Beloved Music Promoter Kenny Ballinger Killed in Hit & Run

photo via Facebook

This story has been updated.

Promoter, venue owner, and strong supporter of country and roots music in Wichita, Kansas, Kenny Ballinger, was killed Wednesday night (8-25) by a hit-and-run driver that is still at large. According to Wichita police, Ballinger was driving his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in south Wichita at around 11:30 p.m. near 47th Street South and Hydraulic when a black SUV heading east on 47th Street struck Ballinger. The black SUV then fled the scene. Kenny Ballinger was rushed to the hospital where he later died. He was 37-years-old.

UPDATE: 31-year-old Jesus Olave Jr. was identified Thursday evening (8/26) in the case, and arrested for failure to stop at an accident resulting in death, failure to yield, and no valid driver’s license. He is currently being held without bond.

For many years, Ballinger was a strong supporter of independent country and roots musicians both in the Wichita and Kansas region, as well as to traveling musicians touring through Wichita. In April of 2019, Ballinger became the co-owner of the Wichita venue Barleycorn’s, and was considered the soul of the venue, booking and promoting shows for artists such as Jason Eady, Justin Wells, Possessed by Paul James, The Goddamn Gallows, and others, helping to make Wichita a hub for performers.

“Really sorry to hear that our good buddy Kenny Ballinger has left the building,” performer Scott H. Biram wrote. “We just saw him a few weeks ago, in Wichita. You will be sorely missed, my friend. Kenny went above and beyond in his support of all his music friends. He was an all around good guy. He looked scary, but he was a big teddy bear, and a hoot to be around! Much love to his family, and to all who knew him. Very sad day.”

Along with Barleycorn’s, Kenny Ballinger also helped at The Elbow Room, as well as Fine Swine Records to support local music. Fine Swing is planning a memorial for September 11th.

“We’re gonna need a big stage and a big room. So on Saturday September 11th we’re going to invade TempleLive Wichita and throw the biggest party this city has seen to celebrate his amazing life. Entrance to this event will be free and there will be donation tables through out the venue to benefit the family.”

Kenny Ballinger is survived by his wife Dariah and son Harlan. A Go Fund Me has been set up for his family.

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