Bill Kelly Trio
Bill Kelly: guitar, vocals
Andy Goessling: Guitars, mandolin, zither, vocals
Alison (Boardman) Goessling: Bass, backing vocals
Band active 1989 – 1994
The first time I saw Andy was when he was checking out my band playing our eighth grade graduation party. He lived a short walk through the woods from the Lamp’s house where we were playing. He was leaning against a tree with his arms folded and his head slightly tilted while we were butchering our way through Aqualung. We both lived in Mendham, NJ, but he went to the Township middle school and I was is in the Borough middle school.
We became friends in high school and had lots of mutual friends, but didn’t see much of each other since he was already busy playing in bands with older guys like Mike Esposito and Scott Gressitt and CT Tucker. I had also retreated to singer songwriter world in my bedroom with the guitar my brother Mike gave me.
I started playing professionally in San Francisco, and when I got back to NJ in ‘85, we started to see each other more regularly. I was playing with The House of Cards and Andy was playing with The Blue Sparks From Hell. I was always a big fan. And Andy was always so supportive of my music and was always helpful with his massive knowledge of music and instruments and, well, everything.
Andy began coming to House of Cards gigs and sitting in more and more. Then he started showing up on our records. And then we were doing band pictures. At that point, the band was Niles Terrat, Mike Esposito, Andy, Mark Deckenbach, and me. And it was a kick ass band. One of my favorite memories is classic AG. The room was dancing, and a woman backed into the floor monitor and fell backwards between me and Andy. As she went down, her high heel flipped up, end over end, and landed in Andy’s hand. And without missing a beat, he began playing slide with the high heel on his mandolin.
Andy stayed in the band a few years and then moved on to Tim Carbone’s band, Kings in Disguise.
Somewhere during all of that, Andy and I were doing duo gigs and I began going down to Andy and Alison’s place in Far Hills on a regular basis. The three of us played a lot and made a bunch of Christmas cover recordings that we’d send to family and friends. Then we started performing together and we ultimately recorded “Live at Rosie’s Cabaret” in Long Valley.
There were a handful of years after I got married and moved to NYC and had my son Isaac where we weren’t crossing paths so much. But, as with true friends, when we saw each other, no time had passed.
When he told me about his new band Railroad Earth, my wife and I went down to see him at the Underground Cafe in the Village and we were just blown away and it was obvious that they had something really special. I remember joking to him, “I think this could work.”
I watched the band grow and grow and anytime I saw them or heard someone talking about them, my heart beamed with pride.
I was an usher in Andy and Alison’s wedding party. I would bring them things from my travels. I showed him some yoga I learned from the Master. He was one of the 3 people I spoke to on 9/11.
The last time I saw Andy, we talked while I sat on a little three legged painted stool I brought him from El Salvador in ‘91. I told him that I loved him and thanked him for his friendship and for how much damn fun we had together and that, while it would be better to have more time to do more of what he does, he did so much in his lifetime. And he sounded like he was almost having to admit it when he said, “yeah, we really packed it in.” Well I won’t say I have yet, but Andy sure did.
This track is from Live at Rosie’s and it’s also one of the last songs Andy and I performed together at the Deerhead Inn in May 2018.
– Bill Kelly