A Song and a Stage: Vonda Shepard

Dating back to her late teens, singer-songwriter Vonda Shepard has enjoyed an incredibly varied and lengthy career. She’s been a backup singer for Rickie Lee Jones, Al Jarreau, Jackson Browne and others; an adult contemporary chart-maker with songs of her own, as well as the classic “Can’t We Try” duet with Dan Hill; a musical […]

From South Africa with Love: Johnny Clegg

As one of the most visible cultural ambassadors for South Africa, world beat artist/activist Johnny Clegg has long split his focus between entertaining and educating the masses. It’s a tricky balance to strike, but Clegg has had more than four decades of practice. He’s a cultural and political bridge builder who uses music as the […]

Brandy Clark's Heroine Finds a Light in "Get High"

On her fantastic debut album, 2013’s 12 Stories, country singer/songwriter Brandy Clark presented exactly that… 12 stories of women just trying to move through the world as best they can. Topics like poverty, infidelity, prescription drug abuse, divorce, alcoholism, and just all-around tough lives mark the starting point for Clark’s songs, but not necessarily the […]

St. Vincent's Performance : Art : Life

Last weekend over brunch, I was talking with a contemporary country songwriter and a former boy band member about the various “arts” within music: There’s the art of crafting a great song that defies time, space, and genre; the art of selecting 10 or 12 great tunes that play well together; the art of producing […]

Kelly Does Her Best: Top 13 of '13

**Updated 01.05.13 after listening deeper to some of the late-year releases. 1. Jason Isbell – Southeastern 2. Holly Williams – The Highway, Brandy Clark – 12 Stories, and Ashley Monroe – Like a Rose (tie) 5. Phosphorescent – Muchacho 6. Trent Dabbs – The Way We Look at Horses 7. Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer, Different […]

Brandi Carlile: Timeless and True

Back in 2005, when Brandi Carlile first came on the scene, a DJ friend of mine – knowing my deep love for female singer/songwriters – told me to take a listen. So, I hit YouTube and found a shaky video of Brandi and Shawn Colvin singing “Calling All Angels” at the Birchmere.

Indie Bands Thrive with Fair Trade Music Sharing

In June of 1999, Napster revolutionized and galvanized the music industry in one fell swoop. While turning the business on its ear, Napster turned everyone else’s focus toward the digital future where songs were deemed information and, therefore, free for the giving and taking. At its peak, the company’s innovative peer-to-peer file-sharing technology allowed some 25 […]

Kelly Does Her Best… of 2009

Brandi Carlile – Give Up the Ghost – I’ve actually been on a Brandi binge lately. Having liked her upon first listen, I’ve grown to truly, madly, deeply love her upon further devoted attention to her songs. This year’s release didn’t initially win me over, but subsequent listens (and a different emotional state on my part) have let me fully appreciate what’s going on here. The writing is solid; the production is intriguing; and the voice is stunning… always.

Butterfly Boucher

Butterfly Boucher‘s “Another White Dash” is more than just a soaring pop song with an unexpected arrangement and timpani drums, even more than a Triple-A radio hit; it has also been my theme song for the past few years as I have moved back and forth across the country. And I am grateful for its […]

Tommy and the Whale

My astoundingly talented young friend Megan McCormick first introduced me to Tommy Hans. I won his favor with tasty cupcakes; he won my heart with great music; we’ve not looked back since then.

Matthew Perryman Jones

Should you ever have the pleasure of meeting Matthew Perryman Jones, be sure NOT to grab his torso in any way. I did that once and almost got socked in the kisser for it. Apparently, he’s awfully ticklish. Who knew? So much for being all affectionate with a cute boy.

Garrison Starr

Garrison Starr cracks me up. She just does. Two Southern refugees, we circled around each other in Los Angeles in the mid-90s and finally connected 10 years later in Nashville. From that point on, we were insta-buddies. Part of what brought us together – in addition to multiple mutual acquaintances – was her contribution to […]

Tracy Bonham

I got introduced to Tracy Bonham through Dave Gibbs of the Gigolo Aunts. I’d long been a fan of hers so I was thrilled to make the acquaintance. What sealed our bond was a benefit compilation we co-produced. I’d been wanting to do a series of themed compilations starting with Songs for a Broken Heart. […]

Katie Herzig

In 2007, I discovered that Nashville is full of phenomenally talented, independent artists. I lived there for the year and was humbled, honored, and pleased to get to know a bunch of them. Katie Herzig was one of the first.

Kristen Hall

Kristen Hall was one of the folks who cruised through Genghis Cohen in 1994 when I was booking it. Somehow I managed to pack the joint and she vowed never to play L.A. again unless I promoted the show. Turns out, she didn’t need me because a little band she founded called Sugarland packed houses […]

Amy Ray

I started listening to the Indigo Girls in 1987 and haven’t stopped since. Yeah, I think they’ve had a few missteps along the way, but nothing too severe. For the most part, they are simply wonderful. Of the two, I’ve always leaned more toward Amy Ray‘s dark and somewhat brooding temperament. There’s just something about […]

David Poe

My first encounter with David Poe didn’t go so well. It was at his show in an East Village Bar in 2002. He was not in top form; I was underwhelmed, despite being a fan of his records. A few years later, we reconnected and I had quite the opposite experience. We talked about music […]

Vonda Shepard

In January of 1994, I started booking an acoustic club in Los Angeles called Genghis Cohen. Jill Sobule, Dar Williams, Ellis Paul, Martin Sexton, Shawn Mullins, and Maia Sharp all played there. Joni Mitchell did a super-secret set one night. And the Bangles all four congregated one evening for the first time in five years […]

Joan Jones

My friend Honey Harris is the morning show DJ on KBAC FM in Santa Fe. We decided that, in addition to being her ad hoc producer, I should come in every week and do a little segment. Inspired by my year-end blog post, we decided on Kelly Does Her Best wherein I introduce listeners to […]

Kelly Does Her Best… of 2008

I have the great good fortune to be buddies with a lot of incredibly talented musicians, and it just so happens that a bunch of them released pretty amazing records this year. So, here’s my year end list of my favorite CDs from independent singer/songwriter pals of mine, not necessarily in this order because my […]

Joan Osborne: How Sweet She Is

Lyle Lovett has this song “The Girl in the Corner.” If it weren’t about Julia Roberts, it could easily be about Joan Osborne on this bright Brooklyn morning. That’s where she was sitting — in the corner of a neighborhood café reading the New York Times. Wearing a Mary J. Blige t-shirt and matching red […]