Sean at Con Hall

Sean at Con Hall
Yamaha promo shot at Convocation Hall/Toronto

Friday, 2 December 2011

2011 wrap up...what a year!

Hey everyone,

As we prepare here at the Kelly household for our new arrival (any day now!!), I thought it would be best to summarize a wonderful year of music making while I still have a bit of time. There have been wonderful concerts, amazing recording sessions, tv shows and all sorts of crazy things that have cumulated to make this year the most eclectic of my career...I am truly blessed and grateful for the opportunity to make music for a living, and I look forward to what 2012 will bring.

In no particular order...

1) NAMM Show 2011 Anaheim, CA - I was honored to be asked to sign at the SIT guitar strings booth...standing beside childhood heroes like Bruce Kulick from KISS, Dave Ellefson from Megadeth, it was a real treat.

2) Gilby Clarke - 2011 provided a few opportunities to work with my pal Gilby...Dave Langguth and I were flown to LA to work on tracks for his new album, and we also had great concerts in Banff, Alberta  (playing for thousands of skiers flying down the slopes!), and Tacoma and Everett Washington

3) Helix - 2011 saw the release of two Helix recordings I was very proud to be a part of, Smash Hits...Unplugged! which I played on and co-produced, and the Skin In The Game EP, on which I played and co-wrote. I had two memorable shows with Helix, one was the first ever Helix Acoustic show at London's Aeolian Hall (I also opened with a set of classical guitar), and the other was subbing in for bassist Daryl Gray in Chisassibi Quebec, where along with Faber Drive we were flown in on a private charter from Montreal to the Cree Nation reserve and we rocked a packed show at Job Memorial Arena...our three hour party as we flew through the air is something I won't soon forget!

4) Nelly Furtado - We only played two concerts with Nelly this year, but what concerts they were! The first was in Lisbon Portugal at the Delta Tejo Festival, where Nelly's headlining set was taken in by 17,000 excited fans. The band was airtight, and Nelly was on fire that night...a lot of magical moments that night! The second show was at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, where we performed with the Kenyan Boys Choir at WE Day. No room for jaded cynicism in the arena that day, as 18,000 young people all came together to make their voices heard. Youthful enthusiasm is infectious!

5) Carl Dixon - I continued my almost monthly guest appearances with my buddy Carl Dixon at Seneca Casino, a great exercise in familiarizing myself with a catalogue of great songs...I also played guitar with Carl at the Canada Walk of Fame festival in downtown Toronto, where the crowd was treated to songs from Carl's new album Lucky Dog, as well as nuggets from the Coney Hatch and Guess Who catalogues (Carl sang lead for the Guess Who for a number of years).

6) Crash Kelly - There was only one CK show this year, but it was a gas...we rocked Sound Academy in Toronto with our friends Helix. It was so much fun to rock at a state of the art venue like Sound Academy, great lights, great sound and an amazing crowd. Writing has already begun for a new Crash Kelly record.

7) Cover Me Canada - I never thought I'd be a cast member on a reality tv show, but that's just what happened when I became involved with a talented artist by the name of Warren Dean Flandez. What was supposed to be a simple sideman gig turned into a much bigger commitment, but with a crack team of amazing musicians assembled to support Warren (Dave Langguth, Rich Brown, Calvin Beale and Chris "Sleeves" Bilton), we went about the task of taking some of the most beloved songs in the Canadian popular music cannon and re-arranged them as a collective to reflect Warren's classic soul/motown vibe. In the process we also became very good friends, and had the pleasure of working with some of the top producers in the industry today (Gavin Brown, Kuya Brother, Me and John, and Hawksley Workman) fact, I am still working with some of these producers to this day. Warren made it to the Top 4, a real accomplishment for an R&B singer in a market that has not traditionally been a hot bed for such sounds. Perhaps the greatest thrill was working in the studio and performing live with the great David Clayton Thomas of Blood, Sweat, and Tears...a true icon.

8) Sean Kelly - This year saw the release of my third solo guitar record on Opening Day Entertainment. The album is called Where The Wood Meets The Wire. It was co-produced by myself and my very talented pal Craig McConnell, who was also responsible for the engineering and programming. The album is an eclectic mix of traditional classical repertoire and modern production elements, and I was very fortunate to have amazing players like Dave Langguth, Dean Jarvis and Daniel Stone from Nelly's band play on it, along with incredible contributions from Ivana Popovic (violin), Craig McConnell on keyboards and the inimitable Brian Vollmer from Helix who lent his incredible Bel Canto-trained tenor voice to an epic version of Ave Maria...many thanks to my dear friends Chuck, MB, and Chris Daellenbach at Opening Day, as well as Thom McKercher from Universal Music Classics and Jazz for continued support and artistic guidance.

9) Carole Pope  - I was thrilled to participate in the recording of Carole Pope's new record Landfall...the record was co-produced by my dear friend and CK co-guitar slinger Tim Welch, and his genius is all over the record...other guests on the record include Rufus Wainwright, Hawksley Workman, Rob Preuss of the Spoons, Ray Coburn of Honeymoon Suite, mixer extraordinaire John Whynott and drum legend Randy Cooke...pretty great company. Carole's iconic voice and writing is fully evident on this record. I have been so honored to perform with her over the years, and this year saw us doing more acoustic shows. The acoustic shows are a real joy (we had a wonderful time on our east coast tour!!), and I love listening to Carole's voice in that setting...she has such a strong presence as an advocate and intellectual that I feel sometimes she doesn't get her due as one of the great Canadian vocalists of our time. We had some great full band gigs as well,one of the highlights being our gig at the Beaches Jazz Festival (never thought I'd be playing that one!!)

10) Lippert Music Centre - Last but not least, I was very proud to be named Director of Guitar Studies at Lippert Music Centre, an amazing music school that was founded by Joseph Lippert more than 50 years ago and is now run by Charleen Beard, a visionary who continues to take the school to new heights of achievement. Teaching is a huge part of my life, and perhaps the most rewarding facet of my career. I have been at Lippert Music for over 16 years now, and I look forward to continuing down the very exciting path that Charleen has set for the school!

May you all have wonderful Holiday, no matter what it is you celebrate....from my house, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and I look forward to an exciting 2012!!

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