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Kickstand drafts Guinness

For well over a year, guitarist Jeff Guinness quietly attended shows by Kickstand, the energetic Atlanta rock trio featuring Ray Dafrico, Scott Shamel and Mike Davies. Listening closely, Guinness had a feeling he could add something to Kickstand's sound. His problem was getting an audition.

"Ray and I tried to get together a year ago," Guinness remembers, "but he canceled practice at the last minute. Then the second time I went to his house, he wasn't even there. Ray later told me he'd left a note on the front door," he adds, rolling his eyes, "but that the wind must have blown it." Deciding their connection just wouldn't happen, the guitarist gave up his efforts.

A veteran of the South Carolina music scene, Guinness had relocated to Atlanta several years earlier and joined a garage-rock quartet, Dragline, that occasionally shared bills with Dafrico's earlier group, KTO. After Dragline's bandleader was lured away to Truckadelic, Guinness briefly kept the group going as D+. What eventually brought him back to Dafrico's door was Kickstand's recent CD.

"I was very pleasantly surprised by it," Guinness says, "They sound kind of punk onstage, but the record was polished, nice melodic rock, and close to what I'd been tryin' to do with D+."

Determined to help Kickstand "sound like their CD," Guinness renewed his campaign to join — this time successfully. The group's live shows are now embellished by his distinctive Stonesy guitar licks and vocal harmonies. "I really feel like there's a place for me here," he says.

Bandleader Dafrico agrees. "Jeff knows when not to play," he says, "but when he does play, it's pretty tastefully done. And, fortunately for me, he doesn't take anything too seriously, which is a very hard quality to find around these parts."

Kickstand performs every Wednesday in April at the Star Bar.??