Celebration of life for Kenneth “Kenny” Hightower:
Kenny Hightower was an Oak Cliff original. He was a drummer, stagehand, and longtime member of the Kessler crew and family. We lost Kenneth March 1st and we miss him every day. Truly beloved by artists, patrons, and the Dallas live music community. 

When I think about Kenny I also can’t help but think about all of the other people who assume similar roles and positions all over North Texas. Being a stagehand, a loader, a grip, a rigger, etc… it’s brutal work – and there simply is no show without them. They don’t get to take a bow at the end of the performance, but I can’t tell you how many times an artist gave Kenny a shout out during the show. They loved him and appreciated his always going above and beyond the call of duty to make them feel comfortable here. 

This is not an easy job, the backstage area is not the decadent party atmosphere that so many love to mythologize; it’s a risky gig, requiring long hours and serious patience. Kenny was often here at daybreak to help the bus drivers navigate our tricky parking situation; he had to “air traffic control” the cars coming up and down the south side of the street behind our building, as well as occasionally having to shuttle diplomacy with neighbors who often parked in a spot that made it impossible for a tour bus and trailer to back into our load in area. We could talk for hours about all of the times that Kenny had a gnarly six AM encounter with one of the residents across the street. He would finally get the tour bus situated, connect their shore power, then he’d head home to sleep for a couple of hours, only to return again to help the crew load in their gear around lunchtime. 

Moving all that gear is strenuous work. That stuff is HEAVY, and not all of it is on wheels. There are bone fractures, bruises, open wounds, and sore muscles that come with this responsibility. (Not to mention the hearing loss from thousands of sound checks over the years.) All if it takes its toll on your mind and body.

Kenny had what it takes to power through the challenge and process, and he did it for years. He enjoyed the camaraderie and the post-show glow. 

He loved to compare notes with fellow drummers – and again, going beyond normal protocol – would polish the drums and cymbals of the musicians who performed here. The man just loved to help make the drummer the star of the show, because he was one of them. 

I offer this remembrance for both Kenny and his backstage brotherhood of folks who make shows happen. We see you, we appreciate your contribution to this endeavor. Next time you cross paths with someone who shares this type of role, let them know how much you appreciate their efforts. It means the world to them, and it certainly meant everything to Kenny.

Celebration of life for Kenneth Hightower from 6-9 pm on Saturday, July 6 at The Kessler. Free to attend, everyone is invited.