Riveting Riffs Logo One Kerri Powers - Love Is Why
Kerri Powers Interview Photo One

Speaking to Riveting Riffs Magazine from her home nestled into the northwest corner of Connecticut, Canton, to be more specific, singer and songwriter Kerri Powers took time out to talk to us about her career and her new album, shortly after returning from her European tour.

Chuckling she says, “Not too many people can find me. It is more private, which is really nice. We have been here twenty-two or twenty-three years now. I am originally from East Taunton, Massachusetts.”

Ah that is the accent that everyone once in a while visits this conversation.

So, tell us about your European tour in support of your album, Love Is Why.

“I must say I am really on a high from that. It usually goes very well, and I certainly didn’t expect to play to sold out venues.  I went as a soloist this time and usually I play with a good guitarist from over there. I won’t say I was apprehensive, but you never know what to expect. The audiences over there were quite receptive and I couldn’t have asked for a better run of dates. 

Kerri Powers Interview Photo TwoThe one thing I like about (being in Europe) to tour is you have very appreciative audiences. They are down to earth good people. Every time I am there I learn more about what is going on and the culture. I just like the fact that we are learning every day if we are open to it. When you are in that mindset it is very inspiring as well.

I have been working on a book of poetry since I came home. I am also a painter. I feel super blessed that I can get out of “Dodge” now and then and get the opportunity to explore what I would not normally have the opportunity to do had it not been for the music,” she says.

As for whether or not her audiences were able to plug into her American lyrics, she says, “If you are writing the songs correctly. As a songwriter and an artist, it is more about the emotion and the universal feeling. As cliché as it sounds there is no language barrier when it comes to the language of the soul or the heart.  I just get out there and do what comes naturally and organically to me.

When I first started going over there my concern was will people understand? It can be a little intimidating when you are in a big room, you don’t know the audience and you don’t know what to expect. If you are honest then you just do what you are meant to do. When you put it out there in a vulnerable way, I think there is a connection,” Kerri Powers explains.

The album takes its name from the song “Love Is Why,” and Kerri Powers explains, “I have a humble, little studio on the property here. I go out there and once in a while in the summer I will get lucky, and a song will come. That song “Love Is Why,” came pretty quickly. It was more about the groove and the melody for me I really liked it and it was appealing enough for me to really dig in.

The song came to me a couple of years ago, when it started to trickle out. It was a weird couple of years for all of us with the COVID thing and I lost my dad nine months before all of that. When COVID hit I was over in Europe. I was supposed to embark on a tour of the Netherlands. I was there for twenty-four hours and then they had to send me home, by way of Dusseldorf and then Dublin. It was in March and when the travel ban (went into effect), so I had a limited amount of time to get home. It was right around the time when everybody started to realize oh crap, this is something serious. My son called me at 2 am and he sounded panicked. He said mom you have to get a flight home or you are going to be stranded over there. It really terrified me. The label head was great. He drove me to Dusseldorf. I stayed there for two days and there was no one in the hotel. I left there and stayed in Ireland for three days, again in a hotel where there were not a lot of people. I caught one of the last flights coming back.

I started writing the songs within three months of (arriving) home. The title track came, because the songs all kind of feel like that. “Love Is Why,” we grieve, why we experience the loss and the depth of loss that we experience. It is also why we make the decisions that we make, whether good or bad, a lot of times I think it boils down to love. I think that is why I came up with that title. It sounded like a nice way to round out the recording.”

She talks about what it was like to write these songs, so soon after her father passed, “I think it causes a songwriter to dig even deeper, be more vulnerable and to put your truth out there. As sad as it is to experience the loss of my father and then watch the world go through the pandemic, it was also incredibly enlightening that as these events were happening it brought us closer as people.  I think that is what it is really all about, the humanity of it all. As sad as it was for me, I also look at it as a gift. I was the only one with my father when he passed. We had all gone back to the house and I just had this really weird feeling in my stomach that I had to get back to the hospital and I am glad that I did. Some people might look at that as morose or how could I put myself through that. I think it is a blessing to be with someone as they are transitioning. I really loved my father. He was my best friend. I think it was a gift and I think the songs are also a gift.

I think what it did for the songs is perhaps they are more enriching. I hope that people who hear them and who have been through similar things will somehow heal and connect. That is the whole point of being a songwriter and I have been doing this a long time. It isn’t about a style, or a name on a dressing room door or getting from point A to B. It is about connection and revelation of truth.”

So, tell us Kerri, is it urban myth or did you really write your first song when you were just nine years old?

“It is true, it is not an urban myth. When I wrote my first song it was horrendous.

At nine years old mine was a little dramatic, and I had no clue what this was, it was called “Why Did You Leave Me?” I ended up playing it years later in a fifth or sixth grade talent show. I remember the chorus was something like, “Why did you leave me this morning? Why did you say goodbye. It was like this dramatic …at nine years old you don’t know what the hell you are talking about when it comes to that stuff. I probably just read too many books. Who knows? That is what came out. I won third prize in the talent show.

Although, the song was terrible, it was a jumping off point. The songs that I wrote back then up until about a decade ago, weren’t anything like where I would like to think I am today. I put a lot of hours and a lot of work in, and it is not an easy thing. It takes a lot of time and a lot of patience. I am glad that I did start way back then.

As for early musical influences she says, “My mom had quite an eclectic collection of records. She had everything from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Joan Baez’s Diamonds and Rust. My father was into Janis Joplin and all the really cool bluesy things. My father was also into the old-time hardcore Country. I loved music from the time I was really young, and I took an interest in the guitar at the same time.”

Kerri Powers continues, “I was always drawn to Blues. I think it was about the emotion. I always go with feel, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. It is more about where that music brought me emotionally. The stories and the history and the more I learn about it, I have a lot more respect for it. I was drawn to the sound and the sadness in that music. It was also about the rhythm and the groove. Kerri Powers Interview Photo Three

As I got a little older, I was really in love with Creedence Clearwater Revival’s music. I like that groove and vibe. Then there was Neil Young. He was one of my first influences. When I got a little older and started writing (more) songs, I developed a mad crush on him. My cousins lived around the corner, and they gave me their old eight track stereo and a few tapes. We are talking about Grand Funk Railroad, Grateful Dead and Neil Young.  

I hopped all over the place, but I think it is more about what moves a person emotionally and what you connect with.”

“Please Call Home,” is a beautiful, duet cover of Gregg Allman’s song, and Kerri Powers recorded it with Paul Thorn.

“It is a more obscure song and a lot of people wouldn’t know it. It wouldn’t be the go to Gregg Allman song. I love the song.

Marco Giovino, really has an incredible set of ears. He is also a remarkable drummer, who was with Robert Plant’s Band of Joy. I was honored to work with him, and I felt super lucky that he took interest in my music. He suggested this song to me. It really resonated with me. You really believed Greg Allman when he was singing it.  (editor’s note: The album was engineered by Sam Margolis)

We contacted Paul Thorn to do the duet. That is the great thing about sculpting songs. I really loved the way our voices melded together. It was a really cool outcome. I wasn’t that familiar with the song. I knew of it, but I had to revisit it. I fell in love with it. You just kind of know.

Music is an artform. I think it is all about taking risks. It is about the element of surprise, the magic. That is what you look for. Clearly, there is a risk in that, because you don’t know what the outcome is going to be. I knew Paul Thorn’s work and I love it. I put one hundred percent trust in Marco and I loved the whole fly by the seat of pants. In writing, they say you are either a planner or a “pantser”. Everything with me is fly by the seat of my pants. It was cool, it was like creating from the ground up.

The song “Morning Glory, Midnight Blue,” is a lot like those old Blues songs that Kerri Powers said earlier that she was first attracted to, there is a story behind the song.

“I started that song with a 1939 Gibson L7 guitar. It is an old cranky guitar that I feed through a Magnatone amp and sometimes I use a fuzz pedal with it. I was having a great time down in my basement and that is how that song came about. I was thinking about choices, about positive and not so positive choices. That is the metaphor, morning glory or midnight blue. That’s how that all got started. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was. I was like a little kid when Marco said to me, let’s talk to Bo Ramsey (slide guitar). I said are you kidding? I was so happy, because Bo Ramsey has always been one of my favorite guitar players. He has this incredible tasteful way of letting things breathe and really leaving space in the song. I think he makes the song so much better. It took me a while to work that song out, but I started to get those visuals and all those colors coming through and that is how it revealed itself. Do you want the morning glory, the good part of your life or do you want the midnight blue? We always chase both,” she says.

Wait a minute. Time out. What do you mean you started getting all those visuals and colors?

‘I am synethesia, so when I hear or write music, I see colors (She also associates numbers, the days of the week and months with colors). I am very visual, and I think that is why the art is a huge part of the whole process. When I write a song I will often start out with the melody. The melody creates a lot of colors and a lot of visuals for me. I then go into a little vignette, my own personal movie trailer. Most songs are going to reveal themselves. For me it is more about visual and the emotional connection within that visual. I don’t have a clue where they come from, again you have to give them breathing room. I tell my students think of it as a watercolor. You create the watercolor, but you have to give it time to dry overnight, and you will see something completely different in the morning. The canvass looks completely different.

I was almost ready to give up. I was looking for something on which I could play slide and Blues, but I didn’t want to go the typical route. I wanted something that was going to be grittier and acoustic. I went into my luthier with my Martin one morning and I said if anything comes in. He said as a matter of fact, you won’t believe this, but something came in this morning. He brought me around the corner, and he opened the case. I got a whiff of it, and he did a little bit of bridge work, but that is the guitar. I said oh my god, this is it, this is the one.”

The conversation segues to Kerri Powers’ painting, “I go through phases when I paint more than I write, or I write more than I paint. I have always been that way since the time I was a little girl and I feel really blessed that I have that, because it is an amazing playground. I do a lot of larger scale work, so I do a lot of 40 (inches) by 60 sizes. That is my favorite. I enjoy that adrenaline rush.

I work in acrylics and in what I consider to be mixed media.

The great thing about watercolors it is always a mystery until it dries, because you don’t know what you are getting, and it is a beautiful medium to work in. I sometimes mix that with ink or pencil or whatever. The most recent (paintings are) all floral abstracts. The whole collection is called Tom’s Garden and was inspired by my father. They are very vibrant. One of the pieces is called funeral flowers. I just go where the wind blows me.

I am still processing my dad’s death and I think we do for the rest of our lives.”

The album is called Love Is Why, Kerri Power’s first full length album since 2018, recorded at Dagotown Recorders in Boston. For a full list of album credits you can visit the bandcamp site for Kerri Powers, where you can also preview the songs, and you can purchase her album. Like Kerri Powers the songs are imbued with vulnerability, a spirit of kindness and like those Christmas globes we shook as children, they are magical.

Please take time to visit the Kerri Powers website here.   Return to Our Front Page

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This interview by Joe Montague  published November 29th, 2023 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All photos and artwork are the the property of  Carmen Prados unless otherwise noted and all  are protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved. This interview may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine.