MARTINSBURG — Nashville resident Billy Kemp is a musician, songwriter, singer, composer and producer. He performs passionate homemade songs and compositions, mostly roots music. He makes his first appearance at First Friday Coffeehouse at Trinity Orchard House this week.
“I’ll be sharing songs and stories from my latest releases, ‘Another Life’ and ‘The Painter’s Bucket,’” said Kemp. A Baltimore native, from 2006-2016, Kemp wrote, recorded and performed with the Appalachian Folk duo Jeni & Billy. Over the past 40 years, Kemp has recorded five solo albums and written over 200 songs.
“Baltimore was a wonderful place to grow up, a city rich in diversity socially and culturally,” said Kemp. “There were many kinds of music I was exposed to including folk, blues, country and jazz, as well as a bit of rock-roll and popular. My Dad was a semi-professional singer and my mother played the piano. I grew up in a row house in West Baltimore where each floor had its own music. My sister on the 2nd floor listened to popular, soul and R & B; my parents and grandparents on the 1st floor listened to American songbook, Tin Pan Alley songs, swing, big band and jazz. My brother and I lived in the basement playing folk, blues and rock-n-roll on our portable record player. The AM radio station, WCAO, played everything, popular, rock-n-roll, country, folk-pop and some blues. That station, in serious way did broadcasting, broad as in diverse.”
Kemp said he lives in Tennessee now because of Nashville and all of its cultural and music business advantages. He moved there in 1982.
He’s performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and played electric guitar on international rock tours. He’s played with Levon Helm, Merle Haggard, Jeanne Pruett, and fundraised for veterans with Johnny Cash.
“I think he is quite good,” wrote Roseanne Cash about Billy Kemp. “He reminds me of some Austin type songwriters; also a cross between Leroy Preston and Loudon Wainwright, both excellent writers. He’s better than 90% of the music I receive.”
Kemp has worn the hat of producer, facilitator, teacher and composer. He ran a successful studio in the Mid-Atlantic area for fifteen years and composed music for Maryland Public Television.
Kemp is currently promoting his latest projects, “Another Life” and “The Painter’s Bucket.”
The First Friday concert series features national and regional roots artists October through June at Trinity Orchard House. The venue is well-known for the high quality of entertainment. Doors open for social time and open mic sign-up at 7 p.m. Open mic starts at 7:15 p.m. and is on a first-come first-serve basis. Performers have the opportunity to showcase their talent in an eight-minute segment. Snacks and refreshments are served. Admission is a requested $10 donation.
Trinity Orchard House is located at 4599 Shepherdstown Road, Martinsburg. For more information, contact Steve Warner at 676-4422 or visit on Facebook. First Friday Coffeehouse is a non-profit in partnership with Trinity United Methodist Church.
For more information on Billy Kemp, find him on Facebook or at www.billykemp.com.