Chloe Kimes to be featured during Clown Band Tuesday concert.

June 29, 2015
Chloe Kimes at LudRock. Photo by Paul Chase.

Chloe Kimes at LudRock. Photo by Paul Chase.

By Carrie Klemm. MCP Writer.

SCOTTVILLE – In keeping with a long standing tradition, the Scottville Clown Band will be hosting its annual Patriotic Concert this Tuesday, June 29, 2015, at the Scottville Clown Band Shell. During the concert, Chloe Kimes, one of this year’s recipients of the Raymond Schulte Memorial Scholarship Fund will be performing an original song. In addition to writing and performing as a solo artist, the 17-year-old Mason County Central High School senior is also a member of the popular local trio, Awesome Distraction.  I had the opportunity to sit down with Chloe to discuss her passion for music, how she intends to use the scholarship and her future ambitions in the music industry.

MCP: How long have you been singing?

KIMES: My dad taught me how to play guitar when I was in fourth or fifth grade, I started singing after that but I never really thought I had a good voice. When I was about 12, I started writing songs and singing but I didn’t get serious about it until I got into high school.

MCP: Your dad, Kevin Kimes, is very musical, how did that influence you growing up?

KIMES: I guess when I think about it that way, I’ve actually been singing for a long time, not seriously, but I grew up around it. He was always in a band and playing music around the house. I was surrounded by it. Music has been a major part of my world.

MCP: You’ve been selected as a recipient of the Raymond Schulte Memorial Scholarship from the Scottville Clown Band, how are you planning to use it?

KIMES: I’m going to Interlochen Arts Academy for the singer-songwriter major. It is a newer program for the academy, and a bit smaller, they only offer it for two weeks. I’ve always been interested in Interlochen, but I haven’t really pushed to do anything with the academy because of my lack in theory background. Until recently, I hadn’t taken any lessons and I have not had the classical training. I didn’t think it was something for which I was eligible, but then this program was introduced and it seemed the perfect fit. I really love writing and singing, and I am grateful that I found a spot where I can fit right in. I went for a live audition in Detroit in January and I was the only singer-songwriter who auditioned. I was accepted and was also fortunate enough to receive a scholarship through Interlochen as well.

MCP: How did you know to apply to the SCB scholarship?

KIMES: My younger sister, Olivia applied and received the scholarship two years ago. She went to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp for dance in middle school. I applied in the same way. When I was first accepted to Interlochen, I was eagerly applying for scholarships and actually applied for the SCB scholarship too early. I was told that I had to resubmit my application at a later date, which actually turned out to be the day I left for spring break. Luckily, one of my teachers said he would submit it for me so I would not miss the deadline. It was kind of funny, but it worked out and I am so appreciative.

MCP: When do you go to Interlochen for this program?

KIMES: July 12- 25. The day before I leave I have a gig with Awesome Distraction and the day I come back, we have a gig as well. I kinda thought it was going to be a nice little break from performing, but really isn’t going to be a break at all. It’s going to be a lot of hard work. Fun work, but hard.

MCP: How long have you been with Awesome Distraction?

KIMES: I met Nick Veine two years ago at Junegrass Bluegrass Festival in Lowell, Michigan and at that time, he and Kyle Garber had been playing together for two years. We met through a mutual friend, Ruthie of Ruthie’s Musical Cafe in New Era, who had the idea that we would have a lot of fun jamming together. We didn’t get a chance then and I thought that was it. Later that week, I was playing at Redolencia Coffee Shop in Ludington with a friend, Evan Taylor and ironically, Nick was playing after us. We hung around afterward and jammed a little bit together. The next day, he brought Kyle down and the four of us played together. After that, it just fell into place, we started going to gigs with them and playing together more frequently. Eventually, Evan went off to school at Michigan State, making his own way, and I continued performing with the boys. We really just mesh well together. I consider myself very lucky.

MCP: How many recordings do you have together?

KIMES: As a trio, we have an album called “Humbly Yours,” with mostly original songs and one a cappella cover. The boys have a previous album from before I joined the group, its a compilation of duo songs. We’re actually planning on doing a smaller EP this summer, not a studio recording, probably just a live album so that we can put out some newer songs. Recording a studio album is expensive and it took us a while to make back the money we put into recording, but since we’ve made it back, it has become a good investment for us.

MCP: Who are your music influences? What is on your current playlist?

KIMES: Right now I’m obsessed with the Avett Brothers. They’ve been together so long and they have so many albums. I’ve seen them live a few times and I just think they are inspiring. They are always changing their setlist, playing a mix of all of all their songs and I think thats unique. The sound they produce is something that I would like to create in becoming a musician. They are kind of rockabilly-folk. I think that is something that Awesome Distraction is trying to do, though obviously not on the same level, but I love them. I also really like the Civil Wars and Brandi Carlile. I listen to a lot of old music too, Jim Croce, Billy Joel, The Eagles and Tom Petty, I like a lot of classic rock bands. Lately, I’ve been dipping into a lot of bluegrass. My dad has really gotten into bluegrass the past few years and always has it playing. In the band, we really like to put bluegrass influences into what we do. I’ve had a lot of bluegrass in my world lately and I love it. I just like the way its so mathematical and perfect. You know you have to be a really good musician to be in a good bluegrass band.

MCP: What is your favorite song to perform?

KIMES: I really love to play originals. With Awesome Distraction, we play originals and covers. It’s hard to do originals in some venues because people don’t recognize them, but I love playing them because I feel like I can really show myself to the crowd. I love when we sing a cappella. We sound gospel and I feel like I can connect with it spiritually. Nick’s bass voice just amazes me. How did I luck out to be in a band with such a great male bass? Any song we do is a lot of fun for me. We even cover some Beyonce which I love because I get to dance, sing and just have a good time.

MCP: Outside of singing with Awesome Distraction and gearing up for your Interlochen experience, what else have you been doing to showcase your talents?

KIMES: I’ve been writing a lot trying to build my own repertoire because I’d like to be able to play on my own as well, to be capable of doing a solo set somewhere. Additionally, this spring I participated in the West Michigan Showcase, which features students with an array of talents from area schools, anything and everything from sports to literary academics to performing arts and more. The performing artists are highlighted in a big talent show at the Frauenthal Center for the Arts in Muskegon. I had the opportunity to go with a big group of students and met a lot of really cool people. I didn’t know it was a competitive talent show until a week prior and I actually came in first place. The award was a big scholarship which I will also be using toward Interlochen. Really, it was a fun experience and it was a blessing to be apart of it.

MCP: When you’re not performing what are you most likely to be doing?

KIMES: I dance year-round with Letha Fulton’s School of Dance. I’ve been in dance for about 15 years and I’m coming up on my final year. I am on the dance team as well. I feel like I have this whole other life that focuses on dance too, so I’m really busy. During the school year I’m focusing on dance and during the summer I’m focusing on singing and songwriting. I’ve also gotten really into making my own clothes and this year I actually made my own prom dress. I’ll go to Goodwill and find pieces to restructure. Its just something fun I love doing.

MCP: As your senior year approaches, have you made any decisions as to what you want to do after high school?  

KIMES: I’ve not made any final decisions, I’m looking at several different schools. My main interest is in music production and mass communications with a minor in business. I want to expand and possibly work my way into commercial songwriting. I’m not really sure yet, but I have a lot of options to explore.

I enjoyed chatting with Miss Kimes and in my opinion, she is one cool lady with a bright future ahead of her!

Tuesday’s Scottville Clown Band Patriotic Concert begins at 7 p.m. at the Scottville Clown Bandshell. Awesome Distraction will be performing at the amphitheater at the Ludington State Park on Wednesday at 7 p.m. For additional events, find and like them on Facebook.

Editor’s note: Chloe is the daughter of Kevin and Lisa Kimes of Riverton Township. Her grandfather, Lee, was chairman of the Clown Band Shell committee for many years.

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