Listening to the new CD from The Brother Stereo
It’s Sunday morning. I am listening to the first Track from the new Brother Stereo CD, “Sweet of the Fall”. The music, my coffee, the rain outside and a quite house in the morning all blends together to make for a level of relaxation I honestly rarely get. The second track continues the trend, as does the rest of the CD. The “Sweet of the Fall” is a collection of eight tracks of acoustic & electric songs that speak to love, life, being on the run and so much more. Soft acoustic tunes, upbeat foot tapping to harder rocking tunes, it’s a ride from relaxing melodic to rocking all the while maintaining that early morning peacefulness.
I love the way this album is mixed. The electric tunes are not overpowering, the acoustic is just right, it’s all so enjoyable. Have you ever listened to the album Skylarking by XTC?. This outing by The Brother Stereo is the first music in ages to bring me to that place in a long time, an amazing experience. This CD is required reading as are any future CD’s.
About The Brother Stereo
The Brother Stereo is the current project of Michael Robert Kelly from Central Massachusetts. Michael comes from a family rich in music and many friends and family play on varied tracks for this release. One of his desires with the Brother Stereo was to do an originals album where he played multiple roles in the creation of the music. Michael started writing songs in 2012 and finished this album in 2015. The result is a very raw sounding album with much depth to it.
Michael has a LOT more where that came from and is constantly working on new material. I will patiently await the arrival of the next CD. There is an upcoming show Thanksgiving Eve at The Bull Run in Shirley, MA opening for 5 Cents Extra, not to be missed.
So who is Michael Robert Kelly?
Michael has a rich music history and hails from a family that has produced regional, national and international acts. The skill and creativity are evident from the first note of this CD. His father Ed is a drummer, his brother Matt Kelly is the drummer for the Dropkick Murphys and there are lots more that I’ll mention a little bit later. Mike and Brother Matt shared a room and Matt is quite the music fanatic who exposed him to lots of different influences.
Because of his roots Michael was exposed to live music at festivals and other shows from an early age. No surprise that music flows through his veins. At seven years of age Michael got the suggestion that he should take up the bass guitar (I think Matt was trying to put together a Rhythm section). So at seven years old and having trouble reaching the lower end of the neck, a career was born. Michael’s first band came at 11, with friends Shawn Pelkey and Chris Schuller, it was a hardcore band that had Michael on vocals to start but once they found out he owned a Bass guitar, well…
The Brother Stereo is an interesting name for a band, so much so that I had to ask about its origin while asking about how the band came to be. Here’s what he told me about all that:
“As far as the name goes, I grew up sharing a room with my brother and he was always a music fanatic going to shows, having band practice, playing records, buying posters, patches, etc. What came out of his stereo and what he was all about had a big influence on me. I also wanted to have him play some drums on my album so I felt “brother” was a special word to be involved in the name. When I came up with the name it really made sense to me and rolled off the tongue easily.
In my process of writing, or when I was getting ready to start recording, I realized how many great musicians I know, and that maybe I could bug some of them to play on my album. I only asked people to do parts that I felt I would be inadequate at doing. So, first I had Joey Mazzarella play piano and accordion on some tracks. Joey is easy to work with, creative and masterful. I knew I wanted my brother to play drums on some tracks as mentioned above, so when he was not on tour we got together and worked through a couple of things then he came to town to track. I also had my father, Ed, play drums on a track along with Ducky Belliveau on Pedal Steel guitar and John Schuller on Hammond B3 and Wurlitzer. These three had formed the band “Pugsley Munion” back in the day. They had a record deal and all! My good friend Jilly Martin sang backup vocals on track 2. Jilly can handle any musical situation in or out of her realm. She does an outstanding, professional job and is great to work with. I needed a ripping guitar solo on “Police Man” so I got one of my all-time favorite guitarists, Marc Roy, to do it justice. I am floored every time I hear that solo. Last but not least, I had my friend and bandmate from Germany, Baerbel Ehlert, play violin and viola parts on “The Mile”. This song is about her boyfriend who had passed not long before, and it is completely personal. I recorded her improvised parts in a closet in Berlin, DE and another small room in Rastatt, DE before a couple of our shows in 2013 toward the end of our tour. Her emotion shines through. I also want to mention Kenny Lewis from Mixed Emotions Music in Middleton, MA who mixed and mastered all of these tracks for next to nothing. Also, Johnny Girouard and Linda Gates for letting me use their music room anytime I wanted during this entire process. This album would not exist without any of the people mentioned above. “
Michael has done some pretty cool shows in his time. One favorite would be a show at The Royale with a bunch of awesome musicians. Michael on Bass, G.E. Smith (Saturday Night live guitarist for 11 years) was on Guitar, Simon Kirke (Bad Company) on Drums, Marty Richards (Joe Perry Project) also on drums, and Trombone Shorty, David Andrews, Joan Osborne, Paula Cole, Chris Trapper, etc. Another event was in 2009 when he played the Real Blues Festival at House of Blues in Boston with the James Montgomery band. His brother Matt (drummer of Dropkick Murphys) played drums, Michael was on Bass, Johnny A. on guitar, J. Geils on Guitar, James Cotton on Harp, David Maxwell on keys and The Uptown Horns to name a few.
Projects & Collaborations
One project of Michael’s very near and dear is a band called TREBEK which has two full length albums out. They do a mix of rock and R&B covers and originals. TREBEK started in 2004 and Michael describes it as “A band like no other, We do a great mix of powerful covers as well as an array of original songs”.
Another endeavor is with Jimmy Kelly & The Street Orchestra. Jimmy is his cousin in Germany who invited him over to tour Europe with the band. Michael played Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Ukulele and Bouzouki with them and sang background vocals. He has been on 4 tours with them and plans to go back yearly.
The Kelly Family
If you are noticing a trend, there are a lot of Kelly’s expressing themselves through music. Locally, you can catch his father, Ed Kelly, playing drums with the classic rock band, Neurotic Gumbo. His dad hits hard and grooves like a mo’fo’! Michael’s Uncle Mike “Spud” Kelly fronts the award winning band “A Ton Of Blues“. He is such a great singer and front man. Everyone loves Spud, including myself. Brother, Matt Kelly, plays drums for the Boston-Based band “Dropkick Murphys“. Matt is on his 20th year with them and successful as ever! Michael & Emily support all of these acts as often as they can. They love family and music! He also has a bunch of cousins in Germany that are musicians. They stem from the pop band “The Kelly Family”.
Currently where will you find Michael?
These days you’ll find Michael all over the place sitting in or otherwise involved in various projects. A wide range of activities that have included activities with the Dropkick Murphys, the James Montgomery Blues Band, the Ron Robuccio Band, the Ken Macy Band, Andy Cummings, Josh & The Jamtones, the Spytones, Jilly Martin & Ryan Kelly, Naked Vinyl (TREBEK people).
Michael and wife of two years, Emily, who has been his biggest supporter in all of Michael’s endeavors is also an amazing artist, photographer & videographer. To him, she’s a star. You can see some of her work at www.theillustratedroom.com. Jointly they run a video production company, Tri Town Productions. Michael & Emily are a trio now with the addition of Iris Elouise who came into this world in November of 2015. The light of their lives, it appears that the next generation of loving and artistic Kelly’s is well under way.
The new CD from The Brother Stereo, “Sweet of the Fall” can be purchased through their website