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Can't Take My Soul - Big City blues magazine

Here’s another really good band that deserves to emerge from under the radar. Songstress Kelly Zirbes and her guitarist partner Perry Robertson have released over a dozen albums from their base in Los Angeles, as well as racking up an extensive festival and touring resume (including annual visits to France, where they have a loyal following). This year marks the silver anniversary of the band’s formation, and their new album is designed to show the band’s strengths as it touches on rock, folk, soul, and regional music as well as blues. 
In addition to Kelly and Perry, the ensemble is comprised of drummer Mike Sauer and bassist Matt McFadden, whose skills emerge immediately on the opening track, “All I Ever Want Is the Blues.” The number - composed, like the entire twelve songs, by Zirbes and Robertson - name-checks a host of blues influences, from Robert Johnson to Bonnie Raitt, as it rocks its brief way to its end. In the process, it reveals Kelly’s powerful alto pipes, and also her ability to do both grit and smooth croon. 
“All Hope Ain’t Lost,” track two, introduces organist Bobby Orgel into the mix and allows Kelly to wax sultry before soaring into the upper registers; Robertson adds a short but nifty solo. His guitar then introduces “Alyssa,” who was “one step ahead of the blues.” (The handsome liner notes provide full song lyrics.) A zesty and unexpected twist follows with “Woe Is Me”: its slow intro quickly morphs into a mid-tempo Cajun mode, with Eddie Baytos contributing stylish accordion and washboard. 
You get the idea: an amalgam of variety, versatility, and vivacity. Among the remaining tracks, “Safe and Warm” is a sweet love ballad with pleasant acoustic guitar and Kelly singing at her warmest. “Rise Up,” in contrast, is an upbeat bilingual cut, presenting a stark contrast between Kelly’s smooth vocal and the ultra-raspy Jean-Francois Thomas vocalizing in French. The juxtaposition seems unlikely to work…but it does. Later, Kelly herself handles the French on the bilingual closer, “Mon Ami.” Also notable is “Little Bit of This,” a simple and pretty duet of Robertson on acoustic guitar and Kelly. 
Along the way, we are treated to the talents of several other guests, including Frank Hinojosa wailing harmonica on “Broke Myself” and a quartet of backing singers who sound delightful in adorning several songs. The result is a set with catchy tunes and creative lyrics by a group of long-time compatriots, fronted by Kelly Z’s alternately supple, suave, and searing vocals.—Steve Daniels

Can't Take My Soul - Peter Merrett PBS106.7

KELLY'S LOT  "Can't Take My Soul". 


* Label: Self. 

* Kelly Zirbes: Vocals, and Acoustic Guitar on track 5. 

* Perry Robertson: Guitars. 

* Matt McFadden: Bass. 

* Mike Sauer: Drums. 

* Michael Mason: Drums on tracks 4 and 9. 

* Bobby Orgel: Keys on tracks 2, 3, 8 and 9. 

* Rob Zucca: Lead Guitar track 6. 

* Frank Hinojosa: Harmonica track 7. 

* Jean Paul Monshe: Accordion track 12. 

* Eddie Baytos: Accordion and Washboard track 4. 

* Jeri Goldenhar: Background Vocals. 

* Andrew Mushin: Background Vocals. 

* Jenna Mushin: Background Vocals. 

* Aviva Maloney: Background Vocals. 

* Jean-Francois Thomas: Vocals track 6. 

*** Track 1. - "All I Ever Want Is The Blues". Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

Calling out what would have to be the mantra for every Blues fan Kelly lays down the Blues Gospel with this wonderful tribute to all of the past masters. This music had to start somewhere and the roll call is formidable to say the least and along the way it gave birth to so many styles and sub genres. Here we have a "rockin' " tribute with Robertson's twangy guitar holding court. Kelly's voice is growling and baying at the moon with her inimitable style that oozes power and passion perfectly encompassing every great female singer of the Blues from the past one hundred years. The band rocks along with a solid rhythm section made up of bassist McFadden and drummer Mike Sauer. Certainly  the perfect tribute written by Zirbes herself and guitarist Robertson. Now this is how you make an impression!. 

*** Track 2. - "All Hope Ain't Lost" Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

Smokey Blues with a very strong political message in a time of uncertainty. Zirbes has lowered her voice into a lower register that produces a rather angst ridden sound and timbre to her voice. The expressiveness is tangible as is the sheer raw emotion. A very strong vocal offering indeed from Zirbes. The orchestration certainly is equal to the task and is exceptional with McFadden and Sauer's rhythm section particularly in control of the cadence with quite a firmness that is warranted to the songs style. Robertson's guitar is very lithe as he riffs effortlessly throughout the mix in a rather restrained manor then unleashes sheer brilliance in his solos. Guest Bobby Orgel on keys absolutely shines throughout and is simply brilliant. The production on this one is absolutely stellar. 

*** Track 3. - "Alyssa" Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

This we have had the pleasure of hearing previously as it was released as a single but to hear this gorgeous slow Blues in the complete album setting changes the context of the song in some way. Zirbes's vocal skills are certainly fully on show with this potent song and she revels in the self penned with Robertson lyrics fully extending herself to deliver a tour de force of singing. That growl in her voice is something many a singer desires but will never have but Zirbes has it naturally and in the Blues it is a potent weapon in your singing arsenal. A wonderful loping Blues with stunning guitar from Robertson that is not overplayed or filled with histrionics but rather deftly placed runs and solos as this is about the voice and the lyrics. Adding to the incomparable guitar work McFadden and Sauer are brilliant with their work as the rhythm section. Unshakeable, powerful and potent. Orgel once again adds his Gospel inspired keys to which a Gospel inspired choir of Goldenhar, A. Mushin, J. Mushin and Maloney soar to the heavens in support of Zirbes voice. A beautiful tribute to a very special brave young lady. Absolutely brilliant song and presentation. Simply gorgeous Blues indeed. 

*** Track 4. - "Woe Is Me" Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

Time for a good ole knees up Cajun style and this one is certainly gonna kick the dust up offa the floor. Brilliant engaging make you smile and make you dance Cajun music that always lifts the spirits. The perfect title for the song about being so sad and worrying about your bad luck. Hey come on you can't feel bad when Eddie Baytos has the accordion and washboard out and swingin'. Hey look your toes are tappin'. Zirbes has so much fun in her voice and expressiveness in her vocals that are just so enjoyable that you just can't sit still. Hey l'm singing along with you Kelly thanks to having the song lyrics in your album booklet. What a hoot we are having. Pass the jug will ya! In keeping with the joyful punchy Cajun sound you need a punchy rhythm section and on this one Michael Mason on drums joins bassist matt McFadden. Not to be out done Robertson lays down some very cool guitar as this party certainly high steps into top gear. Now l feel oh so good, so thank-you Kelly's Lot!!! 

*** Track 5. - "Safe And Warm" Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

This one certainly changes direction  what with Zirbes on acoustic guitar with Robertson. Gorgeous sound with Zirbes vocals, like honey as she caresses you with her tone and exquisite phrasing. What a incredible slow Blues that harkens back to the thirties and as was the want back them orchestration is kept to a minimum. McFadden and Sauer's rhythm section is subtle and in fact so perfectly modulated into the mix one would and rightly say that this was indeed a vintage recording. Now for me this truly is a tour de force and one that is perfect in every way. Bravo Kelly's Lot. 

*** Track 6. - "Rise Up (Leve-Toi)" Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

Wildman of French Blues one Jean-Francois Thomas makes for a mesmerising duet partner for Zirbes in this burning love and political inspired song. The combination of English and French language add to the potent pathos of the song and the political overtones of French revolution. Zirbes holds her own with such a powerful singer in Thomas and she matches him growl for growl. Throughout guest guitarist Rob Zucca is sublime as he riffs with abandon all over the top and bottom then displays his immense talents with his solos. As one would expect the rhythm section has to display a brutish force about it in keeping with the feel and pathos of the song. McFadden and Sauer certainly deliver the perfect rhythm section. One could easily dismiss this track as a curiosity at first but after listening just once you are left in no doubt that it is one serious Blues track. 

Track 7. - "Broke Myself" Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

Wonderful hard driving R&B with this one with stunning stop time style vocals from Zirbes that are forceful and potent. Once again Zirbes delivers a in your face take no prisoners style of vocals that just grab you by the scruff of the neck and don't let go. In keeping with this sound guest Frank Hinojosa opens up the reeds of his Mississippi Saxophone or harmonica if you don't mind and lays down some of the sexiest and greasiest runs put down on tape for your listening pleasure. Rhythm section alumni McFadden and Sauer certainly drive this one with a very masculine cadence that is just perfectly balanced for the song. Robertson rounds out this extremely bold brash Bluesy R&B offering on guitar and man this one has just got it. 

*** Track 8. - "Let It Breathe" Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

Sunny breezy So-Cal feel with a gorgeous acoustic guitar from Perryman. Zirbes's vocals are sublime and her phrasing is subtle and quite sublime. To say her control is mesmerising would be an understatement as this is truly the work of a singers singer as she caresses all the senses of the listener. An angst ridden song that she penned with Robertson that is so suited to her voice. Just when one expects this to be all acoustic guitar Robertson adds some subtle electric guitar for good measure. Guest Bobby Orgel returns with another tour de force on keyboards and he shines throughout. Even though this is what appears to be a gentle song the cadence builds and builds into a monumentally powerful crescendo before dropping back down into a stripped back acoustic offering. From the amazing vocals of Zirbes, the song and the orchestration one can only be in a state of euphoria after hearing a song of this magnitude. 

*** Track 9. - "Dirt" Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

For me this song has Zirbes laying her soul open to the world and her heart on her sleave totally vulnerable to the whatever the world may do to her. Cutting, hard as nails lyrics that have a touch of venom in them that has Zirbes's vocals in a pleading vulnerable style. One can imagine her clutching at her heart in an attempt to protect it from all that is wrong and nasty in the world. The cadence of this song is so very dramatic like a Shakespearian play condensed into a mere four and a half minutes. This is so unlike any song l have heard and one that makes an instant impact on you. The orchestration is perfectly charted for the song and adds to the theatre of the lyrics and vocals. McFadden and Mason's rhythm section is prominent and importantly by being so add to that spectacle in sound. Robertson's guitar is a symphony in itself as he is like a orchestral conductor in full flight delivering a full movement in a short moment in time. In keeping with this majestic sound Orgel's keyboards command attention as he fills out the mix perfectly. 

*** Track 10. - "Little Bit Of This" Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

Not one to sit back and just do an album by the numbers here Zirbes returns to her Folk roots. Wow one can easily understand as to just how popular she was as a Folk singer as her beautiful voice resonates perfectly in this style. When you have such an amazing talent as a singer as she does it comes as no surprise that she can effortlessly change styles and produce the perfect offering. In keeping with the Folk style Robertson compliments her voice exquisitely on acoustic guitar. This joyful self penned piece by both Zirbes and Robertson is the perfect example of their complete understanding of each other as artists. The absolute feel good song for today. 

*** Track 11. - "Can't Take My Soul" Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

Zirbes certainly isn't afraid to change what she is doing when it comes to recording what with this rockin' piece of Californian garage surf punk rock 'n' roll. Flip up the collar and get the snarl on shimmy and shakin' at the beach. What a fun in your face change of direction it is as it conjures up the sixties and later sounds of the Cramps and other groups. Robertson certainly is enjoying the freedom he has on this one and his guitar is perfectly in sync to that cool and crazy time. Zirbes's has the right amount of attitude in her delivery to get this one just right and suitably in your face. McFadden and Sauer have the rhythm section on wipe out mode as they unleash a barrage of craziness. Hand claps and crazy cheering complete the sound as the twist is the dance to do. 

*** Track 12. - "Mon Ami" Written by Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson. 

French is the language of love and seduction for us that can't speak it. Here Zirbes displays a firm grasp of that very language of love, thankfully singing in French and English. A very seductive song that is so authentic is sound what with the obligatory sound of the accordion from guest Jean Paul Monshe. Simple but also complex authentic orchestration add to the sound that conjures up so many images of the city of lights. Wonderful drumming from Sauer and bass from McFadden are just perfectly placed in the mix and the rhythm section as such is just as it should be. Robertson's guitar is there but this is French mon ami and it is about the voice, the seductive whistling and the accordion. Maybe Kelly Zirbes is our "Little Sparrow" by chance? 

Wow, wow, wow what a fabulous album this is and Kelly's Lot have presented us with a masterpiece of Blues, Folk and numerous other related styles. Not one to merely do an album by the numbers Kelly's Lot present us with a album that takes you on an exquisite musical journey of discovery that showcased Kelly Zirbes's amazing voice. She processes a voice that is of rare complexity and timbre, one that can't be copied but has to be inherently part of your soul. From song to song, note to note one could only marvel at her phrasing and control. Along with Perry Robertson Kelly Zirbes have combined to write twelve amazing songs, all worthy as to be a single release. That being said there is not a track one could say is not worthy of being on this album. A case of the old saying that this is "all killer, no filler". An old chestnut but an appropriate statement with regards to "Can't Take My Soul". The complexity of each song and then the simplicity of some songs is so very enjoyable so much so to make the experience of listening to the album unforgettable. To complete the album a band is needed and here we have an amazing band consisting of drummer Matt McFadden, drummer Mike Sauer, Michael Mason drummer, keyboardist Bobby Orgel, Rob Zucca lead guitar (track 6), Frank Hinojosa harmonica, Eddie Baytos accordion and washboard, Jean Paul Monshe accordion,  background vocalists Jeri Goldenhar, Andrew Mushin, Jenna Mushin and Aviva Maloney.  Plus guest vocalist Jean-Francois Thomas. This stellar line-up has certainly combined to produce the most perfect of Blues albums and one that will be a firm favourite with every old and new Blues fan. We are privileged to have bands like Kelly's Lot on the scene today produce their brand of original Blues music. I don't think l can recommend this release enough other than to say "do yourself a favour and get a copy, you wont be able to sleep without it"! - Peter Merrett PBS106.7 Melbourne Australia

Professor Johnny P's Juke Joint

Okay, I feel a little ashamed of admitting that I have not heard of a band that is celebrating their 25thanniversary this year by releasing their 15th album. Of course, the fact that there is an entire country between us should come into play, but I was stumped when I received a copy of Can’t Take My Soul by Los Angeles based Kelly’s Lot. 

The Kelly in question is Kelly Zirbes, a singer songwriter who started out in the folk and independent scene and moved more towards her love of the blues. Zirbes has a great voice and is a very strong songwriter, co-writing all 12 of the albums song with guitarist Perry Robertson. 

The other members of The Lot include Matt McFadden on bass and Mike Sauer on drums. They are joined by several quest artists scattered over the songs including: Michael Mason on drums; Bobby Orgel on keys; Rob Zucca on lead guitar; Frank Hinojosa on harp; Jean Paul Monshe on accordion; and Eddie Baytos on accordion and washboard. 

Backing vocals are provided by Jeri Goldenhar, Andrew Mushin, Jenna Mushin, and Aviva Maloney. Jean-François Thomas provides specialized vocals for one song. 

The album starts off with a rousing number, All I Ever Want Is The Blues, that should be on every blues lovers’ playlist. We’ve already played this one on Time For The Blues, and you can bet you’ll be hearing it again sometime soon. It’s lively with a strong shuffle beat and Zirbes unleashes a sexy growl to deliver the lyrics. 

They slow things down for the follow up song, All Hope Ain’t Lost. It’s a universal song about the things humanity faces on a daily basis. I love the subtle keys and Robertson’s guitar work. One thing the band quickly establishes is that they are not just going to perform traditional blues, they are going to add some funky rhythms and blend elements in from other genres to make their own sound.  

The next track, Alyssa, starts off low and smoky. Zirbes does a good job with the ballad, and gives the lyrics a punch. Backing vocals are good with this one. Wasn’t as crazy about the song when I first heard it, but the lyrics, delivery, and guitar have grown considerably on me.  

Got to love that Zydeco sound and once you hear that accordion and washboard on Woe Is Me, you know you’re in a different territory. Good dancing number, good drinking number, just plain good. Might not be everyone’s cup of jambalaya, but it sure works for me.    

Safe And Warm is a tender ballad that would easily be at home in any roadhouse or honkytonk to give the patrons a chance to hold their partner tight and swirl around the dance floor, or just stare into each other’s eyes. A very different sound from what they’ve been playing. 

Jean-François Thomas adds his distinctive vocals to Rise Up (Lève-Toi), singing his part in French. I’ve always had a soft spot for French lyrics and actually have a pretty fair collection of French pop that I listen to when I have some time late at night. I really like this song a lot – the vocal arrangement is tight and the lead guitar from Rob Zucca is sweet. 

Nice harp work from Frank Hinojosa opens the next song, Broke Myself. Zirbes gets down and gritty with her vocals and this song drives. She screams and Hinojosa’s harp answers. It’s a nice juxtaposition. She then slows things down for Let It Breathe, a breathy number that reminds me of Dylan’s work on Nashville Skyline. This would make a hell of a country song and Zirbes really stretches her vocals. 

Zirbes starts the song Dirt a cappella and the bass and drum come in slowly. The song blurs the lines between blues and country but Zirbes seems comfortable in both genres. The next number, Little Bit Of This, is another gentle ballad that blurs lines between country and pop. It’s a sweet song. 

Next up is the title track, Can’t Take My Soul which also starts a cappella. She then turns it into a not so subtle growl and gets down and dirty. This one will probably end up getting the second most airplay (behind All I Ever Want Is The Blues).  

The accordion is back for Mon Ami, and Zirbes shows off her bilingual skills singing in both French and English. It’s a surprise ending to an intriguing album. And for me, at least, a sweet croissant to bring the curtain down. 

Kelly’s Lot is a fascinating group; they can appear as a duo, trio, or full band with ease. I don’t hit the West Coast very often, but I’m going to charge some friends of mine who live there to go check out the band and report back about their live shows. 

Be sure to check out their website and find out the whens and wheres for their playdates. If you live in France, they’re coming your way this summer! Wish I could join them.  - Johnny

More at

Mary 4 Music - Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro

Let me be one of the first to say "Happy Silver Anniversary" to Kelly and her Lot. Amazing as it is, in just a few short months (October), Kelly Z and her band mates - be it one, or up to seven of them - will be celebrating twenty-five years performing. Take a bow guys, that's something to be proud of. As a matter of fact, take a second bow, because releasing fourteen albums in that period of time - one about every twenty-one months - is another amazing feat. 

As mentioned, "Can't Take My Soul" - which contains twelve original tracks of various blues related styles - is indeed the fourteenth release for Kelly's Lot. On it, the band consists of Kelly Zirbes on vocals, acoustic guitar and whistling; Perry Robertson - her partner from pretty much day one - on guitars; Matt McFadden on bass; and Michael Sauer on drums. Other musicians involved include: Michael Mason on drums; Bobby Orgel on keys; Rob Zucca on lead guitar; Frank Hinojosa on harmonica; Jean Paule Monshe on accordion; Eddie Baytos on accordion and washboard; Jean-Francois Thomas on vocals; and Jeri Goldenhar, Andrew Mushin, Jenna Mushin and Aviva Maloney on background vocals. 

The disc opens with a smoker titled "All I Ever Want Is The Blues" and as Kelly mentions Muddy Waters, B. B. King, Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Stevie Ray, Etta James, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, and Bonnie Rait, it's quite evident that the people who gave them to her are the very ones we all need to thank for doing the same for us.  

More at

The Nashville Blues and Roots Alliance





Kelly Zirbes (say “service”) prefers just Kelly Z, and she and her band, Kelly’s Lot, have been tearin’ these blues up on the SoCal scene for 25 years now, ever since their first night at the Roxy in Hollywood in 1994.  Bathed in the muddy waters of the blues, she and her writing partner/guitarist Perry Robertson offer up twelve eclectic cuts on their latest set, “Can’t Take My Soul.”  There are love songs, loving tributes, topical-themed songs, and a couple of songs done partly in French. 

The party starts with a bang, in the form of the opening shuffle that finds our girl under a lover’s spell, where “All I Want Is The Blues.”  This one name-checks many of our heroes, from Muddy to SRV to Etta to Koko and everyone in between.  She channels her inner torch singer to present an ode to true love, where she feels “Safe And Warm,” while she gets in a spirited duet with Jean-Francois Thomas, as each sings a verse in their native language, “Rise Up (Leve’-Toi).” 

We had several favorites.  Set over a creepin’ bass line and Frank Hinojosa’s harp, one can break a lot of things, but our heroine “Broke Myself” by loving you!  “Woe Is Me” shows off Kelly’s fantastic alto voice in the story of a lover who is always “focused on your bad luck,” and features squeezebox and frottoir from Eddie Baytos.  Lastly, Kelly takes us all down to Blues Church with the testifyin’ of “you can take my guitar when it’s time for me to go, but You Can’t Take My Soul!” 

Kelly Z is one of the most unique artists in all of contemporary blues.  Continually challenging herself to greater heights, she often encourages her social media followers to provide her with a single word, out of which she composes a song.  That energy is evident throughout “Can’t Take My Soul.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance. 


A quarter of a century ago, Kelly's Lot distilled her West Coast, Texas blues and Southern rock-tinged music on all US and European stages, and we were able to meet the band led by singer Kelly Zirbes with artists like Tommy Castro, Shemekia Copeland, Marcia Ball, John Mayall, Coco Montoya and so many more. Supported since its inception by guitarist and producer Perry Robertson, the diva has built a reputation she comes to maintain this year with a new album more expanded than ever, a book in box with Matt McFadden on bass and Mike Sauer on drums but also a multitude of guests among which fans of blues in French will recognize Jean Francois Thomas singing on a title. Without giving up the style that led to success, Kelly Zirbes will expand his field of action by making us make some forays on the side of folk, Americana but also Zydeco and Cajun with a few bonus parts of the world. harmonica, accordion or washboard. So we will lend ourselves willingly to the game of an album that sometimes has a tendency to disperse, but it is every time for the good cause, and we will applaud with both hands the vocal prowess of a singer who knows perfectly to highlight in the rock-dominant titles but also in the more delicate parts. 

From "All I Ever Want Is The Blues" to "My Friend", "Can not Take My Soul" will lead us in the middle of a musical tsunami marked by great breakers like "All Hope Is not Lost", -  Fred Delforge Zicazic

MusikMan - live in brussels

Roadhouse rock and upbeat blues is the smoky flavor you get when you pick up a Kelly’s Lot album. Formed in 1995 by singer Kelly Zirbes after playing for family and friends, she embarked on an international music career that has spanned several releases and multiple live performances. Live in Brussels was released in Belgium and in the United States. After touring France and the UK in late 2013, the band will soon begin a new recording for a full band album introducing keys and a horn section. The band consists of Kelly Zirbes (songwriting, vocals), Peter Robinson (composer, keyboards), Matt McFadden (bass) and Rob Zucca (guitar). 

Live albums can sometimes be a fifty-fifty shot. Some are good and you get the emotion of the band. Some make you want to hide in the closet and turn the album into a coaster. Live in Brussels is thankfully the former. I listen to music while I write. Most of the time the sound blends into the background and becomes part of my story in one way or another. This album took me to another place-a smoky blues café. How wonderful. The Americana and Southern roadhouse rock sound of this live album took me out my world and into Kelly’s. Sultry female vocals and vibrant percussion and guitar led me down the road to perdition and I was thrilled to be on the journey. 

“Taking Time” or “Coffee” is a morning song that wakes you up as sure as its name. This piece should be my mantra! A writer’s life incarnate!  Somewhat familiar in the background melody, this song rockets up and gets you moving like a double shot of espresso. Deadlines, madness…and then the thought of a lover stops time and shifts things back into focus. Guitar swings out, Southern rock style and the warm pull of the percussion slides down my throat like my favorite salted caramel mocha and I smile. This song rocks.  

“Tired” surrounds you with curling guitar riffs and smoking hot bass. Joplin style vocals growl from Kelly Z. bringing the listener right in the center of the action. Soul searing lyrics of loss and a want for love burn from the center of this song. Southern rock meets the blues and I didn’t want it to end. 

“Take This Heart” has to be one of my favorites on the album. Kelly’s vocals ease their way into place with a steady percussion and guitar element. Morphing into a gritty performance of longing, I was enthralled. Every emotion comes through, screaming and loud. Guitar riffs flair and bend the piece into a complex weave of harmony and substance.  

Live from Brussels is an album that illustrates the blues and rock styles of Kelly’s Lot. Known for their Americana roots rock style, this band is headed for great things. Internationally known and ready to step back into the studio, I am excited to see they are getting a horn section and will also be adding some keys to the mix. Five stars with flames and this band is worth every second. Earthy tones, vibrant percussion, rocking guitar and bass with vocals that will curl your toes…what more can you ask for? Kelly Z. and her crew are going on my bands to watch list and I eagerly await their next album. - Dana Wright

musicucansee - rescue

Kelly’s Lot is an outfit fronted by Kelly Z – Kelly Zirbes – an adventurous blues traveler with a taste for everything from a crying country jukebox to get-down funk. 

The album is aptly named. 

When she was talking to producer Chuck Kavooras about going back into the studio, he pulled these songs out of the vault. Seven years ago Chuck had gone into the studio with the intent of recording these songs with another artist. The project was shelved and there it sat until Kavooras dug them out and suggested Kelly sing the vocals on it. 

She liked what she heard and decided to finish the album. 

Good call. 

What we get is this collection of funkified-R&B-soulful blues covers stirred with an artful hand. 

And, a hell of a band with Rick Reed on bass, John Marx on guitar, Bryan Head (that CAN’T be his real name, there’s a ski resort in Utah called that!), Mo Beeks on keyboards and special guest vocalists Teresa James, Shari Puorto, and Lisa Orloff Staley. Throw in a horn section of Andy Najera on saxophone and Stan Martin and Roy Wiegand  on trumpet and the results are explosive. 

Drop the needle and BAM! You’re up on a good foot with the James Brown classic, “What Do I Have To Do,” high on energy and pumped up by the horns, which push this baby to the edge. 

A lot of artists have recorded the R&B standard, “Baby It’s You.” Burt Bacharach, Luther Dixon, and Mack David wrote it, The Shirelles introduced it, The Beatles polished it, and The Smiths trashed it. Kelly’s Lot polished it with a sensual reading. And, those horns, man, those horns. 

You don’t often come across covers of Mike Bloomfield from his Electric Flag period, but we’ve got one here with “You Don’t Realize.” Zirbes’ fluid, emotional vocals dance along to the odd time signature of the song adding to its unique flavor. 

There is  an homage to Tina Turner as Zirbes unleashes the old-school funk of “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine” and “Trying To Find My Mind,” the former with a decidedly early ‘60s girl band flip, the latter a song that blows through like a tornado in an Oklahoma trailer park – damn scary stuff, but oh, so good. I think I hear a hit here. 

There’s a lot of depth to Zirbes’ song selection, as evidenced in “He Called Me Baby,” a cover of an old Patsy Cline song, without the saccharine-infused ‘50s kitsch. If any radio stations still play country music, this needs to go into the rotation. 

Then we get the kind of ‘60s psychedelic funky romp in Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing,” which makes you want to hop in the car and go pick up some Blue Dream from the local dispensary. 

What we land on at the end of the album is one of those throwbacks that kind of come out of leftfield – “You Are My Sunshine.” Yeah, that little diddy the kiddies warble when they waddle and toddle about after they tire of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” 

Except, this isn’t kid stuff. A lot of people have recorded it – The Pine Ridge Boys, Pete Seeger, Montana Slim (The Yodeling Cowboy), Bing Crosby, Gene Autry, Kate Smith, The Ames Brothers, Faron Young, Ray Charles, Andy Williams, Marvin Gaye, Dick Dale, Ike and Tina, The Righteous Brothers, Trini Lopez, Buddy Ebsen, Count Basie, Aretha Franklin, Mose Allison, Bryan Ferry, Chuck Berry, Alexis Corner, Willie Nelson and Leon Russell, Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis with special guest Norah Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis and Sheryl Crow, Carly Simon, Boxcar Willie, Leslie West, Johnny Cash, and a host of others up to and including Steve Lawrence and Lawrence Welk. 

This is right up there with my two faves – the Willie and Leon collaboration and, of course, Ray Charles. 

Look, it’s not rocket science. 

Match a great voice with a great band and some great songs and you get a great album. 

This is a great album. 

This one gets a 9½ on a scale of 10. -

Ed Kociela -

jukebox Flash - Bittersweet

  With the album release Bittersweet, the singer / songwriter Kelly Z returns together with her band KELLY'S LOT back to their musical roots. The artist, who is living in Los Angeles, has written 14 new songs with which she covers the entire range of roots and folk through blues rock and singer / songwriter up to Americana Country in a skilful way. There is a lot of care for variety. The pleasure ofcomposing is perceptible in every single song. Kelly tells her own telling stories and gives the listener entrance into their emotional worlds. The current disc rightly considers it one of their strongest throws. With this CD, the band simply sets the bar high. A perfect, round story. - Country Jukebox

AXS - don't give my blues away

Don’t Give My Blues Away is the latest by L.A.-based blues rock band Kelly’s Lot. Founded in 1995 by once solo folk singer-songwriter Kelly Zirbes, Kelly’s Lot currently consists of Zorbas on lead vocals, guitarists Perry Robertson and Rob Zucca, bassist Matt McFadden, drummer Robert Dill, Bill Johnston on saxophone, Dave Welch on trumpet, pianist Teresa James and Fred Mandel on B3 organ. 

Don’t Give My Blues Away is their ninth release. With a running time of almost 53 minutes, it consists of a dozen original tracks. Almost all of the album’s selections were written by Zirbes and Perry Robertson. The album opener is “Hush Up”. The CD’s title is drawn from the lyric of this cut. It’s considered by some critics to be one of the “most danceable” tracks on the disc and gets things off to a good start. 

The second selection is “Revolving Door” which seems almost a prerequisite for any band with a lady lead singer. Still, Zirbes somehow owns it so no complaints here. It’s followed by “Why Don’t We” which serves as another example of what Zirbes and Robertson can do as writers. 

They switch it up a bit with “Woman’s Love” which is written by Zirbes and Zucca. It includes memorable guitar work and is an early favorite of the critics to boot. Also included here is “Taking Time” which has its own little identity even if it is all too quickly overshadowed by “Right Now” which is another urgent, danceable blues rocker. 

It is followed by "Boom Boom Boom". This too while not unexpected for a female blues singer remains Zirbes own and is still quite catchy. The next number is “Don’t Miss Love” which is a fun track that musically manages to speak for itself even in the midst of everything else here. 

“Stateside” is another early favorite of the critics and the military on whom it focuses. It includes some noteworthy horn play. Another early fan favorite is “Reason for the Blues” which seems to make a musical statement for the band and demonstrates how well Robertson and Zucca play off each other. 

“That Fool” is another track where the brass shines and the listener once more hears how the artists blend and yet stand on their own. The album end-note is the almost bittersweet “Better Way”. It has a great ragtime touch to it and works well as the closing cut to this collection on jazz, R&B and soul-tinged blues-rock. 

Kelly’s Lot can always give an audience something to make them want to move. So check out Don’t Give My Blues Away by Kelly’s Lot “Right Now”. - William Phoenix

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