Do not fear mistakes; there are none. – Miles Davis
Kent Toalson has lived in Nashville, TN for 9 years as a session organist and keyboardist, in addition to working intermittently as a producer and sound engineer for a widespread and eclectic mix of projects. His experience in playing with an ever-shifting network of musicians and songwriters has led him on a course of surprising life lessons, all while developing big ears and a devoted heart for music. Kent is a member of reggae rockers Floralorix, organist for STAX and Booker T & the MGs all-star tribute group Time is Tight, organist for the soul-jazz collective Fatcakes, and is the lynchpin keyboardist for The Music City Toppers, which host the ‘Funky Tonk’ every Thursday at Acme Feed and Seed on historic Lower Broadway.
Before his path as a rising Music City veteran, Kent developed his piano technique with 10 years of strictly classical training and theory, often winning judges’ picks and invariably receiving the highest marks in local and state competitions. His classical background led him to explore jazz, playing in his high-school jazz band and a local jazz-funk trio his senior year of high school. Kent came to Nashville in 2008 to attend Belmont University with a double major in Audio Engineering and Philosophy, albeit with little intention of playing music outside of a recording studio setting. Nevertheless, the music scene inevitably beckoned with an extensive array of live artists and bands. Kent found himself playing soul and RnB, country, hip-hop, jazz, reggae, funk, folk, metal and psychedelic rock at various times during his tenure at Belmont. These pervasive connections led to shows at venues all around Nashville including The 5 Spot, Exit/In, Marathon Music Works, City Winery, 12th & Porter, 3rd and Lindsley, Bluebird Café, Loveless Café, and various Broadway honky tonks, to go along with an endless amount of college house shows and regional tours on the road.
Kent has studied music under John Medeski, Billy Martin, and Chris Wood of pioneering modern jazz trio Medeski, Martin & Wood; Regi Wooten of Wooten Brothers fame; noted local pianist and composer Steve Willets, and a collection of important teachers along the way. Kent has been of member of, or played with: the Amanda Broadway Band, Alicia Michilli, Andy Dozier & Heavy Soul, Luthi, Mountainwalker, Kate McRae, Suzy Jones, the Coolin’ System, and a dozen others.
“It’s wonderfully fulfilling to teach music, because the student always inadvertently teaches the teacher,” Kent says, “that rush of learning something new keeps me seeking… pushing for newer, better, even more fun ways to play and teach.”