March 4, 2016 by Jay Minkin
You notice him whenever he walks into a room. The man looks sharp dressed to the 9’s in a dark pin-stripe suit and black brimmed hat. He walks slowly with a shiny silver cane, but one look into his eyes says you don’t want to mess with this fella. He is all business and commands respect from those in his presence.
Robert Kidney still brings it strong at almost 70 years young if you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing him perform on stage. As a founding member and lead singer of 15-60-75 (The Numbers Band), Robert has been mastering this trade for over 45 years. Their blend of the blues with experimental rock and jazz has transformed seeing The Numbers Band an artistic experience. For those familiar with The Numbers Band and it’s off-shoots like The Kidney Brothers (with multi-instrumentalists brother Jack Kidney) or Trio (with either saxophonist Terry Hynde, bassist Bill Watson, or drummer Clint Alguire), Robert Kidney has always offered up some very emotional interpretations of original and cover songs.
Over their long and storied career, the band opened for the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Hound Dog Taylor, and Tom Waits. They backed Johnny Shines along with Robert performing a duet show with Mississippi Fred McDowell. One of my most cherished bucket list shows was seeing the boys open for and then back the legendary Bo Diddley in the basement of Kent Ohio dive bar JB’s circa September of 1980. Although Kidney wrote the song “The Animal Speaks” which was recorded and performed by Jack Bruce and Johnny Rotten, the group never was signed to a major label or recording contract.
Time has a way of taking a moment for reflection and Robert Kidney decided to record a bare bones album called Jackleg which is due to be released on April 22nd in Vinyl/CD/Digital formats via Exit Stencil Recordings. The album, his first solo venture, is just Kidney recorded alone with an acoustic guitar. Recorded live with just two edits by engineer Tony Maimone at Studio G in Brooklyn, New York, the dark and haunting blues album transports Kidney right into your living room. The eleven tracks found on Jackleg drips with the same depth as Johnny Cash did on his American Recordings. Several songs time out at over five minutes beginning with the opener called “Big Paradise”. Kidney tells a story to open “Back To Disaster” and he grabs a girl to ride in his ragtop titled “Red Stick”. His trades man life is opened on “Blue “Collar” and his heart bleeds on songs like “No Lock, No Key” and the beautiful “Rosalee”.
Although no official record release dates have been set, you can find The Numbers Band in Cleveland, Akron, or Kent each month at www.numbersband.com