That time I sang for Paul Rudd

Posted on Feb 27, 2016 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

IMG_news_paludanandruddPaul Rudd, ’92, is super nice and knows how to throw a great party. This much we could assume based on the fun-loving characters he plays in the movies, but let’s be honest. How many of us have actually met the guy? Sure, we feel like we know him–he’s a Jayhawk, right? But he’s also a big movie star, and his down-to-earth charm is saved only for hobnoberati of Hollywood. At least that’s what I thought until his picture popped up on a friend’s Facebook feed.

Kirsten Paludan, c’98, is a talented musician and KU classmate of mine who recently performed for Rudd at his mom’s birthday party. So, let’s have it, Kirsten. He can’t really be that cool of guy, can he? She dishes in our exclusive Q&A.

So, what was it like meeting Paul Rudd?

He was incredibly funny, self-effacing and gracious, kind and also very present; It seemed that everyone who came up to him to talk received his full attention, and he went out of his way to make all of us feel at ease. Super nice guy and just as he appears on screen. He also knows how to throw a great party.

He and I actually know some people in common because, like me, he studied acting in the Theatre Department at KU. We talked about how we just missed each other- he was there from ’88-’90 and I was a freshman in ’90.

How’d you get the gig?

The event was a surprise birthday party for Paul Rudd’s mom. His sister was the one who called Jeff Wright, the drummer and booking agent for the band. She’d seen us play several times and thought we were the best fit for the party.

Tell me about your group… any KU connections?

Kokomo was founded by Jeff Wright (a dues paying member of the Alumni Association, undergrad and masters at KU. Jeff’s daughter just graduated from KU and is a 5th generation. He told me he reads the alumni magazine religiously!) and Jeff Moffet (who also attended KU) in Lawrence after meeting at KU. The very first gig they played was for an SUA concert in 1981 as the backing band for the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. I joined the band in the late 90‘s. We’ve had several members throughout the years who either lived in Lawrence or attended KU. (Editor’s note: Kokomo played at the Rock Chalk Ball four years ago.)

Any other brushes with celebrities (including, I suppose, Missouri graduates)?

Performing with Kokomo, I’ve met Paul Rudd and John Travolta, and have shared the stage with Sheryl Crow (Editor’s note: Ms. Crow attended Mizzou). Two years ago, she attended a wedding we played and decided to join the band for a few numbers. I sang back up for her on ‘All I Wanna Do’ and she sang back up for me on ‘Every Day is a Winding Road’. That was a very fun, surreal moment. The same summer, I was asked to sing in Alejandro Escovedo’s back up band for a concert he played at Knuckleheads in Kansas City. I’ve also met actor Jeffrey Wright and Jonathan Rhys-Myers (I was a casting assistant for the Ang Lee movie ‘Ride With the Devil’ and was in the film- got the job because of my KU connection) and several members of the cast of the original Melrose Place (due to a talent competition I won at KU where the grand prize was a walk on role on the show, gifted by a KU alumnus who worked for Spelling Entertainment), and last summer through mutual friends I was blessed to meet one of my musical idols, the incredible Neko Case.

Wow! So, what’s next for you professionally?

A LOT. 🙂
I’ve been working with Matt Pryor (of the Get Up Kids) on his new solo album, providing back up vocals.

Next up, I’m working on ‘Cowboy Cabaret II: Songs of Sin & Redemption’, a variety show created by yours truly and the Starhaven Rounders (the country band I front). This is the second installment of the show, which is co-produced with the Lawrence Arts Center, and it promises to be even better than the first one, with incredible music, killer performances, and fabulous guests.

I’m also planning to record a 6 song EP this spring and will be booking shows with my band in Lawrence, KC and a few regional dates. In addition, my sister, Kari (also a KU alumna) and I are developing a show and series of workshops for the Lied Center about the artist brain that will premiere in the spring of their 2016-2017 season.

I also began teaching private voice and guitar lessons last year and will continue to build my studio, as well. It is so gratifying to inspire future musicians and artists in my community!

That is a lot! How did your time in Lawrence and at KU prepare you for your career?

Lawrence is an inspiring place. It has a rich artistic history and is a creative breeding ground for free thinkers who like to push the envelope. It is also a place where people care about and understand the importance of the arts. I was born and raised in Lawrence by ridiculously supportive parents (my mom a dancer/director and working artist, my dad a historian/writer) who both taught at KU.

Lawrence is my home and the town that made me who I am. The university is an extension of that.

In my time there, I was exposed to an incredibly broad range of knowledge and was taught and encouraged by educators who were truly invested in their students. As a working artist I’ve found, as in life, you have to be prepared for anything, and that diversity and depending on your community are the key to long term success. All of the education and experiences, and the encouragement from my parents (and the KU/Lawrence community as a whole), gave me an incredible foundation from which to grow. I am so lucky to be a Lawrencian and a Jayhawk!

We couldn’t agree more, Kirsten! Thanks for sharing your amazing experience–and talent–with KU alumni! (Oh, and the next time you see him, say “Hi” to Paul Rudd from all of us!) Rock Chalk!

Left to right is Kevin Rogers, guitarist, Paul Rudd, Kirsten Paludan, vocals, and Emmett Lee, vocals and percussion.

Links to Kirsten Paludan’s music can be found below:

Facebook music page for upcoming shows and info.
Kirsten’s music is streaming and available for purchase on Bandcamp at
Kirsten’s most recent album on iTunes:
More music on iTunes:
–David Johnston

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