Rockin’ again: Musician returns with gigs, recordings

By Joe Stumpe | March 31, 2021

Kevin Herrington’s music is available at Photo by Patz

       I know these days won’t last forever/So while we’re here let’s endeavor/To laugh more than we cry/To live more than we die

 “We Are One,” Kevin Herrington

For years, Kevin Herrington worried that his best music was behind him. Not anymore. 

Herrington, a member of several successful Wichita bands in the 1970s and 80s, returned to the music scene as a solo performer in 2015 and — except for the past year — has found plenty of appreciative audiences.

Not only that, but the singer and guitarist has recorded and released two CDs of original music, “Never Too Late” in 2019 and “Off the Shelf” in January of this year.

“I don’t look back anymore,” Herrington, whose stage name is Kvn, said. “This time is now the best.”

Not that there weren’t plenty of good ones before.

A Wichita native, Herrington says his first big musical influence was the church his family attended, even though it didn’t allow instrumental music. “The positive side is I got to hear vocal harmonies,” he said. After playing clarinet,“the clutziest instrument of all,” in grade school, Herrington was inspired to pick up the guitar by the Beatles’ appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” 

Herrington won a ninth grade talent show with a group of friends, then spent years playing with and learning from other musicians. His first steady gigging band was Alias, which played at the old Foundry downtown along with other clubs and also made an appearance on “Kaleidoscope,” a local TV show broadcast from Towne East Square.

In the early 80s, Herrington joined a group called Appaloosa, which was the house band at The Peppercorn, now Margarita’s. “It was a good band, heavily promoted,” Herrington said. “Our big, fun adventure was going to Colorado for about three months and playing at the ski resorts.”

On their first gig back at The Peppercorn, on April Fools’ Day of 1983, Herrington met his wife, Julie. He gave up the bar scene while the couple raised three children, playing instead in church worship bands. He sold insurance, with a focus on senior products. 

But as his children grew up and left home, the itch to play rock music returned — along with, he admits, some nagging doubt. Would an audience full of younger people want to listen? To his relief, he said, “I noticed the 20-somethings singing along.”

He wasn’t idle during the pandemic, using the time to record “Off the Shelf” at GreenJeans Studios in Wellington. Both his CDs contain a mix of newer songs and ones he wrote or at least started years ago.

“Riverside Days” looks back fondly at the neighborhood where his children grew up. “Fear of Flying” is dedicated to Julie and others who encouraged his return to music. 

“A lot of it is very personal and a few are just for fun,” Herrington said.

The Herringtons’ son, Nash, contributed guitar and vocals on one cut while visiting from California; their two daughters, Piper Herrington and Channing Mastroly, play and sing on another.

Herrington expects to return to performing at Mort’s and other venues by late spring or early summer. “For many years, I missed it so much.”

But not anymore.