First-time Arts Fest performer Jameson Kidder will continue family tradition

For Jameson Kidder, performing at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts is more than just another gig. It marks the passing of a family tradition.

The son of Glenn Kidder, one of the founding members of longtime Arts Fest mainstay Cartoon, indie singer-songwriter Jameson Kidder will perform at 6 p.m. Saturday in Sidney Friedman Park.

“I’ve been going to see my dad ... play at the fest since I was 4 years old,” he wrote in an email. “I grew up listening to his songs and eventually wanting to make music that sounded like that.”

If Jameson Kidder’s recordings are any indicator, it will likely be a stellar performance by a talented musician we’re not used to hearing in our area, and a preview of what’s to come after Arts Fest.

“I’ve been collaborating on recording some of my songs with some local musicians and engineers,” he wrote, “and am excited to be releasing my music on Spotify for the first time. The first single, ‘Truth at Hand’ is going to be up September 13th.”

Beyond Arts Fest, State College also has special meaning for Kidder.

“My first ever gig was sitting in on percussion with (my dad) at Webster’s Book Store when I was 11,” he wrote. “That was the moment when I realized I wanted to become a musician and started taking it more seriously.”

Kidder plays a fluid guitar style, with a particularly loose and steady right (strumming) hand. It’s effective in establishing the groove for the songs he is performing, whether they are songs he’s written or cover songs, such as Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” It’s a style that is making its way into the new music he is planning on rolling out.

“For these songs, I really wanted to react to the current very digital, electronic wave of music with an analogue sound,” Kidder wrote, “which is more rooted in Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’ album — kind of a warmer, more present vibe.”

Adding to the paring of electronica and 1970s analogue, Kidder is also looking to expand the way he writes music.

“Aside from the singles I’m releasing this fall,” Kidder wrote, “I’m looking forward to writing more with my electric guitar. I’ve been writing acoustic folk music for a number of years now and I’m looking to leave that comfort zone and create something different and potentially much louder.”

It fits into what appears to be an overall state of mind, or at least approach to performance, that incorporates humor as much as anything else, as is evident in Kidder’s description of how it feels when he is in the middle of a set, performing his music.

“It feels pretty sweaty, to be honest,” Kidder wrote.

Kevin Briggs is a writer, musician, and researcher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail.com.