Kenny Tudrick releases new single in tribute to late Detroit Cobras singer Rachel Nagy

The longtime drummer’s soaring “All Seeing Sun” shines like a ray of hope from the depths of despair

Aug 17, 2023 at 11:38 am
click to enlarge Songwriting can be confusing, says Kenny Tudrick. “It’s like a mystery. But you learn not to question it — you just go with it.” - Drea Duchene
Drea Duchene
Songwriting can be confusing, says Kenny Tudrick. “It’s like a mystery. But you learn not to question it — you just go with it.”

Somewhere along the banks of the Black River in rural Sanilac County, Kenny Tudrick is fixin’ to light out for the territory. After a decade of laying relatively low and helping raise a family with his partner, musician and photographer Drea Duchene, Tudrick is ready for the country.

But before he hits the road this summer with the world-famous, garage-rockin’ Detroit Cobras, Tudrick is hard at work on some inspired new music for his upcoming solo album, his first since 2012.

On a recent visit to his down-home home studio, we persuaded the mysterious multi-instrumentalist to take a break from recording and join us down by the river to talk about his new song — and play a game of catch.

In contrast to the greasy groovers he released with the Cobras on his Black River House Recordings label in 2020, Tudrick’s new single finds him immersed in the cosmic sounds of loner psych-folk.

“All Seeing Sun” pays homage to his friend and Detroit Cobras bandmate Rachel Nagy, who died unexpectedly in New Orleans last year at 48.

“This was the first song I wrote after Rachel’s passing,” Tudrick says. “It’s a tribute to her and the band — and to Rachel’s mom, Marg.”

When Tudrick’s longtime collaborator, producer Al Sutton, was re-creating some vintage Helios audio modules recently, he asked Tudrick if he might like to write something for the occasion. Inspired by the Helios name, Tudrick found himself contemplating the power of the sun and realizing how Nagy was the brightest of lights.

With its heliocentric, Beatlesque vibe, “All Seeing Sun” starts off with a droning Tanpura-guitar hum that mesmerizes the listener — and then suddenly rumbles straight into your brain on the tips of Tudrick’s cosmic drumsticks.

Recorded at Rustbelt Studios under the watchful eye of the all-seeing Sutton, it’s a song of love and remembrance, Tudrick says. A celebration of the human spirit, of the ties that bind.

In order to get to it, you got to go through it

In the months leading up to the song’s genesis, Tudrick was rocked by some devastating personal losses — both friends and family, including another former bandmate, the inimitable Eddie Harsch, and the new track proved cathartic for him in processing it all.

This new song, in some respects, serves as a bookend to Tudrick’s last single, 2020’s “Make It Through,” which was also written with Nagy in mind.

“However songs come out, they come out,” he says. “This one really speaks to the power of music to heal and inspire. And why you choose to continue with one, compared to all the others — it’s kind of confusing; it’s like a mystery. But you learn not to question it — you just go with it.”

Tudrick has traveled a long and winding road as a songwriter over the years. And while he’s occasionally flirted with superstardom, his old bands the Numbers, Big Block, and Bulldog “all just kind of fizzled out” right when things were starting to happen for them.

Like the time Led Zeppelin’s manager came to see Big Block — but Tudrick just wasn’t into it.

“I felt like something was wrong with me,” he says. “I just wasn’t ready for all that.”

But after years of battling the bottle and battling himself, Tudrick has been sober for over a decade now. And at 51, he’s ready for the next leg of the journey.

click to enlarge Kenny Tudrick is ready for the country. - Drea Duchene
Drea Duchene
Kenny Tudrick is ready for the country.

After the release of his double album in 2012, Tudrick really didn’t know which way to turn.

“I still don’t fuckin’ know,” he says.

But while he might fumble for the right words sometimes, it’s clear he’s never felt more connected to his music.

With the sun sinking low over the rural Michigan countryside and the shadows creeping over the trees, we decide it’s time to break out the gloves and play some ball. With his long locks and Black River trucker hat, Tudrick conjures up images of Kelly Leak and the Bad News Bears.

Donning an old Rawlings baseball glove that once belonged to former Tiger Ike Blessitt, Tudrick slings the ball around the riverfront like he’s Tommy Brookens and recalls his days playing ball with Jack White down around Wayne State.

“I remember playing third base one time — this was one of the best plays I was ever a part of in baseball. Jack scooped up a ball at first — his head was on a swivel. He fired the ball across the diamond to me, I had to dive— I’m wearin’ cowboy boots and drinkin’ — but somehow we caught Dave Buick leaning off of third.”

Third man out.

When he’s not playing music or playing baseball, Tudrick can be found tending to his garden, walking his dog, Junebug, or just sittin’ on a bank of sand watchin’ the river flow.

“It’s all a trip how I ended up here,” he says. “On my last record, I had this song ‘The River,’ and I pictured a place kinda like this. But back then I had no idea that Drea and I were gonna get together and get a house in the country.”

The country life seems to suit Kenny Tudrick well. He has a better sense of what he’s doing out here, and he’s more comfortable in his own skin these days. Detroit-based filmmaker Philip Lauri is even working on a documentary about Tudrick that’s been in the works for over a decade. It’s slated for release around the time Tudrick’s new album comes out next year.

In Nagy’s absence, Tudrick and the Cobras are forging ahead with Marcus Durant (from Zen Guerilla) on vocals. Along with bandmates Mary Ramirez, Dale Wilson, and Steve Nawara, the Cobras are tearing up the East Coast this week, snaking their way back to Detroit. They finish their run with a gig at the Magic Stick on Saturday, Aug. 26.

After that they’re headed across the pond for a tour of Europe in the fall.

When the tour wraps up in November, that’s when Tudrick plans to refocus his energy on his record label and his solo material. He thinks he might even utilize his home studio as a getaway for Detroit bands looking to pull off a cool project.

Then again, he might just reinvent himself as a relief pitcher.

“I don’t really know, Tudrick says. “I’m still figuring things out.”

Black River House Recordings might not be a traditional record label, but it fits him like an old baseball glove.

For now, though, he’s excited to be able to get together again with people around the country who appreciate the Cobras’ music and who want to celebrate the life of Rachel Nagy.

“This is a great opportunity to come together and share that,” Tudrick says. “You can feel the love for the songs and for Rachel and for the band.

“I wish she was still here,” he adds. “Hug your loved ones.”

For more info on Kenny Tudrick’s solo work, check out

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