Ken Valdez is an unapologetic Journey fan. He says he remembers hearing them when he was about seven years old and was hooked. Fast forward to today when in his 'down time', he actually gives guitar lessons to two of Neal Schon's daughters.

Valdez will play Old Skoolz in Sioux Falls Saturday night (921 E. 8th Street) in what he affectionately refers to as 'just a great listening room run by awesome people.'

Valdez grew up around music in Santa Fe, New Mexico listening to old rock records with his dad, but once he saw Jeff Healey perform, he knew that music is what he wanted to do. Again fast forward to years later when he and his band opened for Healey for a string of dates. Healey ironically was using an old Journey tour bus at the time, bringing it all together for Ken.

To see and listen to Valdez, you can hear all kinds of influences from his dad's records, to the Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Howlin' Wolf to his love of funk and even a punk-leaning band like the Replacements. He also points out his Latino blood lines so there is definitely some Carlos Santana influence as well.

Valdez is also indicative of the Blues community being givers. He recorded an album last year called "Jack Daniel Time" with proceeds going to one of his heroes, T-Model Ford. Ford died last summer, but Valdez continues to give proceeds of that record to his widow.

Ken also was a very vocal supporter on social media of his former bandmate and good friend on TV's "The Voice". Kat Perkins made the final 5 of the show. Valdez and Kat performed together in Scarlet Haze at Rock Fest here in Sioux Falls a couple of summers ago. They also played together in a Quentin Tarantino movie theme song cover band (really) As a Tarantino fan, I would have LOVED to have seen that! He said it was cool to see someone like Kat, who had paid her dues and then some, get the opportunity to show such a large audience her talents. Though Valdez maybe wouldn't fit the idea of those shows, seeing him get that exposure would certainly make me and a LOT of people very happy.

Valdez is a genuine person and performer. You feel like you get to know him from his songs and his shows and the beauty of Old Skoolz is actually getting to talk to the artists like Valdez who come to play for us here in Sioux Falls.

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, do yourself a favor and go see Valdez and the talented trio he's brought to town. Bassist Tucker Jensen has been with Valdez about five years and drummer/percussionist Joe Diaz is someone Valdez has admired for a long time, but it was just about a year ago that the stars aligned allowing them to play together.

Valdez has logged thousands of miles opening for Jonny Lang, Big Head Todd and The Monsters, Robin Trower and many more. If karma has anything to say about it, sometime soon there will be bands saying they once got the chance to open for Ken Valdez.

Ken played a couple of songs while in studio Friday. Here's his new single, "Make It"

And he did one of my personal favorites, "Whiskey and Water"

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