With a touch of enchantment, Homesick Elephant mesmerizes their audiences with a dose of intelligent lyrics combined with crisp, quirky harmonies.
Described by reviewers as an Indie duo with "devastatingly charming harmonies," Homesick Elephant members Kevin and Sara Kelly will bring their original folksy compositions to Tehachapi listeners on Friday, Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. inside Fiddlers Crossing, 206 E. "F" St.
Fiddlers owners Peter Cutler and Deborah Hand-Cutler first met the Kellys last year at a folk music conference in Irvine, Peter said.
"We met Deborah and Peter...and immediately bonded while singing Simon and Garfunkel songs together late one night after all of the showcases were over," Sara said. "They are amazing people and we're really looking forward to seeing them again."
"When they told us about Fiddler's Crossing, it seemed like a great opportunity," Kevin said.
Peter said he and Deborah wanted to invite the duo to their venue "because they're unusual and unique," he said, speaking of their music. Peter added that although he is enthralled by their music as a whole, he thinks Homesick Elephant's lyrics are what will most impress Tehachapi crowds.
"It's brilliant composition," Peter said. "Their music is very off-kilter and sophisticated. I'm using Debby's words here, but they're like a cross between the Beatles, Frank Zappa and an Irish vaudeville."
Although the couple is of Irish descent, according to Peter, their tunes are nothing like the stereotypical Irish drinking songs. Evident in their songs is the closeness between Sara and Kevin as they sing in perfect step so that a listener has a hard time distinguishing the melody from the harmony.
"I think the tightness mostly comes from spending so much time together," Sara said. "It's kind of like when you spend so much time together with someone that you start completing each other's sentences."
Kevin said making the harmonies work takes some effort.
"Now that we've been singing for 10 years though, it's like our brains are totally in sync," he said. "We even make the same mistakes at the same moment."
The Kellys live in the Los Angeles area but travel to perform in their "favorite spots," Sara said, about every year. Some of these spots are along the East Coast, where the couple used to reside.
When they decided to pack up their home in Philadelphia for Kevin to pursue a music teaching job at Los Angeles City College, an actual elephant named Ruby, who was described by Google headlines as "homesick," was also readying for a move to L.A.
"'Homesick Elephant' was a song lyric that we Googled as a potential band name," Sara said. "The surprising coincidence came when all of the Google headlines stated, 'Homesick elephant packs her trunk to move to Los Angeles.' How did they know?!"
The name stuck and so did the story. The duo dedicated their first album to the inspirational elephant: "The EP for Ruby."
Just like music brought the Kellys together with the Cutlers, so it did for Kevin and Sara.
"We met at a bluegrass show in Philadelphia and a group of us went back to my house to play music together afterwards," Sara said. "So, in a sense, we were musical collaborators since the day we met....Kevin had been writing his own songs all along, but he couldn't hide them from me anymore after we moved in together. Often, he would be playing his songs on the first floor of our apartment and I would be secretly singing harmonies on the second floor. Homesick Elephant made its debut at an open mic night at the Fire, a music venue a block from our former apartment in Philadelphia."
Inspiration for the couple's music stems from an assortment of genres.
"We both have pretty eclectic musical pedigrees," Kevin said. "We both grew up singing the Beatles with our families, but later influences range from old time music to Indie rock to avantgarde classical to jazz."
"Kevin's the songwriter," Sara said. "I suppose I play the muse occasionally but I think he also gets a lot of inspiration from reading pretty much all the time. We have a ton of books and I think he's read them all about three times."
Admission to the show costs $15 and includes refreshments. Call 823-9994 to order tickets over the phone or stop by Mountain Music, which is next to Fiddlers Crossing at 206 E. "F" St.