So long Band of Kelleys… hello, Paper Dolls

The Band of Kelleys had been making quite a splash on the bluegrass scene this past few years. A family group from Augusta, Georgia which once contained four siblings is now down to three, they have a powerful vocal sound in young Victoria Kelley who plays mandolin with the group. They were Bluegrass Ramble artists in 2018, and wowed audiences in Raleigh that year, but we haven’t heard new music from them in quite some time.

And now we know why.

During the forced break in 2020 when all performing artists were shut out of working, the three Kelley siblings – Victoria, her older sister, Bethany, on fiddle, and younger brother, Daniel, on bass – hatched a plan to emerge from COVID with a new look, a new sound, and a new name.

So we are happy to introduce you to… The Paper Dolls, and their latest single, Pray For Rain. It’s one that Bethany and Victoria wrote with Josh Shilling, that finds the Kelleys in an acoustic vibe that draws heavily from their bluegrass grounding, but with an edge that also incorporates their interest in country and pop music, and the many styles these talented young ladies are currently studying at the Berklee College of Music.

When we caught up with Victoria earlier today, we were curious how they chose the new name.

“It seemed to be a name that really worked well for us, since the songs are like our stories on paper – bringing the art of music to life. Beth and I loved paper dolls as kids, and it felt like a fitting name for what we are doing.

When all our gigs were cancelled last year, it was a perfect time for us to stop and think about what we wanted to do with our music, and where we wanted to go. We realized that we wanted to open our minds to new genres as well, so a new name just made sense. We want the focus to be on the music, and make a distinction from the previous band name

I will say that Daniel is being a great sport about being a paper doll!”

New music from The Paper Dolls comes from songs that have been written over this past couple of years, and recorded in Nashville with Jim VanCleve as producer. Victoria said that they have six songs finished now, and plan to release one every 8-10 weeks over the coming months, with music videos to accompany each of them.

They have chosen to work independently, without a label or a booking agency, keeping their careers a fully Kelley run operation. Daniel has become skilled as a videographer, with an eye towards keeping as much as possible within the band. Bethany is studying audio engineering at Berklee, while Victoria is majoring in songwriting, and it shows in the quality of their work.

The Kelleys have even formed their own support company, Vivid Solutions, offering video, graphic design, and software solutions for both The Paper Dolls and other artists in the music industry.

Let’s have a look at Pray For Rain, the music video for the single, which is available for download now from popular locations online, or directly from the band web site. Seth Taylor joins them on guitar, and Cory Walker on banjo.

The Paper Dolls are using the Patreon platform to help maintain a community of fans and followers, where the Kelleys will offer more music and information than what is released for download. Patreon followers will have access to private livestreams, Q&A sessions, a private Facebook group, early downloads of new music, and even lessons. Like most Patreon pages, fans can choose among three tiers of support, from $3 to $30 per month, with differing levels of access with each tier.

Victoria said that the offerings should appeal to anyone who enjoys their music.

“People get early sneak peaks and behind the scenes content on Patreon, lessons on instruments, songwriting information, plus tips on video and audio production. We share what we have learned at Berklee – Beth is doing audio engineering and I’m in songwriting.”

A great many artists began using Patreon during the shutdown year, finding it allowed them to stay in touch with fans, who were happy to offer some financial support while gigs were non-existent. With live music back this year, it seems that people still enjoy the close contact with their favorite artists, and the regularity of communication.

You can sign up for The Paper Dolls Patreon page online. Followers also get advance notice and discounts on ticket sales, plus discounts on band mech sold online.

You can learn more about the band on their official web site.

A big Bluegrass Today welcome to The Paper Dolls!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.