Steve Tuck is a music lover and a lover of good times in general. Some of you know Tuck from his son’s band, The Greens. Others know him from his day job and his tireless efforts for the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Luckily sometimes business and pleasure can be mixed as Tuck has illustrated by the numerous music fundraisers he has held for the Society.
This Thursday evening will mark another such event. On November 7th, Tuck will be welcoming Irene Kelley to a fundraiser at the Worthington Ballroom (3414 Roseland Ave.) in Parkersburg. The music will start early at 7 p.m. and feature Kelley’s mix of country, bluegrass and Americana music used to accentuate her heartfelt and homey lyrics.
Like many aspiring songwriters, Kelley left her hometown of Latrobe, PA and headed south to Nashville. Actually first she had to get the country music bug, and that was provided by a chance viewing of a Dolly Parton television performance. Kelley was inspired to learn guitar and begin writing her own songs. She had written a song, “Pennsylvania Is My Home”, which was used in a 1982 PBS documentary … and also mounted a personal grass roots campaign to have it adopted as a “state song.” The leaders of Pennsylvania ultimately opted not to select an official “state song” at that time, but Kelley had sent several copies of her music to some Nashville music publishers. It was now time to make that trip down south.
Kelley made some recordings for CBS Records and then MCA Records. But she also found herself with two daughters to raise, and found herself moving from a troubadour to a stay at home mom/songwriter. Loretta Lynn, Trisha Yearwood, Brother Phelps, Rhonda Vincent, Claire Lynch, the Osborne Brothers, The Whites, Ricky Skaggs, Carl Jackson and others are just a few of the iconic Nashville singers to feature songs written by Irene Kelley on their albums.
But as her children grew, Kelley retained her performers desire and once again was writing songs for Irene Kelley to sing. In 1999, Kelley found herself with a new album Simple Path and that led to a performance at the Grand Ole Opry … and a call from Alan Jackson who had heard her perform her song “I’m A Little Bluer Than That.” Jackson ended up including the song on his 5-time platinum selling & Billboard #1 album Drive.
In 2004, Kelley released her follow-up album Thunderbird. It was a personal and spiritual extension of her previous release Simple Path, more songs from a genuinely private person existing in the soul bearing world of songwriting. And early next year Kelley will be releasing a new album, Pennsylvania Coal, a bluegrass flavored release produced by longtime collaborator Mark Fain.
Albums and recordings are great but if one wants to capture the full character of a performer they must see them live. Often there are some very interesting insights into the meaning or origins of some songs. To look a person in the eye as they deliver their musical creation is a connection which cannot be downloaded or YouTubed.
Kelley is slated to be joined by longtime Nashville session artist Gary Talley. Talley has played with a veritable who’s who of country music legends. And was also a founder of the Box Tops … who just happened to have a #1 hit in 1967 with “The Letter”! After his Box Top days, Talley found himself appearing on recordings with Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings … you get the picture, legendary!
This will be a night of great music for a great cause! A $10 donation is recommended and food and beverages will be available. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with music beginning at 7 p.m. … an early evening of great entertainment!
“A Little Bluer Than That” by Irene Kelley