Who are The Texas K.G.B.?
From the North Georgia mountains, to finding a home for their sound in the Live Music Capital of the World, The Texas K.G.B. (Kelly Green Band) explores a diverse spectrum of passionate original music and an absolutely electrifying performance, drawing inspiration from genres such as Americana, classic rock, country, blues, and even a touch of funk. The band’s unique sound is captivating, but their live show is unforgettable.
The band is a quartet made up of Kelly Green (lead and slide guitar/vocals), Jace Cradle (rhythm guitar/lead vocals), Kody Lee (drums/saxophone/vocals), and Violet Lea (bass/vocals). Brother and sister Kelly and Kody, began playing instruments following in the footsteps of their father, B.B. Lee, when they were just six years old. B.B. is an amazing musician who is currently playing guitar and touring with “Outlaw Country Legend” David Allen Coe. A mentor to his children, he helped them develop their skills and encouraged them to pursue music professionally.
Throughout their adolescence, Kelly and Kody played in various bands and nourished their musical connection It wasn’t until their father hosted an open mic night when he had a month off from touring that they met Jace. He was one of the first people to sign up for the open mic, and his talent and sound were undeniable. Jace started playing music when he was 21 after finding an abandoned guitar in Saddam’s Palace while serving in Iraq. When he came back to the United States, he started playing music full time. Jace and B.B. ended up starting a band, which Kelly joined shortly after her twenty-first birthday. They toured non-stop for a year before arriving in Austin in 2012 during SXSW where they experienced the energy that vibrates throughout the local music scene. The band decided to go their separate ways, and Jace and Kelly chose to stay in Austin where they could continue to develop their large sound – a Texas-sized sound.
After taking up residence in Austin, Jace and Kelly were joined by Kody, who had just received his bachelor’s degree in music performance with a minor in education. Over the next few years, they played as a trio, with fill-in bass players, until they began their search for an official bassist and fourth band member. They ended up finding Violet Lea through Craigslist when they jokingly posted an ad for a bass player. Jace joked that they were “being catfished” because there was no way that someone as beautiful and talented as Violet would answer an ad on Craigslist. Just like music runs through the veins of the other band members, Violet started playing music very young as well. When she was around four years old, she picked up a Yamaha keytar, on which she learned the solo for Wham!’s “Last Christmas” backward and forwards. After a few rehearsals, it became apparent that Violet was the missing link to their quartet. She joined the band and they hit the road, touring the country and establishing themselves as The Texas K.G.B.
Over the course of their career as The Texas K.G.B., the band has recorded and released three albums, “Captain Americana” (2014), “Songs in the Key of Pain: Part 1” (2016), and “Welcome Home” (2017). “Songs in the Key of Pain: Part 1” landed them a nomination for IMEA’s “Americana Band of the Year” and “Americana Group of the Year.” They have played in a variety of notable venues and shared the stage with top-notch musicians such as Kevin Fowler, Billy Joe Shaver, Vallejo, Joe Robinson, Chris Duarte, Paula Nelson, Walt Wilkins, Carolyn Wonderland, and Jackie Venson to name a few. The band was also invited to play the first song at Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic in Austin this past year.
Their latest project, “Welcome Home”, was recorded at 512 Studios with the help of producer Omar Vallejo and released November 2017. It’s an album that speaks to the journey of life, the good and bad times, the ups and downs of the human experience. Every member of the band contributed to the songwriting on the album, which serves as a testament to the very personal nature of their music. As a whole, the album tells a story as it progresses through the track list while the catchy melody pulls listeners in and implores them to play the record from start to finish.
AMF EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
WITH THE TEXAS K.G.B.
Kelly, you come from a musical family. What has been the best part of performing with your family, particularly your brother Kody who is in the group with you?
Kelly Green: Playing and performing music for a living is already an incredible reality and it’s even more rewarding being able to share the experience with your family. My brother and I have a deep connection and it translates into our music. We can feel what the other is going to do before we do it. I hear something in my head and before I have the time to finish the thought, he is already reading my mind. It’s also great to have full faith and trust in someone and know they have your best interest in mind. The music business can be pretty intense and I love having a built-in support system.
What was it about Austin and Texas in general that drew you all in and made you become residents?
KG: We came in for SXSW and fell in love with the city and decided we had to live here. We actually called around to R.V. parks and asked if we could “Play to Stay” and on our 4th call we talked to a sweet gentleman out at Lake Travis R.V. Park. He was a musician and wanted to help us out. We played there every Sunday for almost 2 months. The whole park would come out and listen to our music and feed us. We grew to love the community and city even more. When we finally found a house to move the band into we were seen off with food, hugs, and tears. We will never forget how kind everyone was to us. This city is full of amazing people who love to support musicians. We are so thankful we found our way here.
You put out your latest album, Welcome Home, in November with Omar Vallejo. What was it like working with Omar and 512 Studios? How did this album differ from your past work?
KG: We can not praise 512 studios enough. That place is like a second home. Omar and Kevin are two of the hardest working, most talented people we know. We have recorded our last two albums with them. Our first album, “Songs In The Key of Pain Part 1” was nominated for IMEA’s Americana Album of the year. We had an excellent time making that album but our newest album “Welcome Home” is really where our sound was created. It’s the first album with our bass player Violet Lea. It shows how diverse our music is but still sounds like a complete thought. I am really proud of how it turned out. Omar and Kevin did a wonderful job producing and engineering.
What’s your favorite track off the new album?
KG: We have to pick a favorite!? That’s like picking a favorite child. This magic eight ball says, “Reply hazy, try again.”
What’s your favorite venue to perform at?
KG: Austin has a ton of great venues to perform at. One 2 One is definitely at the top of the list for us. The sound is marvelous and the staff is exceptional. We also always have a great time playing the Saxon Pub. We love that venue. Great sound, drinks, and so many legends have stood on that stage the vibe feels special.
Who is your biggest musical inspiration?
KG: I am a fan of Grand Funk Railroad and I am hugely inspired by Mark Farner’s vocals and guitar playing. I also take inspiration from My father B.B. Lee, Joe Walsh, Bruce Kulick, and all of the music by KISS, U.F.O., Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Willie Nelson, Lissie, Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Kody Lee: If I really had to narrow it down I would probably have to say The Beatles. I think I listened to their music more than anything else growing up. Ringo’s drumming always has that groovy attitude and I love it. John Bonham is also always near the top of my list. Just fat, fat drumming that really guides so much of Led Zeppelin’s music.
Jace Cradle: I grew up listening to Fox 97, the Atlanta Oldies station with my Father. So Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash and Elton John to name a few. Then my Step Father took me to see David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails, I was forever changed. Now I listen to Willie, Bob Marley, and Leonard Cohen.
Violet Lea: I would have to say; Disney, Queen, System of a Down, Patty Griffin, Boy Bands, Johnny Cash, Richard Buckner, and Ryan Adams.
What’s been your biggest musical accomplishment to date?
KG: Surviving off of our music and as a band for over 5 years. We started from nothing, as most bands do, and built a solid foundation of love, respect, energy, talent, and drive.
How did you get involved with Austin Music Foundation?
KG: We were searching for ways to get more involved in our music community and Austin Music Foundation was a great way to do that. We noticed how they provided valuable resources for musicians and set up a consultation.
What does it mean to be named AMF’s Artist of the Month?
KG: We are truly honored to be acknowledged by our peers and the people who are paying attention to the music scene right now. We know and love so many of the musicians we see represented through AMF and are very excited to now be included on that list.
What’s next for you all?
KG: We have a lot of cool events and new content in the works! We are looking to pair up with some different photographers for creative photo shoots, we have written a few new songs and will be putting out singles throughout the year. We also have a new music video coming out this month and we’re currently filming a few more. We will also be headed to the east coast in April and look forward to touring more throughout the year.
We’re so excited to have The Texas K.G.B. as our March 2018 Artist of the Month! Take a listen below and follow them on Facebook HERE, Twitter HERE, and Instagram HERE or visit their website HERE. You can also catch them on 3/29 at Concerts for Austin Charities Music Series benefitting HAAM with our former Artist of the Month, Jane Ellen Bryant! Click here to purchase tickets.