A Fragile Tomorrow
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A Fragile Tomorrow

Charleston, South Carolina, United States

Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Band Rock Folk

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"A Fragile Tomorrow: A Family Affair"

"Dad, can I go play manhunt down the street at eight?" Brendan Kelly poses this question to his father, reminding me for the first time since our interview started that he is only 11 years old. Yet, at such a young age, Brendan plays lead guitar in local band A Fragile Tomorrow, alongside his 14-year-old brothers, Sean (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, B3, bass, harmonica, mandolin) and Dominic (drums, piano, vocals). The music, which is very much reminiscent of early 1990s alternative with some classic rock thrown in for good measure, gives almost no hint of the ages of the three brothers. It is not until the manhunt comment that I remember Im sitting with kids, and not a band of twenty-something musical veterans.

At the moment, things are going quite well for A Fragile Tomorrow. Not two weeks before our interview, they won a Battle of the Bands in Walden, securing them a set during Septembers Harvest Festival. They have recently lined up several other gigs as well, and are in the midst of finishing their debut album, on Audem Records. And while such success may never grace many bands, if anyone deserves it, A Fragile Tomorrow certainly does.

The Kelly brothers’ musical history can be traced back to Sean, the lead singer and driving force behind the band. After receiving his first guitar at age four, Sean took lessons briefly, yet soon began teaching himself. This early affinity for music soon rubbed off onto Dominic, and the two began singing together, often performing the National Anthem at local sporting events. Somewhere in the midst of all of this, Dominic taught himself to play piano, as well. With such activity and music filling their house, it was inevitable that Brendan would drift into music as well. Indeed, after his first time hearing Led Zeppelin on the radio, he began learning guitar.

Yet, tragedy sidetracked the brothers for a quite a long time. Sean and Dominic’s triplet, Paul, died when they were young, and their mother was in the hospital for a long time as well. Yet, at a Hootie and the Blowfish concert, inspiration struck Sean. He returned from the concert to write his first song, Someday, about Paul. Recruiting Dominic to play bongos on the song and Brendan to play tambourine, the brothers thus formed a band, Acoustic Midnight. Early versions of the band saw the three brothers switching instruments on a regular basis, while playing with a completely different sound than they have developed into. "It was originally really bad heavy stuff," explains Dominic.

People seemed to like them, nonetheless. After changing their name to A Fragile Tomorrow, the brothers began playing at parties and coffeehouses, mixing up covers with their own originals. Yet, it wasn’t until last year that they truly took the music seriously. Inspired by another Hootie and the Blowfish concert, the brothers returned home to write several songs, including We Shall Overcome, a powerful song based on both 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

While Sean has emerged as the primary songwriter, several of the songs in their catalogue were penned by Dominic or Brendan. In fact, it was Brendan who wrote the music for perhaps the bands best song I Bought You Everything, in which the young guitarist shows off his skills of playing with his teeth and behind his back. Both the music and lyrics are surprisingly mature, as well. Where one might expect the band to be a sort of novelty act, based on the brothers ages, the sound is quite strong, and the lyrics powerful.

Susan Cowsill seems to think so, as well. The legendary member of the Cowsills plans on covering one of A Fragile Tomorrows songs, Walk Through the Water. Written about one of Sean’s big influences, Susan’s brother (who is recently deceased), the mandolin and violin in the background are surprisingly reminiscent of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Having sent Susan the song, they were later approached by the singer, who wants to perform a version of the song during concerts. Not bad for a song Sean wrote when he wasn’t yet 14.

Earlier this year, the band entered Tom Destry’s Wallkill recording studio, planning on recording a demo of their music. Yet, Destry saw potential in the band, to say the least, and A Fragile Tomorrow are now signed to his Audem Records. Additionally, Destry recorded their debut album, Wishful Thinking, to be released in the beginning of September. Their first single, Come Home, is already garnering attention from several radio stations, including New York’s WPLJ.

To experience the band is to watch them play live. Even in the basement practice space I watched them in, A Fragile Tomorrow has an undeniable stage presence. Sean’s singing and delivery have a grit to them that one is hardpressed to find in most new music. Dominic’s drums pound out the rhythm unmercifully, while Brendan’s guitar skills could put many professionals to shame. His fingers simply glide over the strings, and it all combines to create something magical, something that cannot be found with just anyone. That something is the essence of stars. While the Kelly brothers may not seem to be phased by their impending success, make no mistake- these kids are meant to be stars. And they will be.

A Fragile Tomorrow will be performing live on September 9th at General Montgomery Day, and on September 16th at the Walden Harvest Festival. For more information, visit their website at afragiletomorrow.com
- Christopher M.F. Bodnarczuk of the Delaware and Hudson Canvas Magazine


"Kelly Boys Rock Locals"

The Kelly brothers' debut album has been out less than a month, but more than 12,600 fans have already heard "Wishful Thinking" online, through the band's MySpace account.

And that's enough to attract a throng of squealing teenagers to a video shoot for "Come Home," their first single.

The track blaring through the ballroom-turned-film set at Anthony's Pier 9 sounds like rock, or alternative, or Emo, or "the perrrfect mix of everything." So said the gushing girls who hopped around Wednesday night as extras for the crowd scene. "It's sooo cool to see them get this far."

It is sooo cool, because the boys' budding success: an album, a video, a deal with Audem Records and an upcoming gig at the classy Bodles Opera House, was tempered by early encounters with pain and terrible loss.

The Kelly brothers: 14-year-old twins Sean and Dominic, and 12-year-old Brendan, formed their garage band a few years back, after seeing a Hootie & the Blowfish concert.

It's strange that they'd tack Hootie posters on their bedroom walls. Mainstream America was really into and really over the pop group before the boys celebrated their fifth birthdays.

They like other stuff too: The Clash, Stevie Wonder, Death Cab for Cutie. But Hootie is special. Hootie's music used to play in their house when they were toddlers, banging away on toy instruments, and back then, Paul would play, too.

Paul was the other Kelly brother, a triplet to Sean and Dominic. The triplets were born premature, they weighed about 2 pounds each, and by their first birthdays, all three were diagnosed with varying degrees of cerebral palsy, a condition, caused by brain damage at birth, that stifles motor skills and speech. Paul's case was the worst. He needed a walker and a wheelchair.

The night before the boys' first day of kindergarten, Paul was running a fever. It turned into pneumonia overnight. By morning, when the household woke to get ready for school, Paul was dead.

"I remember that like it happened yesterday. I was five and a half years old," said Dominic. "For the longest time, I was afraid of going into my brother's room ... For things to change like that, it takes a toll on you."

A few years later, the boys scored tickets to their first Hootie show. Something in that live music registered with the kids. Afterward, Sean picked up a guitar and wrote a song about Paul. He also wrote a letter to the band.

Hootie wrote back, and the next time the boys went to a show, they had backstage passes. "After the second Hootie concert, I went home and started writing more songs. It was just for fun," said Sean. "It wasn't anything serious."

But he felt better and stronger. The guitar kept the cerebral palsy at bay. He didn't worry about what he looked like, even in front of an audience. "Because this guitar was strapped around my body," he said, "I felt all this freedom."

The other boys followed Sean's lead, and by 2003, despite minimal training and resources, the Kellys were making a legitimate sound in the basement.

They learned Zeppelin covers and Who guitar riffs. They wrote original parts for guitar, piano, drums, harmonica, bongos and bass. They kept in touch with Hootie and other, somewhat obscure, musicians they admired. They went to more concerts and started playing their own music around town and at school.

They did what teenagers in half-finished basements and cluttered garages do all around the world. They formed a band.

And then they tried to come up with a name. The Watermelons worked for a while. Then it was Acoustic Midnight, but someone else already had dibs. "Two old guys from New Jersey," said Brendan.

It was Dad who suggested the title off one of their singles.

***

"A Fragile Tomorrow is awesome," rave the teenage girls, their voices hoarse after five takes for the promotional video. One of them gets a special part, a brooding walk toward Dominic, playing drums beside a waterfall in the reception hall. She kisses him, then walks away, still brooding.

The filming wraps a couple of hours later. It's a school night. The kids are hungry. They've got homework, and a show to promote. Back at the house, Sean logs into the band's MySpace page and posts a new blog:

"I want to personally thank each and every person who came out to make our video shoot a success," he types. "I was overwhelmed by the support everyone showed. Again, thank you!"


CD release party and concert
When: Sunday. Doors open at 3 p.m. Show starts at 4.

Where: Bodles Opera House, Main Street, Chester.

Tickets for dinner/show: $15 for adults; $12 for kids under 12. Visit www.bodles.com or call 469-4595 for more information.

To hear: "A Fragile Tomorrow," visit www.myspace.com/afragiletomorrow or www.afragiletomorrow.com

To see the band members and view exclusive video, visit www.recordonline.com - Alexa James/Times Herald Record 10/27/06


"Times Herald Record review: Blues Traveler w/A Fragile Tomorrow"

It’s a good thing there were lots of dancers at Saturday’s Blues Traveler show because the Chance Theater was COLD.

Even John Popper noticed while he was on stage.

But, before we get to Blues Traveler, let’s talk about A Fragile Tomorrow, one of the opening acts. Comprised of the three Kelly brothers and their friend Shaun, this band from Montgomery has talent. More talent than should be expected from such a young band. Collectively, members play over 10 instruments, but even though that night’s show was acoustic, it was nonetheless impressive. The group played songs off its yet-to-be-released new album, “Beautiful Noise,” which is being produced by Grammy-winning producer Malcolm Burn and the crowd absolutely loved them.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the next opener, Lisa Bouchelle.

Her first song was poppy and energetic and her voice was strong and clear, but it just seemed that the rest of her songs all sounded the same. The crowd, at least where I was standing, was totally not into her. In fact, the bar was busiest during her performance. But, despite not winning-over the Chance crowd, she does have a large following and has made quite a name for herself among a few heavy-hitters. She’s opened for Kansas and Bryan Adams, performed live on NBC TV and recorded her album at Jon Bon Jovi’s studio at the Jersey shore. Not bad.

Around 10-ish, Blues Traveler walked onto the stage, hands in the air and the crowd started whooping and hollering. One of the first songs the band played was “Eventually” and it didn’t take long for Popper to get on the harmonica. The next song segued into Kenny Roger’s, “The Gambler,” and that was followed-up with “But Anyway.”

The band was tight and the jams were plenty. Popper spoke with the crowd numerous times, mostly telling them to take care of their bartenders. The musicianship was effortless and the talent was more than apparent. A few songs later, Popper asked Bouchelle to join them on-stage and they performed “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band, and brought the house down. The band also played “Run-Around” and its cover of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band was absolutely phenomenal. It followed with “Carolina Blues” and “Hook.” The band was on-stage for close to two hours and even though they came back for an encore, the crowd didn’t want the band to leave.

One of the fans in the crowd who hung around until almost the bitter end was radio personality Simon from WRRV who made an appearance after playing “Guitar Hero” at the Poughkeepsie Galleria, part of the radio station’s annual “WRRV Show Us Your Cans Food Drive.” Talk about dedication!
- Times Herald Record


Discography

----Tripping Over Nothing ( Coming Feb 23rd)
produced by Danielle Howle

----Beautiful Noise (2008)
produced by Malcolm Burn

----Wishful Thinking (2006)
produced by Tom Destry and A Fragile Tomorrow

Photos

Bio

**A Fragile Tomorrow will be touring with the Indigo Girls Feb/March 2010!**

With an incredible stage show, catchy songs, and perfect harmonies, A Fragile Tomorrow has made themselves known throughout the east coast as one of the best up and coming bands out there today. The group began as a three piece in the fall of 2003, comprised of brothers Sean (vocals, guitar, mandolin), Dominic (drums, vocals), and Brendan Kelly (lead guitar, mandolin). They shared a love for music and a desire to make it, and what resulted in 2006 was the band’s debut album Wishful Thinking. That same year, a newspaper ad led Shaun Rhoades (bass, vocals) to the band, and they have remained a four piece ever since.

In the fall of 2007 they began recording their sophomore album, Beautiful Noise, with producer Malcolm Burn, best known for his work with Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, and the Neville Brothers. The album was released in the spring of 2008 to great review. Beautiful Noise features guest spots from friends Peter Holsapple (The dB’s, REM, Hootie and the Blowfish) and Susan Cowsill (The Cowsills, Continental Drifters, Dwight Twilley). AFT then began touring, and has since shared the stage with the likes of the Indigo Girls, Blues Traveler, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, Continental Drifters, Danielle Howle, Doug Jones of Cravin Melon, Amy Ray, and more.

Currently the band has just released their third album, titled "Tripping Over Nothing". The album was recorded at Awendaw Green, a music compound in Awendaw, South Carolina that is quickly becoming one of the best places for music in South Carolina. On board for producing is singer-songwriter Danielle Howle. With 8 albums under her belt, 20 years in the business, and countless amounts of touring and playing with the likes of the Indigo Girls, Hootie and the Blowfish, Ani DiFranco, Bob Dylan, The Avett Brothers, and many more, Danielle Howle is a road warrior who certainly knows her stuff. “Working with Danielle is very comfortable for us. She’s always got ideas in her head. She makes us feel very relaxed in the studio, and has really helped us dig into our songs more and pull out the emotion in the lyrics and music, which adds a whole new dynamic to the recordings”, says Sean Kelly. “She understands these songs and knows how to bring them to the next level. We couldn’t have asked for anybody better this time around”. "Tripping Over Nothing" features guest appearances by Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, Peter Holsapple of the dB's, and Susan Cowsill of The Cowsills.

The band’s strong point is certainly their live show. High energy, raw, fun performances make AFT a band to catch this year. At an AFT show, there is definitely never a dull moment. “We just love playing together. The thing that keeps it fun for us is the idea that we can be spontaneous with each other in front of an audience, and they respond really well to it. It makes it so we always have something to talk about after the show, and it makes playing the songs night after night just as great as it was the first time we played them” says Sean.

A Fragile Tomorrow will be around for a long time. With a new album on the horizon, tons of shows, and an overall desire to continue playing and recording together, there’s no telling where they’ll go from here. “We’re just happy that people are listening, and that people genuinely enjoy seeing us play and hearing our songs. It makes everything else worth it”.