Don Kelley Band
Robert’s Western World, June 7, 2003:
We go to Robert’s Western World at the advice of our new friend Thomas Farr, a musician and resident of Nashville. Thomas is a longtime dear friend of a close musician friend of mine and we hooked up here in Nashville at Hooters on 2nd Ave. Thomas said if you wanna’ hear some excellent music tonight, go to Robert’s Western World. He was absolutely 100% correct!
Kathy and I go into Robert’s at 9:23 P.M. on Saturday night. The place is packed and the joint is jumpin’. We stand for a few minutes and as luck would have it, a couple is leaving from the very front table. We snag it so I can take review notes and photograph the musicians.
The Don Kelley Band is up on the stage and they are smokin’. Their sound grabs you immediately and hooks you solid. The first song we hear is, “Walkin’ The Dog.” This is hot and the band’s sound is tight and strong. I get an immediate adrenaline rush the sound is so good.
The second song of the set is a Tom T. Hall composition, “Fox On The Run.” This is a very up-tempo shuffle featuring high-energy traditional country music. The vocal harmonies are right on the money and the band sound is cohesive and simmering with inspiration.
The Don Kelley band plays one of my all time favorite songs next, “The Weight.” Their rendition brings tears to my eyes. Kathy and I dance and hold each other so tightly as I sing along in harmony with the outstanding vocal arrangement. We are both completely moved emotionally. The lead guitar player, Guthrie Trap, has a yellow finish vintage Telecaster and he plays amazingly. This is without a doubt the hottest guitar picker I have yet to see in Nashville. He plays tasteful riffs, perfectly executed, with exceptional phrasings and choice of notes. There is a double lead guitar break, acoustic and electric, which is quite amazing. The vocal harmonies are exquisite!
Song four is a Bill Monroe tune, “Sittin’ Here On Top Of The World.” This is a bluegrass tune and the guitar pickin’ is hot and furious. Both the Telecaster, Guthrie Trap, and acoustic guitar, Don Kelley, are exceptional. What tremendous playing we are witnessing, just ridiculous chops. The bassist takes a solo that is tremendous as well.
Tune number five is from 1959, “Baby What You Want Me To Do.” This is a sharp well-defined shuffle. There is a dynamic stop to a quiet Telecaster solo. Then the band kicks up again for a wailing blues solo, incredible!
The last song of the set is an instrumental feature for Guthrie Trap called, “Ghost Rider.” This instrumental tune features the amazing guitar pickers of the Don Kelley Band. Both Guthrie Trap featured here on lead and Don Kelley on acoustic, are stupendous. These are by far the most outstanding pickers of the entire trip to Nashville. The picking and phrasing, both furiously fast and clean, repeatedly showcases melodic flourishes and clever and creative voicings that are just outstanding. I am quite literally left with my tongue hanging out as this set ends and the band is done for the night. Wow, incredible!
Robert’s Western World is definitely the place for exceptional live traditional country music. The dancers here are quite incredible as well. As is so often the case in a live performance, the band inspires the dancers and the dancers inspire the band. The Don Kelley Band is sensational. The guitar picking is memorable and truly inspiring. I speak to the band to tell them they are incredible. They are gracious and thankful. Yes! I buy their CD gladly. The Don Kelley Band is one of the most outstanding bands we have seen on our first trip here to Nashville.
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