By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 14, 2012 at 5:19 AM

Last week, Shank Hall's Peter Jest called to say we oughta talk to Milwaukee ex-pat Kevn Kinney in advance of this week's Drivin' N Cryin' gig at the club. He was right.

Then, soon after, news emerged that Kinney's fellow traveler Richard LaValliere had died in Brooklyn – where Kinney now lives, too – and Peter called again. There was now a sadder reason to reconnect with Kevn.

He was right again. So, of course, we did.

While Milwaukee's rock and roll community will head to Thursday night to say goodbye to Richard, they'll likely be reunited again two nights later to see Kevn.

The 8 p.m. show on Saturday, Feb. 18, also features Cream City Gypsys. Admission is $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

OnMilwaukee.com: How has your voice been holding up this past year? Is it back to normal or is there just a new normal?

Kevn Kinney: It's doing great, thanks for asking. It feels like it's getting stronger every day.

OMC: Since we last talked, you released your first solo record in a long time. Can you tell us a bit about it? Were you working on it a long time?

KK: Yeah, Anton Fier and myself have been working on it for about three years (and) it's getting great reviews. It was a long time in the making, but Anton had a vision for it and he's not one for compromise. It's an all-New York record with some of the best musicians from the Lower East Side music scene. Tony Scherr from Sex Mob did an incredible job.

OMC: Is there another new Drivin' N Cryin' record coming down the pike soon, too?

KK: Yes, it's going be called "Songs from the Laundromat." We will be playing most of them at the show. We have a tribute song to R.E.M. which is my favorite. Also a song called "Dirty," a little something for the ladies! "you dont need to go home and put on that fake up .....you're f*ckin' beautiful,baby!."

OMC: Did you hear that Richard LaValliere passed away unexpectedly Sunday night in Brooklyn? I'd love to hear your thoughts on him as a musician, as a person and as a fixture on the Milwaukee scene during the punk and post-punk era.

KK: Well, Richard was just over at my house about a month ago and was doing great. He lived about 10 blocks from here. You know my entire musical background as a performer has a lot to do with Richard. Not only was I his road crew in The Haskels and Oil Tasters but he really turned me on to a thousand songs!

I was in his apartment at the Haskel Hotel (a famed rock and roll duplex at 1830 N. Arlington Pl.) when I first heard "Human Fly" by The Cramps or "Rock Lobster" by The B-52's, James Brown, Screamin Jay Hawkins, just as Jerome (Brish) turned me on to Buddy Holly and Caleb (Lentzner) turned me on to Sun Ra.

Everything I am came pretty much from those early days on the East Side of Milwaukee, back when you would walk down Arlington Place and hear music coming from every window on a hot summer day and the bed springs from an attic as some 17-year-old runaway was f*cking the guy from the bong shop. I miss the sound of the East Side.

But, also, as you know, Richard's brother Doug and I founded The Prosecutors; my dear dear Prosecutors. That love fest will have to wait another day ... great band. When I left The Prosecutors, Richard and myself had an acoustic duo called The Lonesome Desperados. I think we did two shows and a picnic! But he REALLY shaped me when he took me to see "Don't Look Back" at the Oriental on a matinee. I really hated folk singers growing up in the '70s. Dudes with mustaches grifting on your girlfriend or singing around campfires.

But after I saw that movie I was ashamed that I lumped Dylan with all of that. I bought an acoustic guitar and I was off and running; folk singer humdinger one too many mornings and a thousand miles behind.

It was shortly after that I moved to Atlanta and didn't see him again 'til came up here to New York to make my first Island record in 1988. It was so surreal moving here 10 years ago and seeing Richard LaValliere walking his best friend Smelvis to the dog clinic or going to see his bands or his brilliant cable access show.

I would introduce him to my friends here and the inevitable party chatter – like how you guys know each other – and we just kind of look at each and of course Richard would come up with something like "We used to work together on the Weekly World news....on the Chupacabra desk" and they would just kind of nod, "cool."

But the two most important things he ever taught me was don't review your your show after you get off stage, just deal with it. It should of been fun if you did your best. Fix what you can fix tomorrow. And the second thing, even more important was as an artist you're only as good as the next project. You've gotta keep swimming if your ever gonna get to that island that has a thousand girls and each one has a pizza and all them are topless. "I don't wanna be an encyclopedia salesman!"

Newspaper boy in the background: "Get your Oil Tasters right now! While they're fresh!" Go to i Tunes and buy one. There is nothing like cleaning the house to a little Oil Tasters in the morning. I would tell you to buy The Haskels record, too, but there isn't one with the original band! What the f*ck?! Someone find something and share it with the world!

OMC: Finally, I remember last time you said you love to take your mom to Pieces of Eight. Since we last talked, Harbor House has opened in that space. Will you take her there?

KK: I think we'll try Ma Fisher's. Is THAT still open?

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.