You may have seen it on the cover of the recent Double Door Inn documentary cover. The guitar with the Double Door Inn logo, made from an original table at the legendary venue. The man that made that guitar, Kevin Marshall, knows more than a little about the Double Door, and playing music around the Charlotte area. After establishing himself several years as part of the popular Charlotte band, the Wax Gurus, Marshall now leads Kevin Marshall & The J-Walkers, a band that was very much at home at the Double Door Inn. Marshall discussed via email the Charlotte music scene, the Double Door Inn, and what led him to become a respected guitar player, and maker.
Tangents Magazine: What first made you made to be involved with music?
Kevin Marshall: I grew up in what I consider the best era of pop music. The late 60’s and 70’s. My cousins were older and they had a band. They would let us listen while they rehearsed. I was mesmerized and hooked. In that time period I knew I had to be a musician.
Tangents: Would you describe your sound as one genre, or a mixture of many?
Marshall: I have loved and performed many genres over the years. As a songwriter I do not care for genres. I do know that in the bigger picture it is a part of the business. I write what I feel and whatever that feels like at the moment is what it becomes.
Tangents: Talk about the Wax Gurus, and how that eventually led to your current band, the J-Walkers.
Marshall: I was a founding member of The Wax Gurus and was there for 10 years. We were quite successful in this region. We jumped on the 90’s Alternative Rock music when it was just beginning and it worked. We recorded a record titled Burning Sky which was also a success for us. I still have people tell me that they still have the whole record in their rotation. Jamie Hoover produced that record. I took a break from a big part of the music scene after the Gurus and concentrated on writing. The current band The J-Walkers is a result of that break. A lot of original material to record and perform.
Tangents: Talk about the guys in your current band.
Marshall: I recorded and released a studio record titled Am I Missing Something in October 2015. Eric Lovell and I co-produced the record at The Blu Bubble Studio here in Charlotte, NC. The band was put together to support the record.
The J-Walkers current lineup consist of Eric Lovell who is a master musician and producer. His wife Gigi Dover also sings backup vocals when we play the bigger stages. Eric and Gigi are dear friends and I would not be where I am musically without them. Gigi Dover And The Big Love are at the top of list.
Mike Bader whom we call “Mike Bad Ass Bader” is just that. I needed a slide player to support the record and he is without a doubt one of the best. Great person, friend and a talented guitar player.
Tim McDonnell is our bass player. Eric and Tim played together in Color Blind. That was the same time I was in The Wax Gurus. Now we are all playing together which is way cool. Tim has become a great friend and I have the upmost respect for his talents. A great bass player and a key part of our sound.
Matthew Carter is our drummer. He has been around the longest. He is my go to guy. Matthew is very talented and versatile drummer with a great ear for original music. He helped coproduce quite a bit on the record.
Tangents: How would you describe the current scene in Charlotte, and the Southeast?
Marshall: I was lucky to have been a part in a heyday so to speak during the 90’s and early 2000’s. I have witnessed the ups and downs in the scene. What I am seeing now is a result of persistence on behalf of all the working musicians and support. The crowds are coming back and supporting. The talent is phenomenal. The original music coming out of NC is at a premium right now. We have lost some key venues as of late but that is inevitable. We just have to work a little harder and seek out new places to play. What I would like to see is more of the business in NC. We need label support, management, publishers, publicist, booking and so on. You know. The Bizz. The current original music scene in NC would support that.
Tangents: What themes would you say pop up most often in your songs?
Marshall: I call it the light bulb. I see something or hear something that someone said or think of something off the bat and the light bulb pops up above my head and then the words start to flow. Somehow in that process the theme finds itself.
Tangents: Tell me some about some of the most memorable, or favorite shows that you have played?
Marshall: We did some really cool stuff in The Wax Gurus. One that stands out is when we opened up for Seven Mary Three at Speed Street here in Charlotte. That was a big show. The crowd was incredible. Since the release of The J-Walkers record we have had a big year. Of course all of our Double Door Inn shows were at the top of the list. We played the Tosco Music Party at the Knight Theater in April 2016. We played a request from John Tosco titled The Way It Is. We released a video of that performance and in less than a week it had over 13,000 views. That was a great night. Since the record release we have been fortunate to play some big stages in the region like The Neighborhood Theater, Clear Mountain View and Festival In The Park.
Tangents: When did you first play the Double Door, and how many times do you think that you played there?
Marshall: My first Double Door Inn performance was opening for Gigi Dover And The Big Love. I was terrified that night. That stage was very intimidating. After that It became home. Unfortunately I did not get to play there enough times but the dozen or so times I did were always very inspirational. The musical spirits in that room are huge. I could play there and the next morning I would be up writing a song. To say you played there at all is big.
Tangents: How did you get into guitar making?
Marshall: My background is Tool & Die. I built high end tooling for many years. The thing that got me started was I would take an instrument to a shop for repair and when I would pick it up It was usually worse than when I took it in. I knew that if I could do Tool & Die that I could learn to be a Luthier. That was 20 years ago and now I have my own shop. Smiling Moon Guitars LLC.
Tangents: How did the chance to build a guitar out of a DDI table come about?
Marshall: I was in there one night and I told Gregg McCraw of MaxxMusic that I see a lot of guitars in this building. Gregg thought that was great idea. He passed that on to Nick Karres, the owner. I finally got to meet with Nick and he gave me a table from the early days of the venue. It is Pecan of all woods. The pecan tables in the venue were all built by the same wood shop here in Charlotte. I have some more of that wood now and the next phase of that project is going to very cool. That is another interview.
Tangents: Talk about the specifics, and the significance of 1973 in the making of the guitar?
Marshall: I wanted to stay true to the era since the Double Door was established in 1973. The hardware, the pickups and the headstock are all early 70’s Fender guitar specs. A mixture of sorts.
Tangents: Anything that I should ask you about?
Marshall: Yes. What is next? The next phase of The Double Door Inn Guitar project. And the next phase of The J-Walkers.
Tangents: Finish this sentence. At the end of the day, Kevin Marshall is…..
Marshall: Simply put. Happy!