Winterfest 2014: Q&A with Rorie Kelly

Photo by Laura Foord

Photo by Laura Foord

Rorie Kelly is a fiery indie musician from Brooklyn who frequents the North Fork to perform. Being a singer-songwriter with an intense sound, she has been compared to artists such as Fiona Apple, Janis Joplin and Liz Phair. 

Playing with enough passion to break guitar strings, Rorie writes catchy, melodic rock songs that are sure to grab your attention. When she’s not playing solo, she can often be found playing with her band, More of the Mess. As a trio, they build an intricate wall of sound.

She recently released her first full-length album, Wish Upon a Bottlecap. The album has since been getting spins from Triple-A and college radio stations across the country.

Rorie is set to play for Live on the Vine’s Winterfest concert series at Coffee Pot Cellars in Cutchogue Saturday. The set starts at 4 p.m.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about playing on the North Fork? Either on stage or just playing as in having fun in general?   

Rorie: Playing the North Fork is a drive for me (I live in Brooklyn) and a lot of people think I’m nuts to do it. But I actually really enjoy watching the scenery change so completely from Greenpoint to Greenport. It’s a beautiful place to be and it tickles me pink that I can just hop in my car and be in such a different landscape in just a couple of hours.

Q: Tell us about your first ever gig on (or visit to) the North Fork. 

Rorie: My first time playing at a winery I drove past it 3 to 4 times before I figured out where I was supposed to be. The North Fork: The only place you can get terribly, terribly lost even though there are only 2 roads.

Q: Are there any North Fork locations or attributes that inspire your music? 

Rorie: In general the landscape of the North Fork is really inspiring. The forks are the closest thing to “rural” that you can find on Long Island. Looking out at acres of vines, or the Long Island Sound while I’m performing just makes me feel like I’m doing something right.

Q: What do you think about Winterfest expanding genres by changing from “Jazz on the Vine” to “Live on the Vine”? 

Rorie: Since I’m not a jazz artist I’m a bit biased but I’ll say it anyway: I’m so glad Winterfest made the move from jazz-only to “Live on the Vine!” Long Island has a long history of local music and Long Island wine country has a long history of being good to us indie artists. I love that this winter if you’re on a wine tasting tour you’re also going on a music tasting tour… variety is the spice of life.

Q: Do you like winters on Long Island? 

Rorie: I have mixed feelings about winters on Long Island. But, I will say that people who only visit the shores during the summer are missing out. Growing up, looking out a little creek covered with ice and snow was one of the more magical parts of winter.

Q: Do you drink wine? If so, do you have a favorite North Fork wine (or vineyard)?

Rorie: When I gig at wineries I like to tell people I’m “being a professional wino this weekend.” I’m a big fan of wine and combining it with music just about makes my day. (PS, when you do that you should also combine it with a designated driver… I’m just saying.) My two favorite North Fork wines at the moment are the Osprey’s Dominion Regina Maris chardonnay, and a very nice aged merlot I had recently at Clovis Point.

Q: What can people expect to hear at your shows?   

Rorie: At my shows people can expect to hear a little of everything, including things they have never heard before. I’m a very prolific songwriter and I also like to be my own human jukebox and learn any song that suits my fancy… 90s rock, jazz standards, Beatles tunes, and acoustic versions of punk and metal songs are all in the running.

Q: How do North Fork audiences differ from other areas you play, whether up Island or the city or wherever?   

Rorie: I love North Fork audiences because they’re ready willing and able to get silly and have a good time. In NYC you get that blase hipster attitude, or just noisy disinterest… On the North Fork I have seen a table full of adults gleefully sing the entirety of “Man in the Mirror” at the top of their lungs, and then all go over and high five the guy who played it.

Q: What do you think the North Fork needs? Or what would you do if you were elected mayor (or supreme ruler) of the North Fork? 

Rorie: If I were supreme ruler of the North Fork I would probably figure out about getting some more serious public transport. Both for locals and visitors – an inexpensive but reliable bus or trolley service, with serious weekend hours and LIRR connections, would improve safety and access for a lot of folks.

Q: Is there anything about the North Fork that you dislike or would like to see improve?

Rorie: While the winery circuit is special and awesome I have always felt that a few more opportunities for original musicians to showcase their craft would be a real boon. Coffee Pot Cellars recently started up a series like that, and you’re also starting to see songwriters’ nights at churches, bars and community centers in the last couple of years. I think there’s definitely an audience for original music on the North Fork and I look forward to watching that scene grow.