“How the frig am I supposed to play now?”
Well, Chris Beard used a more colorful word than ‘frig’ as he watched Ryan Kelly and Smokestack Lightning leave the stage at the C Note Club in Hull, Mass., after torching the house with their version of Robert Johnson’s “Kind Hearted Woman.” Beard learned from players like Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Buddy Guy; he knew that Ryan was something special.
A few weeks later at the Blues and Brews Festival in Westford, WZLX Sunday Morning Blues host Carter Alan had the same reaction to the 18-year-old guitar slinger. Alan has good ears — in 1981, he was one of the first American DJs to play U2 on the radio — and he made a call that got the band a spot opening for Chris Duarte this weekend at the Bull Run in Shirley.
That’s the way life is these days for Ryan Kelly, who’s barely out of high school but making moves like someone twice his age.
Hushed, restrained, subtle as the slightest breeze — Chad & Jeremy’s trademark sound wrapped crew-cut college folk around early 1960s pop. The pair rode the British Invasion wave with hit after hit — “Yesterday’s Gone,” “Willow Weep for Me,” “If She Were Mine” and their biggest chart-topper, “A Summer Song.”
The whole thing, says Chad Stuart, was an accident, a combination of primitive studio equipment and producer John Barry’s struggles during the making of the duo’s first single in 1963.
“He was the one who got us to whisper, because he couldn’t figure out how to record our drama student voices,” Stuart said recently from his home in Idaho. “We were overdubbing the vocal to ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ and he said, ‘It sounds like a locker room full of football players!’ In the end, he said, ‘Oh for Christ’s sake, whisper it!’ We did that sotto voce Lettermen thing and we were screwed from then on out. I mean that was it, wasn’t it?”