Chaos, puppets, free PBR.
Only a few elements of a Dirty Reggae Punx concert.
“Really, we don’t even know what to prepare for, to be honest,” said Kelly Randolph, aka PunkRawk Kelly, lead singer and guitarist. “We’re not your average sit-in-a-chair-and-watch band.”
They pass out hand-made puppets to the audience members. In fact, wearing a puppet is one of the requirements to get a free beer, Randolph said. It’s clear they try to make their performances interactive.
“We treat every show like it’s its own deal…we never really have any days where we don’t feel it,” he said.
“We’re not your average sit-in-a-chair-and-watch band.”
Accompanying him in this band from Alexandria, Minn., are Rub (bass), Alex Shockley (guitar, keyboard, vocals), Aleko Loughrey (drums), and Markus J Dandy (drums).
A YouTube video of DRP shows Randolph wearing a white hockey mask, not wearing pants and dropping F-bombs.
Yet between the music, the beer, and the expletives, Randolph is a small-town husband and father. His hometown, with a population of just under 500, Brandon, Minn., has one stoplight and just a couple grocery stores. Out in the middle of nowhere, in what he calls “God’s country,” Randolph is conspicuous, like his music.
“I’m the only one out here rocking a huge mohawk…in a town playing country jukebox artists,” he said.
His wife, Amanda, of nearly four years, inspired the band’s name. Her first impression of Randolph, about six years ago, was a “dirty reggae punk,” which is how she had listed him in her cellphone. Not that his idea of her was romantic either, listing her as “hippie” in his phone.
“When I met my wife, we were just kind of digging on each other,” he said. “We didn’t even know each other’s names.”
Family matters, it seems.
Even his kids helped with his music, co-writing the song “Zombie Racoon” where they sing “I’m a zombie, a reanimated raccoon!” Randolph and his kids, then 11 years old and 13 years old, saw a roadkill raccoon while driving and joked about it coming back to life and what that would look like.
He said it’s one of the band’s top songs now.
Community matters also. DRP’s Facebook page reads, “If you enjoy freedom, thank a vet! Support music as a form of therapy in VA hospitals! We love supporting communities and making the world a better place!” When he’s not on tour, Randolph visits the local Veterans Affairs hospital to do music with the patients.
“Oh, it’s life-changing,” he said about those sessions. “There’s so many stories. I could have you on the phone for a week.”
One powerful story came to his mind.
He told of when he gave a guitar signed by the members of Dropkick Murphys, a Celtic-American punk-rock band, to a man in the Air Force named Michael. Three years later, Randolph visited Michael’s home for a night during DRP’s Snowbird Tour. He got to meet Michael in person, and they jammed on their instruments together.
“It was really cool to meet him, shake his hand, and hear his stories,” Randolph said.
So despite the chaos PunkRawk Kelly creates and encourages on stage, Randolph seems steady with family, community, and charity. He likes the peacefulness in between the music. He said being in Brandon is a break from all the craziness.
“You got to drive over a river or stream to get anywhere,” he said about his hometown.
He can’t stay away for too long though. As Green Jellÿ member number 343, he and his current band are hoping to team up with his old friends in Green Jellÿ for a 2016 tour.