After six years of playing cover songs, members of Kenny George Band are ready to show off their own material.
The good-timey bar band is making a return trip to The Smokehouse on Hilton Head Island on Oct. 18, this time on the cusp of their first album release.
The Aiken-based group, led by frontman Kenny George, is rooted in country but delves into rock and folk. Think The Dirty Guv'nahs meets the throwback Southern sound of Whiskeytown.
Rounding out the band is lead guitarist Michael Baideme, drummer Bucky Brown, bassist Brooks Andrews and pedal steel player Center Ely. The quintet is joined off-and-on by rhythm guitarist Scott Rankin.
The band has come a long way since its first gig in 2007, when KGB performed at the Aiken Brewing Company after just one practice together.
"All of us thought it was going to be a complete disaster because we had played so little together, and it actually worked out really well," George said. "I was like, 'OK, we'll keep trying this for now.'"
KGB's seven-track EP, tentatively titled "Gunshy," is set for a January release. Shorter than a full album but longer than a standard four-track EP, George said "Gunshy" is just right.
"It's not too long and it focuses on one sound," he said. "If it had been longer, I think it would have moved around a little bit more. We really wanted to come out with something focused for a first effort."
George's craggy vocal style gives the album an alternative country feel, while Ely's steel guitar vibrations maintain a twangy undercurrent throughout.
The lyrics offer tribute to good ol' country songs written by folks like John Prine and Jackson Browne, some of George's musical influences.
"I want to write country music that moves, but also has substance lyrically," he said. "I think the country out there today is the exact opposite of that."
In other words, don't expect the syrupy pop of a Taylor Swift ballad, but count on being entertained nonetheless.
The band has worked hard to corner the market on bar-scene entertainment in South Carolina, touring extensively in the state and playing crowd-pleasing covers. George said the band will still play favorites, but that its pushing more and more original material into sets.
"We're going to mix it up with covers and some good rockin' originals too," he said. "We'll get up there and we'll pick the first three (songs) that we're going to do that night and just read the crowd after that and do it on the fly.
If someone wants to do a song, it's whoever jumps on the intro first wins."
Follow Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.
OTHER INTERVIEWS BY ARTS & CULTURE REPORTER ERIN SHAW