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JD Simo with The Don Kelley Band, Robert's Western World, Nashville -'Ghost Riders'

Discussion in 'Twanger Central' started by LesterCorncrake, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. ruger9

    ruger9 Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 31, 2004
    Hackettstown, NJ

    Just curious... what's the deal with Don Kelley? He's been doing it for years, always has some of the best players in town, but never does originals, never does interviews, I can't find any info on the web (ONE single interview in the Tennessean)... yet he's been making a living at Robert's for 14 years, always draws a great crowd, and always seems to have his pick of players...

    just curious... is he "just some guy" that got lucky with a permanent spot at Robert's all those years ago & has managed to keep it, or is he some musical sensei who can pull the best out of talent, then send them on their way to the big time, or what?

  2. Sid Hudson

    Sid Hudson TDPRI Member

    Jun 25, 2009
    Prince George Va.
    Good Question!
    I moved to Nashville in 1981 and met Don Kelley. He was playing at a little joint off Trinity Lane called “Gabes”.

    In the 80s Gabes was nearly a musician only hang out. Don had the house band at this time.

    He would get all the better players up to set in all night long. He left Gabe’s and went to a small hotel lounge on Murfreesboro road that was called the stagecoach.

    The guy that ran the Stagecoach at the hotel lounge rented a large old dance hall just down the street. When the club moved he still called it the stagecoach. Don went with him.

    The musicians followed him everywhere. Why?

    Don always had killer musicians playing with him. Don also stayed away from the bubble gum music that was popular at any point in time.

    If Don didn’t like a song, he wouldn’t play it no matter how many requests he got.

    I have seen him cuss people out for asking for Achy breaky heart. LOL!
    Don always chose songs that were fun to play. Truck Driving man, Working man blues, fast bluegrass tunes etc…

    Not really sure why Don never got a record deal. 1000 reasons are possible. Very political town.

    Don was and still is not a political guy. He is one of the funniest guys I have ever played with!

    The reason Don can command the best musicians in town? There is only two ways to make a living in Nashville as side man.
    1. Road job or
    2. Club job.

    Some guys like to play the road gigs. The other group of players is the musicians that want to break into the session scene and they want to stay in town. They are looking for a club job.

    The club job offers a steady weekly paycheck while they can cultivate their session accounts. Usually guys that are looking to cultivate sessions are the cream of the crop. (Usually)

    (You do understand that nothing is 100%.)

    I am sure that If Don would have gotten a record deal in years past he would not be at Robert’s lounge today. But, it never happened. The good news? He still plays with killer players and makes a living doing it.

    I only played with Don for one year. I hated the road but when Barbara Mandrell was in her hay day in the early 80s and she offered me a deal that a musician would cut off a finger for.

    So I gave up everything that was going on in town for me and took the gig.
    The two greatest bands I have ever played with, a huge western swing band in Virginia called “The String Dusters” and two “The Don Kelley Band.

  3. Brandon mac

    Brandon mac Tele-Holic

    Jun 9, 2009
    north alabama
    i was at roberts having a pbr this past saturday and saw jd with the don kelly band. if any of you have not seen it in person,then he is truly a sight to behold!!!

  4. ruger9

    ruger9 Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 31, 2004
    Hackettstown, NJ
    Wow Sid, great answer! I think I can answer why Don never got a record deal... he wasn't willing to give up any publishing rights, which in Nashville is a must, unfortunately. Taken from the interview I found:

    "Kelley hasn’t fiddled with Music Row since the mid-1980s, when a producer demanded a share of a song Kelley wrote in order for a country star to cut the song.

    “I haven’t written another song since then,” he said. “I don’t care nothing about that."’em/

  5. joeismyname

    joeismyname Tele-Meister

    Dec 5, 2009
    Lexington, KY
    love robert' favorite bar ever.

  6. historicus146

    historicus146 Tele-Holic

    Jun 28, 2010
    chicago area

    Great post... Thanks...

    Roberts is the place... and Don Kelley is a are the musicians.

    But, dont miss the Owners Band...Jesse and Brazilbilly....they are real strong too...
    Chris Casells (sp?) is a very talented guitarist...they play Fri and Sat at 10pm...last I was down there...right after Kelley's band.

    But there's nothing better than a great tele player..and Don always has one..

    as For Simo....

    He grew up in Chicago in North Halstead area..moved to AZ around 10 years old....

    The "Ghost Riders" song... their big song...... was written by the former mayor of Schaumburg Illinois... just west of Chicago...a little trivia...

  7. ruger9

    ruger9 Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 31, 2004
    Hackettstown, NJ
    uh... I don't think so?

    "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend" is a country and cowboy-style song. It was written on June 5, 1948 by Stan Jones.[1] A number of versions were crossover hits on the pop charts in 1949. The ASCAP database lists the song as "Riders in the Sky" (title code: 480028324[2]), but the title has been written as "Ghost Riders", "Ghost Riders in the Sky", and "A Cowboy Legend".

    Stan Jones (June 5, 1914 - December 13, 1963) was an American songwriter and actor.
    Stanley Davis "Stan" Jones was born in Douglas, Arizona, and grew up on a ranch. When his father died, his mother moved the family to Los Angeles, California. He attended the University of California at Berkeley, competing in rodeos to make money. However, he dropped out in 1934 to join the United States Navy. After his discharge, he worked at many jobs, including as a miner, a fire fighter, and a park ranger. [1] In his free time he wrote songs, and eventually more than 100 were recorded. His most famous, "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky", was written in 1948 when he worked for the National Park Service in Death Valley, California. Assigned as technical advisor to the filming of The Three Godfathers, he became friends with director John Ford, who opened his way into Hollywood.[2]

    Jones wrote almost entirely Western music. He composed songs for several Western movies by Ford and others producers, including The Searchers and Rio Grande. He also played small parts in several westerns.

    In 1955 Jones began writing for Disney Studios. He was co-writer of the theme song for the television series Cheyenne, and in 1956 was hired to play Deputy Harry Olson in the syndicated television series Sheriff of Cochise (1956-1958), which starred John Bromfield as law enforcement officer Frank Morgan. After its first season, Sheriff of Cochise was renamed by Desilu Studios owner Desi Arnaz, Sr., as U.S. Marshal. Jones wrote again for John Ford's Civil War film The Horse Soldiers, in which he made an uncredited appearance as Ulysses S. Grant. The following year, he returned to working for Disney Studios.[3] One major role for him was in playing the part of Wilson Brown, a Union soldier and locomotive engineer who was a member of the Andrews Raid depicted in Disney's film The Great Locomotive Chase.

    Jones married twice and had several children. He died in Los Angeles in 1963 at the age of 49. He was buried at Julia Page Memorial Park in his hometown, Douglas, Arizona. In 1997, he was posthumously inducted into the Western Music Hall of Fame.

    Here's the guy who was the mayor... doesn't say anything about Ghost Riders:

    just wanted to add (later) that I hope this isn't coming off as know-it-all; that's not how it's intended. Your post interested me, so went to look up the info, and found the above. Not trying to argue or anything. :D
    Last edited: May 25, 2011

  8. historicus146

    historicus146 Tele-Holic

    Jun 28, 2010
    chicago area
    I stand corrected..

    Bob Atcher apparently was strongly identified with the song... ...and used it profusely on his radio show in Chicago......

    but did not author the song.

    Thanks for the info.

  9. Mike Fleming

    Mike Fleming Tele-Meister

    Mar 17, 2003
    You know what else I love to check out, "Don Kelley and Friends" on Sundays at Roberts. The guitarist that night is usually Porter McClister, he doesn’t get mentioned a lot but he’s fun as hell to listen too. He may not be a Guthrie Trapp kind of virtuoso (who i also love) but he's got great country chops and his rhythm work on different styles is fantastic. I actually prefer hearing him with Don Kelley over JD, as great as JD is.
    PorterMc likes this.

  10. avagadro

    avagadro Tele-Meister

    Jan 28, 2009
    I've seen JD play a bunch here in Arizona. he used to play a Strat and did a lot of blues. looks like he was trying to tap that Kenny Wayne Shepard vein. He is still quite young, when I used to see him (about 8 years ago) he was only 16 or 17, couldn't even work in bars because he was under age. Looks like he turned his talent around to find a nice steady job ,always a good thing, those young guys like to eat and drink a lot, and don't even start in on how much they need to keep the woman habit alive.

  11. AJ Love

    AJ Love Friend of Leo's

    Jul 10, 2005
    Madison WI
    Porter is great! Here he is


  12. AJ Love

    AJ Love Friend of Leo's

    Jul 10, 2005
    Madison WI
    Someone mentioned James Mitchell, he sure is amazing

    PorterMc likes this.

  13. bargoedboy

    bargoedboy Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 16, 2008
    I was lucky enough to watch JD at Roberts last september. Awesome. :cool:

  14. Tom Coyle

    Tom Coyle Tele-Meister

    Sep 7, 2011
    From Michigan
    This may turn a few stomachs, but I don't really care. I was a humbucker player exclusively for 20+ years, then I had a Strat as well for several years. No need to have a Tele, those are country guitars right? Then I saw this video: same song but different.

    Bought my first Tele the next day. Been my #1 ever since


  15. trailboss

    trailboss Tele-Meister

    Jan 2, 2009
    Southeastern IL
    I prefer to hit Jacks BBQ first, with a big ole brisket platter w/MGD, then slide on over to Roberts next:D

  16. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 19, 2006
    Gilbert, AZ (PHX)
    I'm pretty sure JD is a member here but he has not posted here in a long time that I have seen. I knew him years ago, we played together on a few Blues in the Schools programs with the late Chico Chism (Chico played drums with Howlin Wolf). I have not seen him since he moved to Nashville, he prolly don't remember me. He was an amazing player years ago and he was better than I am now back then. I am glad he is getting some recognition, he deserves it.

  17. kirk95

    kirk95 Tele-Meister

    Jun 11, 2003
    Boulder, CO
    That was fun.. JD is quite the showman....

    But this thread is a goldmine of great tele pickers..awesome!

    Just discovered Forrest Lee Jr.... holy sh*t. And what's the deal with Brent Mason's Hot Wired? I can never find it anywhere...

    Great thread...thanks!

  18. kirk95

    kirk95 Tele-Meister

    Jun 11, 2003
    Boulder, CO
    Smoking.... wow

  19. ssvr

    ssvr TDPRI Member

    Jun 28, 2012

    Great thread.

    Truck Drivin' Man solos 1 and 2 by Guthrie Trapp, will put up 3rd when I have a chance to sit down again:

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012

  20. ssvr

    ssvr TDPRI Member

    Jun 28, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2012

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