By September 6, 2014 Read More →

Acoustic View -Profiles in Philharmonic Poetry

Acoustic View By Aaron Rowan

Profiles In Philharmonic Poetry: Raylene Kemp

There are two people I credit with catalyzing my transition into a lover of acoustic sounds, both of whom I’ve enjoyed the honor of working with more than once. One is a nationally touring songwriter who I have written of in previous columns; the other is a homegrown country-rock lady from right here in Stanislaus County.

She sits with her eyes closed, just her and her guitar, and slowly begins to sing into her recorder. It is a song from the hazy and mystical depths of her subconscious. Sometimes it manifests more as chanting than coherent words. Soon she has a sonic framework laid down which she can build upon, applying songwriting structure to her stream-of-consciousness. Such is the genesis of a great many of Raylene Kemp’s masterfully crafted pieces, which range from country-rock to blues to 50’s rock-and-roll-inspired melodies.

Raylene draws inspiration from the musical vibe of songwriters such as Ray Lamontagne and Sonya Kitchell; the consistency of Van Morrison; and the composition of Dave Matthews, who she would like to grow into the female version of. She channels her creative energies not only into solo songwriting, but many creative collaborations with other Valley artists. I myself was once involved in co-writing a tune with her a few years ago.

Her intricate songwriting process and polished delivery has garnered her a Best Performance Award from the West Coast Songwriters Association, and gotten her some attention from Nashville music industry producers. She was also featured onstage this summer at the Stanislaus County Fair. Currently Raylene is engaged in finishing up her recording studio at her new home, which will be part studio, part lounge – a hideaway of sorts for artists. She’ll be producing her work and hopefully that of others.

There’ll be three chances to hear Raylene this month, all of them at the Barkin’ Dog Grill: -Monday 9/8, sitting in with Terrie Londee & The Before Dawn Band at the ‘Blue Monday’ jam starting at 7 PM. She’ll be busting out a brand-new bluesy song titled ‘Pie’ which she is super-proud to share with you. -Friday 9/12 as part of a fundraising night for next month’s NorCal Women’s Music Fest, also featuring sets by Patty Davis, Sandy Almansa, Marirose Powell, Mattea Overstreet and others. 5-10 PM, $5 cover. -Friday 9/26, feature set with her backup players, geared more toward a country/blues sound. 7 PM, $10 cover.

A few other September happenings: Saturday 9/6 – the second annual ‘Bluegrass At The Lake’ up at Lodi Lake Park. Snap Jackson & The Knock On Wood Players, Joe Craven & Hattie Rose, Blame Sally, Evie Ladin, and Cliff Compton & Mountain Top comprise this year’s lineup. $20 advance tickets available at<>.

Friday 9/19 – Anna Tivel, a wonderful songwriter on tour from Portland, gives an unplugged set at my Hotel Euterpe series. These are the most intimate listening events I host at my own place. I have not done one in a few months and miss it terribly. Email me at for details if you’d like to attend.

Sunday 9/21 – the 23rd season of ‘Sunday Afternoons At CBS’ opens with a operatic performance by soprano Christine Capsuto and mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich. Both these ladies have loaned their vocal talents to productions by Modesto’s Townsend Opera Players and can be found wowing audiences throughout the bay area. They are a great starter for the new year of this diverse and high-quality series. Concert is at 3 PM at Congregation Beth Shalom, 1705 Sherwood Ave. $20 at the door.



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