Vinyl Kings’ career on the rise

Henry County-based band to play
New Year’s gig for Louisville mayor

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

SMITHFIELD, Ky. (December 2002) – Michael Murphy grew up in the craze of the 1960s era, a time when “everyone wanted to be in a band.”
Since 1978 he has been a member of a band now known as the Vinyl Kings. Murphy credits the Beatles’ 1964 appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” as the inspiration to his forming a band with some high school friends and work acquaintances.

Vinyl Kings

Vinyl Kings

The band began life as the Oafs and then evolved into the present band lineup three years ago. Wanting to present a different image, they changed their name.
In regard to the new name, Murphy said, “We wanted something that kind of told the story of vintage music.”
Thus, the Vinyl Kings. Records used to be made of vinyl, and the band strives to be the best, or ‘kings’, at playing the oldies.
Nancy Harris of Harris Entertainment encouraged the band members to change their name. She said she gave them “a better name because they’re a better band.”
Established in 1985 by Nancy Harris and Sam Harris, Harris Entertainment is a franchised booking agency with the American Federation of Musicians. Harris said she puts together a good promotional package for her clients and “tries to lead them in the right direction.”
“She really turned things around for us,” said Murphy. “We owe a lot to Harris Entertainment.”
Harris booked the Vinyl Kings as part of a musical series at The Summit last year and for several corporate parties. Murphy said this is the direction the band wants to go in, as opposed to playing late nights at clubs and bars.
“We don’t want to compete with those who do it for a living,” said Murphy, a Louisville native who now lives in Smithfield, Ky. All members of the band have families and day jobs and want to play quieter venues, such as corporate parties, weddings, festivals, reunions or private parties.
Murphy said the band members don’t see themselves searching for fame in the business. “That would take the fun out of it,” he said.
The band consists of founder Murphy, who plays rhythm guitar and vocals, and is a blacksmith by trade; Rick Graves, a guidance counselor on drums and vocals; Lee Wade, a graphic artist on bass and vocals; and Joe Campbell, a UPS employee on lead guitar and vocals.
It was also Harris who suggested they cut a demo CD because, as Murphy said, it was hard getting jobs with no original music to their credit. The band performs songs they grew up listening to. Their repertoire includes selections from Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, the Beatles and Credence Clearwater Revival, among others.
The band has gone from playing three to four times a year to two to three times a month, under the guidance of Harris and Steve Taylor of SMT Music Production.
It was Taylor’s agency that got them a gig at Louisville Mayor Dave Armstrong’s Fourth Street New Year’s Eve Bash. It takes place from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 31. The outgoing mayor has been working to develop the Fourth Avenue corridor in Louisville.
When Taylor was asked to find a band for that performance, he said of the Vinyl Kings, “They fit the bill. They appeal to a wide audience range.”
Taylor labeled them a “niche group” that appeals to teenagers and people over 40.
Murphy’s band is really excited about this performance. He said it is the idea of an upscale event on the horizon that keeps the band motivated. Otherwise, they’d be stuck in what he termed the rehearsal phase.
Taylor is also credited with booking the band at last year’s Oxmoor Steeple Chase event. He said he considered Murphy’s connection with the horse community (as a blacksmith) and “thought it would be a nice match.”
Murphy doesn’t plan to quit his day job. He owns his own business, Murphy Horseshoeing Inc.
While in college he took a summer job at Glacier Park, Mont., as a trail guide. While there he learned to shoe horses and has been in the business for the last 20 years.
The band will be performing on Dec. 14 from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. at Jolly Mon’s in the Fern Creek area of Louisville. They are already booked for a March 15, 2003, event at the Long Run Fox Hunt Club.
Also on next year’s agenda is Campbellsburg Day in August because Murphy said the band prefers to play more local family-oriented festivals and events.

For more information contact Michael Murphy at (502) 845-0419 or (502) 741-9647.

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