Kelli Rae Powell is the tiny ukulele-wielding, redheaded stepchild of Billie Holiday and Johnny Cash. Whether she’s growling out wry ruminations or purring her way through a love song, she delivers the kind of consistently literate lyrics that once prompted Tommy Ramone to call her a poet.
The Iowa-bred performer arrived in New York City in 2000, and after making a name for herself in the city’s underground ukulele cabaret scene, released 2006’s “The Scandalous Accounts of My Youth,” and 2009’s “New Words For Old Lullabies” (both on Firecracker Records). She has been listed as a “Rising Star: Folk” in iTunes Essentials, alongside Bon Iver, Joanna Newsom and The Weepies, and New York City’s Deli Magazine wrote that her talents place her at the “tip of the NYC ukulele solo singer songwriter movement.”
Powell’s forthcoming CD, “Live At Jalopy,” produced by Terry Radigan and recorded at Jalopy Theatre and School of Music in Red Hook, Brooklyn, showcases a confident artist at the height of her game. Her set list includes new songs and fresh versions of Powell’s most popular songs from her previous recordings, making this album either a perfect introduction to her work, or a must-have for Powell’s completist fans. On this recording, Powell was joined by long-time band members Jim McNamara on upright bass, Shaky Dave Pollack (M Shanghai String Band) on harmonica, and Joe Brent (Regina Spektor, Erin McKeown) on mandolin and violin, plus Matthew Brookshire on guest vocals. The album was mastered by Richard Morris Mastering (The Felice Brothers, Spirit Family Reunion).