Ken Leighton 5 p.m., Jan. 24
Sound description: Singer/songwriter-centered psychedelic folk rock.
RIYL: Peter Case, Steely Dan, John Lennon, Frank Zappa, Mike Keneally, Pete Townshend, Elliot Smith, Brian Wilson, Richard Thompson, Layne Sterling, the Assumptions, the Mockers
Upcoming Local Shows
- "Rockers Who Write" · July 30, 2014
- Jam Session: "Jon Kanis Will Be Hard to Avoid in 2012" · Nov. 26, 2011
- Musician Interviews · July 28, 2005
Influences: Aerosmith, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Jeff Beck, William Blake, Capital Centre, Peter Case, Barbara Hand Clow, Miles Davis, the Doors, Bob Dylan, T.S. Eliot, Joe Ferrelli, the Flamingos, Flo & Eddie, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Robyn Hitchcock, Neil Innes, Elton John, Mike Keneally, Jack Kerouac, the Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Love, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Jack Nitzsche, Yoko Ono, Charlie Parker, the Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Stew, Pete Townshend, the Who, Brian Wilson, Neil Young, Frank Zappa
Jon Kanis once asked me, "Are you a Plimsouls fan?" Like any right-thinking music writer I said, "Of course" -- which is how I found out Kanis was Peter Case's newsletter publisher and road manager in the early '90s. This impresses me, and I was already impressed with Kanis. I have been since his 1997 folksy/psychedelic EP A Pair of Opposites, the first of his many collaborations with überguitarist Mike Keneally (Zappa's one-time touring axeman).
"I didn't learn how to play the guitar," he says, "until I moved to the West Coast and, six months later, having just turned 19, I bought a fairly cheap Martin copy, a Montaya, for around $150 at the now-defunct Dave's House of Guitars on El Cajon Boulevard."
Before becoming a full-time musician, Kanis spent six working for David Peck's local company Reelin' in the Years Productions, an historical music film and video archive. Kanis has always had an ear for good music and good musicians; witness how his early '90s backing group the Wondermints is now Brian Wilson's touring Smile band.
In addition, he began running his Spin Wizard mobile DJ business in 2000, accumulating over 120,000 tracks in his playlist by 2012.
Regarding his equipment, he uses the aforementioned Montaya, with a handful of modifications from the guys at Top Gear, a black Epiphone that stays tuned to open C, a black Telecaster copy, and a Bedrock amp, a couple of powered Mackie speakers, and a cheap, functional Behringer four-
channel mixer that allows him to entertain as a disc jockey in addition to playing solo or with a group.
As of 2012, Kanis also plays with the Assumptions (bass), Listening to Rock (vocals, bass), and Got It Covered aka ADD/C (vocals, bass). “I’m currently working on 23 Skidoo!, the first of five books that I want to publish,” Kanis tells the Reader. 23 Skidoo! is a collection of 45 songs composed over 25 years, and the books will feature a complete recording sessionography tracing Kanis' activities as a musician, producer, and archivist, including all 240 episodes of his State Controlled Radio programs.
In summer 2012, Kanis taught a nine-week class on Astrologyat Kwan Yin Holistic Center on Grape Street Square (30th and Grape Street), where also offered astrological natal chart readings and tarot readings.
The soundtrack for the documentary A Box Full Of Rocks: The El Cajon Years of Lester Bangs includes several tracks by Kanis, as well as songs by 1960s/70s rockers Thee Dark Ages (who would frequently jam with rock critic Bangs), as well contributions by Robert Williams (Captain Beefheart), Jack Gimble, and the Flying Sandolini.
June 2014 saw the release of a Kanis anthology, All-American Mongrel Boy (1989-2014), featuring eighteen songs including six previously unreleased tracks, as well as selections from the Walk Without Me EP (never before available on compact disc), the A Pair Of Opposites EP, and the 2005 double LP Cabalistic Dispatch (recorded with Mike Keneally).
That summer, Kanis also formed a Hollies tribute group with Liz Abbott and David Fleminger, with gigs being planned for later that year.