Clark Kelly talks music and WU Stock performance

Clark Kelly performing at the WU Stock concert. Following his performance, he sat down to talk about the show and his music career.

Mark Feuerborn

Clark Kelly sat down for an extensive interview following his performance at the WU Stock concert, where he and local band The Swift Kicks opened for main act Hot Chelle Rae.

Kelly expressed great satisfaction with his set and the crowd’s reaction, and said he’d happily perform at Washburn again.

“I’d love to. It was a beautiful drive [coming to Washburn], it reminds me of home, so it’s charming in its own way,” said Kelly.

Kelly’s performance was a solo act, but not a typical one with an acoustic guitar and singer.

“There needs to be enough moments where they’re like ‘Oh, do I know this song?’ Or ‘What’s he doing?’ If I just get up there and play guitar and sing, I’ll probably lose them pretty quick,” said Kelly.

Kelly drew in the Washburn crowd’s attention by displaying his versatility on stage, utilizing a piano he played with his feet along with his guitar. Kelly explained that performing solo and performing with a band each have their benefits, and playing solo is the most cost effective when traveling and performing.

“That’s why I’ve got that piano on stage, and I try to make it like an acoustic set on steroids, so it’s like making it as much of an experience as it can with it just being me,” said Kelly. “I have a band in Nashville, I just I can’t fly them out to every date. I write the songs by myself, so it’s kind of my right to do what I want with it. If I want to go play by myself, that’s how it goes.”

Kelly was also seen setting up a table following his performance at the concert, held in honor of Washburn University’s 150th anniversary, where he allowed attendees to do meet-and-greets. Kelly stressed how he makes a point to be as interactive with his audience as he can.

“I’m thankful I’m at a point where I realize the importance of every interaction, you know? There’s a way to do it where you’re too cool, and people kind of have this [awe over you], but the other way is just more natural for me,” said Kelly.

Kelly also mentioned that the day before the WU Stock concert, he also opened for Panic! At the Disco’s show in New Jersey. Clark didn’t get to hang out with the band, but he then clarified that that is normal for most concerts. Clark did, however, get the chance to talk with Hot Chelle Rae, and said that they were very courteous and fun to talk to.

“With these sort of things you just never know. I usually just leave the bands alone, because when you get to that level they’re very set apart, they’re not like out hanging with everybody. I let them be, try to get the crowd warmed up, that’s the best ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ I can do for them,” said Kelly.

He also had a moment to converse with The Swift Kicks following their show, and commented on how they were not only talented, but very pleasant as well.

“That’s how you last awhile, being easy to work with. You’ve got to be good, but you’ve got to be gracious, and it seems like they’ve got that. They’ll find their niche, and I think they’ll do well,” said Kelly.

Kelly said that he has been working in the music industry for several years, and is happy he has made a career out of his passion. Kelly also gave some insight into his mindset that has helped him persevere throughout the years.

“I’m from Chicago, and I moved to Nashville for college, and I’ve been there ever since. I’ve been in Nashville for about ten years. I started playing guitar when I was twelve, I started writing songs when I was fourteen, so I went to Nashville to go to music school and I’ve just been going after it ever since,” said Kelly. “I just want to always remember even the stressed out stuff, because I’m lucky to be doing this. How many people would pay money to do what I get to do tonight? Play for good people, a good crowd, a nice city, you just always got to keep stuff in perspective because there’s a lot to be thankful for.”