By Michael Lello
You might say that when Northeastern Pa. band Ashes For Trees came to an end, singer and guitarist Katie Kelly, well, rose from the ashes. With Katie Kelly and the Charming Beards, she has merged the folky nature of AFT with some other musical flavors.
“Well, this project started out when I was doing a lot of solo gigs, and then I started playing in a rock band and met a couple different people,” Kelly, of Wilkes-Bare, said recently. “It started as my solo work and inviting people to play with me. I think the sound has changed from more pure, folky stuff to more experimental and alternative influences.”
Kelly recorded and released the solo album “Three Dark Days” in the fall of 2012.
“That took a really long time to do,” she shared. “I believe it was over a year and a half. I started just going into the studio, acoustic guitar in hand, and singing. The progression of my own music kind of changed. I feel it’s kind of apparent through the making of that album. When the album starts, it’s very definitely folk instrumentation – mandolin, banjo, fiddle – but the last track there’s electric guitars and synthesizers. I think the year and a half that I was making it, I grew as an artist.”
Kelly and the Charming Beards – Ray Novitski (guitar/vocals), Theresa Lazarri (drums) and Aaron McCurdy (bass, mandolin, vocals) – will perform at The Rattler in Pittston on Wednesday, Nov. 27, opening for Kaleigh Baker and Nate Anderson. You can check out a rough demo of a new Kelly song “Pissing In The Kitchen” below.
Kelly’s father had a strong interest in folk music and booked folk performers at a bar he owned, Bojangles. “I can remember as far back as three or four years old, and my favorite band was Peter Paul and Mary,” she recalled.
Her current influences are in a similar but expanded vein.
“I love Paul Simon’s finger picking style, I love Ani DiFranco’s percussive style,” said Kelly. “As far as electric players go, I really like David Gilmour and Justin Mazer of Leroy Justice. (Mazer) is on my album. He would show me a couple things, and that heavily influenced my playing, which is cool because he’s local, but he’s dramatically changed my playing style.”