Q&A with SoCal singer/songwriter Kelly Zirbes (Kelly's Lot), celebrates group's love of the Blues and with their 30th anniversary

"The Blues is a genre that crosses all borders. It feeds everything and is fed by everything. It's a free flowing emotional rollercoaster that we need in our lives. Simple enough to allow feelings to develop while feeling safe enough to share. It is based in a history of pain and suffering and a true story of surviving that suffering through words and music."

Kelly Zirbes: The Blues Remind Me

Kelly's Lot celebrates thirty years with a new release, The Blues Remind Me, on Friday, July 12. While this is only the band's third Blues collection, they have included Blues tracks on all previous sixteen albums and have played that genre since the first night they hit the stage at The Roxy in Hollywood, CA. Paced by the strong rhythm section of Mike Sauer on drums and Matt McFadden on bass, The Blues Remind Me has a solid foundation to present this all original selection of songs. Keyboard player Mo Beeks adds his magical touch, playing on the majority of the tracks and singing a duet with Kelly's Lot front-person, vocalist Kelly Z. Longtime band member and sax player Bill Johnston arranged the horns, as he did for 2014's Don't Give My Blues Away. Paulie Cerra on saxophone and Tomislav Goluban on harp, bring their "Special Guest" best while Didier Reyes, Chip Tingle and Aviva Maloney, who also plays flute, round out the recording's horn section with Bill and Paulie. Band-mates Rob Zucca, Gary Bivona, and Frank Hinojosa added guitar, flugel horn and harp to complete the recording of songs written by both Zirbes and Perry Robertson, the latter who joined Kelly's Lot in 1996 as guitarist and soundman, started writing songs with Kelly, and has recorded and produced all the band's music since.                               (Kelly Zirbes & Perry Robertson / Photo © by Joy Neely)

Kelly's Lot was formed in 1994 by Kelly Zirbes, a folk singer/songwriter with a heart for the blues. With sixteen CDs and lots of touring in the USA and Europe, the band celebrates thirty years since the first night the band hit the stage at the Roxy in Hollywood. Kelly Z met Texas guitar player and sound-man, Perry Robertson in 1996, who soon after produced Kelly’s Lot - Live at the Troubadour. Within a year he joined the band, started writing songs with Kelly Z and added the Southern rock and Texas Blues influences that have helped shape the Kelly's Lot sound. Kelly's Lot seventeenth album, The Blues Remind Me will be released July 12, 2024 to celebrate the group's love of the Blues and in conjunction with the thirtieth anniversary of Kelly's Lot.

Interview by Michael Limnios                       Archive: Kelly's Lot, 2021 Interview

Special Thanks: Kelly Zirbes & Doug Deutsch

How do you prepare for your recordings and performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

Spiritual and musical stamina for me comes from the music and the emotions I get while I'm sharing the songs with the audience. So it's automatic and in the moment. Preparing for the moment is really just risking that all will be okay and just jumping in. It's probably a good thing to be quiet for a bit before you perform but I have never been very successful at that. For performance stamina I try and drink lots of water before and during the performance. It really does make a difference. General Stamina in sticking with it is not asking yourself 'what's the point'. That one sentence killed many a career. Just do what you love and make time for it.

What moment changed your music life the most?

Listening to my mother as a child I was convinced that music was the way to deal with emotional stress. Watching and listening to my mother cry as she listened to records late at night and then watching her wake up and survive another day was my music education. She was a single mother raising 5 children and music kept her going. She would constanlty break out into song many times to cheer us up, cheer herself up and to break through the hard times. Those memories and experience taught me that music would help me through my days. So songwriting became my therapy and I believe it saved me. I could have been happy with just writing songs but sharing what I wrote as a performer was a whole other tool that I needed to acquire or no one would really hear me. I think I needed to know that other people could heal through my words and melodies to make it all worth it. My new song 'Mama's Blues' expresses this whole idea.

"Most of my songs are about other people so I would say 'people watching' and 'people listening' influences my music. I must say that world happenings and the news also influence me. With everything going on now I feel more passionate about fighting for the truth, what's right and for those who can't fight for themselves." (Kelly Zirbes / Photo © by Marilyn Stringer)

What's been the highlights in your life and career so far?

I believe that the highlights of my music career are based on how my music effected and effects others. The emails, the hugs, the calls of appreciation over a song that someone related is the stuff that keeps me going and inspires me to create more. For Perry, realizing he is such a prolific songwriter still surprises him! For Both of us getting to travel to share our music is a bright highlight!

Do you have any interesting stories about the making of the new album The Blues Remind Me?

'The Blues Remind Me' album was created in a slow but sometimes quick state. We had already released single, 'I Gotta Sing The Blues' in Jan 2023 which was a duet with Mo Beeks who plays keyboards. Folks loved it and we knew it had to be on an album. So a year after that release we got to work. Perry, my songwriting partner, and I had a lot of musical beds we'd written that needed melodies and lyrics. At first the variety of genres were all over the place including Blues, Folk, Country, Roots/Rock, Soul/Blues, Blues/Rock and more. We realized with all those genres and songs we had at least two albums worth of music but agreed the first had to be Blues. We had a great single and it needed a home. Perry started all the recordings with an acoustic guitar which led us down a more organic path this time.  Adding Mo Beeks playing B3 and Piano, was the magic that married the single with the album and helped the acoustic guitar bring the electric Blues alive. We are also excited to release a Dolby/Atmos version of this album because of our friend and Mixer Fred Paragano. Stay tuned, it sounds amazing to hear your music in an immersive environment.

You celebrate 30 years as Kelly’s Lot with Perry Robertson. How did that idea of band and name (Kelly’s Lot) come about?

Yes, 30 years!! Exciting. The name Kelly's Lot was recommended to me by a friend who was joking with me about my job selling used cars. When I heard it, I laughed but also thought of other meanings and decided to try it. As I thought it through I realized that my 'LOT' in life was music so it stuck!

"Spiritual and musical stamina for me comes from the music and the emotions I get while I'm sharing the songs with the audience. So it's automatic and in the moment. Preparing for the moment is really just risking that all will be okay and just jumping in." (Kelly Zirbes & Perry Robertson, celebrate band's love of the Blues and in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of Kelly's Lot / Photo © by Amanda Peacock)

What's the balance in music between technique (skills) and soul/emotions?

It's all so important. Learning more and helping each other improve has kept us growing as songwriters and performers and learning to risk telling the truth with each other has helped the soul and emotions feel safe enough to explode 

Why is it important that we preserve and spread the blues?

The Blues is a genre that crosses all borders. It feeds everything and is fed by everything. It's a free flowing emotional rollercoaster that we need in our lives. Simple enough to allow feelings to develop while feeling safe enough to share. It is based in a history of pain and suffering and a true story of surviving that suffering through words and music.

Do you think there is an audience for jazz music in its current state? or at least a potential for young people to become future audiences and fans?

YES! And Blues will overcome all generations to come as it has before. It will survive as long as we welcome everyone to listen and everyone to create more of it.

Life is more than just music, is there any other field that has influence on your life and music?

Most of my songs are about other people so I would say 'people watching' and 'people listening' influences my music. I must say that world happenings and the news also influence me. With everything going on now I feel more passionate about fighting for the truth, what's right and for those who can't fight for themselves. As far as careers, raising awareness of Hepatitis C for 14 years helped me to be even more empathetic which feeds my songwriting. Perry had a career editing sound for movies and I believe that helped him become a better engineer and mixer. But now we are focused on music full time and it's full steam ahead for us.

Kelly's Lot - Home

(Kelly's Lot on stage: Kelly Zirbes & Perry Robertson / Photo © by Marilyn Stringer)

Views: 19

Comments are closed for this blog post

social media

Members

© 2024   Created by Michael Limnios Blues Network.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service