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Bill Kirchen—much in demand as a studio musician—has finally taken time out to record for himself. He and his band, Too Much Fun, have just released their second disc, Have Love, Will Travel, on New Orleans’ Blacktop label. Titled after a song performed by the Sharps (and not the garage tune by the Sonics), Have Love features production by Peter Bonta, who has worked with Mary Chapin Carpenter, as well as a guest spot by the Grandsons’ horn section.
Too Much Fun includes Kirchen on guitar, bassist Johnny Castle (previously with Tex Rubinowitz and the Bad Boys), and drummer Jack O’Dell (once among the Hula Monsters and the artists formerly known as the Grandsons of the Pioneers). The trio’s combination of rockabilly, honky-tonk, and blues reinforces the work of two late greats: Roy Buchanan and Danny Gatton. Another thread linking Kirchen, Buchanan, and Gatton is the time-honored Fender Telecaster, chosen by musicians who appreciate twang. “One common denominator,” Kirchen explains, “is that everybody is at least conversant with some older country and hillbilly genres, and the Tele was associated with a country sound.” Even listeners who haven’t attended Kirchen’s live shows (or seen him hop onstage for an impromptu performance with a national act) have heard him play: That’s his blistering guitar on Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen’s “Hot Rod Lincoln.”
Kirchen spends a lot of time helping other musicians upgrade their work. He played lead guitar on Nick Lowe’s Party of One and The Impossible Bird, and has toured with Lowe for the past two years. And in February, Kirchen was invited to perform, along with legends James Burton and Sonny Burgess, at a two-night Gatton tribute and family fundraiser in New York City. With so many side projects, Kirchen barely has time to break for the Have Love CD release party, scheduled for Saturday, April 13, at Tornado Alley.