Kelvin Damrell to The Steeldrivers

The Steeldrivers have announced that Kelvin Damrell from eastern Kentucky has been hired as their new lead singer and guitarist.

He takes the spot vacated by Gary Nichols last year in a move that has yet to be fully explained. In May of 2017, the band announced that Nichols would be taking medical leave from touring, and a few months later simply declared that he was no longer with the band. They have been using fill in replacements for some time.

But no more. In Kelvin they have found a serious student of Chris Stapleton, who helped launch The Steeldrivers sound as an original member. Chris, of course, has since gone on to achieve tremendous success as a country artist, while defying the cookie-cutter mold that has defined the genre for some time. His gritty, blues-inflected vocals have been a signature part of The Steeldrivers sound, something that Gary continued during his tenure.

Damrell first gained notoriety as the winner of a Chris Stapleton Cover Contest hosted online by Wide Open Country last year. He has got that sound down, and says that he has been a Stapleton and Steeldrivers fan for years.

Here’s a listen to the track that won him the Stapleton competition.

Coming onboard, Kelvin joins Tammy Rogers on fiddle, Brent Truitt on mandolin, Richard Bailey on banjo, and Mike Fleming on bass.

In announcing the change, the band has issued this joint statement.

“Hello folks. We have some great news to share tonight. We are officially announcing that Kelvin Damrell will be our new singer and guitar picker! Most of you know that we had to part ways with our long time partner Gary Nichols last year. It took us a while to heal up and get it together. To be honest, we didn’t know for sure if we’d ever be able to replace such a massive talent. But we eventually found this young fella from the hills of Kentucky who can absolutely rock the grass!

Much like G-Ray, Kelvin grew up singing and playing electric guitar in local rock bands. He’s a great musician. His singing is soulful and from the heart with a big dose of bluesy grit. On a personal level Kelvin is a hard working family man with a lovely wife and two young boys.

We’re thrilled to have Kelvin join us. We’ve done a handful of shows with KD so far and those who’ve seen him have loved him. He got a rousing standing ovation on his very first show! We hope you will welcome KD into the SteelHead Nation. He rocks Kelvin Damrell y’all.”

You can follow the band’s travel schedule online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.