Pattaya’s got talent

Friday, 28 December 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 52

Pattaya is a city of surprises, and nothing more so than in the music scene.  Quietly spending their golden years of retirement in and around Pattaya are a number of well-credentialed and greatly talented international musicians – former stars of the past in their own right.

One such local musician, singer and songwriter is Matthew Kelly, who for years during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s led the legendary American rock band Kingfish.

Matthew Kelly at the Furthur Festival Matthew Kelly at the Furthur Festival

Matthew, a virtuoso of the harmonica and guitar, co-founded the band in 1974 along with his childhood buddy Bobby Weir of The Grateful Dead and other fellow musicians from the San Francisco Bay area.  The personnel line-up for the band changed and evolved over the years.  In the 70’s, Matthew had been a guest musician on several Grateful Dead Albums:  Wake of the Flood, Shakedown Street and the CD/DVD of the historic 1978 closing of Winterland.

When the Grateful Dead regrouped, Matthew joined them on many more of their live performances and then became a founding member of Bob Weir’s band Ratdog.

During his long diverse musical journey, Kelly always managed never to steer too far away from his roots and love for the blues.  From low down Chicago delta blues in his early days, as the only white boy on the all black “Chitlin Circuit”, where he toured extensively with some of the greatest and most revered blues musicians of all time such as T-Bone Walker, John Lee Hooker, Bobby Blue Bland’s Mel Brown, Albert Collins, Champion Jack Dupree and many others.

In their own right, Kingfish released a number of albums over the years, starting in 1976 with Kingfish, and the last one in 1999, the award winning Sundown on the Forest, a studio album recorded over a number of years with different combinations of musicians, including Bob Weir and a number of other Kingfish veterans.  In the year 2000, Matthew was flown from Thailand to Hollywood to receive the much-coveted Doris Day Environmental Music Award.  This was a bit of a shock to him, due to the fact that the previous recipients were super pop stars Prince, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.

Matthew had dedicated the title song to world renowned environmentalist, Julia Butterfly Hill, and together they were presented the award live on national TV.

After thirty years of life on the road, Matthew felt that it was time for a change and to bid farewell to his old pal, Bobby and fellow band mates and headed west.  Together with his wife Mary, they have now been settled in Thailand for more than ten years and are the founders of Amicus Foundation of Thailand, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping children at risk, developing educational opportunities and working with impoverished communities.  Matthew and Mary’s foundation are key supporters to the Pattaya-based charity organization, Women With a Mission (WWM), as well as other organizations throughout the country.

There are persistent rumors from his close friends that Matthew has dusted off the old guitar and harmonica and is busily practicing three hours each day.  Others are talking about a WWM charity concert in the New Year where Matthew will again share the stage with some of his oldest friends who will come out to Thailand to support Matthew, Amicus Foundation and WWM for a “One Night Only” benefit concert at Pattaya’s Hard Rock Hall of Fame.  An announcement from WWM is expected soon for this exciting international musical event, but if you are a fan of American rock, Jazz, Blues or Soul, then they suggest you save the date of Sunday evening 13 January.

NB:  For more details on this special charity concert turn to Community Happenings (Entertainment)

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