Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Click here to hear “Tell Me (You’re the one” http://www.pulitzer.com/music/02TellMe(Youre_the_one).mp3 while you read the article!
I don't know about you, but when I usually hear the term "troubadour," I wince. Normally, the term is used by a singer who can't get anyone else to play in the sandbox. Kelly Pardekooper is a whole different deal; he would be a strong addition to anyone's band. But he is doing as he pleases and he's grown to be proud of it. His sound is now hardier and edgier than the typical alt-county sound, much more unique. His lyrics seem to invoke moods and feelings no other songs quite capture.
You can download songs at http://www.myspace.com/kellypardekooper . Kelly's discography includes Haymaker Heart (released by his own company, Leisure Time Records, 2005), House of Mud (2002), Johnson County Snow (2000) and 30-Weight (1998). In the Netherlands and Germany, his records have shot to the top of the Euro-Americana charts above people like Allison Krauss. I first heard Kelly Pardekooper's music when they were playing his CD at Nashville's Jack Daniels Museum/Store on 2nd Avenue. He wrote on his web site, www.kellyp.net : "Don't be fooled by false humble, fake hillbilly or faux authenticity . anyone you have ever heard of who has a CD for sale has this over stimulated ambition/ego thing going on. There are no exceptions on this point . sorry."
Kelly earned a communications degree from the University of Iowa, which he attended on a pole-vaulting scholarship.
WHAT ARE YOUR LATEST PROJECTS?
I'm halfway done with my latest CD, "Mehaffey Bridge," which is the title track. I've been playing it live for years, especially in Iowa. I'm going down to Nashville in six weeks to finish recording it. It's still going to be a mix, twang 'n' bang, rock and roll. Some folk. I seem to vacillate between the two.
YOU ARE KIND OF SELF-EFFACING ON YOUR WEB SITE, DOWNPLAYING YOUR TOURS AND AWARDS. BUT ISN'T THAT YOUR MAIN FORM OF ADVERTISEMENT?
Yeah, it would be, I suppose. I guess it's an Iowa thing, being stoic and humble. I should be selling myself.
ON YOUR WEB SITE, YOU HAVE A TICKER SHOWING THE COST OF WAR IN IRAQ. ARE YOU PLANNING TO WRITE ANY SONGS ABOUT THAT?
Probably not. I'm not moved to write about it. I don't feel particularly qualified. I'm a child of hippie parents with their protest songs. I don't think the songs hold up.
WHAT IS YOUR MUSICAL BACKGROUND? IS ANYONE IN YOUR FAMILY MUSICAL?
They were pretty working class. My dad played a little bass. He was in the Army and we lived in Germany. They took me to see Led Zepplin when I was 7 in Germany. We had Sgt. Pepper's wallpaper up in the house.
COMING FROM IOWA, WHAT ARE YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES?
Iowa is rural, but I'm from Iowa City, which is a liberal college town. We've got the country influence, but Chicago blues is pretty close, too.
YOU DONATED ALL YOUR PROFITS FROM CD BABY TO HELP KATRINA VICTIMS. HAVE YOU PERFORMED FOR ANY OTHER CHARITIES OR SOCIAL CAUSES?
My fiancee' used to run the free medical clinic, she's a doctor. She asked me to do a benefit -- that's how I met her! I'm a fan of supporting what's in your own backyard at the grassroots level.
ON YOUR BLOG, YOU DECRY THE FOLK POWERS THAT BE WHO DON'T WANT YOU PLUGGING IN YOUR GUITAR. BUT A LOT OF THESE SMALLER VENUES FREAK OUT AT THE THOUGHT OF ELECTRIC GUITARS COMING IN. HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?
Well . . . I have pretty strong feelings about that. NPR affiliates have these folks shows; they want really low-key. I'm not comfortable. I'm a dance band. I'm getting older, I try to be careful about the venues I play now. I don't have patience for that debate.
SO, DIGITAL DOWNLOADS ARE 30% OF YOUR MUSIC SALES?
It's not quite that high, it depends on the month. If I'm touring, I have more physical sales. I been with CD Baby since the beginning. I've also signed with Red Eye, out of North Carolina. They arrange distribution at Borders, Barnes and Noble and I Tunes.
IF ALBUMS DISAPPEAR AS A MEDIUM, WON'T WE LOSE THE ARTISTS' COLLECTIVE VISION, LIKE ABBEY ROAD OR DESPERADO? DO PEOPLE NOT WANT THAT ANYMORE?
Honestly, I don't know if people are patient for that anymore. I don't know what a young Beatles or Stones would do today. There are a lot of things to do now: a lot of ads, video games, tivo, XM radio.
HERE IS A RIOTOUS SEGMENT LIFTED FROM KELLY'S BLOG:
SOME HELPFUL ADVICE FROM VARIOUS FANS:
"You guys should get your songs on the radio."
"Why are you guys playing here? You should play the Pepsi Arena"
"You guys should consider doing a video and getting it played on MTV
"You guys need to have a hit song."
"Why don't you guys try to get in a movie or a TV show?"
"You guys should travel in a bus, it would be a lot easier."
"You guys should all dress in matching jumpsuits."
"You guys should tour with someone really big, like, say, Matchbox
"You guys would be huge in Europe. Have you played Europe your music?"
"You guys should sign with a bigger label, like Sony or Capitol."
"You guys should play our big Hits 97.5 Summer Rock Festival."
"You guys need a gimmick."
"You guys should play Letterman. Why do you keep turning him down?"
at 4:38 PM