In the local lad makes good department, I offer up a chat I had recently with Kelly Ravin who grew up in Waldo County and then moved to Vermont to pursue schooling and music, finding success in the latter and not so much in the former. He has released a couple of CDs as a solo artist, the latest of which — when this interview was conducted — is called “County Tracks,” and with his band, Waylon Speed. But I think the best person to speak of this is the man himself, don’t you? I reached him by phone at his home in Jericho, Vermont, on Sept. 3 and began by asking him about the show he’ll be performing at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 7.

Q: You’re coming to Unity for a show. Have you ever played that venue before?

Ravin: Yeah, I’ve been playing there since I was 18. Maybe even longer than that back when I was in high school. Once or twice a year I like to do something there because it’s a good chance for all my family and high school friends to come out. It’s always been a good time.

Q: And this time around, you’ll perform with Lowell Thompson, correct?

Ravin: He’s a Burlington, Vermont, native and an amazing songwriter.

Q: Will both of you be on acoustic guitars for this UCCPA concert?

Ravin: We both play electric.

Q: Lowell wasn’t in Waylon Speed was he?

Ravin: No, he was not. He has his own project. I’ve been watching Lowell play since 2005, I think. He’s a couple of years older than me. So once I got enough songs under my belt, we started playing together. That was back in 2008. We’ve never ever had a rehearsal. It’s never been a planned thing. It’s just been thrown together.

Q: Will you each do a set of your own material and then get together at the end of the evening?

Ravin: No, it’ll be a duo set the whole time.

Q: Do you perform his material as well?

Ravin: Yeah, we just go back and forth with songs.

Q: Is Waylon Speed still together?

Ravin: I’d say it’s on hiatus.

Q: When did you move to Vermont?

Ravin: In 2003. I moved to go to school here and that was very short-lived. I moved to Burlington.

Q: Well, having listened to “County Tracks” and seeing you performed on all of the instruments, I’d say you definitely chose the right career track. You have a genuine talent as both a singer/songwriter and an instrumentalist.

Ravin: Thanks, man. I really appreciate that.

Q: I understand you are working on a new album. When will this one come out?

Ravin: I will have physical copies in my hands within a couple of weeks, but it won’t be out until the 24th of September.

Q: Does it follow along the same lines as your last one?

Ravin: Well, this one’s a little more — I don’t want to say ‘polished’ — it’s a little more tight, I’d say because with the “County Tracks” album I did everything. I played the drums first and then layered everything on top of the drums. On this one I started on acoustic guitar and a metronome, so it’s all tight. I also had a couple of other players on there. I had Mark Spencer from Son Volt on pedal steel guitar. I had a friend — Tucker Hanson — on fiddle. I had another friend playing squeeze-box. Lowell Thompson doing the harmonies. So yeah, there’s a little more diversity on there.

Q: Now will you be doing any of this new material at the Unity show?

Ravin: Absolutely, yeah. It’ll kind of be like a release show for that album honestly. I’d kind of like to bill the show as that, but I want it billed more as our duo thing rather than a Kelly-Ravin’s-new-album kind of thing.

Q: I can understand that. Well, let me close by asking my traditional end-of-the-interview question: Is there anything, Kelly — seeing that this is not a debut for you, by any stretch — that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article? Oh, you said early on that you’ve played there a lot. Was that as a solo performer or with a band?

Ravin: I’ve done solo there. I’ve brought my band there. I think I might have spoken a little too much. Probably once every couple of years I play there. The last time I was there was, wow, in 2013.

Q: Was that with Waylon Speed?

Ravin: Yup, so this will be a little bit of a homecoming.

Q: Cool! So I’ll ask again: Is there anything you’d like to get across to the hometown crowd?

Ravin: Yeah. Please come to see and hear Lowell Thompson in his debut performance at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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