By Crystal Harrell
It appears that the world of country music in the 21st century has evolved in sound to blend with the modern melodies of hard rock electric guitars and pop-friendly radio anthems, but for those who pine for the old-fashioned sensibilities of the golden country classics, listeners can look no further than the up-and-coming band The Podunk Poets.
The twangy duet-fronted group consists of singers Kelly Kidd and Cindy-Lou Jollotta, guitarist Jake Kelly, drummer Patrick Generosa, and bassist Grady Hutt. The Podunk Poets performed at the popular Stagecoach Festival at the Honkytonk Dance Hall on April 24 to an excited group of concert-goers.
“It’s been absolutely amazing being at Stagecoach. Almost like a dream,” said Jollotta.
“Being an independent band and doing Stagecoach is something that small bands only dream of. It’s those baby steps that lead to different moments and different stages,” added Kidd.
The Podunk Poets trace their musical influences to country legends like Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, while stringing together catchy harmonies sure to take their audience back to the simple times of the ever-changing genre.
“I grew up in Houston, so I had an idea of putting together an old-time, classic country band. I guess it was my brain child, then I started looking for the right fit of players. I went through a couple female vocalists before I found [Cindy-Lou], and I just really wanted to bring back that classic country sound. I’m not a fan of contemporary country. I like the old Tammy Wynette, George Jones tunes with that honky-tonk style,” admitted Kidd.
Although The Podunk Poets may lean toward the classics, there is undoubtedly a contemporary influence in both the band’s lyrics and music in their first full-length album, Studio Sessions.
“On our new album, we did a mash-up of ‘Stand by Your Man’ by Tammy Wynette and Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl.’ That’s kind of what we do. We sound classic, but we touch upon very contemporary themes,” stated Kidd.
“If you listen to our lyrics, a lot of them are definitely edgy,” added Jollotta.
The Podunk Poets’ unique namesake stems from the creative perspective of Kidd and how he views the connotations of being a Podunk Poet. “We went through a lot of band names, and I just thought that Podunk Poets kind of sounded like some sophisticated small-town poets–someone up in their farmhouse with a little quill writing their poetry,” said Kidd.
If there is one song these tag team country crooners are excited about playing, it’s “Podunk Hoedown”–a smart tribute to the saloon-worthy ditties of yesteryear.
“We start every show with the first song on our album, ‘Podunk Hoedown’, and it really gives off the impression that the party is about to start. It has sassy lyrics, and it’s all about having a fun time; it’s a great party song,” stated Jollotta.
“I have to agree with her because ‘Podunk Hoedown’ kickstarts the show and it advertises our life. We’re kind of like a lifestyle band; we want everyone to be part of the party, and that vibe’s on the new CD, too. Once that song starts, it opens the floodgates to the rest of our show,” added Kidd.
As far as their career is concerned, The Podunk Poets are happy with all they have been able to accomplish and the opportunity they had to perform at Stagecoach. “We’re really grateful for Goldenvoice letting us come to the festival because it’s been an amazing experience. We’ve been treated so well and we’ve been getting so much love,” exclaimed Jollotta.
The Podunk Poets were humbled by the popular reputation of the music festival, and even got flustered when interacting with other country performers. “Seeing Sturgill Simpson was a really big deal. I met him Friday and I freaked out! I took a picture with him and my finger was shaking the whole time. I also caught Kacey Musgraves, whose writing I’m a big fan of,” admitted Jollotta.
The group is thankful for a supportive fan base that has followed them throughout their musical journey.
“You take a lesson that there’s a lot of bands that can laugh at themselves, and there’s no pretentiousness to them. All of us in the band have been through different journeys in music; sometimes it doesn’t go the way you plan it, but you kind of use your experience to start enjoying the steps,” explained Kidd. “When it comes to interacting with the fans, I feel like I’m miles ahead of where I used to be. I can really appreciate it when someone says they love the band or that a certain song was amazing or when they ask if they can take a picture with us. It isn’t just talk; it really means a lot.”
For more information and tour dates, visit The Podunk Poets’ official website, their Facebook page, and their YouTube channel. Their first full-length album, Studio Sessions, is available now through iTunes and Amazon.