January 12, 2010: Listen to Dale playing a beautiful version of “Daniel” at the Wild Hog in the Woods coffeehouse. Thanks to Tom Christie for his recording of it, and to Leda Nath for passing it along for posting here. It’s the first track in the player below.

Remembering Musician Dale Kidd

Wisconsin State Journal, Dec. 16, 2009

Maybe it makes a funny kind of sense that Dale Kidd, in death, is getting the kind of attention he might have deserved but never really got in life.

Kidd was a musician and songwriter who always had time to play in somebody else’s band, or take someone’s song and tweak it and make it better.

He’d be there in a heartbeat for a sweaty sideman’s gig in a crowded bar, maybe some ramshackle country place near his native Richland Center. Kidd would peer out through the smoke, hit a lick on his guitar and grin. He was in his element. So what if not everyone knew his name?

But since Kidd’s death Saturday, at 55, from complications of the swine flu virus, it has become evident just how many people appreciated his music and spirit. Tributes have poured into a website, www.dalekidd.com, that was quickly established by his colleagues and friends.

I got a note from Aaron Nathans, a former Capital Times reporter, now on the business desk of the Delaware News Journal. Nathans and Kidd wrote songs together, and Dale played mandolin on Nathans’ “Same Old You” CD.

“He was the backup singer everyone wanted,” Nathans wrote of his friend. “He never asked for credit or sought publicity for himself, so you probably haven’t heard his name, but chances are you’ve heard him on stage or known one of the many musicians he’s mentored.”

The musician who knew Kidd longest was likely Mark Goad. They grew up a block from each other in Richland Center.

Goad, who now works for the city of Middleton, recalled on Wednesday that there came a day in junior high school when Kidd tapped him on the shoulder and suggested they form a garage band. Kidd played guitar — his parents bought him one at Sears — and Goad drums.

Many bands followed over many years. His musician friend Thomas Burns estimated Kidd played 100 nights a year. If nothing else was going on, they might find an open mic night somewhere.

“He never stopped playing,” Burns said. “And he was one of those guys who could play anything.”

Kidd, who served in the Navy, studied fire science at MATC and worked in fire safety at UW-Madison. But as Burns said, he never stopped playing. It may be better to say he never stopped thinking about music, how to get better, how to hit the perfect note. There are several friends who fondly recall Kidd pulling up at their curb unannounced and insisting they jump in and hear his latest recording or guitar riff.

Kidd is probably best known, musically, for his collaboration with his friend Larry Bird in the acoustic duo Kydd and Byrd. They put out a CD, “Gypsy Life,” in 2000 that was favorably reviewed in the State Journal.

In the past year, Kidd had seemed to hit a musical stride to rival the days of Kydd and Byrd. He teamed up with Andy Nath in a group called the Hang Loueys.

Burns and Goad were in the audience for a September show at the Crossroads Coffee House in Cross Plains. “I’ve never seen Dale Kidd happier as a performer,” Burns wrote later. He told me Wednesday: “There was something about playing with Andy Nath. Dale just let it all hang out. It was a joy to watch.”

“It was so good to see him on stage just having a blast,” Goad said.

Less than two months later, he was very ill. Kidd went into the hospital with the flu on Nov. 11 and within days had been put into an induced coma.

Goad called Kidd’s friends — the number grew to more than 40 — and asked them each to say a few words into a dictation machine, which Goad then gave to Kidd’s wife, Jean, who put them into his MP3 player.

“For the last week he got to listen to those messages,” Goad said.

He died Dec. 12. As Goad sorted through his memories, he said most of all he might miss those days when Kidd would just drive up and holler, “Hop in!”

Off they’d go, talking and playing music. “No one does that anymore,” Goad said.

Obituary

Wisconsin State Journal, Dec. 18, 2009

Dale P. Kidd passed away on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009, at Meriter Hospital Madison after a month-long battle against H1N1 and pneumonia.

He was born on March 6, 1954, in Richland Center to Oscar and Wilma Kidd. Survivors include his wife of 35 years, Jean (Keatley) Kidd; daughter, Sarah (Kevin) Hoard; three grandchildren, Julian, Jack and Exene; sisters, Diane Smyth, Darlene (David) Norman and Dawn (Frank Mowery) Kidd; eight nephews; six nieces; and many cousins and very dear friends. A memorial gathering will be announced at a further date. Please make any memorial donations to Outreach For World Hope, a non-profit organization that was very close to Dale’s heart. Please visit YouTube video “Sad Day Dale Kidd” and www.outreachforworldhope.org. Many thanks to Andrea and all the wonderful staff at the 7th floor ICU at Meriter Hospital Madison.
Cress Funeral and Cremation Service 3610 Speedway Road (608) 238-3434

Rest In Peace Dale Kidd

Local Sounds Magazine, December 14, 2009

On December 12, 2009, Dale Kidd, a local singer/songwriter, performer, and sideman passed away due to complications from the H1N1 virus. As a result, southern Wisconsin lost one of its stellar, and unique native sons.

Dale was remarkable in his abilities to bring people together, to support the local music scene and all its participants, and to find absurdity in the accepted pantheon of pop culture and make us laugh hysterically about it. But what he seemed always to do with anyone he met was to find the good and praise it. It was this quality that encouraged so many local musicians and singer/songwriters to pursue their craft, to present their art to the world, and to put them in touch with others who were pursuing the same creative dreams.

Dale played in numerous bands over the years, most recently as a member of the Hang Loueys. He loved to play, and he would travel to the most obscure venues to do it, enduring van breakdowns, driving around lost, on-stage equipment failures, dirty motel rooms, unruly crowds, and all the nonsense and hassles associated with being a performing and touring musician. But none of that ever dissuaded him from packing his car and driving all night to to do it all again. Herbie Hancock tells a story of how Miles Davis walked off stage one night and said something like “I almost found that one note…” It’s a fitting description of how Dale perceived his own musical efforts and contributions. He was constantly striving for that “one note”. To those of us who were lucky enough to be there when he played, it seemed he found it more often than he knew.

Dale’s abilities as a guitar player were renowned. He was able to sit in with anyone – regardless of their styles or abilities – and find some way to connect and make any piece sound good. His reputation for playing so many different styles of music put him in great demand as a studio musician and sideman.

In the last year of his life, Dale found real joy and satisfaction in several music projects with which he was involved. A recording project with Mark Goad of Dale’s original music; his recent collaboration with Andy Nath and the Hang Loueys; and a recording project with Greg Dierks and several members of Sausage Creek all came together simultaneously. He was truly in his element for all of these projects, and it showed.

A website has been put up in Dale’s honor and is being updated regularly with comments, pictures, music, and video clips. Anyone who knew Dale is encouraged to go out to http://www.dalekidd.com to post a comment, look through the pictures, listen to his music, and watch him play.

Dale was a wonderful guy and we’re already missing him terribly.

About Dale

Songwriter Dale Kidd plays soul-stirring, creative acoustic folk-pop.

Dale Kidd has a rough, sweet voice and a big heart. He has the unique ability to express sadness and joy in the same breath. He is the guitar player and vocalist everyone wants backing them, but that clean, gentle acoustic sound comes through best when he’s front and center.

Dale is best known in southern Wisconsin as one half of the acoustic duo Kydd & Byrd, which he shared with boyhood friend Larry Bird. Lately he has been entertaining folks with the Hang Loueys with fellow Louey Andrew Nath. But this guitar wizard has also made a name for himself as a solo act. An active member of the Madison Songwriters Group, Kidd has hosted Songwriters in the Round at the Casbah, and has performed at the Pres House as well as the Winter Farmer’s Market. He is a three-time finalist in the Madison Songwriter’s Contest, and a song he co-wrote, “Rideaway,” was runner-up in the pop/rock division in 2004.

Kidd has had quite a journey. He grew up in Richland Center, Wisconsin learning Peter, Paul and Mary songs on a guitar his parents bought him at Sears. He chose to enlist in the Navy and traveled the world during the final years of the Vietnam conflict. Kidd returned to Wisconsin to play in the band The Skates, a Madison pop group, in the 1970’s. Later that decade, he played in the band Coffee and Alcohol, an R&B group. In 1979, a new father, Kidd enrolled in the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood. After a month, he sensed something was not right, and returned to Wisconsin to be with his family.

That story led him to write one of his most touching ballads, “Endlessly,” the story of the man he might have been had he stayed in California :

“He woke up in his room to the sounds of his family not there. His dreams just won’t let him alone…”

In the mid-1980’s, he founded the Dale Savage Band in Richland Center. In the mid-1990’s, he reconnected with Larry Bird, and formed their duo. Kydd & Byrd released the album “Gyspy Life” in 2002. Dale continues to write, sing, perform, and record through offering each project a touch of his own unique style.

With the start of a new century, Dale Kidd, a new grandfather, is also ready to tell his stories in a solo setting. He can shake the walls with “Hell’s Door,” the story of an unhinged veteran of the Iraq War; he can break your heart with “Hard Getting Round,” a lament for a relationship gone wrong. One of his most popular solo tunes, “Summer of Love” is written from the point of view of a friend: “My father died in the Summer of Love, while everyone else learned to live.” And “Uncle Paul” is a whimsical look back at a beloved black-sheep relative who played the trumpet and didn’t much care what anyone thought of him:

“As I look through my might-have-beens/Ain’t nothing wrong having been like him.”

Hang Loueys Review

Local Sounds Magazine, September 11, 2009

I’ve never seen Dale Kidd happier as a performer than I did on Friday night at the Crossroads Coffee House in Cross Plains. He and Andrew Nath, calling themselves The Hang Loueys, genuinely seemed to be enjoying themselves. The crowd did as well, hooting repeatedly and calling them back for two encores.

With their two acoustic guitars and dressed-down appearance, I expected set lists of sensitive, soul-searching, singer/songwriter-type material. Instead, the two of them rolled out a nearly-raucous collection of Soul and Motown hits with some added Bee-Gees and a little Ben E. King. Talented songwriters in their own right, they only tossed in a smattering of originals, which all seemed to show up in just the right places to balance the tempo and keep the crowd focused.

Dale and Andy both kept the stage patter alive throughout the show and often solicited the crowd for requests – another indication of how comfortable the two of them felt. When I asked later about the depth of their material, Dale turned to Andy and asked “How long have we been together? Almost a year? So yeah, we can do a four-hour gig easy now.” And, evidently, between the two of them, they know plenty enough to handle obscure requests like Johnny Horton’s “The Battle of New Orleans”. Dale took that one and ran down a story of when he was a kid and latched on obsessively to Horton’s song “The Sinking of the Bismark”, a few bars of which he then ran through keeping the patter going as he did. It was a funny story and a good way to handle the unknown. It’s always easy as a performer to ask for requests, but it’s the pro who can play something completely different and still leave you feeling like he’s played your song.

Great guitar playing, some fine harmonies, some song surprises, good coffee, and free wireless access made for a fun night for all. The Hang Loueys are playing next at the Mt. Horeb Fall Festival on October 6.

Keeping It Real: Drop of a Hat

Local Sounds Magazine, August 15, 2009

I first heard this song when it was brand new. I was sitting on my front porch with my guitar one day and Dale Kidd stopped by with Cosmo, his dog. Dale took the guitar. I took the leash. And he ran through an early version of the song, occasionally interjecting narrative critique on the parts that he and Aaron planned still to smooth out or smooth over. I liked it right away. I’ve heard him do this several times since, last time with his new band, The Hang Loueys, on a Madtoast Live podcast . As his bandmate, Andrew Nath says, “It’s just a sweet, sweet song”.

The song is about love and coincidence and dreams and how they seem constantly to be bouncing off each other and coming together at the same time. According to Dale, this was truly a collaborative work with Aaron Nathans. “It’s a special song to both of us that just came from somewhere” he said. “I had the music down and was just playing it for Aaron and he said that song is called ‘Drop of a Hat’. It’s a total co-write.”

This bouncy, fun song is about Mr. Callahan, his wife, Mrs. Callahan, and their dog Jack. Of course, I can’t listen to this without putting Dale himself in the middle of the narrative because I’ve seen him doing all these same things that he describes Mr. Callahan doing:

Mister Callahan likes to walk his dog / At the end of the day / By the edge of the dam / Hydropower roars as the people snore / And the salmon soar / In an opposite way

It’s the perfect setup. After watching Mr. Callahan wordlessly and quietly walking his dog, you then get an idea of what he’s thinking about out there on the edge of the dam.

Mr. Callahan has a secret plan / To be his own man / In a couple of years / Going to quit that job and buy that hog / Put his wife on the back / Sidecar for the dog

I know Dale well enough to know that he harbors dreams like this himself. I don’t know about the Harley… but he always has some project or other going. He seems constantly to be seeking out and finding like-minded musicians with whom he can play and write. And he is always finding some new equipment or guitar style or songwriter that inspires him.

After we learn about Mr. Callahan, we are introduced to Mrs. Callahan who seems not unlike her husband with her quiet, simple dreams:

Mrs. Callahan never speaks her mind / Keeps things inside / But she’s thinking all day / About that new motor home that she saw on TV / That was really fixed up / Nice bed for the pup

And, of course, it works out for all three in the end:

See the Callahans and their dog Jack / In their new motor home / Scooter tied on the back.

I love how Mrs. Callahans motor home dreams all come true, while Mr. Callahan’s Harley dreams are reduced to a scooter. There is something poignant about it. I like to think that Mr. Callahan is secretly satisfied with the scooter. I think the Harley might have been too much for him – and he knows it.

At the end, Andrew Nath’s comment about this being a “sweet, sweet song” is brought home:

Running down that road life can be so sweet / When the one that you love / Doesn’t have to compete / And isn’t life sweet

It’s a nice sentiment – the Callahans as road warriors. As I listen to it, I imagine Dale and his wife, Jean, and dog, Cosmo pulling up in front of the house in a motor home some day looking just like them.

You can find Dale and the Hang Loueys somewhere on the internet, though where is anyone’s guess. As Dale says, “Hey we may have a My Space deal but I don’t know how to find it. Andy said he was working on something.”


Memories of Dale

Dale's Inbox

  1. Aaron says:

    Hey Karen, hey all, we are working on the migration, it should happen soon, we’re trying to work around everyone’s schedules. Looking forward to keeping this site going.

  2. Karen Wamsley says:

    Happy birthday to Exene….You are missed love Karen Wamsley

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A photographic history of Dale

Slide Show

New photos added 8/17/12. (Thanks, Mark.) Click here for a slide show of all of the great photos we have received. If you have photos of Dale you would like to share, please email them to fourmiles@fourmilestomay.com. Thank you to all of you who have generously contributed to this collection.

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