Illinois-born Ken Wenzel is a study in contradictions: a guitarist who plays saxophone, a singer who writes instrumentals, a purveyor of restless sentimentality who continues to search for truths best found within. As a singer-songwriter now based in Washington DC, Ken has been gaining attention locally and regionally with his midwestern-accented musings, telling stories spun from a life spent moving from town to town. Fittingly, he plays 200+ shows a year – all over the DelMarVa region, the eastern seaboard, the midwest, and south.
His first solo acoustic EP, “…this is cross kentucky”, released April 9, 2010, is a stripped-down, 7-song examination of desires and dreams both past and present. Tinged in Americana and country jazz, and featuring Ken’s dusty, wheat-cracked voice, “…this is cross kentucky” showcases the perspective and passions of a newly-arrived, yet seasoned singer/songwriter – one with a somewhat different story and background than most.
Born and raised in Champaign, Illinois, Ken studied classical saxophone at the University of Illinois before graduating from UNLV in Las Vegas, NV with a degree in jazz studies. Since then, he’s played all over the world: in Las Vegas casinos, on cruise ships in Northern Europe, Africa, and Asia, at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan, on national tours of Broadway musicals, and at festivals including the 2004 Montreux Jazz Festival. As a saxophonist, Ken is an in-demand freelancer, having played with artists both locally and nationally- including, among others, Frankie Avalon, Ben Vereen, Bobby Parker, and Carlos Santana. He maintains an active performance schedule while pursuing his solo songwriting career and running a studio specializing in private saxophone and guitar instruction.
Presently, Ken is working on his next album, a 12-song, full-band compilation of his experiences and life in DC.