By Barry Barbe

Ask most any musician who they were influenced by, or who their mentor may be, and most respond rather quickly with a singular influence. It may be a teacher, favorite band, or songwriter who for one reason or another hit a chord with them and helped create their sound or style.

The Dirty Halos’ Kenn Duncan’s sound is a blend of a wide variety of musicians he has experienced over his lifetime with a solid base in Americana.

With a CD collection of over 7,000 discs, a vinyl collection of over 600 albums, and an ever-growing catalogue of over 100,000 songs on his computer, it’s easy to say the man has a music passion bordering on addiction.

“Growing up I was a huge fan of Elvis Costello, Nick Low, Colin Hay of Men at Work, and others, and at the time, living in the LA area, the Punk scene was just beginning to take its place with X, The Blast and then on to groups like Oingo Boingo, The Smiths and the Counting Crows,” Kenn said.

Despite his father being a studio jazz musician and playing in multiple bands, Kenn’s own interest in the art form didn’t take hold until later in life.

While in college in Northern California, Kenn’s goal was to become a disc jockey. This was at a time when DJs played the songs they wanted and gave commentary on the selections as well as a bit of band backstory.

“Once again, I was at the cusp of change and just as I was getting ready to enter the industry, the whole format evolved to a pre-programmed standard where the personality and individual style of the DJs began to be diminished.”

Thus began a 30-year career in video production as he became a part of the growing cable TV industry. This would ultimately result in his move to Prescott with his wife, Deb.

Prior to the move, while living in San Francisco, Kenn was fortunate enough to be at ground zero of new sounds with the Grunge movement along with other bands of the ’90s such as The Counting Crows, Train, bands that were playing a combination of electric and acoustic blends.

The 2000s brought along an edgier country cowpunk or alt country.<br />

“I’m not too particular in what I listen to.” Add to the list the Gin Blossoms, Ryan Adams and others, and you can see how Kenn and his group have created a unique sound based on personal songs written by Kenn and a wide variety of covers with their own spin.

“We play music we like to play, with our own personal feel,” Kenn explains.

Once ensconced in Prescott with their daughter, Raina, a then-budding performer and vocalist, Kenn first became acquainted with Drew Hall, local musician and guitar instructor.

With Drew’s encouragement, Kenn began to focus his time and efforts on learning the guitar. “I wanted to be the best I could possibly be, and learn not only how to play music, but also turn my own writings into song.”

There was no goal of having his own band at the time, but simply to follow through on a longtime dream and create an additional avenue to express himself and share his thoughts.

“I had been writing poetry for years, and so song writing came to me rather easily. Once I began to understand the structure of the guitar and how to use it, so to speak, I was able to combine the two and took quickly to songwriting.”

Studying under Drew, Kenn began to sit in and perform at local open mic nights and student showcases along with Drew and others.

The networking of the Prescott music scene resulted in collaborations and an appreciation of Kenn’s songwriting and playing. Thus, The Dirty Halos was formed in 2019. Their first CD landed in the spring of 2020. Yeah, 2020. After two gigs, the band went on forced hiatus for two years.

“I write about my life experiences, friends’ experiences and what they may be going through and my thoughts and events. It’s become a way to share my experiences with others,” Kenn said.

Drawing on personal influences, Tortured Troubadour is a song of the vagabond lifestyle of his favorite signer songwriter, while Rose of Crodo is inspired by his Grandmother Rosa who emigrated from Italy.

After a two-year hiatus, The Dirty Halos have reemerged with a slightly different makeup to a receptive and appreciative Prescott music crowd, providing a unique yet recognizable performance with audience members taking quickly to Kenn’s lyrics as well as their rendition of covers with enthusiasm.

The Dirty Halos, the culmination of a lifetime of influence, “An Indi pop band with an Americana Flair.” Check ’em out around town and online @The Dirty Halos on Facebook.

Barry Barbe owns the El Gato Azul and Torme restaurants in Prescott, and is the energy and insight behind the Prescott Palette. His radio show, the Prescott Palette, is on KQNA 1130 AM, Saturdays at noon. Email:

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