“Ken, I‟m having a problem this morning…
There‟s too damn much money in the till, I can hardly count it all…
You are awesome!!!!!”
– Cedric Ellingson, Bo’s ‘N Mine Owner
Ken Wanovich is a solo performer and entertainer from Sarasota, Florida traveling the world performing music that captivates and transports his audiences to a place where they move-and-groove and sing-along to all their favorite songs!
Ken uses acoustic classic rock styles, accomplished acoustic fingerstyles, smooth and engaging vocals….. plus a little magic harmony and some driving percussion to get a virtual one-man-band experience. Whether you’re in the mood to dance, sing along, or just enjoy the journey, Ken brings together the very best in high-energy classic rock, musical reminiscing, and just plain fun!
Ken’s not happy until you’re singing & dancing…..
Having the time of your life!
Three Reasons Why Ken Is The Best!
Ken has been performing locally and nationally for over 40 years! He is known for providing a high-energy, quality, fun, entertaining, and engaging performance.
“Ken‟s music is outstanding! It appeals to a very wide age group. Since Ken has started performing here, we frequently have to seat the overflow crowd in our party room.” – Joe Bowman, Esteban‟s Entertainment Manager
“Ken, I‟m having a problem this morning… There‟s too damn much money in the till, I can hardly count it all… You are awesome!!!!!”
– Cedric Ellingson, Bo‟s ‘N Mine Owner
Ken connects with people at an honest, authentic level that must be experienced to understand.
”Thank you for making our night out without kids a memorable one. You have an incredible voice and range. So enjoyable. We loved it!”
– Gary & Susan, (recent note in tip jar)
”Ken is a master at engaging the crowd and plays the songs that everyone loves to hear. He is a pleasure to have in-house!” – Kris O‟Gara, Owner of O‟Gara‟s Irish Pub
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Ken covers a multitude of musical styles from the 1950’s to present day pop music. He can turn a room into a concert hall using his story telling and acoustic fingerstyles, or into a party room with the audience singing and dancing to a variety of their favorite songs.
“Ken thoroughly loves to play the guitar and entertain his audience. You can tell he is happy to be on stage. When you have the kind of passion that Ken has it really connects with his audience and pulls them into a participation mode that most musicians simply cannot accomplish. That is what separates Ken from all other musicians who play one song after another, and it simply becomes back ground music. We look forward to the nights Ken is performing as we are guaranteed a wonderful time.”
– Dave P, fan and friend
Videos of Ken Entertaining
Catch Ken in action as he entertains on the tropical island of Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
Ken performing live at the Tilted Tiki – Tidbits and Cocktail Lounge. Recorded by a fan on his cell phone.
Living and Singing in Isla Mujeres, Mexico
My first trip to Isla Mujeres, Mexico was in 1989, just after hurricane Gilbert had decimated a path across the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. After a week of intense labor with my church group rebuilding homes near Merida, a large city four hours west of Cancun, I found myself in a group of 12 enjoying a day of rest on the island of Isla Mujeres, a short 25-minute ferry ride from Cancun. This “mom & pop” Mexican paradise was a trip back in time, with seafood galore and the bluest blue ocean I had ever seen. I knew in my heart that someday I would stake my claim and live here on this little island!
That “someday” is now becoming a reality. My wife Debbie and I have now moved to Sarasota, Florida where we live seven months per year, and have an apartment on the island of Isla Mujeres, Mexico where we live five months per year. We sold our home in Minnesota, sold all our furniture, gave away tons of our precious possessions to friends, and purchased a home in Florida, and secured a little one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the island.
Life is all about choices. After some recent tragedies in the lives of our families and loved ones, we realize that time is a fleeting commodity and tomorrow is not a guarantee. Music has been very good to me, and teaching has been very good to Debbie. On an April Saturday morning at the breakfast table reflecting on God’s goodness and faithfulness, fully aware of our “mature” season in life, we decided that it was now or never to make the move to the island we both love!
We crunched the numbers, and came to the conclusion that with my music money both in Mexico and summers in Minnesota, along with Debbie’s pension and Social Security, we would have more than enough to live a full and meaningful life living as ex-Pats (American Citizens living overseas) in Mexico. We made the choice to step out in faith.
Scary?!? Absolutely! But it was a “Leap of Faith.”
Faith is such a misunderstood topic. Some see it as a blind belief in the unknown. I see it as a confident belief in what we know to be true but won’t be realized until we take that first step into what cannot be seen by the human eye. Only after we take that first step in “faith” will we be able to “see” what was previously unseen by the human eye, but confidently known in our hearts.
One of my favorite movie series is “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” In the third movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones possessed an ancient book detailing the path to the Holy Grail, the cup purported to have been used by Jesus to drink from during the Last Supper. As his wounded father lay dying from a bullet wound, Indie had the map containing directions to the chalice containing healing powers for all who drank from it.
As Indie traversed through a maze of obstacles, he came to a great chasm deeper than the eye could see. There was no visible way to cross to the other side. As Indie studies the map, he realized the words written in the book were to be taken literally: “It is a leap of faith.” As Indiana Jones gathered his composure and moved forward with a hint of confidence, his first step landed on a stone bridge previously unseen… invisible until he took that first step. That’s the key to faith… taking that first step! It’s knowing in your heart of hearts that you’re going in the right direction, yet trusting God to reveal that bridge across the unknown… one step at a time.
Thank you for your continued support – attending my live music events, watching my Monday Night @The Well programs online… AND… being generous in the “thank you” jar. I look forward to seeing you online or in person!
Frequently Asked Questions
When did you start performing?
My performances started as a kid at home in front of the TV. I think that’s why I still love the old TV theme songs today. I was always singing around the house, in school, and at church. My parents gave me a guitar for Christmas when I was 10-years old, and I soon learned how to accompany myself with an instrument I could play. I was constantly listening to records (remember vinyl?) and the radio trying to imitate what I heard in the music. When other kids were into sports, I was up in my bedroom with my John Denver and Beatles music books. I performed regularly at school talent shows, church services, community events, and eventually wedding ceremonies. For me, singing and playing the guitar is how I learned to communicate and share the gift of message and music with others.
Where was your first paid performance?
My first milestone performance came when I was working at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour as a singing waiter. The owner, Mr. K, had put a lot of time and effort into developing a regular audience for the live music on Friday nights. Suddenly, faced with a last-minute cancellation and no chance to book another musician, Mr. K asked me if I would fill in. He had faith in me from my nightly rousing renditions of “Happy Birthday,” and the encouragement from the other employees to “have Ken do it!” I quickly put together a sound system, grabbed my guitar, and performed the first of many Friday evening performances at Farrell’s. The second milestone performance came while I was teaching guitar lessons at Evan’s Music in White Bear Lake. Several of the other teachers enjoyed success as regular performers around town. When a fellow teacher was struck with the flu, I had the opportunity to perform on his behalf at the Freighthouse in Stillwater, MN That single performance led to many year’s worth of performances in Stillwater, LaCrosse, Winona, Duluth, North St. Paul, West St. Paul, Golden Valley, Maplewood, and other local music venues.
How did you develop your love for music and musical performance?
Music played a big role in my experiences growing up. My mother and father both sang in the church choir, and I was a very active participant in church and grade school musical programs. I listened religiously to the radio and started my collection of LP’s and 45’s in the 2nd grade. My brother and I built a performing stage in our basement with cardboard boxes, Tinker Toys, and electrical cords, and regularly performed Karaoke concerts for the neighborhood kids before Karaoke was even in style. I started playing the violin in 3rd and 4th grade, and by the time I started 5th grade, music was in my soul. It was a huge part of how I defined myself. In the years that followed I performed in high school and college singing groups, “Back to the 50’s” and “Top 40” show bands. As a solo performer, I entertained thousands of people in a variety of performing situations. Playing the guitar, singing, and entertaining people is one of the things I do best. A woman once told me that my face lights up and my eyes sparkle when I’m playing the guitar and singing. She allowed me to realize that I have a God-given gift and encouraged me to share that gift with others. With that kind of encouragement, what could I do?… but keep playing, singing, entertaining… and, of course, make her my beautiful wife!
Who were your favorite musical heroes and influencers growing up?
My high school favorites growing up were John Denver, Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, and James Taylor. The sounds they got out of their guitars were mesmerizing and their vocals were intoxicating. I spent many hours in my bedroom at night listening intently to their music, their message, trying to imitate what I heard them communicating through music. In 1980, I began eleven years of teaching private guitar lessons at Evans Music store in White Bear Lake and my heroes became the local musicians that I admired: John Evans, Dan Perry, Billy McLaughlin, Tim Moeller, and Michael Monroe. They were great role models as musical performers, but also great role models with family, faith, friendship, and using music to communicate from the heart.
What kind of guitar do you play?
In 1976 I took all the money I had saved and bought a brand new Martin D-28. I love that guitar! It’s gone through many different road trips, travel cases, string changes, amplification systems, structural embellishments, and cosmetic fixes, but it sounds better than ever! Now I play a Maritin DCPA-3 which is a discontinued Martin acoustic cutaway model with a Fishman Aura pickup.
What are your musical qualifications?
I became a serious student of music in high school. In the fall of my junior year, I enrolled in a pilot class taught by Choir Director David Briggs and English Teacher Penny Carlson entitled, “Poetry and the Pop Song.” We studied popular song formats, lyrical content, and developed our own songwriting styles based on constructive criticism from our teachers and peers. After performing many original compositions for class assignments, both teachers encouraged me to continue with classes in music theory and vocal performance. I supplemented my college education with music courses and private guitar lessons at the West Bank School of Music near the University of Minnesota campus. Although I graduated with a BA in Speech/Communications, three years of my college experience were spent pursuing a formal degree in Music Education and a personal achievement of excellence in guitar and vocal performance.
You had to quit performing in the mid 1980’s… so what happened?
Success is a beautiful thing, but too much success can lead to trouble. Soon after college I launched out on a full-time performing career playing every night of the week at different venues around the state of Minnesota. Lack of respect for this amazing human body I’ve been given soon led to lack of sleep and a lack of focus on proper vocal technique. One spring Saturday morning after a late night Friday performance I found myself with an extremely hoarse voice and little to no control over my singing voice. It was a very scary experience. Diagnosed with a vocal chord nodule, I was encouraged by an “expert” to have surgery to repair this vocal abnormality. Thankfully, after a long conversation with Dave Briggs and encouragement from my fellow music colleagues, I chose the natural route of therapy and healing over time. I immediately cancelled all my upcoming performances and began a strict regimen of vocal rest and weekly sessions with a vocal therapist. Six months later, the hard work and focus paid off. I experienced a complete recovery. I came out of that journey with a very strong commitment and focus on proper vocal technique in my performances. Since that time, my voice has gotten stronger, healthier, and I have had the opportunity to teach hundreds of high school students and adults the value of proper vocal health and vocal technique.