Ken Will Morton Live at European Street

photo: Seth Olenick

by Rick Grant
A strange convergence of quantum elements happened last Saturday when I was checking out Ken Will Morton’s My Space website prior to covering his show at European Street. I was watching his video of “Oh Lord” -a song he recorded for the Discovery Channel’s The Deadliest Catch with shots of Ken in the studio playing the song and random shots of the show cleverly edited into the video.
On my television screen in my office, The Deadliest Catch was running a repeat episode. During a sequence in which a dockhand got a phone call telling him that his sister had died, I heard the same song, Oh Lord, running slightly behind the video on my computer screen. The chances of this coincidental crossover of these two dissimilar events at almost the same time was astronomical.
The fact that Ken got his song on this wildly popular reality show was a significant boost to his career. With legions of other singer/songwriters vying for attention, Ken’s intelligently conceived lyrics, advanced guitar and harmonica playing, and his distinctive voice set him apart from the multitudes. In fact, today, everyone in possession of an acoustic guitar has proclaimed themselves a “singer / songwriter.”
If one fused the voice and songwriting talent of Bruce Springsteen with Ryan Adams, added some Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, one would have a close comparison to Ken’s gritty voice and lively presentation. Like a stand up comedian, Ken thinks funny. His off-the-cuff remarks between songs stimulates the crowd to lighten up. Yes, folk music doesn’t have to be about unrequited love or depression.
Likewise, Ken’s songs run the gamut of various subjects from an old dying dog on a pier to keeping his distance from romance which he writes about in “True Love is a Sickness.” Like all the great songwriters, Ken’s songs tell stories. Each song is a novelette based on Ken’s keen observations on his travels.
Ken came to this point of time in his life (at 38) through years of struggling. In the summer of 2002, Ken backed former Guadalcanal Diary front man Murray Attaway as lead guitarist in The Redeemers. Although that association was fruitful, Ken wanted to go solo. In June of 2004, Ken relocated to Athens. Georgia to finish his first solo record, In Rock ‘n’ roll Hands which captured the imagination of music critics across the country.
The record also got Ken some significant radio play on non-commercial stations countrywide. In March 2006, Ken released his second solo record, The King of Coming Around with a little help from his friends.
This album showcased Ken’s wide scope of songwriting talent, in that, he displayed many different styles and moods in this recording. The record also brought many accolades in the press and resulted in him being nominated for “Best Solo Performer in Athens” by Flagpole Magazine.
Cut to 2007– Ken released two new full-length records, Devil in Me and a collection of new rock songs recorded in his basement. As Ken continues to write new songs and perform his vast repertoire of established material, he gains new fans everywhere he goes. Ken’s exemplary songwriting talent and musical chops have taken him far into the upper echelon of the music biz.
A refreshingly unassuming young lady, Katie Grace Helow opened for Ken. I was mesmerized by her minimal presentation that set up her haunting melodies. Sometimes, less is more. Thus, Katie’s finger picking style drives home her clever songs with intelligently conceived lyrics. In a world of innumerable posers and imitators, Katie’s stands out as distinctly original. That’s her hook!