Kyle Pudenz's appreciation for music began at an early age. Growing up, Kyle's musical taste was strongly influenced by his grandfather, an avid folk musician and banjo player. At the age of 8 he began taking classical violin lessons, which would become the technical foundation for all of his later musical endeavors. By the time he entered high school, he was on track for a career in classical music; he was a member of the Missouri All-State Orchestra for 3 consecutive years, played professionally with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, and was selected by audition for solo masterclasses with virtuosi Brian Lewis (University of Texas at Austin) and Erin Keefe. But Kyle's focus took a new direction in the summer of 2009 when he met a local singer-songwriter named Brad Cunningham, and sat in with him for a performance at a local coffee shop. While the collaboration was intended to be nothing more than a fun experiment, it was immediately clear that this performance would not be their last together. Shortly after, Pudenz joined forces with Cunningham’s band to form Man in the Ring, a 5-piece folk rock group that drew influences from reggae, blues, and Americana. During Pudenz’s 3-year tenure with MITR, the band released 2 full-length albums, Man in the Ring (2009) and Live at the Blue Note (2010), as well as Cunningham’s solo album Midnight Choir (2012). Cunningham and MITR soon became one of central Missouri’s most popular bands, performing 2 consecutive years at Columbia’s “Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ” festival, winning Inside Columbia Magazine’s title of “Best Local Band,” and touring both in and out of the state as far as San Francisco and Austin. It was also during his time with Man in the Ring that Pudenz began performing on electric violin and broadening his tonal palette with effects and extended-range instruments.
Although he left the band in 2012, playing with Man in the Ring had presented Kyle with an entirely new range of possibilities for himself and for his instrument. In order to further explore the potential of violin in non-classical styles, Pudenz moved to Nashville in 2011 to study Commercial Music at Belmont University. At Belmont, he had the opportunity to study privately with professors including Elisabeth Small, jazz/hot country fiddler Billy Contreras, and 6-string electric violinist Tracy Silverman. Kyle continued to expand upon his Classical roots while at Belmont; he was a winner of Belmont’s Classical Performers concerto competition in 2013, concertmaster of the university symphony orchestra, and played as a soloist with the Belmont Strings chamber ensemble on Christmas at Belmont, which aired nationally on PBS. But Belmont’s music program had much more to offer beyond classical music, giving Pudenz the opportunity to hone his skills in jazz, rock, pop, country, bluegrass, and contemporary Christian styles. He studied 7-string violin and contemporary solo/small ensemble arranging with Tracy Silverman, and had the opportunity to showcase these skills performing his own arrangements with Belmont’s Jazz String Quartet and World Fiddling Trio, as well as in his own solo recitals. Pudenz’s unique fusion of classical and popular styles was significantly highlighted when he was selected out of a national pool of applicants by audition to perform in two masterclasses at the 2014 American String Teachers’ Association national conference; a classical violin masterclass with Paul Kantor (Rice University), and an eclectic styles masterclass on 7-string violin with Christian Howes (Creative Strings Academy), performing these two classes back-to-back on the same day! After 3 1/2 years, Pudenz graduated from Belmont with a Bachelor of Music, summa cum laude.
The progressive and supportive musical environment at Belmont was also a starting point for many of the musical projects that Pudenz would pursue in and around Nashville. While earning his degree, Kyle had the opportunity to record, tour, and collaborate with a plethora of musical acts that enabled him to diversify his skill set for both studio and live performances. By the end of his first year in Nashville, Pudenz had co-produced an album by singer-songwriter and fellow Belmont student Zach Ummer, in addition to playing acoustic & electric violin, mandolin, bass, and electric guitar on the record. He gained valuable experience performing on the road with acts including Ummer, The Pedal Stills, Lance Carpenter, Derryl Perry, and The Dave Matthews Tribute Band. In the studio, he has had the opportunity to work with Grammy-winning producer Skidd Mills, playing electric violin on former NBC's The Voice contestant Jared Blake’s EP, “Til Mornin Light,” as well as on emerging pop/country artist Ashla Taylor’s debut EP. He has also played fiddle/violin on singles by Ben Rector, Rachael Turner, Whitney Wolanin, and Bethany Joy Lenz, among countless other Nashville recording artists. But his most unique and challenging musical pursuits have come with The Khromatiks, an electric violin/percussion duo formed by Pudenz and Belmont classmate Kayleigh Moyer. The pair perform both original jazz/fusion compositions and covers of popular songs, using a phrase looper to cover multiple instruments’ roles with just two musicians. In addition to acquiring a substantial online fanbase on YouTube, The Khromatiks have had the opportunity to perform at venues such as the Nashville Drum Show and the Grand Ole Opry.
Many of Kyle Pudenz’s pursuits have been uniquely made possible by his use of a 7-string electric violin that he built himself! During his time with Man in the Ring, he became aware of the demand in popular music for an electrically amplified violin that could cover more than the standard 4-string pitch range, but was disappointed by the sound quality and price of commercially marketed electric violins available at the time. So Kyle and his father, a professional woodworker, set out to build their own. In 2010, they completed their first prototype 7-string electric violin, and almost immediately began experimenting with new ideas to improve their design. By the end of that year, Pudenz was performing with MITR exclusively on his own instruments. After Kyle’s move to Nashville, the father-son team enlisted the help of local luthiers and tech experts at Creation Audio Labs to improve the design and tone quality of their instruments which, after several more design regenerations, has led to the creation of Pudenz’s current lineup of 7-strings that he uses in the studio and on the road. They plan to begin custom-designing and selling their own line of 5, 6, and 7-string electric violins for other artists in the near future.
Kyle is currently on tour with Nashville recording artist Jared Blake, performing live with Jared's band on violin, mandolin, guitar, and backing vocals. He also performs select dates in Nashville and around the United States with a variety of independent Nashville artists; visit the Shows tab for info on upcoming dates! Kyle proudly plays and endorses equipment from Harper Guitars, Risen Amplifiers, Creation Audio Labs, Visual Sound, Empire Ears, Access Bags & Cases, and Mercury Magnetics....