By Ian Beabout, Online Editor
West Liberty students Kaydon Hardman and Derik Board have made quite the impression in the local music community. For over a year, the two have been recording and performing as a duo under the name Kaydon and the Kingsman, at local venues such as the Top of the Hill Restaurant and Pub and the Heritage Blues Fest this past summer.
The project began in August of 2014. Board, then a senior interdisciplinary studies major combining music technology and business, was approached by Hardman, who had recently won a local singing contest. The contest had awarded her with the chance to travel to Sony Records in New York City, to meet and record with music producers at Warner-Chapell.
“After recording some demos they asked her to write some songs to bring back to the table,” Board said. “She knew I was in my senior year at WLU and would be working on my senior project, which consisted of me recording local artists.”
Hardman, an elementary education and psychology major, brought ideas, song lyrics, melodies, and demos, but nothing completed. Board, a guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, augmented her words with musical accompaniment and additional arrangements and instrumentation. They cut the initial songs in the campus recording studio.
“After I had written about 5 songs for her, we could tell there was a music chemistry that as musicians know, isn’t always there,” Board said. “We decided to take her songs and start playing out around the local Wheeling music scene. We brainstormed some band name ideas, and eventually landed on Kaydon and the Kingsman.”
The music that resulted was heavily rooted in the American blues tradition and hard rock, as a result of Hardman and Board’s primary influences.
“Kaydon’s voice and musical ideas are heavily influenced by the late great Janis Joplin, and my voice which has been said to be very Aaron Lewis (Staind),” Board said. “Musically, I come from a hard rock background.”
“Our music would be described as rock with a bluesy folk splash to it,” Board said. “Music is hard to define these days. I mean, one day I might write a super bluesy riff and the next day I’m writing something you would hear in an Irish pub.”
Board identifies the Heritage Blues Fest performance as the highlight of their collaboration so far.
“We were doing a radio interview with local radio host Steve Novotney at WKKX 1600 AM,” Board said. “While we were playing one of our originals called ‘Changes’, the founder of Blues Fest, Bruce Wheeler, had been listening and he turned his car around and headed to the radio station to meet us personally.”
“During a commercial break he offered us a spot on the second stage at Blues Fest,” Board said. “Of course we accepted. To play that stage in front of all those people was one of the greatest experiences of both mine and Kaydon’s lives.”
With that opportunity behind then, Board and Hardman refuse to rest on their laurels and continue to press forward.
“We are currently writing our first album,” Board said. “So while we hone our skills playing out every weekend, we hope to eventually take that experience and the album out on the road. We would also like to piece together a backing band to really project our music.”
Board graduated in 2014 with an interdisciplinary studies degree in music technology and business. He has since returned to WLU for graduate school, studying the philosophies of leadership. Hardman has taken a break in her studies to concentrate on music.