German Haymaker Bio

So as I’m buying plane tickets, sorting passports, and doing the endless amount of planning that goes into taking a band to Europe for a month…I thought I would share the German Bio currently being used by Trocadero Records for promoting my new “Haymaker Heart” CD over the pond. Always interesting to get an outside view of your work. I don ‘t know that the translation to English is very forgiving, but you’ll get the idea. For mp3 samples go to

My U.S. version of Haymaker Heart is currently in production and you can pre-order now for delivery January 1, 2005. Just go to my discography page to order securely by credit card or mail. Enjoy…

Kelly Who??
After his European debut with the “House of Mud” CD in summer 2003 and a club tour in the following autumn this man should be well-known to our European alt-country community. Too outstanding is his bittersweet songwriting, too well-read is his observation of smalltown life in the Middle West.

A balding man in his mid thirties whose Devil’s House Band played a mean laconic sound without comparison between Raw Blues and Naked Folk. Kelly Pardekooper’s fans were lucky: They could choose their favourite references somewhere in between Chris Isaak, Soul Asylum and Tom Petty, but still followed a solitary songwriter in his own right.

In the meantime some things happened to our man. “I got divorced, sold my house in Iowa, lived in my van with my guitar, and finally settled down in Nashville. How’s that for a real country singer?”, he asks with some self-irony, and you feel the subtle bitterness underlying his words.

Kelly didn’t quit his songwriting, though, and presents some new tracks which simply knock you down. No wonder with all the shit that happened to him. But the man does it alright and channels his frustration into touching songs. It is the consequent continuation of a life which Kelly began as an All American Boy in Iowa City, where he was born in April, 1968. He got his first guitar aged 22, hung around the local Gabe’s club too often and watched Middle West legends Bo Ramsey & The Backsliders on stage. And then, aged 30, he founded his first own band and gave up his job to work underpaid for an Independent magazine. In spite of wife, house and all.

Those times are over now, and thus we witness a melancholic opener called “Not In Iowa” with its classic guitar chord, desert blues associations and chanson-like tristesse oozing out of an accordion. This dirty dozen of brand new songs turns European Americana aficionados to confessing members of the Kelly family. Although Pardekooper withdraws from those of his fans who only see the alt-country prophet in him. No, sir. Kelly manages to invent a kind of open-minded rock music which should be played in the radio all day long. Love songs with double meaning. Solid rock songs. Sad ballads. If you like to, there’s a lot to discover. A little bit of Roy Orbison, the Stones of ‘72 in “Too Late”, desert rock bands like Naked Prey.

Sometimes Kelly’s lyrics are haunting like those of “Hotel California”. Or you’ll find some horns in “All Over Now” which could remind you of Sgt. Pepper, plus a guitar riff that made Status Quo famous. R.E.M.‘s college rock sound, or the Gun Club’s dark knowledge. And you’ll even find that certain Oasis-like orchestral revelry in “Take Me To My Home”.

The killer song, however, of Kelly’s new album is “Folk This”, a dylanesque tour de force through folk history, sung with a broken voice and accompanied by a typical Dylan-like acoustic guitar. Funny, eh? Last year Kelly was an alt-country hero, and now here’s his distinct refusal of all fan expectations: “Take a lot of pills and die!”

By the way, go and visit Kelly’s website The man’s keeping an interesting journal. Check out what he experienced during his first European tour, look at some weird photos showing Kelly in a cowboy suit. Find his complete lyrics and some comments on true everyday life in the United States. A fascinating personality, this Kelly Pardekooper. He’ll be touring Europe in spring, 2005. Don’t miss him!

-Peter Erik Hillenbach, October 2004

Journal Archive