Country singer Kristen Kelly is just as comfortable singing in elegant dresses under the stage spotlight as she is in Mossy Oak camouflage and playing pranks on the boys.
“Oh, for sure,” she admits. “I play music and sing for a living, but I am a real person too. I am on a co-ed softball team … in the event I have something to do I have to be in a dress for, I just try not to slide and stay on my feet.”
It’s that balance in life that comes through in her music which she describes as “a little more grease than polish.” Kelly will be sharing that mix distilled from her country, blues and classic rock influences into the heartfelt reflection of real life as she knows it when she opens for Brad Paisley in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Thursday.
The Texas-raised songstress has toured with Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry and spent most of 2012 with Paisley on his Reality world tour. With a lot of downtime on the road, Kelly said it’s hard to not get into a little trouble now and then. It was when Paisley brought out everyone on his tour to the stage with him for his song Alcohol that she sprung into action.
“I walked out as Brad’s double. I borrowed one of my guitar player’s pink Paisley guitars, his jeans, got an Alcohol T-shirt from Paisley’s merchandise table, his tour manager helped me get one of his cowboy hats and I bought a wig and drew on a moustache, goatee and darkened my eyebrows,” she said, laughing at the thought of it.
“Brad was laughing through the whole song. He tells the crowd, ‘she is a pretty woman, but makes an ugly guy.’ He is really good at pranks too and hasn’t got me back but I have a good feeling I have it coming to me and I am probably going to get it when I least expect it.”
Rascal Flatts already helped themselves in that department. Kelly said during their last show on the tour they recently did together Kelly was so involved with her final song of the night she didn’t notice Rascal Flatts drummer Jim Riley began taking Kelly’s drummer’s kit away one piece at a time.
“So by the end of the song all my drummer had was his high-hat. It’s hilarious. There is a video out there somewhere. Playing with a disappearing drum kit, I think my drummer did a pretty dadgum good job. I was completely clueless because I was so into the song and the crowd was singing so to watch this video and know all this is going on behind me and I totally missed it, it is funny,” said Kelly.
It’s with that light-hearted view of life and ability to be open and truthful in her songs that Kelly approached her self-titled album featuring songs she co-wrote: Miss Me; Drink Myself Out of Love with You; He Loves to Make Me Cry and a look at love gone awry in Ex-Old Man.
“Two of those are love songs, but the titles can be a bit misleading. Ex-Old Man is a true story about the fact that I have an ex-husband and an ex-best girlfriend,” she said. “Writing is definitely my therapy session. I think I am an open book, I have always been one to speak my mind and I just feel like that is how I go through life. It is OK to say that it hurts when it hurts and it is OK to say life is great when life is great. You have to experience all of it.”
Her affinity for singing runs deep. Kelly’s late grandfather was a country musician and she worked hard to get to where she is today by earning an on-the-spot invitation with a classic rock cover band after an impromptu performance. She eventually launched a solo career, recording her own independent album. But, it was a chance meeting at a 2010 benefit concert with Dierks Bentley that impressed Grammy-winning songwriter Paul Overstreet to invite her to write with him.
This sparked a chain of events that led to her record deal with Sony Music Nashville.
“I flew to Nashville to sing for the president of the label and I ended up getting offered a record deal. It has all just been a crazy, amusing, whirlwind of a ride and I am trying to just take it all in and not blink,” said Kelly.
Catch Kelly onstage and opening act Chris Young at the Brad Paisley Beat This Summer Tour on Thursday at the SOEC. Tickets can be purchased at www.ValleyFirstTix.com by telephone at 1-877-SOEC-TIX or in person at the Valley First Box Office and the Wine Country Visitor Centre.