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Geordie Kelly - Jazz Guitarist Extraorinaire

How long have you been in the music industry?
25 years 

How long have you been performing under your present name?
25 years 

Where did you grow up?
All over the world. My father was in the USAF, and after my parents divorced, my mother, sister, and I moved around. 

What in that era shaped your musical development?
Bebop initially, then hard bop, B3/guitar trios of the 50s and 60s, and for the past ~15 years, “modern” players like Peter Bernstein, Adam Rogers, Jonathan Kreisberg, Chris Potter, Lage Lund, Mike Moreno, etc. 

Who are your major influences?
Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, Peter Bernstein, Jonathan Kreisberg, Adam Rogers, Jim Hall 

How old were you when you started following a musician’s path?
Ha! I started begging my mom for piano lessons at age 4! We didn’t have money for things like that, so I waited until middle school and then joined the school band. I spent the summer before beginning middle school dreaming of getting an alto sax, but apparently so did the rest of the entire student body, so I ended up with a trumpet. I loved it, but was really excited by players like Hendrix and Van Halen. I wanted a guitar, but my father was opposed to anything music. His idea art was cover of a box of camel cigarettes. My mother got me a guitar for xmas when I was 12 or 13. I also played cello in high school, but that was only because I wanted to take theory classes. The school said that you had to play a band or orchestral instrument in order to take theory, so I said, “what do you need?” I was never any good, but it did get my bass clef reading chops in shape. Got my bachelor’s and master’s degree in music, then joined the Navy bands. Became a Navy Bandmaster, played all over the planet, and also taught for 5 years at the Armed Forces School of Music and the Navy School of Music. I maintained my personal recording and performing endeavors during my service, and plan to keep on keeping on after my “retirement” in 2018.

Who are the members of your band and what are their musical backgrounds? (Please fill this out completely)
Being a jazz musician, I work with quite a lot of different musicians here on the Chicago jazz scene. My latest album, “Nowhere…Now Here” features NYC based organist/pianist Ben Paterson and Chicago based drummer Greg Artry. Both of these guys are musicians of the highest caliber, and very much in demand.

Tell me a funny story that has happened to you as you.
I can’t think of anything of significance. 

Where would you like to be in five years?
Firmly established on the Chicago jazz scene. Being new on any scene is tough, but this is a world-class city with outstanding players everywhere, and the competition is steep. There are players that have lived here all of their lives, went to DePaul, Roosevelt, or U of Chicago, and have long-standing connections on the scene. I have only been here for almost 4 years and gigging frequently, so I am on pace to be where I need to be. I retire from the Navy bands in 2018, and I would like to make my living from my pension check and performances only. However, I am also attempting to teach at some of the local colleges as well. I enjoy teaching, but not as much as performing. If I can make ends meet strictly from performing, I’ll be well satisfied. Also, I’d like to have another 2-3 recordings under my belt. 

What inspires you to write?
A variety of things: significant life events, going into the studio, the creative process itself, etc.

What is your philosophy on life and how does it affect your music?
Wake up on the green side of the dirt
Do what you love to do
I play guitar for hours almost every day. I miss some days due to things like travel, illness, etc, but playing guitar and learning new tunes and new ways to approach tunes I already know consumes the majority of my time. 

Please add the names of the places you have played and the city they are in.
Top 12 in no particular order:

Winter’s Jazz Club, Chicago, IL
Andy’s Jazz Club, Chicago, IL
Jazz Showcase, Chicago, IL
Green Mill, Chicago, IL
Blue in Green, Yokosuka, Japan
Organ Jazz, Tokyo, Japan
Ned Kelly’s, Hong Kong
Around Midnight, Naples, Italy
Parker’s, Downer’s Grove, IL
Adele’s, Wheaton, IL
The White House, Washington, DC
The Split Jazz Fest (2000), Split, Croatia 

Do you have any causes that tug at your heart strings, or that you support? Abused pets, world peace organization, save the whales, etc…
Anything to do with saving animals and the planet. 

Please tell me about your performance schedule and new releases.
“Nowhere…Now Here” – June 2017 release date
7 Oct – solo jazz guitar, Parker’s, Downers Grove, IL
10 Oct – Damian Espinosa/Geordie Kelly Jazz Duo, Parker’s, Downers Grove, IL
13 Oct – Mariano’s Ravenswood, Chicago, IL
2 Nov – Marcujaz Duo, Adele’s, Wheaton, IL

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