Comedian Byron Kennedy Revisits Adventures With Brett Eldredge in New Podcast, Hot Chicken & Cage-Free Conversation

Nashville

Byron Kennedy has long been passionate about comedy. But it wasn’t until he heard wise words from Steve Harvey that he summoned the courage to pursue it as a career. In a video titled “Jump,” Harvey is seen giving a motivational speech to the audience at Family Feud. “Everybody has a gift, and if you really want to see what could be in store for you, you have got to find a way to live inside your gift. Your gift is like a parachute packed away on your back, and if you’re standing on the cliff of life, you’ve got to jump. Your parachute is not going to open right away, you’re probably going to hit the rocks. But eventually, your gift will open up,” Kennedy recalls of the powerful speech to Sounds Like Nashville in a Zoom interview. “I thought it was the most profound thing I’d ever heard. The only thing stopping me was me, so I decided to jump as I was watching that video. As scary as comedy was to me, it was more scary to never try. So I had to do it.” 

Kennedy put those words into action. After years of working in the music industry as an executive and radio programmer, Kennedy took a true leap of faith by leaving his corporate job and committing to comedy as a full-time career, leading to gigs at Zanie’s comedy club in Nashville and the Laugh Factory in Reno, Nevada. Kennedy is now setting his sights on his own podcast, Hot Chicken & Cage-Free Conversation, wherein the funnyman and former Vice President of Promotion at Stoney Creek Records interviews his friends and country music artists while also shining a spotlight on some of Nashville’s brightest talent behind-the-scenes. In the first episode of the podcast, with Sounds Like Nashville getting an exclusive first listen, Kennedy sits down with his friend, Brett Eldredge, the two exploring a range of topics from their many adventures to Eldredge’s openness about mental health. The two met when Kennedy was the Program Director at country station KNCI in Sacramento, California. Eldredge had just shipped his debut single, “Raymond,” to radio when it caught Kennedy’s ear, who was moved by the heartbreaking song about a man who works in a nursing home and befriends a patient who has Alzheimer’s and believes that he is her late son. “I thought it was a brilliant song,” Kennedy recalls, calling the track “really beautiful.” Soon after, Eldredge performed a showcase at a bar in Folsom, California that solidified Kennedy as a faithful supporter of the future superstar, frequently playing his music on the station. “I loved his personality. He was such a fun wacky guy, and we hit it off,” Kennedy describes. “He hadn’t had a hit yet, but I was convinced that he was a star. Thankfully, I was right about that one.”

Their professional relationship blossomed into a friendship, Eldredge often staying at Kennedy’s home during trips to Northern California, the two venturing on fishing trips that furthered their bond. “Brett has a sense of wonder unlike anyone I’ve ever met and a sense of adventure,” Kennedy praises. “We have done a lot of crazy things together.” Among the stories the longtime friends share on the podcast include the time they went skydiving to celebrate Eldredge’s first No. 1 single, “Don’t Ya” (Kennedy opted out of the actual skydiving and instead set up a bar in the field and had shots of whiskey prepared when the others landed), and their adventure shark diving after Eldredge scored his second hit with “Beat of the Music.” “The Brett Eldredge [episode] sounds like a conversation to me. When I listen back, I was like, ‘that’s just two friends talking.’ I want it to sound that way, but also I hope people will enjoy that,” Kennedy says. “It was really cool to sit down and relive it all and really think about how far he’s come. It was amazing.”

Photo Credit: Chicken Little

Among the most personal moments is when the singer discusses his struggles with mental health, Eldredge sharing about a particular time when he suffered an anxiety attack while appearing on a morning radio show in London in front of an audience. “In my head, it’s a traumatic experience,” Eldredge reflects. “You don’t want to be vulnerable in your mind because you’re taught to be stronger.” For Kennedy, it was an honor to have his friend share the intimate details of the harrowing experience in an effort to help others who also live with mental health issues. “I loved that he was willing to share that because so many people, including myself, struggle with that. Anxiety and fear kept me out of comedy for a lot of years that I wish I’d have been doing comedy. I had no idea back then that Brett dealt with anxiety and fear, he hid it very well. So for him to want to share that on my podcast was freaking awesome,” Kennedy expresses. “What I love about that part is he absolutely wanted to talk about that. That was probably more important to him to talk about then all the other fun stuff. He definitely wants to help people there. I feel like everybody deals with a lot of that stuff, and I hope that particular part of the podcast helps some people. I think it will connect with people in the right way.”

This is the first of many meaningful conversations Kennedy will host with a variety of creatives and power players in Nashville, with the hope that those listening will be able to feel the magic of Nashville and see the people behind it. “Nashville’s full of very interesting, talented, wonderful human beings that are making these stars, and they should be recognized. They’re worth talking to and hearing their stories as well,” Kennedy proclaims of his mission for the podcast. “I hope that people see a very real life person in these artists.”

Hot Chicken & Cage-Free Conversation premieres on Feb. 1.


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