The Concise Bio
Bill Kirchen plays American roots music. He just received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance 2001. A Titan of the Telecaster guitar (Guitar Player magazine May 1998 & June 2002), he celebrates an American musical tradition where country music draws upon its origins in blues and bluegrass, and in the Western swing of Texas and California honky tonks. Bill Kirchen first gained renown as lead guitarist and a vocalist for Commander Cody & his Lost Planet Airmen, the renegade country-rock band that tuned a whole generation of rock fans into the joys of unvarnished country, boogie and rockabilly. It was the resonant twang of Kirchen's battered Telecaster that drove "Hot Rod Lincoln" into the Top Ten in 1972. Kirchen has played guitar on recordings and performances with Gene Vincent, Link Wray, Danny Gatton, Emmylou Harris, Hoyt Axton, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello.
In 2002 Bill Kirchen was inducted into the Washington Area Music Association Hall of Fame along with Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana) and John Phillip Sousa as well as winning 10 additional Wammies including Artist of the Year and Musician of the Year. In previous years, he won 2000 Rock/ Roots Rock Instrumentalist of the Year, Roots Rock Album (Raise A Ruckus) and 1999 Instrumentalist of the Year at the WAMA Awards, as well as being a multiple winner in 1997 and 1998, receiving ten awards, including Songwriter of the Year. Seamlessly integrating the band's sound is Kirchen's incredible fluency in the tradition of American electric guitar, roots division. A Kirchen performance recalls a half century of guitar legends from virtuosos like Merle Travis, Joe Maphis and Grady Martin to rock legends like Scotty Moore, James Burton and Duane Eddy and extends their brilliance into the nineties. This is well captured on his CD's Raise A Ruckus, Hot Rod Lincoln - Live! and his latest release Tied to the Wheel on HighTone Records, featuring the Grammy nominated instrumental "Poultry in Motion"..
Bill recently played guitar on Doug Sahm's last album, performed with Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe in San Francisco, and accompanied Ralph Stanley on a national broadcast of Mountain Stage radio. He performed at the 25th year reunion radio show of Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen on the widely syndicated Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion in January 2001. Also on the air was the band's Fourth of July 1999 Celebration show at the Washington Monument with Tito Puente, and Shirley Caesar. This past fall Bill fronted an allstar band benefitting Rep. Dave Obey with ex-Dead Mickey Hart on drums and Bruce Hornsby on piano. Recently Bill headlined a nationwide tour of Hightone Records Presents The TwangBangers, a honky tonk super group featuring guitarist Redd Volkaert (Merle Haggard), steel guitar player Joe Goldmark (Taj Mahal, Maria Muldaur and Peter Rowan) and singer-songwriter Dallas Wayne. They are playing the Blue Highways Festival in Utrecht, Holland in March 2002. Serving as The TwangBangers rhythm section for the tour are Johnny Castle on bass and Jack O'Dell on drums, collectively known as Too Much Fun, who've been working with Kirchen for over 10 years.
He has also been in demand on the lecture circuit. He delivered a talk at the National Museum of American History for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC as part of the Electrified, Amplified and Diefied - The Electric Guitar exhibition in 1996. In April of 1997 he spoke and performed at a lecture series for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Kicking off the 1997 TNN special Yesterday and Today: Honky Tonk & Western Swing, Bill is interviewed and performs along with Hank Thompson, Doug Sahm, Don Walser and more. He spoke in 8/98 at the International Conference on Elvis Presley in Memphis, TN.
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