She was born in Marvel, Arkansas, and delivered by Dr. Wise," it says on Astra Kelly's website. "Early interest in music was fueled by family jams, school choirs, and formal music studies."
"I've been living in San Diego for ten months," says Astra. She's been hard at work on her fourth record "for a long time now. I just want it to be great, and I'm indie so I have to work on it as time and budget allows." Her previous albums are Subtown Rituals, Acoustic Soul Live, and Stones, Bones and Boxes.
Since September 2006, she has been the overnight DJ at KPRI (102.1), midnight to 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, and hosts the station's Saturday night Homegrown Hour, featuring local music, from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Astra frequently performs at Dublin's Square in the Gaslamp. "I live right around the corner, and when we moved, we kept getting lost, then we'd find Dublin's. We finally parked and walked around till we found a place a block away. I'm there two nights a week. Monday is a local music showcase, I do a set at 8 p.m., then feature three to four other local acts; Wednesday, I host their open mike."
Astra Kelly plays tonight, May 17, at the Tiki House in Pacific Beach.
"'Malcolm T. (for Takamine) Virgo.' My first band bought it for me so I could play rhythm. Got it in '94. It's been through everything with me -- slept with it for a couple of years, countless gigs, hundreds of busked hours on the streets all over this country. It's been broken and repaired twice, it was in a car accident with me...it's been played and had beer spilt on it by who knows how many hands."
"I'd just returned from New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival -- the plane was late, and we rushed to get me to a festival gig on the north side of Chicago with an acid-jazz band I was in called SUMO. I changed in the car -- purple satin pants, black satin top, and velvet sneakers. When we got there, the band had already started, and they were just holding a jam waiting for me. I could hear the thump of it as I pulled up. I threw my new purple boa on and started towards the stage. Crammed inside a tent were about 3000 people standing, facing the stage, hungry for something to happen and getting raucous. I jumped onstage as screams broke out, hit the mike with a wail, held the note as long as I could and let it flutter as the band rocked into a heated groove. Everyone boogied, and for the next hour we rocked like the best of 'em."
"My first solo, freshman year of high school. My voice kept falling out like someone was just turning it on and off. I made it through but cried afterwards."
TRICKIEST PROBLEM PLAYING LIVE?
"Not playing...I'm happiest if I can play live onstage a couple times a week, at least."
EARLIEST CHILDHOOD MEMORY?
"The sound of a hooting owl in the rafters of our house. Mom had taken it in with a broken wing and nursed it back to health. She said I was still in the womb, though, so I couldn't possibly remember that, but I do."
"I only remember about midway through the dance. We took lots of pictures, listened to 'Sweet Home Alabama,' my boyfriend borrowed his dad's Porsche -- we all thought we were pretty damn cool. And the guy turned out to be a jerk."
1. Tom Waits, Nighthawks at the Diner ("Laughter.")
2. Jeff Buckley, ,Grace ("Memories.")
3. Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life ("Ingenious.")
4. Sade, Lovers Rock ("Beautiful sadness.")
5. Black Sabbath, Paranoid ("Classic edge.")
WHERE IS MUSIC GOING IN THE 21st CENTURY?
"The power to create and distribute music is now in the hands of almost anyone. However it may transpire, I think we'll see a return to 'music made by the people and for the people,' not so much for the purpose of show and shock, but to mark journeys of people and provide a soundtrack for our changing lives."