KiddnKelly Gang – Folk Magic!

Everyone has a music genre that is their ‘Fast Lane’, ‘Addiction’ or even just ‘comfort zone’…For me that’s in the Alternative Rock with just a splash of Grunge, Metal and Punk thrown in for spice.

This year I determined that I needed to spread my wings and perhaps bring something different and out of my zone into my fold. There’s no shortage of gigs to keep me excited among the Alt. Rock venues but outside of that there had to be something more going on.

I knew I was going to have to look beyond my nose to find the often overlooked yet equally talented outfits using their gifts, crafting artistry their own way with their words and instruments, making their own dreams a reality and I happened upon the perfect outfit to begin my adventure – introducing Brisbane’s- KiddnKelly Gang.

So here I am sitting at a bar table at ‘The Cave Inn’ in Brisbane’s Woolloongabba with my drink and my house Pizza (I recommend Ham & Cheese with Chili Oil) and the stage is set with a trio of musicians about to please the crowd with their signature Folk originals and covers.

KiddnKelly Gang are usually a 4 piece but tonight performing as a trio. They are Brenda Lee Kelly (vocals, guitar, uke, tin whistle, kazoo), Glenn “Cisco” Kidd (guitar, vocals, harmonica), Craig “Billy” Tobin on brushes (percussion). I feel we should still acknowledge the fourth member even though she’s not here tonight but let’s give her a shout out anyways – Anne-Marie “Dolly” Lawton (double bass).

KiddnKelly Gang L-R: Brenda Kelly, Craig Tobin, Glenn Kidd, Anne-Marie Lawnton
(Photo courtesy of – Rob Floyd )

Bit of a sound check happening – She Belongs To Me (Bob Dylan) and we’re off….

We ease into the first set with L&N by Jean Ritchie which was nice but kind of safe before garnering a real taste of the original writing of Kelly with ‘Wildhorse Mountain‘. The score carried me along that Brumby’s back without any hesitation, the spirit of the wild coursing through me with the amplification and held firmly in the saddle by some skillful musicianship. Kelly’s vocals are smooth, clear and motivating.

Couple more covers…Ohhhhh – nice work on Tom Waits ‘Chocolate Jesus‘ and back into some originals all written by Kelly. ‘No Tears’, ‘4th July’ and ‘Woodford’.

Before the latter, ‘Woodford’, we hear that the group were indeed headed to Woodford or ‘Woodfordia’ as it’s commonly referred to before it was cancelled. And in this moment they take the opportunity to show us some merchandise that was bound for that gig with Kelly informing us that we can now purchase a self titled EP – ‘$10 each or on special – 2 for $20 – but to get the real discount you can get 3 for $30’..yes,yes – it was all in jest from Kelly and the crowd enjoyed laughing along even driving the price up further themselves. It was a fantastic moment between artist and punter, genuine, cheeky and connective!

Kelly, along with little interjections from Kidd and Tobin had worked the crowd well and that led to massive audience participation for the next two covers ‘Jock Stewart’ (Pogues Version) which saw Kelly again interact with the crowd issuing specific dance instructions. Let me tell you, she didn’t need to do much convincing to have anyone follow her lead and then ‘Ring of Fire’ (Johnny Cash Version) I’m surrounded by voices and who doesn’t enjoy a great little sing off among the crowd??

Closing out the first set is a magical little number referred to as Brenda’s Kazoo Song which is a traditional song made in the 1920’s and reworked with a little KiddnKelly Gang styled arrangement. Tonight I’ve already experienced some great finger pluckin’, acoustic strumming, brush beating, harp and ukulele playing and now, NOW it’s a Kazoo…!!! Check it out on the video below…bet you can’t stop tapping your foot either…

Short intermission and we are back for a second set. This one being like the first with a mix of well performed and commendable covers and small flurry of 5 originals.

Of the originals there were some standout moments for me. ‘Stella’ was the first where we hear about the inspiration for Kelly’s superb songwriting abilities. It was a true ‘Ode to behold’ She tells us;-

“I’d like you all to channel your inner Marlon Brando. This song was written about my Grandmother Estelle who was born in Belfast in the 1900’s and was known as ‘Stella’. She emigrated to Australia and had a housing situation – flats, on Petrie Terrace in Brisbane and well the red light was apparently always on…so the story goes!”

The next original is where we discover that there are TWO brilliant songwriters and storytellers in the KiddnKelly Gang. Kidd takes the vocal reigns and gives us his ‘Sailors Lament’ indeed invoking the ‘sea shanty spirit’ in us all. He has a beautiful smooth timbre in his vocals perfectly suited to this genre of music. I did the video thing again here so I think I’ll just let you partake as I did….

On offer as the third original that really took me away in the second set was another Kidd composition – ‘Little Girl Mexico’. There’s a little ‘sway and swagger’ undertone element to this track that hooks me in and I find that I’ve found a little folk in me…Lol (Research after the fact – There’s a video on YouTube for this track…find it here)

All up tonight we’ve heard 10 KiddnKelly Gang originals and upon reflection I can tell you I have enjoyed every one of them. Tonight I’ve been schooled by one of the most multitalented, multiskilled representatives of the Folk genre. I hide my head in shame for living under a rock for so long but I thank them for pulling me out.

There were no theatrics. The group were dressed down, costumed appropriately for the occasion. The experience was ‘real’ with no showmanship required and when it ended it left me feeling as though I hadn’t had enough so I chipped in and bought the EP.

Both vocalists are obviously very experienced and have good strong tonal stand alone qualities which lends themselves to a harmonious blend to die for not to mention some pretty impressive ‘Australian Twang’ happenings. Nothing can be taken away from them as skilled multi-instrumentalists (remember the Kazoo), songwriters and performers. As for Tobin on percussion, sitting at the back of the stage doing his thing did not shadow his love for his performance. Along with good steady hands and rhythm that dude has a smile in every style that’s just plain infectious!

I’ll be looking out for these guys again and if you have the chance you need to get out and see them sooner rather than later – Who are they?? They are the Brisbane based 4 piece – KiddnKelly Gang – Folk Magic!!!

P.S Did you know that Brenda Kelly has been a finalist 5 times with the Tamworth Songwriting Awards….Wow!!!

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