Meet Kevin Murakami

Making Creative Connections

Meet Kevin Murakami

Guitar, Piano, Bass, Owner of Kevin’s Rock And Roll Emporium

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Kevin Murakami has lived in Fairview for almost seven years. Earlier this year, he opened Kevin’s Rock And Roll Emporium in the Brook East Shopping Center.

Kevin got the Rock bug when his friend played a Kiss album for him in 1977. “Within a few years I bought a cheap guitar and was trying to learn technique and songs from any players that inspired me. I joined a band in my late teens and played my first paying gigs around Toronto, Canada. A few bands later and with a move to LA, California, I was in my mid 20’s and fully in the music life, writing, recording, promoting, and living off noodles and cheese sandwiches. A few years of success and some spinning of wheels later, I eventually relocated to Nashville to take a break. When one of [my wife] Michelle’s fellow employees needed a bass player, I agreed, and played bass for about four years until the drummer had to leave. I decided we should get another bass player too so I can get back to guitar. I’m still with that band, playing mostly classic rock covers. It’s been a fun full circle turnaround.

How long have you been playing? 
I’ve been playing close to 40 years, with the highest concentration of playing in my 20’s. 

How would you describe your style? 
There are so many sub genres in “Rock”. I would probably describe my favorite as Heavy Metal, or simple in melody yet technical in arrangement and delivery with an aggressive/heavy sound. A close second is acoustic finger style, solo piano, classical, and some country. 

What was the pivotal moment that made you decide to follow your path as an artist?
I was fresh out of high school, working a job in an electro-mechanical clean room where I met a lady whose son sang in a band. She invited me to meet them, and after talking and playing with them, realized I found some like minds. I put in my notice later that week. I’m glad I learned how to solder while I was there. It sure comes in handy now! 

What can you tell us about your creative process?
Sometimes I’ll play something that sounds interesting to me, and I’ll just keep playing it and building on it. Other times a melody will pop into my head and I have to work out where to play it and how to arrange it.

What are some of your favorite places you’ve played?
One of my early bands had a show in a rec center. We built a stage and had pyro and played two long sets of originals and covers. Seems like the whole town showed up. It was awesome. In LA, my band played the local rock club that was packed with friends and musicians. When we started playing, the bartenders later said that drink sales practically stopped because everyone was watching. It resumed when we got off the stage! They loved when we played there, but hated how they’d get slammed as soon as we stopped playing. My fan moment came when I played my classical guitar for Christopher Parkening. I played a piece for him and two of his students. 

Who are some of your inspirations?
Ace Frehley/Kiss, Rik Emmett/Triumph, everyone in Rush, Randy Rhoads/Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot, Jake E Lee/ Ozzy Osbourne, Warren DiMartini/Ratt, Adrian Vandenberg, Liona Boyd, Kazuhito Yamashita, David Kai, Steve Harris/Iron Maiden, Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan/Avenged Sevenfold, Yngwie J Malmsteen, Pino Palladino, Robert DeLeo/Stone Temple Pilots. 

What work that you’ve done are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the recordings I did in LA with Say Uncle because of the time and effort we all put into the writing and arranging, as well as the production available for us. There was a maturing process that allowed us to see what we did at an earlier stage, and then improve upon it. As far as playing, I am thrilled that I was able to make a living from doing something I love, even for a short while. All the hard work and sacrifice was worth it. 

Is there a single painting that you would like to be remembered for? 
I have a piano piece recorded and written out called “Romance (in E flat)” that I composed over a few years. I always envisioned it as part of a movie soundtrack, but just getting it played in public would be nice. 

What have you found to be your biggest challenge in making your art?  Future goals would be to play a few studio or live sessions and be officially recorded on someone’s music. Learning to play some Jazz would be nice too.

What are some of your current projects? 
I’m currently in Velvet Dogs, a classic rock cover band. We don’t have anything upcoming because of the Covid shutdowns, but we’re working on it. My retail store has been open for two and a half months, getting by with moderate sales. I really enjoy getting to know the musicians in Fairview, and helping them get into or keep playing music. 

What would you like to see happen in Fairview to build a better art community? 
I’d like to see a gathering place in Fairview where artists and musicians can get together and be inspired by each other. The music part of it is my push, with retail supporting a performance and rehearsal room or stage. We could eventually be a player destination just like other areas around Nashville and Franklin.

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