Phoenix-based alt-country band Lonna Kelley and the Broken Hearted Lovers disbanded five years ago (on Valentine's Day, no less), but not before cementing an intriguing legacy: The band recorded a lone album, credited to Lonna Kelley & the Reluctant Messiahs, and, changing their name along the way, opened up for Richard Buckner, Vic Chesnutt, Giant Sand, M. Ward, and Magnolia Electric Company before calling it quits, leaving an unfinished second lingering at Loveland Studios in Tucson.
Songwriter Lonna Kelley has been busy since the dissolution, playing with Giant Sand, Steve Wynn and Robyn Hitchcock, and forming the excellent new band Make My Baby, while drummer Shane Kennedy has established himself as all-around-downtowner, DJing and playing drums in groups like Turn Back O Man, Where Dead Voices Gather, and Swell Adios.
The group has decided to get back together for a one-off performance at FilmBar on Wednesday, December 14, with Make My Baby, Joe Pena, Turn Back O Man, and New Times contributor Serene Dominic.
I spoke with Kelley and Kennedy to discuss the reunion, the unreleased second album (featuring Howe Gelb), and the possibility of more shows in the future.
Up on the Sun: Why do another show?
Lonna Kelley: Why not? I guess [laughs].
Shane Kennedy: I had been going through old recordings, and I was trying to figure out exactly when the band had broken up. I found an old email where I was telling friend the band had broken up yesterday, and it was on Valentine's Day, which would have been five years ago. The name of the band was The Broken Hearted Lovers, and we stopped playing on a Valentine's Day. I thought, it would be nice to do a reunion show on Valentine's Day, but our bass player wouldn't be able to make that show, so we thought we would do it sooner than later.
So tell me about the unreleased album.
Kelley: We got the basic tracks for six songs done.
Kennedy: Around the same time, we played our last show, and then some more overdubs were done with the guys from Giant Sand.
Kelley: The guitarist from Giant Sand and Howe did some overdubs. Howe wanted to be a part of it, and play a hand in putting down some parts, and possibly doing some production. But it didn't get that far.
Kennedy: We were done really soon after that. Our last show was in Bisbee with Giant Sand.
You guys are going to do this show and...
Kelley: See. We'll see. [Laughs]
Have you guys practiced yet?
Kelley: I sat down with the guitar and was trying to remember the songs. Because that was five years ago. I was singing differently then. I was younger, and heavily influenced, and it came across in my voice. Now I don't do that as much. It's almost like someone else is singing those songs.
Do you feel like you're covering yourself?
Kelley: Yeah, it sort of does seem that way. Now, I sing in my natural voice, which sounds like a 15-year-old girl. I used to sing like...
Kennedy: A 13-year-old girl.
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Kelley: I was just influenced. By really amazing singers who can sing very soulfully and have a really natural ache. I wanted to be them, and it took me a while to realize that I'm not them. I'm just a white girl from the suburbs.
Lonna Kelley and The Broken Hearted Lovers are scheduled to perform Wednesday, 14, 2011 at FilmBar.