OK, admission. I hate going out to see bands that friends play in if I don’t already know them. Why? Friends. What if the band sucks? Do you tell them and make them hate you or lie and do them no good at all.
So when my friend Jake Kelly told me he would be in my adopted hometown with his new band the Podunk Poets, I actually tried to find a way not to go. I am really glad that effort was not a success.
When I pulled up at the Las Vegas Country Saloon, the band was already mid set. And within two songs, i was enchanted.
The Poets are not your typical country band. At least not typical in terms of the classic rock with a twang that mainstream country music has become. Their traditional, vocal-heavy sound is a throwback to a style that is pure Opry with a bit of Bakersfield thrown in.
That should not be a surprise, Jake is a big Bakersfield guy who used to hang with Buck before he died and who wrote the Crystal Palace-approved “Used Heart for Sale” and “Barstool In Barstow” for Gary Allan before Gary went all Nashville and the two parted ways. Jake has hooked up with some like minded folks including Kelly Kidd (male vocals), Cindy Jollotta (female vocals), Patrick Generosa (drums), and Grady Hutt (bass). The mix of vocal harmonies provided by Kidd and Jollotta along with Jake’s signature “pedal-steel on a Gretsch guitar” licks is a sublime pleasure.
The Podunk Poets repertoire is largely duets in the tradition of Johnny and June Carter Cash or George Jones and Tammy Wynette, and sung by Poets Kelly Kidd and Cindy Jollotta.
The band has been kicking up some fuss in the southwest for about a year with gigs in Albuquerque at the County Line, the Spirit Room in Jerome AZ., the Yucca Tap Room in Tempe AZ, and LVCS in Sin City in addition to local Cali venues including The Cinema Bar in Culver City, the Grove at L.A. Farmer’s Market (where they are regulars) and even a gig on the back of a moving truck at the L.A. Pride Parade.
The Podunk Poets performing in Las Vegas.
If your idea of real country runs more along the lines of Merle and Willy, Tammy and June than Toby Keith and whoever is the Nashville flavor of the week, you need to check out the Podunk Poets.
by Bill Evans