Folks Like Them
Respect and Personal Responsibility
by Kara Martinez Bachman
The Family Bond
Making music together almost always brings two or more people closer. But when a father and son make that music, the bond originated by nature grows even stronger. The culture and values of a family do double duty and can’t help but be reflected in the music.
West Virginia’s Chris and Allen Kave – from the old-time country father-son duo Folks Like Them – know well what it means to perform and create with close family.
“As a small child, around [age] four, Chris used to participate in my band rehearsals with his toy guitar but that doesn’t really count,” reminisced Folks Like Them father figure, Allen Kave.
“Seriously, we started playing together when Chris was in his early teens,” he said. “The first local release that I did, Chris played the signature piano part on a song later picked up by an R&B artist. One of the incredible things for us is that when we play together or write, we finish each other’s phrases both musically and lyrically. We don’t analyze that connection; we accept and enjoy it!” Chris Kave said he remembers the contribution well.
“My earliest memory is playing piano on sessions for the CD my Dad mentions,” Chris said. “What a great experience, to not only get to play but to also be around musicians and family friends whose only purpose was to make the best music possible. It was such a great learning experience.”
“Dad and I have a great connection, and you just can’t beat the fact that we are family,” he added.
The values of the Kave family – ideas such as respect and the value of hard work – are everywhere in the music, starting first with the duo’s moniker.
“The hard work and accepting responsibility for your actions came from my parents,
Chris’s grandparents,” Allen explained. “The song ‘Folks Like Them,’ where we got our name, is written about their work ethic. That work ethic informs everything we do, how we write, how we treat our families, and how we treat our fans. We do our best to treat everyone with the respect we would like to be treated with, and we try our best to do what it takes to make that happen all the time.”
Although both father and son admit they’re not perfect, they strive to let “personal responsibility” guide everything, including how they make the music, how they present it, and how they connect with their audiences.
Folks Like Them has released several studio recordings, with their latest CD – Stories – offered this past spring. They’re now focused on promoting the album’s third single, “What They Say.”
They say they’ve been “blessed with a great response” to Stories and are already setting their sights on getting the next album release ready for the end of the year, having finished the next batch of songs and selected a “not-yet-revealed” working title.
Allen said the greats of classic country influenced the music of Folks Like Them.
Simplicity in Stories
“I go back to Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and other older artists for inspiration all the time,” he said.
“There are many things I take from them, but the one thing that I love is its simplicity. Simplicity in their stories, and the directness in their music, make what they say more impactful. They had the ability to strip away things that didn’t belong in their songs.”
“A good friend of mine once told me that when you start throwing away great lines to get to the ones that really mean what you want to say, then you’re on to something,” Allen said. “Those older artists were masters of that.”
Chris said many of his influences are similar to those of his father. Despite being of a different generation, it’s clear classic country has stood the test of time for the Kave family.
“My older influences include many of the same artists as Dad,” Chris said, adding that in addition to piano and guitar, years ago, he added mandolin to the writing toolbox. “I love its lack of sustain, which leads to very different musical compositions,” Chris said. “I draw influence from many old-school bluegrass mandolin players and enjoy combining that with my piano and organ influences like Bruce Hornsby and Jimmy Smith.”
In summary, this father-son duo agreed that they hope to continue doing what comes naturally. “We are doing what we love to do,” they both agreed, “and we are thankful for all the support we’ve gotten.”