CD REVIEW: Shelley & Kelly, Retroactive

By on October 21, 2014

A photo of Shelley and Kelly from the late 70s or early 80s that appears on the back cover of their new self-titled release. Photo: David Swift.


Jackson Hole, Wyoming – If you haven’t heard of Shelley and Kelly you might be new around here. The husband and wife musical team started playing gigs in Jackson in the 1970s, and the Shelley and Kelly band was a major force in the Jackson Hole music scene in the 80s, 90s and beyond. They were the hot dance band back when all the cool Jackson kids were into Western swing.

Known for their super tight arrangements and meticulously phrased three-part harmonies, Shelley and Kelly took a very refined and authentic approach to Western swing music. (Don’t try calling them a bluegrass band or a country band or they will give you a musicological lecture on the not-so- subtle differences between the genres.)

Kelly’s impressive flatpicking chops are a perfect complement to Shelley’s sweet swing fiddle and straightforward vocals – all in service of the timeless Western swing canon.

If you missed Jackson Hole’s golden era of Western swing, you now have a chance to get up to speed on 40 years of Jackson Hole music history. Shelley and Kelly have reissued their original studio vinyl, and a collection of never heard before live recordings on two new compact discs. The first self-titled disc is a reissue of Shelley and Kelly (1977) and Chute 5 (1979). These recordings are an excellent example of their tight instrumentals with lots of doubled guitar and fiddle. The second disc, Retroactive, is a compilation of live gig recordings and rehearsal tapes from the last 30 years, encapsulating the more mature instrumental and vocal sound that took Jackson Hole by storm, and made Shelley and Kelly everyone’s favorite band to dance to.
An essential part of the valley’s musical history, these recordings will appeal to a national audience as an example of Western swing music at its best.

Shelley and Kelly and Retroactive are available at Valley Bookstore.

About Judd Grossman

You must be logged in to post a comment Login