Songwriter Terry Kitchen, a native of Easton, PA, traveled down two paths in his music in 2001. One led him down the way of big social questions and spirituality. The other took him more casually into the realm of social issues faced in everyday life. As a youth, he confronted religious doctrines, which he paid tribute to in his song, "Martin Luther," an account of the religious leader's rebelliousness with questions about contemporary society's ability to maintain that quest for spiritual truth, from his 2000 CD, Blues for Cain and Abel. Kitchen experienced the premature death of his sister in Easton, yet it's a place where he grew into social activism and where songs shared around a campfire budded his interest in songwriting. Years later, Kitchen married his wife, Cindy, a documentary filmmaker, and the two shared a space in Watertown, MA, near where he worked at his day job as production materials coordinator for the country's largest folk and roots music label, Rounder Records, in 2001. Kitchen (born Max Pokrivchak) held fond memories of St. John's Lutheran Church, where in his youth he learned about social activism, religion, and life from former St. John's minister, Reverend John Steinbruck.
Songs from his 2001 CD, Right Now (named after his award-winning song), concerned social issues he saw arising in the lives of people from his everyday experiences. The song "Billy" told about a boy giving a Valentine's Day card to another boy at his grade school. Kitchen himself confronted feelings of being an outsider after his family moved from Easton to Findlay, OH, in the early '70s. His sister was still ill with a kidney disease and was being treated at the Cleveland Clinic Hospital, so Kitchen's father, George, got a transfer from his job as a chemical engineer at RCA in Somerville, NJ, to Ohio. Unlike Easton, Kitchen's new neighborhood was mainly WASP. It was a hard place for Kitchen to be different and he became identified as a hippie musician. However, one good thing came of it all. He forged friendships and formed a rock band called Loose Ties, which later re-formed in Boston.
Prior to the move to Ohio, he developed a sense of social activism from political debates with school friends and from anti-war rallies in the late '60s at Lafayette College. His musical education grew from hanging out with his friend Jack Coleman at the college radio station at Lafayette College. He saw the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night as early as first grade, and every summer, he went to the Easton YMCA camp, where he learned to play guitar during folk music singalongs of Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." He went to study theater at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he became exposed to the music of Jackson Browne and Graham Nash and to the anti-nuclear movement through an organization called Alliance for Survival.
His desire for a closer music community led him to Boston. Throughout most of the '80s, he performed with his rock band Loose Ties, but soon he found himself more immersed in the folk music scene at venues such as the Nameless Coffeehouse in Cambridge. In 1995, he derived his professional name, Terry Kitchen, from a character in Kurt Vonnegut's novel Blue Beard. Kitchen, in response to his query for permission to adopt the name, got a postcard from Vonnegut giving him his blessings: "I'm pleased and amazed to be of use." Kitchen's choice of Boston mirrors his musical ambitions to write songs that tell a story. His song "Right Now" won both the grand prize in the Mid-Atlantic Song Contest, sponsored by the Songwriters' Association of Washington, and took first place in the country category at the U.S.A. Songwriting Competition in 2000. Kitchen released his CD Right Now in late 2001. ~ Robert Hicks