Kenny Smith is—hands-down—one of the premier blues drummers on the scene today. He was taught by one of the very best—his own father, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, who drummed for the great Muddy Waters. He was given a unique vantage point on the blues and a leg up on his music as he grew up in a house where some of the greatest Chicago blues musicians constantly dropped by.
Kenny’s career has seen a meteoric rise, and it reached a high point when he won a Grammy in 2011 backing up his father (then playing harp), as well as former Waters’ piano player, Pinetop Perkins, on Joined at the Hip. It can hardly get better than that. Yet Kenny does not rest on his laurels. He finds time to play in several bands contemporaneously, is the go-to guy for session drumming, and continues to perfect his craft and learn new styles and techniques. He’s a family man who in addition teaches workshops and participates in the Blues in the Schools program.
He has recorded developmental music for children as well as a series of drum instructional videos. The impressive testimonials on his website, from some of the biggest names in the biz, seem irrefutable proof of his abilities and character, as well as his enduring impact as a man and a musician.
His latest project, Keepin It Together, recorded in 2014 with preeminent Chicago bassist Bob Stroger, is available on Big Eye Records.
Smith’s jam sessions are always a heavy favorite for all musicians eager to have a chance to play with this Grammy Award-winning drummer.