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House music on the move

August 26, 1998

World Famous Kevin YostBy RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer [enlarge]




WAYNESBORO, Pa. - More people in London, Paris, Switzerland and Sweden know Kevin Yost's music than do his neighbors in Waynesboro.

Yost, 25, writes and produces house music, a spinoff of disco with a strong influence from jazz greats like Miles Davis and classical 20th-century composers like Copeland, Stravinsky and Dvorak.

His music does not make the scene in small towns like Waynesboro, where country, pop and rap ride hard.

"If people in Waynesboro started playing my music, I'd stop writing it," he said. "Most people who write this kind of music are in big cities. It blows their mind when they find out I'm from a place like Waynesboro," he said.

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Yost sent his music to a manager in New Jersey named Joseph Ventola. Ventola produced albums from it on his own label and began finding disc jockey jobs overseas for Yost.

"Overseas, people know me by my records. They come out to see me," he said.

In October, he flew to Japan to play his music. A map on his wall is dotted with small flags showing where he's been since then. All trips include expenses and salaries that run as high as $1,200 an hour for disc jockeying, he said.

"It's not as great as it seems. It's a very hectic life. I'll be on the road for all but nine days in September. I leave for Germany on Friday," he said.

When Yost plays his music, there is no band, only himself. He walks out on stage dragging a small trunk that holds his records.

Sometimes his audience is a few hundred people in a dance club, sometimes it's 3,000 in a concert hall or festival.

"It's intense playing before 3,000 people, a totally emotional experience," he said.

"I hated Waynesboro when I was growing up, but now that I'm traveling so much, it's great to come home. It's quiet here," he said.

He learned about percussion instruments when he was young. He and his father spent a lot of time at drum and bugle corps competitions. At 13, he started disc jockeying for birthday parties and weddings. He used the money he made to buy the basic computer, keyboard and synthesizing equipment to start creating his own music.

His studio is a converted living room in the stately 19th-century Victorian house at 35 N. Franklin St. where Yost lives with his mother, Linda Yost.

He was born in Waynesboro and dropped out of Waynesboro Area Senior High School shortly after his father's death from a heart attack.

He attended Berkeley College of Music in Boston for a semester before dropping out. He then spent two years studying music composition at Shenandoah Conservatory of Music in Winchester, Va.

He dropped out there to head for the New York music scene. He left there after a year for the tranquility of Waynesboro.

His dream is to one day write scores for movies. Meanwhile, he said, "I want time to keep doing what I'm doing and go back to school and learn more. I'm always going to want to do more, to take it to the next level."

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