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A Dirty Dozen with KELLY BELL of KELLY BELL BAND – April 2019

| 23 April 2019 | Reply

 

According to a recent press release: “Forming 24 years ago as the backup band for rock n’ roll pioneer Bo Diddley, blues journeymen The Kelly Bell Band have spent their career proving that their music knows no bounds. Transcending time, trends and tribulations, the Baltimore-based group has happily lived on the fringe when it comes to their genre-defying music and their latest release shows they are ready to go even further. Know My Name, which Bell says is the most “progressive record to date,” features elements of rock, metal, hip hop and blues and will be released Friday, April 26.” We get Kelly himself to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

The new CD is entitled Know My Name and it’s a 13- track journey that sure was a lot of fun to make. It took about two and 1/2 years to finish. “Long Train” was selected as the first single because it’s kind of indicative of what the Kelly Bell Band does!  In one song we are able to dance from genre to genre without stumbling, giving you blues riffs with rock ‘n’ roll energy swept up by soulful harmonies. We did our video for “Long Train” at an old pipe bending factory. It was crazy cold but lots of fun and I think that comes through in the video. It shows many aspects of the band both visually and musically.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

My father got me into Blues music. Saturday mornings he would take me around to cut the lawns of elderly people who were unable to cut them for themselves as a form of service. On these rides he would insist that I listen to public radio (WPFW) in DC which broadcasted the “Bama Hour”. This was the ultimate throwback Blues show! Eventually he took me to see Clarence Carter, Bobby “Blue” Bland and B.B. King at the old Warner Theater in Washington DC. All of the acts were impressive and, I can honestly say, on those few occasions that I was able to, that I actually sat with the King and talked about what it was like to be a Bluesman. That echoed the significance of my love for the Blues. However, the thing that sealed it for me and said made me say to myself “you need to go do this young man”, was Bobby “Blue” Bland! When Bobby left the stage every woman in the house from age 8 to 80, blind, crippled, or crazy, was standing on her feet fanning themselves completely flabbergasted. I had no idea at nine years old what it meant for a woman to be flustered, but I knew right then. I wanted to be able to evoke emotion in people and make them feel as happy as all of those people seemed to be in that moment!

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical tastes?

To explain the musical perspective of the band, I guess I would have to explain what “Phat Blues Music” is in the first place. If you could imagine Muddy Waters wearing a Bob Marley T-shirt while riding on Black Sabbath’s tour bus on the way to a Parliament Funkadelic concert, listening to a James Brown eight-track tape, while humming a Run-DMC song with a Nighthawks ball cap on, all in the glory of Bo Diddley, that would be close – but only close to what we do! The whole objective of our brand is to remind the world that we have one foot planted firmly in the root of the Blues while the other foot goes anywhere and everywhere. OK so here’s the crazy thing, several of the artists I mention in the description of our brand are ones we have actually played with including: James Brown, the son of the Great Muddy Waters McKinley Morganfield, The Wailers, The Marleys, and, yes, even Run-DMC we have share the stage with!

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

Fishbone, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers , Black Sabbath, and George Jones.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

If I was able to collaborate with any one that I’ve met it would have been Don Rickles! There is an organic appeal to our show because of our interactions with the audience. We do this with the jokes, great music, high energy and simply by paying attention to the audience. We always leave you wanting more but never ever not satisfied!

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

The whole objective of our brand is to remind the world that we have one foot planted firmly in the belly of the Blues and the other foot can go anywhere, everywhere, all at the same time.

7. What’s the best thing about being a musician?

A guy once said he thought I sounded like Otis Redding fronting a rock band.

8. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

One of the coolest things about being in the KBB is that we are together all the time. Dane Paul Russell (harmonica) is the storyteller, John Robert Buell (drummer) is the grill master, Rahsaan “Wordslave” Eldridge (singer, trumpet, congas) is the poet — literally! Ryan Fowler (guitar) is the loud-ass voice of reason, Frankie Hernandez (bass) is the calming force and Eric Robinson (guitar) definitely can’t resist any opportunity to pick up an acoustic guitar and make something up.

9. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

I do a lot of shock jock radio shows and on more than one occasion I was able to do shows with the Nature Boy Ric Flair! Later, I got to share the green room with him as we prepared for an MCW Maryland Championship Wrestling event (the company I wrestled for).

10. If you weren’t a musician, what would be your dream job?

If I had unlimited resources, my dream job would be to open a series of facilities that help troubled youth get back on the right track with education, physical training, and emotional support. None of us walk through this world alone, really. And we all travel that road with the shadows of our past.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I’d have to say I don’t really have many regrets in my career. This band has not enjoyed the success that we have because there have not been any mistakes made; moreover, it is because we have made all of the mistakes. Just not twice!

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

B.B. King and Bobby Bland live for the first time is easily one of the greatest recordings of all time! At one point in my life, for many years, I listened to that album as I went to bed every single night. Also, after spending a few moments with the King and being able to play with Bobby Bland, who I befriend for many years, the significance of that album knows no bounds in my musical trophy case.

KELLY BELL BAND LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

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Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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