Kenny George Band explores 'outlaw' country

The Kenny George Band plays a show every couple of days.

Music’s elders and icons established the initial template for rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s the newer generation that keeps it thriving and moving forward.

So credit the Kenny George Band for doing exactly that. It plays for free at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5 at Pisgah Brewing Co.

This hardworking ensemble has performed 150-180 shows a year throughout the heartland. Hailing from Aiken, South Carolina, the Kenny George Band has traveled the highways of the Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Missouri. In 2016, the band was voted South Carolina Artists to Watch by the South Carolina Music Guide.

George himself has been drawn to music most of his life. He picked up the violin at the age of eight, but didn’t take to formal lessons, so he then took up bass. Eventually, he decided guitar would be the better match. Inspired by the sounds of the burgeoning Americana movement — bands like Whiskeytown and Wilco, and later by "outlaw" country artists Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt, George immersed himself in probing the roots of the rock and country crossover, exploring the Southern California singer/songwriter scene by way of Jackson Browne, the Eagles and J.D. Souther.

He attended the University of Montevallo in Alabama, majoring in classical guitar and later studying special education for the deaf and hard of hearing. Forced to drop out after losing his funding, he turned his attention to writing songs. That’s when he met drummer Bucky Brown and the two decided to start a band.