Monday, February 2, 2015

January 30, 2015
Right about now, Garrison Keillor, of public radio's "A Prairie Home Companion", would say something like, "It's been a quiet week here in Lake Wobegon, my hometown." And off he would go into imaginary tales and characters that seem real enough to sit down beside you and begin to talk to you in Norwegian or Danish.
With this writer, it has been anything but a quiet week in Tennessee and Northeast Arkansas! Sometimes it happens like that. First, there's nothing. Then everything happens at once! That's it! That is what happened around these parts this week. It all began in Paragould, AR, at the Collins Theatre, with the wonderfully energetic Monroe Crossing band on their ABM Tour (Anywhere But Minnesota), which took them to Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and finally into Arkansas and Missouri, as they took their time getting back to frigid Minnesota. We totally understood that.
Then came the Germantown Performing Arts Centre in Germantown, TN, and the legendary Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder along with Sharon White Skaggs. Now, that was a 'guitar pullin' like you have never seen! 
We then loaded up and headed for Nashville, TN, and the world-famous J.T. Gray's Station Inn. Seeing what is going on around the area around 402 12th Avenue, South, we would advise you to hurry on up there for a show at the Station Inn. The real estate wolves are hungry and lickin' their chops over the tiny little strip of land that holds the Station Inn. You already can't find the inn for the many high-rise buildings which have taken over what is now fashionably described by yuppies as The Gulch! Lovely for developers; not so much for ardent bluegrass music lovers who are joined at the hip with the Station Inn.
While the Station Inn still stands, there is a powerful lot of bluegrass music emanating from that sweet spot! (pun intended) The last stop on our whirlwind bluegrass tour was to see and hear Irene Kelley and Friends...and Family! Oh, and Guests, too!
Irene Kelley, Mike Bub, Justyna Kelley

Known for a while as a fine songwriter, Irene Kelley has diversified into singing, and it's about time! She has a lovely voice and is most engaging with her audience. Irene is from Pennsylvania coal country, so she has a natural base for her songwriting and singing. She shared a story or two about relatives back in Pennsylvania who did what they had to do to survive. You can hear some of that on her latest album, "Pennsylvania Coal".
Nate Lee, Wayne Southards, Irene Kelley

Matt Wingate, Nate Lee, Wayne Southards
Irene Kelley brought with her a delightful group of musician friends. We shall drop a few names here: Irene Kelley (guitar, vocals), Nate Lee (fiddle, mandolin), Wayne Southards (former Tennessee Gentleman, guitar, vocals), Mike Bub (upright bass), Ned Luberecki (banjo). Still more delightful were Irene Kelley's two beautiful daughters, Justyna Kelley and Sara Jean Kelley, who performed on guitar and vocals with their mother. But wait, there's more! Irene's current houseguest, Scarlett Seither, who is from Germany, got up with her guitar and knocked "Oh Atlanta" right out of the park! Since Matt Wingate (formerly with the Claire Lynch Band) happened to be in the house, he also got up for a couple of numbers on guitar and mandolin. It's always good to hear Matt Wingate!
Sara Jean Kelley, Irene Kelley, Mike Bub, Justyna Kelley

Scarlett Seither, Mike Bub, Irene Kelley, Justyna Kelley
 Here are some of the outstanding songs selected by Irene and her friends and family: Set 1:  Pennsylvania Coal, Feels Like Home, You Don't Run Across My Mind, So Much for Breaking Even, Better with Time, I'm on My Way Back to the Old Home, I'm a Little Bluer than That (Alan Jackson asked if he might record that one--well, yes!), Do You Think of Me, Jealousy (written with Claire Lynch), Red-Haired Boy, and You Are Mine (Irene, Justyna, and Sara Jean Kelley, for some lovely family harmony). Set 2: I Just Think I'll Stay Around (Matt Wingate, guitar), When It's Cold Outside, Oh Atlanta (Scarlett Seither), Crazy Crazy, You Might Unbreak My Heart, Lonesome Road Blues, Highway (written with Claire Lynch, mandolin by Matt Wingate), and the encore was the beautiful Oh Mexico.
This is just the beginning for Irene Kelley and her singing career. Her voice is soulful, delicate, and warm. She is a crowd-pleaser. She packed the Station Inn to standing room only! Her songwriting skills are well established and widely known. Catch her show, buy her CDs, and you will see what we are saying. This one is strong and a keeper!
For more information:
Irene Kelley (also Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube)
The Station Inn
Pick away!

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