Sunday, September 10, 2023

Kelly’s Lot Rocks The Roar Room

The Roar Room is a cool neighborhood bar. I had never been to that bar before, or to that neighborhood, for that matter, but Kelly’s Lot was playing there, and that was reason enough to check it out. Roar Room is a bar that clearly cares about music. For a small bar, they’ve dedicated a good amount of space to the stage. Kelly’s Lot had eight members on that stage Friday night, and they all fit comfortably. There’s even a drum riser. How many bars do you know that have drum risers? And the sound was excellent, all the lyrics coming across clearly. Besides that, the place had a good and laid back vibe, and the staff was genuinely friendly. Not only that, but the staff was actually paying attention to the music. Another rarity, right? For a music fan like myself, this place is a gem.

Kelly’s Lot took the stage just before 8:15 p.m., opening the first set with “Reason For The Blues,” and jamming right out of the gate. You know when a band jams on the first song that it’s going to be a special night. After that first number, Kelly Zirbes said, “Well, I’m one blessed chick.” Yes, everyone was feeling the music that night – the band, the audience, the staff. Kelly mentioned that the band will be thirty years old next year. Crazy how time moves so quickly. I moved to Los Angeles in the late 1990s, and the first band I saw after getting here was Kelly’s Lot. That was twenty-five years ago. A lot has changed since then, in L.A. and in the country. But there are things you can still rely on. And this band putting on a good show is certainly one of them. Kelly Zirbes has a kick-ass blues voice. It’s a voice of power, but also of joy, and I think that’s one of the reasons the band’s music is so appealing. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the entire band is talented, and during the jams they listen to each other and react, each building on what the others are contributing.

The songs at Friday’s show were a mix of original material and covers. Early in the first set, they covered Melanie Safka’s “Brand New Key,” which Kelly mentioned was the first cover the band ever did. They followed that with a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “Give It Up Or Let Me Go,” featuring some fantastic work by Perry Robertson on guitar. Then in “Why Don’t We,” Kelly sang, “Why don’t we take a chance/Get on the floor and learn how to dance.” And, yes, folks were dancing at the bar. The first set also included a great rendition of “Drive,” a rocking number, followed by a cover of “Faith.” “Faith” might seem like an odd number for this blues band to do, but it was fun. Perry switched to acoustic guitar for that one. Then “Train” featured an excellent jam, with Kelly stepping off the stage to dance with some folks in the audience. That jam featured some particularly great stuff on saxophone.

The second set got off to a rocking start with “The Light,” the title track from the band’s 2008 album. From there the band went straight into a cover of “La Grange,” with Perry on vocals, before moving back into “The Light.” Then keyboardist Mo Beeks joined Kelly on vocals on “I Gotta Sing The Blues.” The band delivered some fantastic jams in the second set, particularly on “I’m Tired” and “Woe Is Me,” the second even including a cool lead on bass. Maybe the best vocal performance of the second set was on “Woman’s Love.” A tremendous performance there. The band then got the crowd singing along with “Boom Boom Boom,” a fun number. They wrapped up the night with “Right Now.” The show ended at 11:10 p.m., just about three hours after it began.

Set List

Set I

  1. Reason For The Blues
  2. Revolving Door
  3. Lock Me Up
  4. Brand New Key
  5. Give It Up Or Let Me Go
  6. Why Don’t We
  7. Ship
  8. Drive
  9. Faith
  10. Train
  11. Mr. Chairman
  12. Don’t Give My Blues Away

Set II

  1. The Light >
  2. La Grange >
  3. The Light
  4. I Gotta Sing The Blues
  5. Can’t Take My Soul
  6. I’m Tired
  7. Woe Is Me
  8. Woman’s Love
  9. Boom Boom Boom
  10. Right Now

Here are a few photos from the show:




The Roar Room is located at 3645 Foothill Blvd. in Glendale, California.

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