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Blaze and Kelly
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Tracey Emery

Two beautiful woman equipped with “pipes” (undeniable resonate vocals), acoustic guitar and fretless bass have recieved the city of Boise’s attention. They were voted Boise’s most busiest band (“Boise Weekly”) and after teaming up and touring since 2004, others cities are falling captive to their musical wooing.
It is tempting to comparing them to bands like the Indigo Girls, which they are not, but if you must compare, compare them to Xanex, Celexa, or Prozac because they are better than any mood lifter on the market!

These two woman have an inner connection with each other, frequently chiming in with comedic banter. Watching their body language is just as fun to watch as listening! Their intertwined harmonies will set your soul asail, letting you forget about what was troubling you before coming to the show. People keep coming back for more, “more uppers please!” But not only that, there is something completely unique about their audience and the venues can vouch for it, ask any of them! Blaze and Kelly’s crowd becomes friends with each other. They are the catalyst for people to make friends and feel included, wanted, and accepted. Fans find a place to belong, together listening to original songs like “Beautiful”, which the whole room quiets for while reflecting on all the qualities of life for which to be forever grateful. “Coming to a show is like therapy,” one fan touts. “Somehow they wring you out like a wash cloth and you feel emptied of the yucky energy and restored with new hope.”

There is a lot to be said for the power of words

and Blaze is a careful wordsmith, constantly grooming perfect melody to unlock those vulnerabilities to which we all can relate. “It can be quite an ethereal experience shutting your eyes and listening because the two can take you to places not quite known on this reality,” another fan tries to explain. It’s not all roses, this band goes to some beautiful places like experiencing doggy love in songs like “Diggy Dog” to humorous realities with songs such as “Fat Pants” into darker realties of “No One Home” or “Mama,” a song about losing a parent. Not only do they have original songs with catchy hooks like “Missed the Mark” to get the crowds singing, or a foot stomping “Turn Around” accompanied by Niccole on harmonica with the finesse of her loop machine. They’ve also developed quite a repertoire of cover tunes. They cover songs you wouldn’t think two woman dare touch like Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” or the vocally challenging Jewel’s “Save your Soul” to Patsy Cline’s version of “Crazy”, Janis Joplin’s version of “Bobby McGee” and they do it all well! Extremely well! In fact, you might start liking their version better than the original as it provides the hearty, explosive expressions of Niccole’s voice on the main line and the clear, silouetted smooth timbre of Mo’s voice on the harmony line…then all the sudden they switch roles and you wonder as you are watching, “who’s got that high line”? Akin to twins or sisters, these two have an audible, angelic read on each other that intuitively acts as a panning device in stereo on a head set. Their vocal qualities come together and that is when “lift off” occurs: no pharmaceuticals are needed!
Mo Kelly originated from the wine country of northern California. Niccole Blaze came from a small town in South Jersey. East met West in “potato land” of the Northern Idaho panhandle. The stories that brought them there were based in their desire for better, wholesome living, and love for the great outdoors.

Both had an affinity for beautiful sceneries and Idaho’s mountainous landscapes. It’s surprising that these two didn’t collide on the slopes of Schweitzer as Mo was an avid skier (and at one time a ski instructor) and Niccole was an acrobat on the snow-board with her imitations of Gumby. The two had moved to Sandpoint, Idaho separately, where Niccole had started her musical career, unbeknownst to her, in her class room and gymnasium. Niccole was a teacher of high school health and P.E. and had a keen eye for kids on the “outside” needing a little “lift” which music provides.

As she puts it, ” [music] was the last useful impression you could leave on a kid with the attention span focused on anything but learning. They would sometimes stay after class,hang out, eat lunch together and sing songs. It gave me time to get to know them and hear their stories. They saw me as a person, not just a teacher on some untouchable pedestal. Music was a common denominator, and it soothed some of these kid’s sore hearts. I gathered a lot of material on the first album from those little masters. Children are so profound sometimes and I have to admire their courage in today’s challenging world.” In the late 90?s Niccole’s last name, “Bayley” (a former married name) appeared about town in newspapers and reader boards from the historic Panida Theater to clubs, farmer’s markets and coffee houses; she then broke loose in 2003 to open for Shawn Colvin and Karla Bonoff at the Festival of Sandpoint. Meanwhile Mo was enjoying the adventuresome skiing, hiking, biking, kayaking that the area offered. She had heard of this female musician making an impact on this little community and had seen her CD’s displayed at her favorite coffee house, but despite their common weaving in and out of local hang outs, the pair had not met until one fateful day in of all places, a furniture store.

Niccole blames her mother and divine intervention for meeting Mo in that furniture store and then starting a real musical career with her. Niccole’s mother had died a sudden death 5 months prior to meeting Mo. Niccole remembers, “It was Jan. 20th 2002 at 10 o’clock at night that I heard ‘Despite the Dents’ [her title track], on the local radio”, she charged up the steps to her parents house and then both she and her mother listened with amazement. Two weeks later a sudden heart attack seized her mother’s life and deep soul searching began for Niccole. She found herself leaving her teaching job, ending her relationship with her husband, selling her home they had built together and living in an R.V.

A musical career had always tugged and tapped at Niccole’s heart strings since she was young. Picking up the guitar at age 8 and writing poetry and stories since pre-teen hood, she never thought she’d make a full-time living at it. “Music was a fantasy life for me, some how forbidden as if I were not good enough to do it. I was raised to be very practical so the whole career thing seemed untouchable. But then it dawned on me, while working as a trail cook one summer sitting in Wyomings Gros Ventre wilderness range, making meals for Cowboys and campers; ‘why not?’ like a seed that got planted, I gave myself permission to bloom in this way. It was the best gift I could have given myself and things that took place the next few years set the stage for me to go for it because at that point music saved my life. I didn’t become a musician to impress people and be this big ‘rock star’ or ‘folk star’ [wall shaking laugh], I did it to express art, as any other artist does. I have a deep yearning to connect to others and spread the joy that I can. My wish is to be a bringer of light and I did that through teaching and all its parameters, but I need to sing as it’s my own healing and I find it heals others, and that to me is amazing!

“The furniture store was perfect, so uncharacteristic for people to meet and become friends let alone be musical life-time partners. So random that it has to be something Spirit designed on purpose,” says Mo Kelly. She left a good paying job as a therapist in Santa Cruz, California to get some fresh air and new perspective in the Selkirk mountain range of Northern Idaho. “My friends in California told me I was nuts. I had job security, decent pay, retirement…I’d be a fool to go to Sandpoint where the economy was significantly lower even for someone with a Masters degree and license to practice.

But I had the tug on my heart strings for the area and what it had in store for me much like Niccole’s tug she got sitting in the Wyoming sage brush. Something called me there and to my delight the future unfolded.” Mo had always loved to sing and Niccole teases her that she is a “closet songwriter”. “She writes some great songs but gets too shy to sing them and shy just doesn’t seem to match Mo’s personality, so I wind up doing all the writing,” Niccole laughs, “but I value Mo’s feedback on my songs and she is more the business person than I am. Without her I’d be like a ship at sea with no sail, she provides significant insight and motivation. The business of music is a tricky, intricate business and two heads are better than one. Plus Mo provides the ‘icing on the cake’ so to speak. Every time she comes in with that sweet clear voice, whether it’s a song we’ve done forever or just learned a few days ago, I have to smile because it sends me. She seems to know right where to be and she has a calming effect on me whenever I get a bit nervous up on stage. I look at her and it’s as if we have a telepathic cue-card. We definitely have that cosmic connection. It’s also good to share this experience and not be so narcissistic in this whole musical career thing. It’s really not about me or us, it’s about the audience.”

After meeting and playing in virtually all the venues that could be played in the area and a 300 mile radius around Sandpoint, they both decided change would do them good, so they took off for the sunnier side of Idaho, settling in Boise. There, Mo focused on the fretless 5 string bass, something most bass players wouldn’t attempt until 10 years of playing a regular 5 string. “She has a keen ear,” Niccole affirms and how she sings the highs and plays the lows is just fascinating to witness.” The driven duo landed 180 shows the first year of performing since their move to Boise, expanding their fan base all over the Northwest region and parts of California. They have been recipients of the ASCAP Plus awards every year and have been asked to open for David Wilcox, the Green Cards, the Subdudes, and Nina Gerber. They have met amazing people like Lawrence Juber and yes even an Indigo Girl, the great Emily Saliers! Playing local and regional festivals, clubs, colleges, and schools and being asked to be on Comcast Cable, KTVTV* and Plum TV as well as many radio interviews, they bring their down to earth attitudes with them. They are mood lifters on and off the stage and like to give their time to programs that make a difference.

Lately they’ve performed for the Special Olympic Winter Games 2009, and are in cahoots with a new found friend and producer, Micheal Clair creating their 4th CD. “He brings a wealth of experience to the new album, “Niccole says, “he’s played and produced with frickin’ everybody! He has stories about Chet Atkins, Aretha Franklin, Keb Mo, Steve Miller and a mess load of others, he’s got his own signature guitar…it’s quite surreal that this guy is working on our album and I can’t wait till it’s finished!” Just where does the dynamic duo wish to go? They would like to hit the road in their newly acquired 1970?s Shasta trailer, with their black retriever “Osa,” see the sights and bring joy to the world through music. “I would like to know more about film scoring and I’m starting to think more seriously about co-writing and submitting my songs to other artists, but I would definitely like to expand our audience and spread the love…I mean, Mo is a therapist by trade…why not just get out there and start handing out prescriptions of “Nic&Mo” [laughs]. We have a trail to Blaze and we just want to enjoy the journey much like we already have.”






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