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Arts: Kid Drew packs a lot of music into his 30 years

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Kid Drew is not a kid any more.

His ability to play a guitar has taken him around the world, but he’s married and settling into a new house near Murrells Inlet with a steady gig at The Carolina Opry.

He’s known as professional musician Drew Voivedich when playing at The Opry, a more polished version of the mop-haired teenager covering hard rock guitar classics with his own band 15 years ago. Now 30, Kid Drew might have had a haircut, but he still wants to play the music from the golden age of guitar. He and four mates will perform a tribute to the Allman Brothers called “Skydog” Sunday at the Rectory Lawn summer music festival at All Saints Church. The group Finnegan Bell, featuring Shane Williams and Warren Bazemore, will open the evening at 6 p.m.

“Skydog” was the late Duane Allman’s nickname, Voivedich said, and the band has worked hard to master the Allman Brothers’ unorthodox twin guitar style. “Some of those lines in ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed’ are technically wrong,” Voivedich said, “but somehow they work.”

He will team with his regular band members, drummer Brian Daggett and bassist Kevin Hughes, as well as guitarist Anthony Zincone and keyboardist Damon Bradley on Sunday. The Allman Brothers may not seem like traditional churchyard fare, but All Saints rector Rob Grafe says the music is a gift to the community. “Our vision for Rectory Lawn,” he said, “is to be a blessing to the entire Pawleys Island Lowcountry community, residents and vacationers alike. As Pawleys summer outdoor music festival, we would love for Rectory Lawn to be something that we all look forward to as a time to be together and have fun for years to come. We provide great bands and professional quality production, and ask people to bring their lawn chair, cooler, friends and family and come enjoy this fantastic music.”

Kid Drew picked up a guitar, a student model with a fat neck called a Pan, when he was 5 or 6 years old. His aunt bought it, and his mother hid it from her children for fear they would break it. “I just started playing all the time,” Voivedich said. “Dad showed me a couple of things, and I took to it.”

Young Drew could remember the notes of songs and learned to replicate the sound. He’s never forgotten the first time he heard Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” His dad had some Skynyrd albums, and Drew heard the guitar and picked up the sound. “Now it’s a cliché,” he said. “The first I heard it, I said, ‘That’s so cool.’ I got into Skynyrd. That was the first band that impacted me.”

Soon to follow were Led Zeppelin and the Allman Brothers, Dire Straits and Fleetwood Mac — anybody featuring mad guitar riffs. For an aspiring guitar player, popular music was a gold mine of sound. Guitarists Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and Freddie King got into his ear. “I wasn’t the same after hearing their stuff,” he said.

The Allman Brothers were much more like a blues band than Southern rock, Voivedich said. Their hit “One Way Out” was a Willie Dixon song. “Statesboro Blues” was a Blind Willie McTell tune. If a country band can record blues, anything seemed possible. Blurring the lines between blues, country and rock ’n’ roll was intriguing because it brought furious guitar fretwork to center stage.

Voivedich has been performing on stage steadily since his father asked some friends in a group called Crossroads if he could join them while they played at Billy The Kid’s in North Myrtle Beach. Drew says he was about 10 years old. “I’d never played with a band before,” he said. The first song, ‘Gimme Three Steps,’ I knew that one. The next was ‘Play that Funky Music,’ and they said, ‘We’re in E.’ I knew what E was. I watched the chords they were playing and went from there.”

Three years later, Drew was playing guitar with the Smokehouse Brown Blues Band and learned his way around the local bar scene. Kid Drew and his band soon followed, even though he was too young to actually be in a bar.

“I was fortunate enough to be around guys like Charlie Snuggs and Michael Stallings, two awesome blues guitar players who took me under their wings,” Voivedich said. “They showed me some stuff. They understood theory and would throw a couple things out there. It intrigued me to learn more and more, and it all come together.”

Voivedich was convinced to venture to Nashville for his career. He found a lot more. He agreed to attend a birthday party even though he had just arrived from playing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and was tired. He stayed a few minutes, but as he began to leave he met a woman, Arielle, and decided to stick around.

Voivedich told himself he was not going to turn down an opportunity to play in Nashville. One gig led to another, and he eventually joined American Idol singer Kellie Pickler and his career took off. He played the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium and appeared on television shows Craig Ferguson, Ellen, The View, Fox and Friends and Dancing with the Stars. “She’s awesome,” Voivedich said.

It was in Australia on tour with Toby Keith and Eli Young that Voivedich realized touring was not what he wanted to do. “It’s just a long time to be gone,” he said, “and it was looking like more and more of that was going to happen.” If touring wasn’t his calling, neither was the record business.

Voivedich was offered a developmental deal to make records for Sony. There was a catch: He couldn’t write his own music and with all the promotion required he wouldn’t have time to play in public. He’d have to adapt to pop country, the new style in Nashville. “It’s not my thing,” Voivedich said. “I didn’t get to cut loose. I didn’t get the opportunity to express myself in Nashville.”

By this time he and Arielle were married. They agreed to take a chance and leave Nashville. “I want to do music I enjoy,” Voivedich said. “We chose to move up here, to have my band and be able to play.”

Kid Drew returned to the local music scene. He found steady work at Legends in Concert after it moved to Broadway at the Beach and made time for his own band. When a bass player had to cancel at the last minute, Voivedich found Kevin Hughes, music director at Carolina Opry. “I had never heard the guy play before,” Voivedich said. “He fit right in.” With Kid Drew on guitar, Hughes on bass and Brian Doggett on drums, the band was reconstituted.

It was only natural that Hughes called Voivedich when there was an opening at The Carolina Opry, even though it was for a banjo player. He took the job, and played banjo, mandolin and dobro in working his way to a featured guitarist position in six shows a week. Sundays are free to do his own thing. The band has a regular gig the first of each month at the Pawleys Island Tavern.

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