May 7, 2015 Emily Kinney shines bright Boulton Center Bay Shore, NY 5-1-15 w/ Dylan Gardner
Actress/singer-songwriter Emily Kinney has been hard at work at pursuing her music career for some time. Originally from Nebraska, the aspiring entertainer moved to New York City after graduating from Nebraska Wesleyan University to take her chances on a career in Broadway and acting. Low and behold, her perseverance landed her film debut in 2007 in the short Chinese fable Aunt Tigress. Taking a variety of parts in film and movies, Kinney found herself in a spot on AMC’s The Walking Dead in 2011 as Beth Greene, becoming one of the series most adored characters. Never giving up her musical dreams, Kinney released her debut Blue Toothbrush EP that same year and then followed up with Expired Love in 2013. With the ability to showcase her singing abilities on The Walking Dead from time to time, fans of the series found a new reason to love Kinney. Playing a few shows here and there in 2013 and 2014, Kinney now takes a deep breath and embarks on her first official tour in May of 2015, entitling the run This is War Tour. Named after her new single, the title, metaphorically, can be Kinney’s subtle way of telling naysayers she will tirelessly continue to make her mark as a musician. Staring the odds right in the face, the tour began in the village of Bay Shore, New York on Friday May 1st at the quaint YMCA Boulton Center For The Performing Arts.
As direct support for the trek, Kinney enlisted the young talented Mid-Westerner, transplanted to the West Coast, Dylan Gardner. At only eighteen years of age, Gardner channels a childhood of Classic Rock influence into a style and stage show all his own. Spending years of writing music, Gardner finally released his debut album, Adventures in Real Time, back in May of 2014, and appeared to be thoroughly excited for the chance to partake in this lengthy national tour.
Taking to the stage with his brother Mark on drums and smooth playing Nick Jozwiak on bass, the three-piece jammed right through a series of original songs that caught the audience’s attention. Mixing catchy Pop sounds with jingling guitar melodies and vocal lines that would stick in anyone’s head for days, Gardner was quite impressive under the bright lights. Looking like a young Paul McCartney, Gardner even moved about as a young Beatle, filled with an exuberated energy and bright smiles. Playing songs “Let’s Get Started,” “Sing For The Stars,” and the irresistible “Feeling of Love,” which is reportedly about Gardner’s dog, the set was full of bright spots from start to finish. Regardless if the audience knew of Gardner’s music before he took the stage or not, by the time he and his bandmates completed their show, he had gained a mass of interest. Be on the lookout for this talented young rising star as he makes his way in the Pop Rock world.
After a brief intermission, everyone took to their seats, awaiting Kinney’s arrival on the platform under the bright lights. Coming out to a roar of cheers with her four-piece band in the back drop, Kinney humbly smiled and began to strum her guitar going into “Mess.” Projecting a light, delightful Folk Pop sound, Kinney’s personality shined in her singing and lyrics as she moved into “Expired Lover,” flowing into “Married.” Having many of the members of the audience humming along, Kinney did not waver in front of the room, proving she can play an intimate coffee house, as well as a venue of this size.
Keeping the energy level high, “Michael” came before the beautifully melodic new song “Never Leave LA.” Engaging with the audience and having them participate, during her bouncy anti-love “Julie,” fans could be heard singing along to the chorus line of “Take Home Julie” and having a great time. It was at this point during the set, Kinney tapped into even more personal emotion and spoke of her personal life as an introduction to the song inspired by her father, entitled “Dad Says.” Thoughtful and honest, the track resonated with the room on many levels, as Kinney took the spotlight a capella. Without the support of instruments, her voice sounded full, colorful, and echoed with perfect emotion through the silence around. Clearly a highlight of the performance, Kinney immediately picked up the mood thereafter with another new track, titled “Birthday Cake,” before a sober love piece called “Jonathan.”
Confessing to the audience that she has also faced negativity like everyone else, when someone told her to stick with acting and not music. Rather than allow the discouraging words deter her aspirations, Kinney wrote the song “This is War,” and through the inflection in her voice, it was easy to see how much the new single means to her. Showcasing more new music, she continued on with “Last Chance” and “Be Good.” The latter is a track originally recorded by Indie Folk band Waxahatchee, most of The Walking Dead fans are familiar with the tune from season four when she sang it on the show. Expressing her appreciation for her time on The Walking Dead and the joy she had with her friends on the show, Kinney continued to offer songs performed on the show as she played the heart aching “Struggling Man.” Originally performed by Jimmy Cliff with a Reggae vibe, Kinney’s distinctive voice and composition make the song her own and had the audience applauding for more. Answering the call, Kinney left the theater with two more songs, beginning with affectionate “Masterpiece” and wrapping up the show with another newer single, “Rockstar.”
Taking the time to meet with her supports following her time on stage, Kinney was greeted by a long line of fans, of all ages, anxious to meet her. Expressing her delight in seeing her perform both on television and as a musician, Kinney’s likeable personality shined through more as she graciously thanked everyone who came out. Kinney’s musical approach is that of an honest songwriter performing the music she holds dear to her heart. This is not an act, or played up for media attention, Kinney is a talented singer-songwriter who continues to blossom. Anyone who enjoys a touching musical experience should make the trip out to see Kinney on the This is War tour as it continues through June 24th, ending in Los Angeles, and be on the lookout for the new full-length album by the same name due out sometime in 2015.