Billy’s Lounge has been extremely privileged to host the living legend, Donald Kinsey, as a regular performer at our venue in Grand Rapids; where he has called his home for the past 5 years. Donald is perhaps best known as the guitarist for Bob Marley and The Wailers, as well as Albert King. More recently, he brings to the stage high-energy blues-rock jams, along with slow, soulful jazz melodies, and even funky dance groves with his new team of Michigan musicians. There was no shortage of funk from Kinsey’s first set this past Saturday (6/9) at Billy’s. His band started off hot with a cover of James Brown’s Sex Machine followed by Bob Seger’s Fire Down Below. These notorious tunes got people immediately moving their feet. A highlight of the night came after Donald counted off the band for an exciting bluesy rendition of Jammin’ by Bob Marley, complete with jazz influenced guitar solos and extensive improvisation. One can really feel a sense of authority and prestige around Donald as he guides his band through the unplanned song structures with natural leadership. It brings a fascinating element to the show. The night continued with more songs that Donald had written with his two brothers when they played together as The Kinsey Report from Gary, Indiana. Near the end of the first set they played another notable cover; a song popularized by Muddy Waters in 1957 called Got My Mojo Workin’, a fun song that Donald clearly enjoys dancing to.
The second set of the night was equally as thrilling with an even livelier late-night crowd. Donald continued to crank out impressive solos with his toes at the edge of the stage, eyes closed, and head swaying to the notes under his own fingers. Even after the music continued 5 minutes past curfew, Donald was able to convince the production head to allow for one last tune, a sprited reprise of Got My Mojo Workin’. The familiar melody and danceable beat was a perfect way to end the night. Even at 59 years old, Donald Kinsey delivered a high level of energy and passion to the Billy’s audience from start to finish and even a little over the cutoff time. His talent, passion, and leadership makes him a true icon in the rockin’ Midwest. Keep an eye out for the next performance from The Donald Kinsey Band at Billy’s Lounge