Longtime blues rocker Kelly Richey will perform for the first time - if she remembers correctly - in Central Pa. at the Billtown Blues Festival, which will be held June 9 at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds.
Richey comes with a fresh band for 2013 that includes Freekbass, you guessed it, on bass, and Jyn Yates on drums.
"I have a new rhythm section that's very powerful," Richey said. "I've had people come up to me and say, 'I don't know who to watch' ... it's really nice to have that kind of energy on stage. These two individuals, Freekbass and Jyn Yates, are very stylistic. It makes for a dynamic show."
Blues rocker Kelly Richey will perform with her band at the Billtown Blues Festival, which will be held June 9 at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds.
Richey, herself, has been performing professionally for more than 30 years and has been playing music ever since she could.
"I've played since I was a kid," she said. "I grew up playing piano. My mom was classically trained, so I was destined to take piano lessons ... I used to play drums at my neighbors house. Eventually, he gave me the drums and said, 'Why don't you take them home and play them?' After awhile, my dad said, 'Look, if you get rid of the drums, I'll get you whatever you want.' So, I got a guitar when I was 15."
Richey was pretty hard on the instruments - she ended up going through three guitars in three months.
"They were cute, little guitars," she said. "Then I got my Strat and I've been playing it ever since."
Richey didn't fall in love with the blues until later, but she said the foundation for appreciation of the genre was laid early.
"You know, I was raised in a white Baptist Church, but our church was the first church to integrate," she said. "We had a lot of interaction with the African-American community. I learned the difference between black and white gospel and I was fascinated by the difference."
But her inner blues rocker wasn't awoken until a chance meeting with a blues legend.
"I was bartending (in Nashville) and they had a lot of music come through that club. That night, Albert King was playing and I was young and dumb enough to ask him if I could join in. He said, 'If you show up with your guitar, you can play.' He sent me out there before him and said, 'Kick the show off, but don't you make me ashamed.' "
Richey must have done well enough because King hung out with her afterwards, keeping her up "the whole night."
"It was one of those moments you never forget," Richey said. "Every guitar player in Nashville was there."
Richey has performed many places with her band, saying that she goes "wherever the magic is."
"We have played all over the country, in Canada and have been to Denmark," she said. "We're in Florida right now - down in the Keys. You always love Florida in the winter and Canada in the summer. But everything has it's charm and I'll play wherever there's a captive audience."
Besides shredding onstage, Richey also writes poetry, keeps a blog, manages her band and does all of the promotion as well.
"I like blogging and letting people know what it's like to be a traveling artist," she said. "People always seem to appreciate the stories. I get a lot of comments. I released a poetry book last summer and that was a real personal accomplishment. I've written my whole life - a lot of prose and poetry. So, that meant a lot to me."
Her poetry book is called "Whisperings" and is available on Amazon.
Her band has also recently released a new CD called "Sweet Spirit."
"The release of the new CD gave me a whole new influx of material," she said. "It's always a personal goal to capture that live energy in the studio and 'Sweet Spirit' really captured it."
Richey said that fans have responded so positively to the new material that she plays nearly every song from the album every night.
"The Kelly Richey Band fans really love having this much new material and the new rhythm section is bringing in a lot of new faces. It's going over really well."
The Billtown Blues Festival will begin at noon June 9.
Richey said that blues fans should come out and see her perform because "they have never seen anything like this before in their life.
"That is a promise," she said.
For more information about the Kelly Richey Band, visit kellyrichey .com. For more information about the Billtown Blues Festival, visit bill townblues.org.