In junior high, Kelly Dalton started writing songs and playing in bands and then began gigging, touring, and recording in his teens and 20s.
“In the late ’90s I was in a punk band called Kingpin, and one night my drummer and I met Angelo from Fishbone at a local dive bar,” says Dalton. “Fishbone was a big influence on me in high school, so I was pretty excited to be drinking and talking music at my dive bar. We had a little after-party at our house/rehearsal studio, and he ended up jamming and partying with us all night. I don’t remember the last couple hours of the night.
“When I woke up, I wasn’t sure if it all really happened until I walked out in the living room, and he was snoring on our couch. He heard me walking around, woke up, and asked what happened last night. I told him I wasn’t too sure, either. We figured we’d smoke some pot and try to figure it out. An hour later I drove him home, which was his parents’ house in the suburbs.”
Dalton left the band scene in 2005 to reassess his musical life. He cashed in the big amps and electric guitars for an acoustic six-string and an upright piano. He’s now a solo act.
Kelly Dalton performs at Lestat’s in Normal Heights on Thursday, May 28.
HISTORY OF YOUR GUITAR?
“I have two main acoustic guitars that I play. My main one is a ’70s twelve-string Alvarez with only six strings on it. I love it because the neck is larger than a usual six-string, and it fits my abnormally big hands perfectly. My dad plays guitar too, and hits the local pawnshops all the time up where he lives in Oxnard [California]. One day about five years ago he called me and said he found a beautiful-sounding acoustic for $150. He drove it down the next day, and I’ve never used anything else live since. The one I play at home is an old beat-up Yamaha that supposedly was owned by Johnny Depp. This could be an urban myth, but the story is that Mr. Depp came to L.A with a duffle bag and a guitar. Along the way, he left it at a girl’s house who gave it to her friend who gave it to his friend and so on.”
ANY ISSUES WITH LIVE SHOWS?
“People talking during my set. I’m not the loudest singer in the world, so a few people having a loud conversation in a small room can sometimes overpower me. Thank God I have some good ‘shhers’ — people who ‘shh’ the crowd when I play.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
1. Yearbook Pictures. “A new great band that you’ll hear about soon.”
2. Chuck Vaughan. “Great singer/songwriter.”
3. Eyes Set to Kill. “A metal band I just coproduced.”
4. “A mix Clash CD, for obvious reasons.”
5. John Lisco. “My favorite New York singer/songwriter.”
TOP-THREE END-OF-THE-WORLD CDs?
1. The Clash, London Calling. “It was a double album with so many good songs that I’ll never get sick of.”
2. The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds. “The production Brian Wilson was doing blows me away. No one could layer those harmonies like he could.”
3. Bob Marley, any album. “I think he’s one of the most underrated songwriters ever. I’ve read a bunch of those ‘greatest songwriters’ lists, and he never gets mentioned.”
SEXIEST SAN DIEGO PERFORMER?
“The obvious choice is Anya Marina, but I’m going with Brandon ‘the Sideman’ Walters. He’s a great guitarist, piano player, and singer who’s played guitar with me a few times. He’s super talented, and I must say he’s quite a sexy beast.”
FAVORITE SAN DIEGO HANGOUT?
“I quit drinking almost a year ago, so I don’t hang out at bars so much anymore. I like hanging with my buddy Dan at Seven Seas Tattoo shop. Good people and incredible artists.”
“It always starts out fine — I’m at a professional baseball game having a good ol’ time, then somehow I fall off the top level and wake up right before I land on top of the crowd in the section below me. Happens almost every month.”
“I really like playing benefit shows, not just for the cause but to share the stage with a lot of talented people all together in one night. The best one I remember was a Christmas toy drive at the Hotel Cafe in L.A. with Ben Harper, Sara Bareilles, Brett Dennen, Cary Brothers, Joshua Radin, Meiko, and others.”
“I can’t remember the name of the venue — maybe I deleted it from my memory — but it was a solo acoustic show in Hartford, Connecticut. It happened to be in the middle of the NHL playoffs, and I think the local team had just been eliminated. Unhappy fans in hockey jerseys slamming Jäger shots didn’t particularly mix with my set.”