Lafayette’s Kyle Bledsoe shares stage with Kansas
LAFAYETTE, Ind. – From playing $ 20 shows at the Java Roaster Cafe as a waiter to opening night for Kansas, Kyle Bledsoe has had a career rich in history for a Lafayette native.
Bledsoe opens for Kansas on Saturday at Tippecanoe County Amphitheater Park, starting at 5:30 p.m.
The opportunity to play for Kansas came in a simple email one summer morning. So simple, in fact, Bledsoe had to make sure it was a real offer.
â€œI was on my back deck drinking coffee one morning and got an email from someone who was part of the group that was bringing Kansas to town,â€ Bledsoe said, â€œand they m ‘asked if I would be interested in playing a 30-minute opener for the group.
“To which I replied: ‘Hell, yes! I had to read it a few times to make sure it wasn’t a tribute band, as I opened for several tribute bands, but never for a band of this stature and so famous.
While playing with Kansas has been a highlight of his music career, it is just one of many for the veteran musician.
For Bledsoe, music has always been a part of his life. As a child, Bledsoe’s mother frequently played the piano for him. She also took him to see local artists as well as famous musicians such as Bruce Springsteen.
But it wasn’t until around the age of 13 that Bledsoe had the idea to pick up the guitar after watching The Clayton Miller Band.
â€œWhen I saw them I was blown away by it all and thought it was the coolest thing ever,â€ said Bledsoe. â€œIt was a big turning point for me. Like I can see myself really wanting to do this.
After that, Bledsoe started to practice blues guitar and took all the concerts he could. A few even paid him $ 20 to play. At the time, he thought it was a major victory for him.
He only found success after moving to Indianapolis in his early twenties. From there he worked as a full-time concert musician, playing different shows all over town, until one day he got lucky.
â€œWhen I moved to Indianapolis I started playing every Wednesday and Thursday at a few locations and gained followers. One day, I got a calling card from the Indianapolis Colts looking for music in my tip jar, wondering if I would be interested in playing Colts games. So I sympathized with the Colts and played shows with them for the last seven or eight years, â€said Bledsoe.
Bledsoe also had the opportunity to play the national anthem at the Indianapolis Pacers game while playing Indianapolis.
It was also during this period of his life that Bledsoe had his first real opportunity to tour with a band, particularly with Biscuit Miller & The Mix, an award-winning blues band.
â€œMy time with them was like blues college. I became a much better guitarist after a week of concerts with them. Four hours a night and you take a break, and Biscuit was playing every night. We were on the road to do concerts. That’s what we were there to do, once we got home, when we could rest, â€said Bledsoe. â€œI’ve never played like this before. My fingers hurt a bit at first, but it was so much fun, it was awesome.
Since then he has performed with a few other bands like Shorty & The Chef, Milkman & The Jugs, his own band KB3, as well as solo concerts.
Although most of his career was spent in Indianapolis, after the birth of his son Bledsoe knew he wanted to put his family first, so he picked up his gear and returned to Lafayette.
â€œI was ready to hit the road, then we had our son and it’s difficult to travel. And to be honest, I don’t want to go for months in a row, maybe a few weeks, and I love filming, but it has to make sense for my family, â€he said.
Although Bledsoe is not as active as he used to be, Hoosiers can still find him playing every now and then. For example, later this month he’ll be reuniting with Biscuit Miller & the Mix to play a few gigs around town.
Noe Padilla is a journalist at Journal & Courier. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at 1NoePadilla.