Q&A Scene: Guitarists’ Special ~ Ben Kelly

Tell us about your new single/ album/ tour?

There’s so much to talk about with the new album. How it came about, the songs, the music, the Journey, the players. I’ll start by talking about the first single as it’s due for release in August.

Clarity: it’s a Reggae/ska piece. The song is a lyrical calling out to all the good vibe people in the world. To rise above the noise of the negative vibes going on and come together in all our diversity and differences, celebrate this beautiful gift of life we all share. We have a choice to focus on the negative or focus on the positive in this life. And from my experience we get more of what we focus on. So, imagine if everyone focussed on the positives. We become the leaders, be the best people we can be, help our brothers and sisters and hold a good positive space with in. The world would be a much different place if this were the case and this is my message with this song.

The new album is an eclectic pallet of all my vibes. We have acoustic roots vibes, reggae, ska, even a little roots rock vibes, there’s a Spanish sung/Latin inspired song (Vivir el Momento) in there some very soulful vibes going on and high energy uplifting vibes. Electric, acoustic, drums, bass, we got singing bowls and pan drums, echos and all sorts. Some Floydy vibes, Hendrixy vibes…It really is an eclectic album. The focus is on songs, no instrumentals, whereas my previous album (50’000 People) was more focussed on relaxing guitar instrumentals, this album takes you on a journey through songs, full band arrangements, great production aspects without losing the raw voice and message of the songs.

Working with Nicky Bomba (Melbourne Ska Orchestra / John Butler Trio) and Robin Mai (engineer for many great Australian Artists, including John Butler / Nicky Bomba/ Melbourne Ska Orchestra and now little old Ben Kelly) has been an absolute pleasure and really great experience for me.

We have formed a great bond and really connected with the music together. Nicky and Robin played an integral part of this project. It wouldn’t be what it is without their contributions both in the songs and in the studio production side of things. They listened to me, felt the music and together we printed the songs with all our musical voices coming together. What a great honor to work with such great guys. It’s been a truly humbling experience and I have to shout out to them both. Much love for these guys.

We will be releasing one single a month till November and the full album will be released 1st December. Pre order campaign will be launched September/October.

I’ve some very special plans with touring of this album, but not letting the cat out of the bag until the album’s release.

How long have you been playing guitar?

Haha, I say to people I’ve been playing music for 1000 years or so.

In this life, I have played guitar for 26 years. Although not formally trained. I just learned by ear and by writing songs.

I did attend Box Hill Tafe music course for a short period, but school never really went down too well with me. I formed a good connection with the guitar teachers there, Mario and Rob, they are legends and we’re still in contact, but never really took the formal teaching that was in the curriculum, so I left.

Why did you first start playing?

My parents sent me to piano lessons at 7. But that didn’t last long because the teacher didn’t like that I wouldn’t read the music. I preferred to just pretend to read the music and play by feel, so she told my parents it wasn’t going to work and didn’t want to continue with me.

Then I took up Guitar.

The reason I actually started playing was more for social impact reasons than musical. Although I loved music. I remember at 14 seeing the influence that music was having on me and my friends. John Lennon, Pink Floyd, the Doors, Bob Marley and so on. I can remember thinking to myself ‘Wow, the music is actually shaping who we are. Then when I dug deeper and had a look at the world and what Influenced and shaped it the most, I saw that music and arts were actually the strongest influence on culture and societies. I thought to myself I want to be a part of that. If I’m going to make a positive contribution to the world then music is the most powerful tool to do this with. So that was my main reason for following the musical path. The love for playing came as I developed as a musician. But the main roots and reason why I play is still the same. To have a positive influence and inspire people to be there best, bring out the beauty that lives within us all. Egos aside, live for the love, live for the betterment of all things and rise above the negative. There’s a long line of musicians that take up music for this same reason, that’s my clan, that’s my scene.

Which guitarist most influenced your playing?

As an eclectic artist, my approach to music has been shaped by many things, artists, culture, diversity, so there are a few, and as I’m also into so many music’s, this has shaped different aspects of my playing. But if I had to pick one person it would be David Gilmore of Pink Floyd, hands down. If I could pick 3, it would David Gilmore, Paco De Lucia, John McLaughlin.

Describe your favourite guitar. 

I own 3 guitars that I perform with : Cole Clark Angel / Alhambra Flamenco / American Strat. I love them all…

However if I had to pick on it would be the Cole Clark Angel. It’s the most diverse and I can pull so many different sounds with just this one Guitar. Many years ago, I played a Taylor 310, it was a beautiful guitar. But what happened is we ran a fundraiser for a friend of mine who had passed away, for his son actually, who was only 2 years old when Darren passed. We ran this fundraiser at the Espy and can you believe my Taylor was stolen that night, I was devastated, but then a friend of mine introduced me to Cole Clark Guitars. I played the Angel and have never looked back since. What was a negative actually turned out to be a positive. So glad I found Cole Clark.

How do you prepare for a show?

Well, I make sure I have some clarity on what I’m going to play. I always leave it a little open as I like to improvise as well. So I prepare a set list that I want to present.

I check over all my gear, restring my instruments and make sure that everything is working properly so I don’t have to think  about it on the day.

Obviously running through the songs a couple of days before a show and just making sure I’ve got everything there that I need to give the music it’s freedom to live.

Then I forget about it. I like to find inner space before I play. Meditation is a big part of my life, so this helps to keep the inner peace leading up to a gig.

Furthermore, I always rock up extra early. I don’t like to be late or rushed. So I make an effort to get to shows extra early so I can prepare my gear, and be ready to play well before show time. This gives the time and space to breath before stepping onto stage.

Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.

Oh man, there are so many!!!
When I tour, between shows, I hit nature. I just love spending time and exploring nature. So, one time I was camped at Forster, NSW, I had a show at Old Bar the following day. I was camped on a inland island surrounded by Oyster and Muscle farms. With my tent set up, I had cooked dinner and was sitting in the dark playing my guitar when I had this standoff with a possum. He came down the tree, I could see him looking at me, then I’d say something and he would run back up the tree, this went on for some time. Every time I sat down to play, he would start approaching again. Then I’d stop and look at him, or say something and he would run back up the tree.

Then eventually, he came down the tree, crossed a section and just kept coming at me I said “no, what are you doing, go away” and he just kept on coming and before I could put my guitar down, he ran up my leg, onto my back, then shoulder, then onto my head… Then he jumped off my head and ran back up his tree! True story!!!

What, or who, inspires you?

I’m inspired by life. And I’m inspired by the opportunity to inspire others to realise their greatness. This life is a beautiful opportunity and we must honour her and be the best people we can be. And I’m inspired by other people that walk this path also. From Bob Marley to Nelson Mandela, Michael Franti to John Lennon, Nicky Bomba to John Butler.  And nature inspires me, nature is my biggest inspiration, we are nature after all. I am truly blown away by the beauty that surrounds us every day. A tear comes to my eye just typing and thinking about it. The trees, the sky, the wind, the water, the mountains and valleys, sun, the moon, the night time sky. Nature has got me big time.

Which song do you wish you wrote?

I’m really happy with the songs that are coming through me. I’ve never thought ‘oh I wish I wrote that song or this song’.  It I do hear songs that inspire me to write in a certain way. For example, I wrote a song yesterday which was inspired by Michael Franti’s new song with the lyric ‘Summer Time, won’t last long’. That inspired my song in reflection. As summer is finishing on the other side of the world, it’s just on its way here. My song was ”Summer’s nearly here again’…. And so on.

However again, if I answered thus question with one line, the song that comes to mind is
‘Let It Be’ by Paul McCartney and the Beatles.

How would you describe your sound in food form and why?

Haha, this is a funny question.
I would like to think my music is like an Indian Masala Dosa, with a piece of vegan carrot cake and a nice cup of chai on the side.

What’s next for you?

This season is big. We launch the album, I’ll your Australia and set up some IS tours. I’d like to do the Cali Roots festival circuit next season (our winter 2019/is there summer) and there’s no limit to where u want to take thus new album. I have also a lot of new material that I’m itching to record, so that’s going to be in the mix somewhere. [pullquote]Life’s a precious gift and each moment is next and I like to be completely immersed in the moments I’m in. [/pullquote] And on top of all that, I’m setting up an outdoor amphitheater space for intimate, one stage concerts in the Yarra Valley. The space is called ‘Beyond Circle Garden and it’s a truly beautiful space with a pond as the stage back drop on a natural amphitheater hill. I have my Tipi set up there now and I’m working hard to prepare that too. I have a vision of having the Wailers play there, along with myself, Nicky, Melbourne Ska Orchestra and even John Butler, Michael Franti and beyond.. so I have some pretty big visions manifesting.

What’s your scene?

Well, my scene is the world wide movement of artists that make music for the betterment of mankind. I don’t like to pigeon hole myself, but it’s seems that that scene is a World, Roots, Reggae kind of vibe But I like to keep the box open on genres, so yeah I would say my scene is the positive vibration scene, inspirational people doing things to help the world become a better place for all. Setting the ego aside and rising up so all the people can shine on and feel good and be inspired to be there very best for the world.

Catch Ben at the Melbourne Guitar Show at 2:00pm on Saturday 4th August at Caulfield Racecourse


For more information:  http://www.benkellyaustralia.com/about/

Online ticket prices when pre-ordered:: Adult day pass $20, adult weekend pass $30, family day pass $35, concession day pass $10, concession weekend pass $15, premium ticket** $40




Peter Baylor has been a musician synonymous with the Australian “ roots’ music scene
professionally since 1980. His eclectic guitar and vocal style encompasses classic swing jazz,
Rhythm N’ Blues, Western swing, Gypsy jazz, Rockabilly, country , Old timey and folk forms. His
distinctive sound has been heard in bands as diverse as The Dancehall Racketeers, The Baylor
Brothers, Mic Conways Whoopee band, Doug Parkinsons Buddy Holly show, Ultrafox, The
Starliners, The Eddies, Tom Bakers swing st Orchestra, The Cairo Club to name a few.
As a freelance musician he has worked with over 300 acts and toured Japan, The United States,
Scandinavia, South Pacific, Europe on several occasions. He has played on over 50 recordings and
has played with and or supported international acts such as Robert Plant, Bob Dylan, The Stray
Cats, Mike Compton, Hank Marvin, Lollo Meier , Tav Falco, Rosie Flores and Flaco Jimenez,
Deke Dikerson, Dale Watson and Wayne Hankock.
His original compositions have appeared on ABC records and documentaries { Australian Story} ,
Full length movies such as “ Loves Brother “ 2004 . In 1994 he played Scotty Moore in The Gordon
Frost production of Elvis The Musical .
He resides in Newport Victoria , Australia and continues writing, recording and touring with
various bands he is involved with.

Australian Music Association announced the 2018 return of the Melbourne Guitar Show, set to rock Caulfield Racecourse on August 4 and 5 – and this year, it’ll be bigger than ever.

Proudly presented by Triple M and Australian Musician, the lineup boasts an impressive haul of both local and international artists, and featuring amongst the bunch is none other than UK guitar legend Albert Lee.

In addition to some killer performances from the artists on this massive lineup, #MGS2018 will also hold a monster exhibition that will feature a gigantic variety of electric and acoustic guitars, effects pedals, amps and more state-of-the-art guitar technology, both home-grown and from around the world.  It will continue to be Australia’s biggest guitar pop-up shop, and that’s not all.  The Melbourne Guitar Show will host information seminars, demonstrations, and live performances from Australia’s most talented guitarists.

This year will be extra special as the Melbourne Guitar Show welcomes UK guitar legend Albert Lee.  Lee’s work with The Everly Brothers, Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris and The Crickets is renowned within the music world and cemented his place as one of the most respected and renowned guitarists in history.  Speaking on Lee’s talent, Eric Clapton enthuses, “(He is) the ultimate virtuoso.  His skill is extraordinary and he’s gifted on just about every level,” while Emmylou Harris says, “(Albert Lee) is a brilliant guitar player…his sound is unmistakable, never qualled.”  The British-born country-rock artist started his long and illustrious career during the emerging rock ‘n’ roll scene of ‘60s London, when he played in bands with the likes of Jimmy Page and Chris Farlowe.  He has received countless accolades for his work, and has been named Guitar Player Magazine’s Best Country Guitarist five times in a row.

The first lineup announcement for #MGS2018 is a big one.  Joining Albert Lee is Daniel Champagne, a prolific young guitar virtuoso with the world at his feet, and Jeff Lang, who has been described by Rolling Stone as “Australia’s best roots music artisan.”  Melbourne Guitar Show favourites Nick Charles and Shannon Bourne will also be returning this year, alongside some seriously talented women Fiona Boyes, Alison Ferrier, Cat Canteri, Nat Allison and upcoming punk rockers Rackett.  Not to mention a whole host of additional artists are set to be announced over the coming weeks.

Drawing over 5,500 guitar lovers and enthusiasts to last year’s exhibit, the Melbourne Guitar Show is growing year on year and is gearing up for the biggest event yet.  The voice of the Australian music products industry, the Australian Music Association (AMA) will be teaming up with australianmusician.com.au and presenting sponsors Triple M, 3PBS and Aon to present this year’s guitar-centric weekend.  At last year’s MGS, punters not only enjoyed scheduled performances and demos from the awesome artists on the lineup, but also witnessed surprise on-stand appearances from some of Australia’s finest artists, including Ian Moss, Darren Middleton (Powderfinger), Paul Dempsey, Oscar Dawson and Ali Barter.  Both the promoters of the show and the exhibitors are constantly wrangling acts right up until the very last minute – and who will be joining the all-star jam this year? Come on down and find out!

Thrilled to present #MGS2018 once again, AMA executive officer and MGS organiser, Rob Walker says, After an awesome show last year, we’re looking forward to continuing the tradition the show is creating.  We’re very pleased to present Albert Lee on his 75th birthday tour, as well as the usual host of wonderful players we present.”

Not only will the 2018 MGS provide a hands-on chance to see, hear and play a broad range of the world’s favourite brands, it will also see exhibitors offering great show deals, plus an opportunity to get close to some hand-crafted, locally made instruments and epic guitar and gear collections.  Describing the exciting developments, Rob continues, “Our exhibition welcomes back some big names this year and the learning opportunities are plentiful.  If you’re in the market for guitars and gear, great live music from some of the best players. the Melbourne Guitar Show is the place to be.”

The first artist line up announcement includes: Albert Lee, Daniel Champagne, Jeff Lang, Nick Charles, Shannon Bourne, Fiona Boyes, James Ryan, Phil Manning, Nat Allison, Brett Kingman, Alison Ferrier, Cat Canteri, Scott Darlow, Rackett, Van Larkins, Justin Bernasconi, Rohan Stevenson, and more to be announced over the coming weeks.

The Melbourne Guitar Show will be held at Caulfield Racecourse on August 4 and 5.

Tickets are on sale NOW!

Online ticket prices when pre-ordered:: Adult day pass $20, adult weekend pass $30, family day pass $35, concession day pass $10, concession weekend pass $15, premium ticket** $40




WEBSITE                 FACEBOOK              #MGS2018            TWITTER                 INSTAGRAM

About Mary Boukouvalas 1614 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.