Pre-Order your AUTOGRAPHED copy of “American Vinyl” by CLICKING HERE! The new album releases on August 12th, 2016.
The blue collar work anthems of Springsteen, Joel, Mellencamp and Petty rang true for Kyle Jennings childhood. Raised in the rich Midwestern culture of Michigan’s hard-wooded backcountry trails Jennings was the youngest of 3 kids. The storyteller outlook stuck with the young hockey player as he grew up on venison chili and summers at the family’s cottage on Pine Lake. Ruggedly handsome and incredibly charming, Jennings was no stranger to hard work; slinging lumber and building houses with his dad. He quickly learned the satisfaction that comes when you create something of your own.
“I grew up in a very middle class home, so we didn’t have a lot of extra money to do any extraordinary things. The best memories for me came from being outdoors. When I was about 8 years old we entered into a fishing tournament against a then unknown Kevin VanDam (professional bass fisherman from Kalamazoo). Everyone in our group threw in their catches under my name and I beat out Kevin and the rest of the field and won the tournament,” Jennings happily recalls.
Spending the better part of his youth pursuing his passion for ice hockey paid off when Jennings left his hometown of Comstock, MI to play junior hockey in Toledo, OH. From there he spent two seasons in Springfield, IL playing for the Springfield Junior Blues of the NAHL. “Game nights were a lot of fun. Our entrance music was ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ by Guns N Roses and ‘Lunatic Fringe’ by Red Rider,” remembers Jennings. He spent three seasons traveling the US and Canada before a string of concussions led to an early exit of his hockey career and ultimately his return home to Michigan back to his roots.
“My grandparents were so special. My grandparents on my mom’s side were very recreational and used to take me golfing, and fishing. They had this great big old black Oldsmobile. I remember riding in the front middle seat between them and listening to George Jones ‘White Lightning’ on 8-track. My dad’s dad was the most wonderful, gentle, and sincere man I’ve ever known. One of my fondest childhood memories with him was, after some heavy coaxing when we would go see him, he would break out the fiddle and play for us. He was a very accomplished musician. He used to saw that fiddle in half in his living room for us and playing ‘Orange Blossom Special. You swore a train was gonna come busting through the front door. Man could he play that thing,” says Jennings. It was during his return home he discovered an old Yamaha guitar underneath his grandfather’s bed and started to teach himself guitar and began writing songs and performing. In a short period of time Jennings was entertaining crowds around southwest Michigan. Jennings began making trips to Nashville and in the summer of 2002 relocated to Music City.
The Midwest transplant started to release music, hone his performance chops at local honky tonks, and a stint as bar band at Wild Bill’s in Atlanta. He would spend the next years traveling across the country sharing stages with acts from Hank Jr. to Styx, earning a reputation as a passionate and rambunctious high-energy live performer. In 2005 Jennings songwriting was recognized worldwide when his solo-penned “Can I Run in the Dark (and Still Walk in the Light) was selected as 1 of 15 finalists in the country category of the International Songwriting Competition, a massive competition that commonly receives 15,000+ entries each year.
In 2009, Jennings returned to the ice, this time as a coach, giving back to the hockey community that shaped him and working to develop talented young aspiring travel hockey players for the Nashville Jr. Predators Travel Hockey organization and various development camps in the Greater Nashville area. An accomplished Level 4 USA Hockey Certified instructor, Jennings would lead teams for the next 5 seasons to a smorgasbord of success including multiple tournament wins, two state championships, 2-USA Hockey National Tournament berths, and bringing home gold at the 2012 USA Hockey U12 Div 1A Peewee National Championship.
“For the past 7 years I’ve served in some capacity as a coach or skills instructor in the local youth hockey community. In 2012 my boys won the U12 Tier 2 Peewee National Championship. We were down 2-1 going into the 3rd period and the boys rose to the occasion and rallied hard. Our captain scored the game winning goal. I remember calling my dad after the championship game and crying on the phone with him. It’s a completely different feeling when you’re in control of helping young men navigate their way to glory. I have a team picture hanging in my bedroom with the gold medal from the tournament. Such a special memory,” shares Jennings here are the findings.
Although primarily recognized as a country artist, Jennings music is quite diverse. His infusion of blues, folk, rock, and country have provided him a great platform in which to tell his small town stories and affection for the American way of life has become his signature sound. His upcoming album American Vinyl out Aug. 12 at digital retailers, marks a triumph of a life well-lived. Jennings takes listeners on a journey through his songs.
“You can’t lose until you quit” is what my dad always tells me. Expect great things from Kyle Jennings in the coming months.