll produce into 15 or so tracks.
“I’m my toughest critic,” he said.
He most likes to write stories or tell a narrative that you can follow along to as opposed to what he calls “nursery rhymes,” little catchy phrases with not a lot of substance. He’s planning to release a new studio album soon.
You can find him on all the social media platforms as well as his website: kennymehler.com.