The Silks Takeover: Tyler-James Kelly recommends Skip James

Tyler-James Kelly and Skip James

Tyler-James Kelly of The Silks and Skip James

Tyler-James Kelly’s artist recommendation: “When your father plays this odd collection of records throughout your foundation years and at the age of five plants a guitar in your lap, you might be affected. Since then music has always been a euphoric experience to me. Hearing my father crank Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner as loud as possible was overwhelming and eye-opening. Sometimes I would want to really listen to the music and ask him to turn it down. He would reply, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” Around age seven, I connected most with two artists that could not be more polar opposites, Jim Croce and Kiss. I know, I know. It is true though. With Kiss, I understood the animal inside of me. With Jim, I understood the art and absolute beauty of song. I never left the house without these two cassette tapes. When I would tire one out, I’d pop in the other.

The brightest lightbulb that has ever gone off inside me though was the first hearing of the delta blues artists. The true, blue, low-down sounds of one man and a guitar. I mean, put a fork in me. Though there are many delta blues artists, Skip James is tops. His picking hand and his tuning is most bizarre. These two characteristics are what separates him. Tuning the guitar to open D-minor keeps his songs extremely dark and difficult to play. When I finally got a hold on the words he sings, I recognized his lyrics are as dark as the music. He gave voice to how people were feeling during The Depression. Imagine trying to perform and sell your music under those horrible times and conditions. His songs still resonate with similar emotions today. When I write I tend to strive for that same emotion or “vibe” of the dark sounds of delta blues. In my opinion, this kind of picking comes off tough as nails while still maintaining the ability to carry a feeling of heaviness. Listen to this great song called Special Rider Blues that has only 11,000 hits.”

Tyler-James Kelly About our guest author, Tyler-James Kelly: Before even listening to The Silks’ impossibly great album, Last American Band (below), you can learn a lot about the spirit of the band from a couple of quotes from its longhaired frontman, Tyler-James Kelly. When rain began to fall at their recent Riotfest gig in Chicago (which also featured The Replacements reunion, fronted by Paul Westerberg, who happened to produce The Silks’ album), Kelly said to the crowd, “Let’s make this rain romantic and get into a lot of trouble.” On talking about the energy of The Silks, Tyler-James explains, “We all totally lock in when we play. At the end of the day, we’re just a bunch of animals who want to rock. It’s not a careerist thing. We got together so we could f*ckin’ play music together.” Kelly means what he says and with one click on the audio player below to hear the first cut of the album, Livin’ In the World, you learn quickly that you are meeting a lead singer and band committed to carry on the rock/blues spirit and passion that has been laid down from the delta blues masters, up through Led Zep, Faces and The Stones. Kelly’s voice sounds familiar and older than his years and bassist Jonas Parmelee and drummer Matt Donnelly perfectly bond with Tyler James’ exquisite finger picking and growling riffs. Click forward below and listen one of the most infectious tunes we’ve heard in recent times, Mountain Man. Now imagine yourself at that Riotfest show mentioned above. Soft rain falling, beer in hand, The Silks kick in and you just start to MOVE. Everything is perfect. This song, this album, this band – they’re keepers. Now, as Tyler James said, go get into some trouble. Be sure to buy this fantastic record and experience of The Silks’ live show by checking their tour dates.

* Be sure to check out music recommendations from all of the members of The Silks in Rock Torch Silks Takeover special package!