Award-winning guitarist Michael Kelsey loves the creative process
Singer, songwriter and guitarist Michael Kelsey, who will perform at the Egyptian Theater on Saturday, Nov. 17, was a Cub Scout when he made his first musical instrument.
There was a chapter about how to make cigar-box guitars and things like that.
"It was love at first sight," Kelsey said in an email interview with The Park Record. "These were the tools for shaping sound."
Eventually, Kelsey found himself seduced by the guitar, because of its practicalities.
"The guitar is an inexpensive and portable instrument," he said. "My mother played guitar so there was always one around. And she was able to teach me a few things."
As Kelsey began to hone his craft, he came up with a couple of career ideas.
"I am sure my original goal had ‘Rockstar’ somewhere on the list, but the main goal was always to be able to make a living playing music so that I could do it all the time," he said.
While he continued to develop as a musician, he found the most important thing to do was to find a balance between art and business.
"There is a delicate compromise that goes on," he said. "I am always tweaking that balance so that I stay challenged and fulfilled with what I am doing."
Kelsey also discovered that music helped him find a balance within.
"I am an introvert by nature, so many of the people in my life, experiences and revelations have come from process of performing music," he said. "Music is my extrovert friend that connects me to the outside world."
Some of those connections include children and young adults, so Kelsey created two school assemblies called Expression Session and Bringing Songs to Life.
"I started doing assemblies and residency programs about five years ago," he said. "The assemblies are 45-minute performances in slow motion (where I) can break things down and talk about music in bite-size pieces and then perform and interact.
Kelsey also does long-term programs with students as well.
Those sessions include writing songs with a group of students, making a CD, and having a CD release party where the students perform for the parents and community, he said.
"Expressing the creative spirit is my main thing," Kelsey explained. "That works in a theater, club and a classroom."
Since he began his professional career in the 1990s, Kelsey has shared stages with Blind Melon, Dishwalla, Rodrigo y Gabriella, the California Guitar Trio, David Wilcox, the Cowboy Junkies and Tim Reynolds.
He has also a finalist in Guitar Player magazine’s national competition and won the Guitar Center’s Guitarmageddon contest in 2004.
Nearly a year ago, Kelsey released his sixth CD, "Submerged," the follow-up to his 2007 release, "The Way It Rolls."
The releases show two different sides of Kelsey.
"’Submerged’ is an all-instrumental CD, (and) ‘The Way it Rolls’ is all lyrical," he explained. "This seems to be my curse. I like too many things, and it becomes tricky to market multiple personalities."
Still that hasn’t stopped him from creating new music.
"I will be releasing another lyrical CD within the next few months, and then I plan to start a DVD project that I am scheming," he said.
With his plate full of projects, Kelsey did say he is looking toward the future.
"The No.1 goal will always be to continue finding new ways to be in the moment, inspired and fulfilled with (the creative and performing) process," he said.
Singer and songwriter, guitarist and performance artist will perform his brand of soul, funk and blues at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $25 and are available at http://www.parkcityshows.com .
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