Home. Nothing matters quite as much to Stephen Kellogg. It can be a difficult concept to grasp for a traveling musician, who by necessity spends so much time away from it.
But this amorphous idea is one Kellogg, along with his band the Sixers, has spent the last seven years exploring in his writing. In an unadorned Americana style, they spin engaging vignettes, equating family, belonging and love with that feeling of home.
“Family is a huge one for me. Everybody came from somewhere.
Most people have some semblance of family in their lives, even if it’s not blood,” he says.
Some of his songs are about his direct family, be they his daughters or his father. He doesn’t limit himself to just talking about his family tree, though; more ethereal notions like belonging and love also find their way into the songs.
“Love is so obvious it sounds cliché, but it does feel like you feel love when you’re doing things right, and when you’re doing things wrong, you feel everything but love,” Kellogg says. “To me, that’s the centerpiece of how we can gauge how well we’re doing. It’s an easy litmus test that everyone can do. How much love is in my life?”
That love transfers to his audience as well: The Sixers are noted for their enthusiastic live shows. “We’ve made a big deal out of being honest with our audience. We don’t put on a lot of airs. They feel like they know us. When we go out and do a live show, we don’t have a rehearsed script,” he says. “We’re trying to be real and in the moment.”
But it’s not just improv up there onstage every night. Kellogg has themes he wants to hit in every show: “I always make sure we play a song about the military, because I want to mention them,” Kellogg says, adding nationalistic pride to his definition of home.
“I really want to make sure we’re giving people every aspect of our group and where we fit in the great American musical wheel. At our core, we’re a heartland rock and roll band: what Mellencamp was doing in ’82, what the Wallflowers did in ’95. I like to think that that’s what we’re doing now in 2010.”
Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers play with Roy Jay at the Seaside on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 7 pm. Tickets: $12 - $15. All-ages. Visit www.brownpapertickets.com or call 413-2676.