Remembering Musician Dale Kidd
Wisconsin State Journal, Dec. 16, 2009
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.
Wisconsin State Journal, Dec. 18, 2009
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
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.
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
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
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.”