|Rory Kelly featured on the Citizen Times covering the Asheville Scene|
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"Raised on rock, Rory Kelly knew in grade school what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“Watching Twisted Sister videos on TV? This is what I wanted to do,” Kelly remembered thinking, speaking recently from his home in Marion. Kelly is bringing his blues-heavy, swamp rock sound to Emerald Lounge on Oct. 17. Also playing is Southbound Turnaround.
Asheville nightcrawlers know Kelly from his stint with the sleaze rockers Crank County Daredevils (2005-10). Crank County was like a chainsaw with a throttle that wouldn’t close. Drumsticks were broken. Floors were trashed. And Kelly’s reputation as a thrasher was made.
“Crank County was a raw, killer band that burned bright and burned out,” he said. Overnight drives between gigs could be from Pittsburgh to Charlotte. Tours lasted for months. Much to fans’ dismay, the band broke up in 2010.
Kelly, who grew up in Marion, has a good pedigree in rock. His father Mike Kelly played drums in hard rock and metal bands in New Jersey. Mike Kelly was part of the Old Bridge Metal Militia, a bunch of Northeast rockers who in the 1980s had up-and-coming metal bands like Metallica, Raven and Slayer play their parties. Mike jammed with them all, his son said.
Kelly, 30, has been gigging since he was 13. “Every school dance we could get,” he said. He and his buddies would book a community center in Marion just so their bands could play. They’d pack the place out. Kelly soon joined his father in the band that regularly played a Marion bar called Ivan’s. Which led him to the Crank County Daredevils.
Everything changed the day Kelly heard Texas bluesmaster Johnny Winter. “And I said, this is what I’ve been missing,” he said.
So he started the Rory Kelly project, asking his father to come in on drums. He invited a friend to play bass, and the trio wrangled an invite to South by Southwest and Heart of Texas Rockfest, held simultaneously in Austin. They put together a demo album (“Better Than The Blues”) that Kelly took to Rusty Knuckles, the label that produced Crank County. Rusty Knuckles took them on.
Now the Rory Kelly outfit, with new bassist Billy Miller (Voodou, Super Sport) has gotten some attention. It’s toured Europe and played South by Southwest. The band is working on its third album, “Kings Never Sleep.” It’s big on the biker scene, at the Hot Springs Motorcycle Rally and elsewhere.
The Rory Kelly band believes in family, in sticking together. That’s why he expects a good turnout at Emerald Lounge. “We don’t turn our backs on our people,” he said."
Paul Clark covers entertainment and other topics for Scene. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.