Gallus makes the best of Scot-rock
In 2009, Chris Kelly, who started his musical career in the hamlet of Cloquet with youthful groups like the duo Chris & Matt and Midcoast Sound before moving on up to Medford, and Old Knifey and the Cutthroats, decided to transport his base of activities from Duluth to Seattle based on the word about that area's burgeoning music scene.
After two years on the West Coast, Duluth's music milieu beckoned Kelly with an invite to open for Trampled by Turtles with his old group Cutthroats at the 2011 Homegrown Festival. This started his eventual return to his hometown area.
A 10-song demo he recorded with an acoustic guitar served as a template for Gallus, his new group that reunites Kelly with his longtime friends, guitarist Zach Kerola and drummer Ben Berg, in a four-piece traditional rock outfit that also includes their own touches.
What Gallus brings to the table is this seminal genealogical factor that can't be suppressed. Gallus plays Scot-rock (you want to really roll the "rrrr" in a kind of Scottish brogue to get the correct effect).
What Black 47, The Pogues, Boiled In Lead or The Kilkenny Brothers have done for Irish Celtic Rock (or ceili bands) with that infectious fusing of rock mixed with their Irish heritage, Gallus brings that same spirit, maybe with a tad more subtlety to their Scottish mix.
The regular drinking references, the regular F-bombs and S-bombs, the angst, the outright anger, the punkified feel here and there, and most of all the passion -- add up to Scot-rock fo' sho'!
The group went to Sparta, Minn., on the Iron Range to work at Sparta Sound Studio with owner Rich Mattson for this project, thus "The Sparta Tapes" was born.
Kelly was born in Glasgow and moved to the U.S. as a kid, so those vocal inflections and that spirit are no affectation; they are the real thing.
The name Gallus is Scottish for self-confident or cheeky and proves to be perfect for this group.
Gallus / "The Sparta Tapes"
Recorded at: Sparta Sound Studio (Sparta, Minn.)
Produced by: Gallus and Rich Mattson
Personnel: Chris Kelly (vocals, guitar), Zach Kerola (guitar), Steve Karels (bass), Ben Berg (drums), Caleb Anderson (organ), Sean Mahony (sax, trombone), Lee Martin (guitar), Rich Mattson (vocals)
Upcoming gig: Gallus plays every Tuesday through October at the Rex in the Fitger's Complex, 600 E. Superior St., (218) 733-3090.
John Ziegler has worked for 38 years in the music industry as a radio host, interviewer, record producer and professional musician.