Country Music is Justin Kemp Band’s Hearts Desire

Donna Block
5 min readJun 19, 2019


Justin Kemp was born and raised in New Mexico on the Texas border. Growing up in a musical family he was heavily influenced by Merle Haggard, George Jones, Keith Whitley, and all of the legends going back to the 1970’s. Once he picked up the guitar at the age of eleven there was no turning back. He began songwriting in high school and pursued music at South Plains College in Levelland, TX.

Being from a musical family, what are some of your best memories of get togethers growing up?

No matter what the occasion or holiday we always enjoyed the home cooking my Mom, Aunts, and Grandmothers brought to the table for us… and we always ended up singing along to songs and now I get to do this for my career with my father by my side.

What was the first song you fell in love with and why?

Unbelievable by Diamond Rio. I couldn’t stop singing it, the harmonies and the upbeat tempo made it difficult to not sing along. I think I wore out the CD.

You’re from Hobbs, New Mexico as is Ryan Bingham — can you tell us about up-and-coming artists from your hometown?

Well how cool is it that my town turns out some good talent? There is not really any other country artists in my area it is a very heavy rock scene. I play some gigs here, I like to stay loyal to my hometown crowd, they usually bring in country artists from Texas.

What’s it like having your dad David in the band?

It is great, he is my father when we are not working and when we work we are band members. He is a great musician and he is co-managing with Jill Pavel (Heart Songs Records). We are a family and we are a team.

How did you connect to each of your band members?

I met Ivan (Salcido) through Adam our former drummer, he has been with us about a year, great talent and great guy! Bryan (Cunningham) is my Dad’s best friend, again super talented and family. All my band members are family. That’s how we roll. Megan (Poppe) came on board last year when our last fiddler moved, she was introduced to us by one