Connecting continents, the Wrightwood and Croatian Blues Societies presented performances by Croatian Blues harmonica artist Tomislav Goluban and local Blues favorite “Kelly’s Lot” at The Yodeler Bar and Grill in Wrightwood, Friday night, October 21, 2023.
Brought together by a collective love of the Blues, Wrightwood Blues Society President Greg Jones, through neighborhood acquaintance and professional networking, teamed up with The Croatian Blues Society President and acclaimed Blues harmonica artist Tomislav Goluban to play the Blues for an eager Yodeler audience. Standing room only from the start, Singer/Songwriter Kelly Zirbes and her act “Kelly’s Lot” set the stage for an evening of the Blues at its worldly best.
The musical ramifications of combining Delta, Memphis, or Chicago Blues with an exciting new music scene from a sovereign state on the Adriatic Sea might seem far-fetched. Still, the collaboration of three guitarists, bass, lively vocals, and a great harmonicist settles all doubts. Thanks to these well-traveled musicians, their roads crossed paths and led them to this world-bonding style of the Blues.
Croatian Harmonica virtuoso Tomislav Goluban performed brilliantly, adding the musical edge welcome in any traditional Blues combo. Pouring his heart in and out on the Blues harp is Tomislav’s gig. Shaping his breath into melodic harmony and keeping time with the turn of a tongue makes him a master of what has been called a “Missouri Saxophone” by Blues experts, the harmonica.
From slow and sultry to upbeat, singer Kelly Zirbes commanded the Yodeler like it was the Hollywood Palladium. At the risk of looking up from their steak dinner and drinks, the audience was captivated by Kelly’s persona and spunk on stage. A qualified singer for sure, her lovely voice could turn from gravy to gravel in a heartbeat. The band’s well-bodied set list covering all tempos gave her plenty of room to shine vocally. With songs like “Reason For The Blues” and “Revolving Door,” Kelly Zirbes’s songwriting skills are promoted well with her multi-instrumental band, “Kelly’s Lot.” Bassist Matt McFadden was one of four brilliant guitarists in “Kelly’s Lot,” with Vid Kotarski, Paddy Marsh, and Perry Robertson rounding out the army of guitars, blending percussion and melody into a steady backbone of a rhythm section. Swapping guitars throughout the performance, the band performed on many different types of six-strings, from acoustic to electric, adding a colorful touch musically and visually. The dynamic group was well received by the audience, who will most likely have sore palms from applauding.
“This collaboration at the Yodeler is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Tomislav Goluban reminds us that this genre of music is celebrated worldwide, bringing a unique yet authentic approach to classic Blues,” said Greg Jones, President of The Wrightwood Blues Society.
The Wrightwood Blues Society is dedicated to sharing wonderful music, talent, and ideas with the Tri-Community of Wrightwood, Phelan, Pinon Hills, and now the globe, offering unique and interesting styles of entertainment to all. With a commitment to diversity in the arts, this showcase of harmony is a great example of worldwide cooperation and friendship and begs for a repeat performance. Bravo to The Wrightwood Blues Society, The Croatian Blues Society, and The Yodeler Bar and Grill for promoting these events and serving a fine steak.
For information on future events such as the First Tuesday of the Month Fok Music Night, First Friday of the Month Open Microphone at the Yodeler, or Wrightwood Blues Society membership, contact www.wrightwoodblues.orgor Greg Jones @ (760) 574-8231