Randy Kohrs Biography

Randy Kohrs photo by Scarpati, courtesy of Left of Center Records.

Growing up on a farm in the rural town of New Virginia, Iowa, Randy Kohrs was raised like every other kid in the area, getting up early to feed the animals before school, and performing various other chores until the sun went down. At the age of eight, however, it became clear that he was not destined to spend his life on a farm when his uncle, Jack Ferguson, brought over an acoustic guitar, showed him a few things, and Randy was hooked. Having been taught to earn everything you get, a young Randy actually purchased the guitar from his uncle for around $100. Around the age of ten, Randy became more fascinated with his Uncle Jack’s main instrument, the resophonic guitar, or dobro, and was determined to learn to play that, too. So, in his typical industrious style, he raised a feeder calf and purchased his first dobro when he was eleven.

In two short years, he began playing full-time with the Missouri-based band, Possum Trot, and stayed with them for ten years. At fifteen, he began playing country music as well, with a local band, which he later fronted, throughout the Des Moines area. Throughout this time, Randy had been developing his uniquely soulful and powerful tenor voice, along with his repertoire of other instruments, including electric guitar, mandolin, banjo, pedal steel, and bass. In spite of what reads as an already impossibly busy schedule, he also managed to work with his father, a retired mechanic of the National Guard who had then opened his own shop, propelling him to also earn his degree in Automotive Collision Repair. Soon enough, Randy was running his own business and still playing music on the side.

His popularity continued to grow as his reputation spread throughout the Midwest, and soon, he realized the only move left to make was to Nashville, a place he had only visited (and had even played on the legendary Grand Ole Opry with Mike Snider and the Whites). In 1994, shortly after the passing of his father, a grieving, yet hopeful, Randy loaded up a moving truck and headed to the city.

In three short weeks, Randy found himself playing incredibly grueling schedules down on Lower Broadway in Maggie Magee’s (now the Nashville Crossroads), and doing light collision work and auto detailing based out of his home. It was soon obvious the dues paid in his native Iowa were null and void in the notoriously brutal Music City.

In 1995, during one of his nightly solo gigs, an impressed Hank Williams III walked through the door and hired him immediately for his own band. For the next month, the band played some showcases and was signed to a major record label. Per usual, any day off the diligent Randy had from Hank III, he could be found back down on Lower Broadway playing, where his reputation as a multiple-threat began to spread around town.

It so happened that the legendary Tom T. Hall was in need of a multi-instrumentalist in his band, so he sent his personal assistant down to Maggie Magee’s to check out the young newcomer that had been garnering the attention of several reputable musicians in town. Following a quick audition, Randy was off a week later on his first major tour, which notably included a solid month in Australia. The following spring of 1997, Tom T. retired from the road and Randy found himself back on Lower Broad playing regular gigs at the Turf, a real hotspot on the renowned road. Never daunted or beaten down, he just looked at it all as work, some more pleasurable than others, because there were some musicians in town who weren’t working at all so he was just grateful for anything that came his way.