Written by Michael Pittman
Sep 29, 2010 at 12:00 AM
ImageI made a trip out to The Main Street Crossing in Tomball to see a band I had never heard of or about, but seeing as how it was a couple trusted friends who wanted me to see it, I took the chance and headed out there. Besides, they needed a driver..Ohhh woe is me! Very cool drive out there from here in Conroe. Turns out it was a live remote Matt Matthews from KTWL 105.3 was hosting. Ok, there was another familiar face. Matt is our MC for Conroe’s first Thursday concerts in the summer.

I walked in and joined my friends at a table and settled back to listen. Ok, so who is this Kristen Kelly anyway? Why is she so important that I drove for an hour to see her? So I listened. She and 2 of her regular 4 bandmates Derrick Dutton on guitar and Brady Miller on drums kicked out some roots and Americana music like I’ve never heard before. I’m beginning to understand what my friends and I drove an hour for.

Energetic and personable Kristen fronts the Modern Day Drifters which is a mix of versatile, talented musicians with influences anywhere from Ray Charles and Allman Brothers to Emmylou Harris, Susan Tedeschi and the Eagles. Kristen’s ability to move from style to style ties the band together and together they create a sound you can’t quite put your finger on. They say that when that happens, you just put it into the Americana genre.

Having said that it’s not really fair to the band to leave it at that. Kristen and the band moved effortlessly from ballads Emmylou would have been proud of, to blues tunes Ray Charles would have gone nuts over. And they did all that sitting down! I’m looking forward to checking out the full band standing up and loud…maybe even up here in Conroe..one can only hope.

Kristen’s early career started with Stoney Larue and Brandon Jenkins and gathered steam after having co-written ‘Down in Flames’ with them. This propelled her into being a respected and popular songwriter and harmony vocalist but she wasn’t done yet. Stepping up the pace a little she stepped out front as a performer forming an acoustic duo with a friend playing regularly around her home town.

Some time later, she began the work of building her dream of creating a full sounding band where each member contributed equally to the work of creating the show. From the songwriting and pre-production to stage production everyone’s voice was heard and together they developed into the sound they carry today. Imagine that…everyone is involved from A to Z. Having played in bands and being part of a lot of different productions I say that’s pretty cool!

Evidently Budweiser and Austin’s Southern Thread Western Wear think so too and jumped in to lend a hand to this talented singer/songwriter. So does GWE when she won Best New Artist of the Year for 2009 and a nomination for Best Band of the Year for 2010. In the rising tradition of many such talented musicians you can expect to hear a little about redemption set to a never in your face style.

With her first CD Placekeeper hitting the market you can expect to be hearing a lot more from Kristen and the band. Having taken the chance already I can tell you to make sure you catch this rising stars next show.