Kevin Waide is happiest when he’s got the blues


TUPELO – For Kevin Waide, his musical career has truly come full circle.
When he was 16, he was sneaking into The Zoo, the nightclub in Tupelo, to hear live music. A band called him up on stage to play guitar one fateful night.
“They started a monster,” Waide said.
Fast-forward about 20 years, and Waide is now using The Zoo as a recording studio.
“I love that place,” he said. “It wasn’t weird to go back – it was nostalgic, definitely.”

Musical roots
Waide, a Nettleton native, grew up in a musical family.
“It was the kind of house where, if someone picks up an instrument, the TV gets turned off,” he said.
He learned the keyboard, harmonica and mouth harp, but when he discovered the guitar at 12, he “never looked back.”
As a teenager, he was influenced by what he saw at clubs like The Zoo, and he formed several bands, like Little Dreamer and Novice Jove.
After a brief stint in Memphis, Waide moved back to the area with the mind to play his favorite style of music, the blues.
“Blues is of the moment,” he said. “After a night of playing the blues, I am wore out, used up and thrown away – but I’m also wound up and ready to do more. My body’s wore out, but mentally I’m wide open.”

From Texas to Chicago
Back in Tupelo, Waide created the Kevin Waide Project. When he books a gig, Waide has a few friends he calls on regularly – Skip Oliver, Jimmy Karow, Jason Carter and Chris Fooshee – but if they can’t make it, he starts calling every other musician he knows.
“Sometimes I’ll have a three piece; other times I’ll have seven or eight people on stage with me,” he said.
So, while Waide is playing the blues every night, the mix of musicians he brings in always adds a different flavor. Waide loves hearing the styles converge.
“It’s always different from the time before. I don’t tell them what to play; I tell them what key it’s in,” he said. “You can’t rehearse the blues.”
Reinventing his band for almost every gig means the creativity never stops.
“I love playing with as many musicians as possible. It’s like cheating on your wife, without the alimony or child support,” he said, laughing. “It’s like artists tag-teaming a painting. You let somebody else do what they do, and it may influence what you do next.”
Waide plays all styles of the blues in the Project, but he also plays in bands like The Fugitives.
Right now, Waide keeps a full list of gigs, and he’s wrapping up that new album he’s recording out at The Zoo.
“We recorded it live,” he said. The new album should be released soon.
From sneaking into The Zoo to creating an album in the old club, Waide has come a long way. Every time he picks up a guitar to play, he still feels like the kid sneaking into a bar to hear his favorite bands.
“I’d do it for free. It’s not uncommon that I’ll be in a place that doesn’t have a band, and I’ll play for tips,” he said. “I’ve got to get it out one way or another, and the more people that hear it, the better.”

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