Fishman Artists

Randy Kohrs

Fishman Artist // Randy Kohrs

Growing up on a farm in the rural town of New Virginia, Iowa, Kohrs was raised like every other kid in the area, getting up early to feed the animals before school and performing various other chores until the sun went down. At the age of eight, however, it became clear that he was not destined to spend his life on a farm when his Uncle Jack brought over an acoustic guitar, showed him a few techniques and promptly enchanted the eager youngster.

Having been taught always to pay his own way, Kohrs bought the guitar from his uncle for about $100. Around the age of 10, he became more fascinated with his Uncle Jack's main instrument, the resophonic guitar, or dobro, and resolved to learn to play that, too. So, in his typically industrious style, he raised and sold a feeder calf within the year to purchase his first dobro.

In two practice-packed years, Kohrs became accomplished enough to begin playing full-time with the Missouri-based band, Possum Trot. He remained with them for 10 years. At 15, he began playing country music with a local band, as well, a band he later fronted in and around Des Moines. During this time, he had been developing his uniquely soulful and powerful tenor voice, along with his repertoire of other instruments, including electric guitar, mandolin, banjo, pedal steel, and bass.

Kohrs, popularity continued to grow throughout the Midwest, and soon he realized that the next logical move was to Nashville. In 1994, shortly after the passing of his father, the grieving, yet hopeful, young artist loaded up a moving truck and headed to Music City.

In three short weeks, Kohrs found himself playing an incredibly grueling schedule at a club on Nashville's fabled Lower Broadway called Maggie Magee's (now the Nashville Crossroads). To supplement the minuscule income that gig yielded, he did auto detailing and light collision work from his home.

In 1995, during one of his nightly solo gigs, Kohrs so impressed Hank Williams III that he hired him on the spot for his own band. On his nights off, Kohrs continued to dazzle the folks on Lower Broad. When the legendary Tom T. Hall decided he needed a multi-instrumentalist for the band he was forming, he dispatched his personal assistant to check out this newcomer who was creating such a buzz. A week later, Kohrs was off on his first major tour with The Storyteller, a circuit that took him to Australia for a month.

In the spring of 1997, Hall retired from the road and Kohrs found himself back on Lower Broad. That summer, bluegrass stalwart David Parmley went to hear Kohrs play, and at 7 o'clock the next morning, he was on a bus headed to Canada as a member of Continental Divide. For the next two years, he sang tenor and occasional lead and played dobro with the band. He recorded on the album Feel Good Day, which made it to the Top 5 on the bluegrass charts and the Top 20 on the Americana charts.

Subsequently, Kohrs toured with Holly Dunn for two years and performed regularly with her on her Grand Ole Opry appearances. In late 2000, John Cowan offered Kohrs a gig playing dobro and singing tenor, a task few people in this world have the voice to do. Yet, he performed exquisitely and can be heard on Cowan's Always Take Me Back.

While grateful to be working with so many great acts, it had always been Kohrs dream to have a solo career. In 2001, he released his debut solo album, A Crack In My Armour, on Junction Records. Containing several original songs, it earned him new respect among the Nashville songwriting community and acclaim within the larger music industry. He followed it with a traditional country album, Now It's Empty, on his own label, Left Of Center Records.

In 2003, Kohrs accepted a gig with the unsinkable Dolly Parton, singing and playing dobro in her band, the Blueniques for the next two years. In addition to playing on three of Parton's CDs, he also performed as her opening act. In 2004, Parton recorded a duet with him, It Looked Good On Paper,for his third album, I'm Torn, on Lonesome Day Records. It spent eight months on the bluegrass charts, rising into the Top 5.

To date, Kohrs has played on more than 500 albums, ranging from those by such legends as Hank Thompson and Jerry Reed to current and recent chart-toppers Trick Pony, Dierks Bentley and The Wreckers. In the bluegrass domain, he has recorded projects for Larry Sparks, Rhonda Vincent, Mark Newton, Bradley Walker, Lou Reid, and 3 Fox Drive, among others.

It's a lot of credits in a short time. But you can bet Randy Kohrs is just getting started.