A self-taught student of both guitar and piano, Kevin McKendree gained notice in the late '80s, backing touring blues acts as they made their way through the Washington D.C. area. The pianist landed a gig on a European tour supporting local blues legend Tom Principato, and when it conflicted with his final exams at nearby Virginia Commonwealth University, McKendree closed the books and got on a plane. After a three-and-a-half year stint as a professional musician, he returned to school, but only briefly. Flip-flopping between touring and trying to hold down a "respectable" job, the pianist jumped at the chance to work as part of Lee Roy Parnell's backing band.
Moving to Tennessee and subsequently earning a Grammy nomination for his boogie woogie instrumental "Mama, Screw Your Wig on Tight" (featured on Parnell's 1997 album Every Night's a Saturday Night), McKendree found an unlikely home in the Nashville studios. In late 1997, he moved on to more familiar blues-roots touring with singer and harmonica player Delbert McClinton. The 1990s proved fruitful for the session man; his talents show up on more than 30 albums for such diverse artists as Anson Funderburgh and Seven Mary Three. In 2000, McKendree released his first album of solo material titled Miss Laura's Kitchen. ~ Zac Johnson