|Los Angeles-based Kelly’s Lot celebrates 25 years of delivering West Coast Soul with a Texas Heart, an eclectic mix of blues, roots, rock & Americana with their 14th album, “Can’t Take My Soul,” containing 12 original compositions that highlights Kelly Zirbes’ smokin’ hot alto. The mix of original songs written by Kelly and her longtime partner in crime, guitarist Perry Robertson, speaks truth to the issues of the day, from our political climate and world struggles to tender matters of the heart, real-life inspiration and tragedy.
Kelly Z opens the album namechecking all her heroes from Muddy to Koko, and Buddy to Etta, on the rockin’ number ‘All I Ever Want Is The Blues.’ She then gets right to the point urging us all to “Don’t Give Up” on the political rebuke ‘All Hope Ain’t Lost.’ The gently swinging blues ‘Alyssa’ was inspired by a young woman born with a terminal illness, who defied the odds and lived to be 23 years old and became a medical pioneer as one of the world’s first to receive gene therapy for Canavan Disease. This song will live on as a loving tribute to her inner strength.
Eddie Baytos joins the crew on accordion and washboard for the Cajun dance party anthem ‘Woe Is Me,’ adding authentic Louisiana spice to the rue. The testament of love, ‘Safe And Warm,’ is delivered on a soft bed of acoustic underpinnings deftly delivered by this veteran band. The notorious French bluesman Jean-François Thomas (recorded by Martial Semonsut at Studio La Vallée in the Auvergne region of France) joins Kelly for a scalding duet ‘Rise Up (Leve-Toi)’ sparing with her in French and English about the fire burning deep inside forbidden love and the Revolution. Frank Hinojosa adds some greasy blues harp to the slinky R&B groove of ‘Broke Myself.’ The acoustic driven ballad, ‘Let It Breathe,’ has that distinct bittersweet and dusty Laurel Canyon feel only Southern California musicians know how to deliver.
Kelly opens a vein and exposes all her depth on the dynamic call for redemption and self-preservation called ‘Dirt,’ a simple title for an expansive and complicated song. She then goes back to her folk-singer roots on the sweet optimistic hymn ‘Little Bit Of This,’ before busting out the rabble-rousing surf rock ‘Can’t Take My Soul.’ We are transported to a sidewalk café in Paris for the final track of the album ‘Mon Ami.’ The lovely encore reveals a softer side of Kelly Z as she serenades us eloquently in French and then translates the images of love and devotion in English with graceful ease.
“Can’t Take My Soul” fully demonstrates the skills and variety in the repertoire Kelly’s Lot have developed over two and half decades performing as an acoustic duo, trio, an electric 5 to 8-piece that are now a mainstay on the Southern California music scene.
Rick J Bowen
Kelly’s Lot was formed in 1994 by Kelly Zirbes (sounds like “service” – likes to go by Kelly Z), a folk singer/songwriter with a heart for the blues. With 14 albums and lots of touring in the USA and Europe, the band will celebrate 25 years since the first night they hit the stage at the Roxy in Hollywood. Kelly Z met soundman, Perry Robertson, in 1996 who soon produced their “Live At The Troubadour” album. Within a year he joined the band, started writing songs with Kelly Z and added the Southern Rock and Texas influences that have shaped their sound. As a duo or band, they have played coffee shops, theaters, festivals, clubs, house concerts and a variety of events.
In the last 15 years they have created a 5 to 8-piece band that is well respected on the American blues scene. Some of the larger festivals they have played are Waterfront Blues, Simi Valley Cajun and Blues Festival, Ventura County Blues Festival, Lavaudieu Music Festival, to name just a few. In France, Jean Francois Thomas joined Kelly’s Lot to play in front of 18,000 for the Nuits De Sologne Festival.
Their songs have been heard in movies and television and covered by other artists. Kelly Z is currently working on songs for a couple film projects while still grabbing some inspiration from her fans on Facebook. Challenging them to look in their hearts and share just one word, she then challenges herself to choose a word and write a song in two hours. Perry Robertson, who shares the band leader title with Kelly Z, has recorded and produced most of the band’s music including the soon to be released ‘Can’t Take My Soul’. Releasing on May 17, 2019, the new CD features a lot of Blues but with a couple Folk and Roots/Rock additions. It’s a journey of messages, inspirations and some toe tapping rhythms. Mostly featuring a 4 piece of guitar, bass, drums and vocals, the CD also offers some accordion, harmonica, keys and even a Kelly Z whistle. As a duo, trio or 5 to 8-piece band they always pack a lot of energy while still getting to the heart of the listener.
Kelly and her band have opened for Tommy Castro, Shemekia Copeland, Marcia Ball, John Mayall, Curtis Salgado, Coco Montoya, to name just a few, and have hosted blues events for charities and for fellow blues musicians. With the support of European fans, the band toured across Belgium, France, Germany, England, Scotland, and The Netherlands.