The Kelly Bell Band Fuses Genres in High Energy Event


Photo by Alex Hoteck

On Saturday, Ramapo’s College Programming Board hosted a concert featuring the Kelly Bell Band of Baltimore, Maryland. Due to inclement weather, the band, originally scheduled to play outside, performed their set in Friends Hall.

Their lead vocalist and namesake, Kelly Bell, began the show with a description of the band’s music: jazzed up, funky rock known as “phat blues.”

Bell stressed the group’s distaste for covered material, promising to refrain from playing hit songs. But just to prove they could indeed play classic crowd-pleasers, the band opened their set with the first few chords of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” followed by the majority of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.”

Few students attended the concert, although those who did were enthusiastic in their praise. Michael Svechin, a junior, enjoyed the band’s eclecticism.

“I love jazz, funk, like a rock 'n’ roll feel … country. This band has a wide spectrum of genres,” he said.

Between each blisteringly high-tempo number, Bell walked the stage, commenting on sophomore Grant Brazer’s affinity for the Wu-Tang Clan and talking about the 20-year history of the band.

“We’ve been named,” Bell said, “the best blues band of the mid-Atlantic, 12 years running.”

As the night went on, the band’s set slowed down, and they began playing more traditional numbers, until they ended the show with a moment of remembrance for the victims of 9/11, the anniversary of which had been the previous day. And so the concert ended, not with a bang but with quiet reflection.

Brazer and fellow sophomore Kirsten Cave paused as they exited Friends Hall, in order to share their thoughts on the experience. The show had served as Brazer’s introduction to the Kelly Bell Band, although as a music major, he was well-versed in their influences: 

“Bo Diddley I know; I know B.B. King. I’m very familiar with most music because I’m a music major,” Cave said. “I heard one song of theirs on YouTube.”

“They were fantastic, yeah,” Brazer added. “They’re a mix between jazz and blues. I thought it was going to be a strict blues band. One of the guys plays the flute and the sax – it was really unexpected.”