I have been an avid fan of music since I was a kid. I can play the piano and the guitar proficiently. I can read and write music. And even with all of that in mind, I do not consider myself talented. If I were talented, I'd have a recording contract, be selling millions of albums, selling out 10,000 seat venues, traveling around first class on planes and living and staying in expensive hotels. You could then tell me to change my name to Bruce Springsteen.
But I'm nothing near that.
I'd like to point out, however, that music has been the biggest part of my life. Where friends have come and go, I've attended dozens of different churches in my life, been in and out of multiple relationships, and I've lived in more than a dozen different houses in my life (not to mention at least that many cities), one thing has stayed a constant. Music.
Music has changed my life. Music has made me appreciate the little things in my days. The songs, the lyrics, the music, the influences, and the feeling that goes through me when I listen to music. Since I was a kid, my style and taste in music have changed. From the early country music days of Eddie Rabbitt and Kenny Rogers to the glam metal rock of Metallica, Motley Crue, Ratt, Poison, and Cinderella to what I'm listening to these days. My first "acoustic" artist was Harry Chapin. Thanks to my dad, I was introduced to his music at 13 years old. That interested me in Jim Croce, Peter, Paul & Mary and so many more. The list of my "favorite" artists is in the hundreds. The songs I can sing are in the thousands. I'm not kidding when I say that. I can hear a song on the radio more times than not and know at least 90% of the lyrics. I'm one of those people that can play air guitar, piano or drums and actually make it work. Chances are, I could probably play some of those songs on multiple instruments.
But none of that compares to how one artist changed my life.
This artist that I am going to talk about is not a household name. At one point and time in his career, he has been on multiple major labels. He's had recording contracts with some of the biggest labels out there on the market. Yet he's not Bruce Springsteen. In popularity, quite honestly, he's not even close. But when it comes to talent? The gentleman I am talking about, Stephen Kellogg is as talented as anyone that has ever stepped foot on this planet in the musical world.
He writes songs that touch your heart. He tells stories about his kids in the lyrics of his songs. He's written songs about his wife and his family. He's written songs for his fans. He's written songs for himself. He's written songs that will change your life. They changed mine.
Stephen Kellogg has been an artist and musician for years. He writes songs that tell stories. If you think about Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, Peter, Paul & Mary, and even Simon and Garfunkel, you'll always recognize those names. But the name Stephen Kellogg is one that most likely unless you are in a dedicated fan base that spans the country, you won't know who in the world I'm talking about.
Since November of 2018, I have seen Stephen Kellogg perform live six times. I have driven over 3,000 miles. I've seen him in multiple states, in multiple cities, and in venues that didn't sell more than 500 tickets at the high end. Now that you've heard that, you may be asking yourself a simple question - What does this guy have that would make fan travel all those miles, all that distance, and all of that time in the car to listen to one guy.
Stephen Kellogg has heart.
He is an artist that sings songs about life. He sings songs about "The Love Of My Life" (a new song on his album that is dedicated to his wife). He has a new album out titled Objects In The Mirror that discusses the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion. It also talks about the loss of a musical icon and legend named Tom Petty. In the same sentence that he mentions Tom Petty, he also discusses "big guns in bad hands" talking about the shooting in Las Vegas that claimed lives at a huge country festival when a crazy madman started shooting out the window of a hotel. Stephen Kellogg talks about it all.
If you listen to a song titled "Lonely In Columbus" it talks about friendship, family, being 800 miles away, and about the life, he was living on the road back when he wrote the song. Then if you listen to a song titled "Thanksgiving", this song should have been an epic masterpiece in the light of "Piano Man" by Billy Joel or "Funeral For A Friend by Elton John. But sadly it's not. It's a song that hits the heart and soul of fans all over the country and the world when he plays it. When I did see him perform it for the first time? It nearly brought me to tears. This song has moved me in ways that nobody that has ever written a song has moved me.
And then after traveling to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Maryland and Connecticut, I saw him perform a song titled "Lonely In Columbus" at the sixth show I've seen of his in the last 5 months. That song stopped me in my tracks. It's a song I can play. It's a song I can sing. It's a song that I know every single chord change, every lyric, and that has a meaning to me like no other. I've been that person. Sitting in the parking lot somewhere that I was working, after a baseball tournament, after a softball tournament, hundreds of miles away from my family, away from my home, and missing my life. Because I needed to do something to earn a living to help support my family.
This is what Stephen Kellogg does. He travels all over the country. He plays venues that I'd never heard of before. He sings songs that I knew nothing about until two years ago. He has a fan base that I had never been familiar with until less than a year ago. He has a dedicated group of people that follow his shows, that record his live concerts, that make his shows available to the fans to listen to, and he has a group of people that know each other better than some families know each other.
This is how a musical artist changed my life. The songs. The music. The stories. And the person.
Meeting Stephen Kellogg is a unique experience. It is not a simple handshake, a picture and then gets out of the way. It is a life changing experience. He remembers the names of his fans. He says hello. He shakes your hand. He gives you a hug. He takes a picture with you. He will sign your merchandise. He will talk about music with you. He answers questions. He even plays songs in his VIP meet and greets that he won't play most times in his live shows. All at the request of fans that pay a small amount of money to hang out with another group of dedicated fans, talk to the man, smile, laugh, and enjoy the stories that he has to tell.
Stephen Kellogg is a singer/songwriter that should be changing the face of music. He should be selling millions of records. He should be selling out venues that Bon Jovi and other rock stars play. He should be living in a mansion, driving expensive cars and wearing $500 jeans as Bon Jovi does. But when you meet him? What you get is what you see.
You will see a working person that will shake your hand, smile at you, laugh with you, talk music with you, and be a real person. He wears blue jeans, headbands, normal people's shoes, and if you'd run into him on the street, you'd just think he's an average guy doing what he does for a living.
But he's anything but average.
His latest album, Objects In The Mirror has a song about life on it. It's called "Prayers" and one of the lyrics speaks to the heart when it says, "Say your prayers, get off your ass and get back to work." Yeah. take that. If you're offended easily? You may not want to listen to the song. But it touched my heart. It made me think about all of the people that shove things down my throat. And it made me appreciate his music even more. Because what it says is what you get. Listen to it or not.
if you go back through his career, you'll find songs about his kids, about his family, and about his life. There is a book out about him. He had a band. He's got a band of guys that he's known for half his life or more. And it's ironic that as I'm writing this, I just happened across a live YouTube concert of his show up east tonight. I'm sitting here in my living room watching Stephen Kellogg perform some of his older songs from the '90s, tell his stories, and once again sit here transfixed as an artist that has truly changed my life performs his songs, sings the words, and does what he does best. Sings in a way that only he can sing, perform in a way only he can perform, and change my outlook in a way that only he can.
I have been listening to music for my entire life. I have had favorite artists come and go. I have had favorite bands come and go. I've seen over 1100 concerts in all genres. I've seen metal concerts, death metal concerts, country shows, folks shows, Americana shows, R&B shows, rap, and everything in between. I've gone to live shows to see bands I could not even begin to discuss.
But there is only one Stephen Kellogg.
I cannot say enough how blessed I am to have found his music. I cannot say enough how blessed I am to have met him more than once. I cannot say how thankful I am to have had the opportunity to see him perform his live shows, to sing his songs, to impact the lives of people around him, and to do what he does best.
This article could last for 20 pages. I could tell stories about people I have met over the last six months of my life. I could tell endless stories of the setlists at the concerts. I could tell stories about the hundreds and thousands of miles traveled. I could tell stories about the songs that I've heard and seen performed. I could tell you over and over again how many times he has amazed me with his talent, with his songwriting ability and with the stories he tells. I could tell you stories for hours about what an impact this has made on my life.
But I'll leave it up to you. I know how it's impacted me. Take a listen to his music. Visit his website. Go to a concert. Go to 20 concerts. Travel to his BBQ (yes - he does one of those. His family comes. His kids are there. The fans bring their wives, husbands, and kids and they all hang out). Get into a social media discussion group. Do what I've done. Trade Valentine's Day and Easter cards with other fans on social media. Talk for hours and hours to others you meet initially through his music and then realize you have more in common than you ever thought.
And then become a fan of Stephen Kellogg for life like I will be.