Blues Revue Magazine describes the Kelly Bell Band (KBB) as “Among the most genre-expanding acts on today’s blues scene. Who else can combine elements of hip-hop, funk, and blues-electrified here” Originally formed as the back-up band for rock and roll pioneer, Bo Diddley, KBB has been touring the world ever since entertaining fans in Japan, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cuba, Germany and more.
The band has won two prestigious Maryland Music Awards, including “Best Blues Band.” In 2018 they were been nominated for “Music Icon”. KBB has been voted “Best Blues Band” in the Mid Atlantic Region (12 years in a row), and was recently named “Best Band” by Baltimore Style Magazine.
“The Kelly Bell Band is exactly the kind of genre-bending, rule-breaking, and color-smearing group the music scene of 2019 desperately needs. The Kelly Bell Band lives outside of all the lines and freely mixes blues, funk, rock, metal, hip-hop, and more into a compelling fusion of musical styles.” – Mike O’Cull, Rock And Blues Muse
Their debut album, ‘Phat Blues Music’ remains one of the best selling releases in Mid-Atlantic region history. In addition to Kelly’s role as front man, Bell is a regular on area radio shows, commercials, television news and several television and movie appearances.
Kelly Bell, known as ‘The Bluesman’, is joined by vocalist Rahsaan “Wordslave” Eldridge, Ryan Fowler and Eric Robinson (guitar), Frankie Hernandez (bass), John Robert Buell (drums) and Dane Paul Russell (harmonica).
The band are active in supporting our military, playing shows regularly for our troops. KBB believes in providing both physical and emotional support to our nation’s soldiers through Navy Entertainment.
PRS: We hear The Kelly Bell Band is working on an acoustic album. What was the inspiration for this, and when can we expect to hear it? Did you use your PRS SE Angelus on this album?
KB: We have been plotting to make an acoustic record for a while now. We do a handful of acoustic shows each year, and it’s a really different sound for us. Not just because of the nature of the instrument, but our approach to it. We get to play with the arrangements and explore different ways of expressing ourselves. You will absolutely hear an SE Angelus or two on the new record. We also have one of the new SE P20 parlor guitars which sounds great for recording. It even looks like something Robert Johnson would have played. Even our roadie can’t put it down!
PRS: How has the band been adjusting to this post-COVID world? Have you guys been rehearsing and writing new material?
KB: COVID-19 has not so quietly been the 400 lbs. masked Luchador who continues to put us in a stranglehold since late February of what was to be our 25th anniversary tour! So, to say that it has not been emotionally devastating would be an overwhelming falsehood.
Two beautiful things that have come out of this tragic pandemic, if that is even is appropriate to say would be a well-deserved rest for myself and the band. Doing 150-200 shows a year for 25 years makes you a road dog man! It also has afforded me the opportunity and time to pursue other artistic endeavors. For example, I have a weekly talk show with international popstar, Edwin McCain. It started off as a means for two passionate artist to share their views on the crises that shape our history at this time, but it quickly evolved into its own thing. So, It has rejuvenated the two of us to not only create new music of our own, but to bring our heads together in a whole new brother loving way!
PRS: Can you recall the first time you ever encountered a PRS guitar out in the wild?
KB: That’s easy! It was sometime soon after the release of our very first album “Phat Blues Music.” Paul Reed Smith himself, for some reason chose to take these apparent upstarts in the Blues community under his mighty wing. Being a student of the Blues, I was lucky enough to have been friends with the late great Bobby Parker. So, he was kind enough to grace us on our second album “Ain’t like it used to be”. Fast forward a few weeks later to the entire band screaming in an amphitheater somewhere in Virginia watching Carlos Santana and this beautiful gold Custom PRS guitar (that I was actually able to hold one day at PRS in Stevensville worth much more than I earn in a year) making sounds to soothe one’s soul. All of a sudden, Bobby Parker walks out on stage and all of us lost our minds simultaneously! To see those two play together was about as close as a Bluesman could be to heaven without having to kick the bucket first.
PRS: As a veteran of the Baltimore area music scene, what is your favorite venue or event in the city to perform at?
KB: Baltimore has been our anchor for this entire trip. She has afforded us the opportunity to travel the world many times and share the stage with so many of our heroes in the industry. I couldn’t begin to mention them all. Although we primarily play big festival shows these days, we recorded our 20th anniversary show entitled “Coming Home Live from the 8x10”. At one point it was the heart and soul of the Baltimore music scene. It hosted the very first Kelly Bell Band gig (backing band for Bo Diddley). That’s right no pressure on gig #1. Sike!
PRS: Do you have any other projects, music related or otherwise that you would like to tell us about?
KB: The Kelly Bell Band recently wrapped a 3-year documentary. It shows our beginnings, struggles, victories, my professional wrestling years, and so much more. The band is braving this new era in entertainment with optimism. Our extensive work for the military will begin again soon and there are several brand new projects on the rise. Year 25 is not a complete wash just yet folks! Stay safe, listen to Phat Blues Music, and wash your damn hands! Peace Kelly Bell