Read more about Kent in Steve Krakow's article in the Chicago Reader.

Kent Rose Bio - By Bill Dahl, Music Historian & Journalist

         He’s a throwback to the guitar-toting country troubadours of yesteryear and at the same time a product of the rock and roll era, certainly the only performer of his kind in the greater Chicagoland area.

Rose’s musical odyssey has twisted and turned through the folk era, Chicago’s late ‘60s/early ‘70s rock scene, a short stint in teenaged country star Tanya Tucker’s road band, a spot playing saxophone in a vintage soul combo, and subbing with Chicago's legendary Sundowners. Since 2001 he has been performing his original wonderfully crafted material solo. In 2016 a band formed around his music, The Remedies.

A native of suburban Glencoe, Illinois, Kent was exposed to all sorts of sounds as a lad.  “So when I was about 11 years old, I got a banjo-ukulele and an acoustic guitar. My cousin, Skip Haynes, gave me some records, Elvis Presley and Don Gibson on 45s. Buddy Holly was the first 45 I purchased. But I already liked the country sound. I played parties at the skating rink. I was in a ukulele duo then a folk quartet doing four-part harmony. Then I got an electric guitar. They threw me out of the quartet for that. Then I joined a couple of bands in high school and played the Byrds, Love, the Leaves, that kind of stuff.”

Kent was already flexing his songwriting muscles. “Probably the tipping point of learning to write songs was when I went to college, and I was at Beloit College for a couple of years. Because of writing the songs, my mom mentioned this guy, Michael Melford,” he says. “Michael was a producer and a mandolin player. He produced records including Bashful Brother Oswald, Rose Maddox and Michael Bloomfield’s ‘It’s Not Killing Me’. He said, ‘Do one thing: listen to Hank Williams. I know you’re going to like him.’” Melford’s prediction came true. I left college and wound up playing solo up in Madison, Wisconsin,” says Rose.

Then the Baraboo Band gave Rose a reason to move back home in June of ‘74.

“I had known the guys in the band from high school and they wanted a new singer. The first gig I had with the band, we played at my old high school, New Trier. We were opening the show. Styx was the headliner. Luther Allison was second-billed” says Kent. The Baraboo Band garnered quite a local reputation as country-rockers.

Opportunity came knocking in 1975. “Tanya Tucker came to town to do a show. She had just signed to MCA. She wanted the Eddie Boy Band to back her up. They didn’t want to, but they recommended us. Our manager went down to Nashville and talked to her father and we went on tour with Tanya for eight months. It was an interesting experience, getting to open for a lot of the guys that I thought were tops like Marty Robbins, Don Gibson and Ray Price.”  Kent played rhythm guitar and handled harmony vocals behind Tanya.

“I just felt more and more like we were drifting away from why it was I had gotten in the Baraboo band,” says Kent. “So I felt that at a certain point the band had nowhere to go.” That was 1978.

A more stable position was in order. “I applied at the post office,” says Rose. “Went to work there.” Still, Kent began venturing down to Leland Avenue and Clark Street on the western border of Uptown, where Pam’s Playhouse (now Carol’s Pub), as authentic a country music bar as existed within Chicago’s borders, was situated. “It was the first time I’d ever sat in with a band where I didn’t know the guys,” says Kent, who sang Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and the Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin’ Man” his first time there.

“I started playing out in the honky tonks in Round Lake, Illinois. There was A Bit of Country and the Country Palace. I’d get gigs out there when the guitar player’s brother took the weekend off. It was deer hunting season,” he says. “Leroy couldn’t make it, so I would. I started working with them and other bands in Waukegan, North Chicago, Kenosha—mostly hillbilly stuff. It was pretty steady work. And the good thing was, I could still work at the post office at the same time.”

Kent also began sitting in and substituting with the Sundowners, the legendary country trio that held court for many years at the Bar Double-R Ranch in the Loop. “That definitely taught me a lot about performing and how to be responsible. But I realized when they offered me a gig playing solo between their sets, I could do it occasionally, but I was getting up at four in the morning to go to work at the post office.”

At one point, Kent picked up tenor sax and tried his hand at another genre altogether with a ‘60s soul band, Alfonso & the Night Shift. The Night Shift snared some high-profile gigs during its two-and-a-half-year run —Park West, Biddy Mulligan’s, an opening slot for Delbert McClinton up in Madison—but things came crashing to a premature halt. “Some fisticuffs went on between members of the band,” says Kent. “I was not involved, but that pretty much brought it to an end.”

“I started going out to open mics, because I was writing again,” he says.

While awaiting his turn at one of those open mics, Kent’s auto was crashed into by a female vocalist also dropping by to sing a couple of tunes. For most struggling artists it would have been a disastrous turn of events, but it inspired Rose to get creative. “When I was driving home that night, I just thought, ‘Man, women keep smashing up my cars!’” he says. “And I thought, ‘That’s a good title for a song!’” “Women Keep Smashing Up My Cars” and “Blue California” comprised half of Rose’s 2001 debut EP Depot and Diner, cut at Solid Sound Studio in suburban Hoffman Estates. 

One Riot, One Ranger, Rose’s first full-length CD in 2005, took the opposite tack, presenting Kent in a solo setting. “When people come out to hear me and I don’t have a band, this is just what I sound like.” 

In 2009, Kent filmed the commercial that made him a mainstay for awhile on the television airwaves. “I saw an ad on Craigslist,” he says. “There was an ad from O’Connor Casting saying that if you were a U.S. Cellular customer and you had an interesting story to tell, that you should audition for this commercial, a ‘real people’ commercial. And that they would give you a telephone that people would call. So I thought, ‘Nothing to lose! I rode around on the el while they filmed me. Then they came to my house and shot the rest of the commercial out there.” The spot ran heavily during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

 Rose released a 2011 followup disc, Live At Reggie’s, cut at a popular nightclub on Chicago’s South Side. “I had all this new material,” he notes.

A throwback to an earlier time who nonetheless remains contemporary, Kent Rose has plenty of songs to share with us.  His 2016 album recorded in Nashville,  All That American Night, can be previewed at To be released in 2024 is If You Know Love with nine new songs and two spoken word rhyming vignettes. This new album was produced and recorded at Kernel Sound Emporium in Chicago by Steve Dawson. 

Indicating his most recent career turn, since 2022 Kent has written music themed articles published by Cowboy Jamboree Press out of South Carolina in issues about Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt and John Prine.                                       

                                 Find out more about Bill Dahl at