If you were at the Smokey Barrel Stage at Stagecoach, you might have caught a set by Tarzanaland—which marked the first public performances by this band made up of music-industry veterans.
The lead singer of Tarzanaland is Kelly Kidd, also of the Podunk Poets, a band which has performed at Stagecoach in the past. Joining Kidd in Tarzanaland is Thomas Gallmeier. Bassist Grady Hutt and guitarist Jake Kelly, both members of the Podunk Poets, backed Kelly and Gallmeier at Stagecoach—and at least one of those Podunk Poets may be increasing his involvement in Tarzanaland.
Kidd and Gallmeier explained that Tarzanaland was created to fill the gaps in between Podunk Poets’ performances and recording sessions.
“I’ve known Thomas for years and years, and we’ve been in and out of different projects.” Kidd said. “Thomas comes from the (electronic dance music) world, so I thought it would be fun to throw some country ideas at him—something that was a bit more adventurous than what we were accustomed to.”
Despite his background, Gallmeier said there isn’t really an EDM element to Tarzanaland.
“There are some elements in terms of production stuff, but it’s very traditional country,” he said.
Kidd said Tarzanaland has provided him with an opportunity to explore territory both old and new.
“It’s a different journey,” he explained. “I got more and more inspired by other people and a different kind of energy. I wanted this to start off as a bit more of an experiment, which is why I brought in Jake (Kelly), because he can combine the traditional elements.”
Jake Kelly said he’s gotten more involved with Tarzanaland because he loves Kidd’s songwriting.
“A lot of the time, you hear songs from another writer who you’re not familiar with. You come to realize that there are some red flags and think, ‘I wouldn’t have done this,’” Jake Kelly said. “But Kelly (Kidd) was the first songwriter I came across who played songs where there was no red flag, and no ‘I would do this a lot differently.’ I was a little apprehensive about (Tarzanaland); it’s a little outside of my comfort zone, but I have tremendous faith in what Kelly does. If he thought it was going to work, and what I was going to do would be a fit, I went with it. It’s been a lot of fun.”
I talked to Kidd two years ago at Stagecoach when the Podunk Poets performed. He talked about how both Stagecoach and country music itself have grown in just the two years since then.
“I think the festival has grown,” Kidd said. “The last time I was here, I told you that country music was waiting for its Nirvana, and I still remember that. But most people don’t know what that means. Sam Hunt is bringing in hip-hop or some of these grooves that are a lot more urban. I think that it allows people to bring in different forms of media into the traditional genre. I think that could be the change.”
We talked about Elle King’s Friday performance, which made waves at the festival due to what some considered its vulgarity.
“I think country music can celebrate dirtiness,” Kidd said. “We can all relate to those songs, sort of. What’s that best self-proclaimed country song ever written? David Allan Coe’s ‘You Never Even Called Me By My Name.’ Flirty can be fun.”
Jake Kelly agreed.
“What’s more fun than being seduced? I don’t think there is anything,” he said.
Despite Tarzanaland’s increasing popularity, the Podunk Poets have not broken up. Kidd said co-vocalist Caitlin Eadie is currently touring and was performing in the Pacific Northwest during Stagecoach.
Jake Kelly explained the hiatus.
“We’re going to be in Minnesota over the summer, so that project still has wings,” he said about Podunk Poets. “We have people in different places right now. Everybody has multiple things going on at the same time, but we’ll pull it back together, and it’ll snap.”
So, how did Tarzanaland’s first public performances—in the same area as Stagecoach’s cooking demonstrations and barbecue contest—turn out? They were rather well-received.
“It’s been great,” Gallmeier said. “The people were enthusiastic about it.”
For more information on Tarzanaland, visit www.tarzanaland.com.