Larry Kennedy of the Jellybricks said he learned everything he needed to know about playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band in Youngstown.
While attending Boardman High School, Kennedy played in the Basement Band and got to see such Youngstown acts as Sacksville R&B, Figure Ground, the Guttersnipes, Boogie Man Smash, the Infidels and the Februarys. Before relocating to Harrisburg in the mid-’90s, Kennedy was a member of the Infidels and Sky King. Cedars Lounge downtown was where he caught the fever to be a performer.
“I am a Youngstown boy and always will be,” Kennedy said “My parents and my siblings all still live in Youngstown, and while I do have family in the Harrisburg area, they are generally all originally transplanted from Youngstown, just like me. I love and cherish all of the friends I have made in central Pennsylvania, but even more special to me is that my bandmates are all as Youngstown-savvy as the friends that I had growing up. They’re cool. They’re smart, funny, good-hearted guys, just like my blood brothers and friends from Youngstown. As a side-note, we all rode the Idora Park carousel (“Jane’s Carousel”) together last month, in its new home in Brooklyn. It was my first ride since the Idora Park fire of ’84, and it meant a lot to me to see it looking shiny and beautiful again – and to share that with my pals.”
The band – Kennedy, vocals and guitar; Bryce Connor, guitar and vocals; Garrick Chow, bass and vocals; and Tom Kristich, drums and vocals – returns to Youngstown Saturday to celebrate the release of its sixth album, “Youngstown Tune-Up” for a 10 p.m. show at Cedars West End.
Kennedy said “Youngstown Tune-Up,” recorded at Ampreon Recorder in Youngstown, was the fastest the band has ever written and recorded new music.
“We all had song ideas already in the works, but many of them were unfinished,” he said. “In fact, some of them were unfinished even as we entered the studio, but I think it would be fair to say that the Jellybricks love to be challenged. Some of our best work truly does take place when we’re feeling a little pressure. We had the luxury of feeling like a dedicated, creative band in the studio. No distractions from the outside world – all amplifiers, headphones, drums and gadgets. It was a real pleasure for us. We weren’t even sure how many songs we intended to record, but when 11 days had passed, we had recorded a full 14-song album. As for me, I’ve never had more fun in a recording studio. It was a blast.”
Kennedy said that the inspiration for the album title came about after Kristich watched a documentary on A&E called “City Confidential” that had an overly dramatized historical segment about the organized crime history in Youngstown.
“The narrator, in a very silly-sounding, ominous voice, spoke of mob guys ‘sleeping with the fishes,’ and ultimately, he referenced the infamous car bombs of Youngstown’s past,” Kennedy said. “It was the first time I’d ever heard the expression, but instantly recognized it as a quintessential example of the kind of dark humor that emanates from the clever characters who hail from Youngstown. For many years, the phrase rolled around in my head, until we actually found ourselves recording an entire album in Youngstown. At that point, the title just emerged as the most perfect name for our new collection, a musical play on words that felt right at home, and which also speaks to the band’s sense of humor in general. Not to be misunderstood, there’s nothing humorous about a bomb assassination, but it’s a great name for a rock ‘n’ roll record.”
The album includes songs written by each band member. Kennedy said his songs seem to be forever embroiled in human relationships, which he said reflects both the dark and light elements at the same time. When it comes to the musical aspect, Kennedy said that the Jellybricks like to entertain themselves as well as the fans. He said in February the band’s track “About The Weekend” was the Jellybrick’s second song selected by radio host, Steve Van Zandt, as “The Coolest Song In The World” on the nationally syndicated radio show “Little Steven’s Underground Garage.”
Kennedy said that some of his favorite tracks on “Youngstown Tune-Up” include “About The Weekend,” “Probably Me” and “What You Deserve,” written by Connor. Kristich sings lead on his track “I’ll Go Mine,” and Chow makes his lead vocal debut on “Call It a Day.”
“I think that there is still a very common fascination with relationships, in all of their incarnations. Some songs are more personal than others, but almost all of our songs contain familiar experiences, thoughts, and feelings that most people would recognize in their own lives. Musically, we continue to look for new ways to entertain ourselves, as well as our listeners, so we’re always finding new little stylistic areas to explore. This is a trend of songwriting style evolution which can be traced all the way back to our earliest recordings. We like to keep the dance interesting for everyone involved. Every new record we make is a new opportunity to find new sounds, songs, grooves, and adventures.”