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New technology helps Kelly Richey keep fresh
After 35 years and 16 albums, Kelly Richey is in anything but a rut.
The guitar-playing blues rocker from Cincinnati moved forward and sideways on her latest album, "Shakedown Street," which comes out March 4. Though it still has plenty of the down 'n' dirty grit she's known for, the set also incorporates plenty of modern technology -- including loops, synthesizers, scratching along with horns and strings -- to create a fuller, thicker kind of sound than its predecessors.
Richey took her lead from Mississippi bluesman R.L. Burnside. "I've always been a big fan of his," she explains by phone from her home in Cincinnati. "About 10 years ago, when I got turned on to his material, I just really loved the loop-based song that his grandson brought to the table and how that had kind of been chopped-up and repackaged. I thought, 'I'd really love to do something like that, too.'"
Richey, 53, got a bit of a primer while touring with Freekbass in recent years. But she gives most of the credit to her drummer Tobe Donohoe, who produced "Shakedown Street" after helping Richey create loops for solo shows she's started doing.
"I had started recording in January of last year, and when I sat back and listened to the tracks I thought, "I really like this, but it sounds like the typical next step for Kelly Richey,' and I wanted to push the envelope a little bit," she explains. "Tobe had started bringing some loops to the stage, and people's ears really perked. And young kids were coming who hadn't been engaged before.
"So I told Tobe I wanted to switch gears and asked him to produce. So I let him drive and we recorded everything and I couldn't be happier. It was a lot of fun and the first time I've ever done a record where I had the people around me just totally take control. It was great. A really learning experience."
Also different this time; Richey wasn't worried about how the technology might impact her ability to deliver the songs live on stage. "The last couple of records I've written and recorded all of the demos with just guitar and drum loops," she explains. "That way I'd know if the bucket held water. And if it did, we could add anything to it and it would work whether it was studio or live.
"I used to really stress out about that through the first part of my career. I really wanted to make the records great but I wanted them to be great live, too. Maybe it's jsut time, but now I know that whatever we do in the studio is great, and when we get to the stage we'll take what fits. If we can't do the loops, the songs are good enough that we won't need to. Then if they can be run we upgrade and it's even more fun."
Kelly Richey Band
8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27.
Callahan's Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills.
Tickets are $17.50 and $15.
Call 248-858-9508 or visit atcallahans.com.
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