Have you ever met someone and felt like you’ve been friends, forever?
Have you ever listened to a song, to a band, and felt like they were a missing piece of your musical collection, connecting ideals and feelings with a sound that could set your ears on blissful, lyrical, melodic fire?
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting the fellas from the rock band Kelen Heller, when they opened for Saliva at The Adelphia Music Hall in Marietta, Ohio. Quietly heading through the backstage area, there was really no reason for anyone to even acknowledge my being there. But Brandon – Kelen Heller’s bass player and vocalist – did. He was kind and polite, and treated me the way I’d hope to treat a good friend. Shortly after, and unbeknownst to me at the time, I struck up a conversation with Ricky (KH’s lead vocalist), who was friendly and engaging, and made me feel right at home alongside the rest of the crew, stage side.
I was looking forward to seeing these nice guys perform, even if based only on the way I felt instantly comfortable with them…and then I actually heard (and saw) them play. Their musical talent blew me away, and I wondered:
- Why I’d not heard of Kelen Heller, yet and
- Why on Earth did they not have egos?
Seriously, their music and vocal harmonies are tight, and I’ve never seen anyone play guitar the way Efrum – the mysteriously wonderful, masked man – does. I found myself becoming instantly hooked on their music, and immersed in their playful and fun chemistry with one another on stage.
When Kelen Heller talks about what they love most about being in a band together, the word “brothers” comes up, repeatedly. Ricky mentioned in an online interview “What inspires us to keep going is our love for music and our love for each other. When we’re on the road, we take care of each other…”
“We are a very positive outlook band and always looking for a way to help others.”
While they do care deeply for each other, their hearts also expand outward to their fans/friends. Each year, Kelen Heller makes it a point to give back to the community through charity concerts-especially those that benefit children. “We are a very positive outlook band and always looking for a way to help others,” Brandon shared with me. “These events are a perfect opportunity to help draw in people to contribute to very worthy causes. We especially enjoy Christmas time when it’s all about the kids.”
This year, Kelen Heller returned for their second time, to perform in an annual Toys for Tots toy drive and concert, where they played alongside 4 other talented rock acts, and filled 3 huge bins of new, unwrapped toys in exchange for admission to the show (Toys for Tots is an organization that distributes toys to children who may otherwise do without on Christmas). If you didn’t have a toy, you could pay 5.00 to get in-but even the cash went to Toys for Tots. And in addition to the concert, the organizers of the event (the Georgia Metal Alliance Int’l HMC-NC Chapter) also donated 2 guitars to a fundraising raffle that was held that evening (which several musicians, including members of Kelen Heller) signed at the end of the night).”
You would have never known this was a non-paid gig, the way each band played their hearts out for full sets of songs. Mark (guitarist) played so hard, two of his fingers split open half way through the show, and he just kept going as if it didn’t phase him.
When I asked about what drew them to the Toys for Tots drive, Brandon shared “We don’t get to do many all ages shows, or even events where kids can come because of age restrictions, so it’s always great when those shows come up. This one is all about kids, and making those less fortunate have a little happier Christmas. On top of that, we get to make a little noise, and everyone can come have a good time and enjoy some music.” Kelen Heller has also performed for the Rockin’ Kids First events, in the past.
Their generosity is gracious and amazing. While the members of Kelen Heller take care of one another on tour, recently their van broke down while on the road. Yet even after recently experiencing this setback in finances (while they are also currently in the final stages of recording a new album), I didn’t hear one mention of the van during this show. It truly was all about the kids.
Kevin (drummer) mentioned in an online interview that all 5 members of the band currently have other jobs, carrying them over so they can continue to share their passion for music. I’m not sure how much longer this will be the case, as I feel their love for their music, their fans, and each other is going to send them into huge stardom before long.
Kelen Heller is:
Vocals – Ricky Shuler
Drums – Kevin Wall
Lead Guitar – Efrum
Guitar – Mark Frey
Bass – Brandon Moore
And while they are based in South Carolina, I’ve been told they’ll be back in Ohio again next year. Keep in touch on their Facebook page for updates!
If you’d like to donate to Toys for Tots this Holiday season, stop by any Toys R Us location with your new, unwrapped (non-giftwrapped) toys by THIS FRIDAY (the deadline for Parkersburg locations), December 18th.