At the age of ten Kelly Mettling played his first song, the Chantays Pipeline, on a pawn shop Stella guitar. His uncle offered to replace it with a Fender Jazzmaster and a Fender Vibro Champ amp if he would quit playing football. As the scars from contact sports healed, the left handed, Louisville, Kentucky native, cut his teeth on Travis Wammack (Scratchy/Firefly) tunes. His ability to learn by ear and by studying from Mel Bays Chord book gave him a solid musical foundation in rock, jazz and the blues.
Influenced by the guitar gods of the time, an underage Mettling sneaked into a sock-hop for his first live music experience with Louisvilles Elysian Field and guitarist Frank Bugbee. He was completely hooked. Ray Honea of WARM further impacted the young guitar player. The self-taught musicians first professional performance came at age sixteen with the Fanatics.
His studies in music and art at Jefferson Community College, an extension of the University of Kentucky, were cut short when he took his band Journey on the road in the seventies. (The band was later renamed Midnight Journey in deference to the better known Journey). Touring through out the US and Canada, he shared the stage with Jaco Pastorius, the Brecker Brothers, Greg Allman, Koko Taylor, Dan Hartman (Edgar Winter Group), Atlanta Rhythm Section, War, Lover Boy, Judas Priest, Rick Derringer, Gap Band, Night Ranger, Joan Jett and many more. Talks with other high profile music industry professionals were under way.
But feeling the pressures of success at an early age and the neglect of his home life, he diversified into recording studio management. A studio contact led him into a new career in the aerospace industry in St. Petersburg, Florida, and recruiting for the Professional Audio and MI manufacturing industry. He never gave up music, but writing and performing had taken a back seat.
A new energy is driving Mettling back into a full time music career. Surrounded by the collection of vintage Gibsons and Martins that have served his career, and state of the art production equipment, he has produced a new C/D of original songs from his recording studio, Crystal Island Recording, in St. Petersburg. The scars of life, so familiar to all of us, have a place in his repertoire, as do his energetic riffs, subtle harmonies and unique treatments of familiar musical themes. The music features his non-typical chord structures, his confident and bourbon smooth vocals, and the echoes of rock, jazz, blues, funk and world that defy a pigeonholing of his style.