AT 15 Declan Kelly was lying about his age to get into pubs. Nothing unusual perhaps—except he wasn’t sneaking in to drink, but to play music with his band The Beefs.
“Someone dobbed us in and we were banned from pubs,” Kelly, now 40, recalls without a hint of repentance.
With few venues offering space for under-age young bands, The Beefs simply started saying they were 18, and with their mature professionalism weren’t questioned.
“It was a little white lie…but you have to play,” Kelly tells the Herald.
It’s a determination that’s stood him in good stead over a 25-year career, which kicked into a new gear when Triple J’s Andy Glitre gave him airtime and helped fund his Tales From the Neighbourhood album back in 2005.
Kelly’s authentic roots flavour found an audience and he was quickly picked up by music festivals throughout Australia.
Even as a youngster Kelly was drawn to rhythm and blues, a style that gave The Beefs a unique edge at the height of ‘80s pop and dance music.
Kelly’s Maori mum Salley influenced a love of roots reggae and Polynesian harmony, which is reflected in his songs.
“In New Zealand reggae is a bit of a universal music.”
You can catch Dave Kelly and the Rising Sun at Mojos, Thursday February 26, along with the Katie J White band.
White is often described as an “old soul” for her soulful, rock-based, funk. She’s currently based in the UK where she’s a regular at festivals and hip venues in London.
by JENNY D’ANEGR