By DONNA BALANCIA
Tony Kinman who had an immeasurable impact on the rise of Americana music and who engineered the punk rock revolution in Southern California, was feted by friends and family at a memorial on Sunday.
The man who created a new genre of music that blended country with punk, was remembered as a loving friend who was grateful for a good life. Kinman passed away May 4 from cancer.
Longtime family friend Jackie Sharp hosted the memorial, attended by luminaries in music and the arts. Friends and family of Kinman, known as “Tony 19,” gathered to have a drink and food and share comfort and remembrances about the music legend.
Rank and File drummer Slim Evans, The Blasters’ Dave Alvin, Andy Prieboy from Wall of Voodoo, author Merrill Markoe, Dennis Duck from Dream Syndicate, David Kendrick from Devo and Roger Deering of Smash Fashion were among the notables on hand to pay respects.
Born in 1956, Kinman was a founding member with his brother Chip Kinman, of The Dils, Rank & File, Blackbird, and Cowboy Nation. His most recent work was as producer of the new album This American Blues by Ford Madox Ford, Chip’s band with his son Dewey Peek.
People ranging from musicians with whom Tony played, to old friends from Carlsbad High School all had something to say about the articulate and intelligent friend who walked among them.
“Tony was very intelligent, he was amazing,” said Lisa Kinman, wife of Tony’s brother Chip Kinman. “If you’ve ever spoken to him you know he was so incredibly smart.”
Tony and Chip created music that resonates. The music has been covered by veteran musicians as well as young aspiring artists since the 1970s. Friends paid special attention to comfort Tony’s wife, Kristie White and immediate family.
“In his last days he was still showing you how to do it,” said Chip. “I tried to visit him every day. He said ‘This is why I’m here,’ and he pointed at the window and the birds were chirping. He wanted to hear that. He wanted to watch the sun pass through the window.
“I asked him, ‘What do you think about what comes next?” Chip recalled. “He said ‘I’m not gonna come back and rattle a teacup, I’m not going to come back and say ‘It wasn’t your fault.’ ”
“Did he give you the password?” interjected older brother Charlie, which broke the raw emotions with humor.
Chip recalled Tony telling him: “‘I’m gonna be in the universe, there’s no time. That’s where I’m gonna be. I believe in God, I’m gonna see God.”
Chip said: “So when we were talking about other things I said, “It’s a shame you never went to Rome. Tony said ‘Oh, I’m going to Rome.’ And that’s so fuckin’ Tony.”
“We were talking about literature, you know … On his death bed, we were talking about literature,” Chip said. “I told him I wanted to read “Ulysses,” he said ‘Read “The Odyssey” it’s an easier read.’ Then he lent it to me and I put it down.
“And the last thing he said to me is the same thing my mother said. He said, ‘We’ve got it made.’ And he was right. We’ve got it made. Tony did it. Tony made it. All the way.”
Dix Denny, guitar player for The Weirdos recalled the Dils as “the first punk rock band this side of the Misssissippi, maybe.” he said Tony — and Chip too — always had a kind word.
“Andy and I really loved Tony Kinman,” said Markoe, who is married to Prieboy. “He was so brilliant and interesting and ornery, all at once. A very cool human being. We are seriously sorry he’s gone.”
Katherine Kato, a Carlsbad High School friend said Tony and Chip were always doing something new and different with the band The Dils and she was the one who usually created the costumes. She said the brothers were always a little different than everyone else.
Said Deering: “Tony was a mentor, friend, confidante and band member. He was a phenomenal musician, who left a huge mark in the music world. He was at the forefront of the American punk scene and he laid the blueprint for Americana roots rock. He cast a long shadow and I will miss him.”
Sharp, who lent her home for the occasion and was like a sister to the guys put it simply: “No one could ask for better people in their lives.”
Some people got T-shirts and special mementoes Tony would have wanted them to have.
Chip said he received something special in the mail, which he held up to the crowd: The Dils’ single “Class War” with “Mr. Big,” on the B side, in gold, framed to be hung in a place of honor.
“I got this in the mail the other day,” said Chip, holding up the gold record. “We didn’t sell a million records. Not yet anyway. this came from Posh Boy Records and like a lot of people, they reached out. I think all our records are gold.”
He read what Posh Boy topper Robbie Fields wrote on the inscription:
“No record inspired me more to have my own label than this one. It’s truly a great work of art.”
Chip said Tony would want to be remembered for his accomplishments.
“He was proud of his songs and the trail that was blazed over 40 years,” Chip said. “We Do As We Please, the title of the second Cowboy Nation record sums it up. Tony showed us how to do it, how to be in a band, and how to say goodbye.”