Gentleman Des – A Felicitation – by Max Gerreyn
As much as it is a safe bet that a large percentage of our fellow Australians are familiar with the surname Kelly its much shorter odds that the entire population of expatriate Sri Lankan Australians in Melbourne are even more aware and cognisant of `Mr. Music’ – Desmond Anthony Carl Kelly – to name him in full. I am privileged to claim greater familiarity and call him `Dessa’ since becoming a fond and firm cyber-friend with him from the beginning of the current century. Indeed I can claim to even closer almost familial relationship with Dessa as I also began another cyber relationship – in the previous century – with his younger more rumbustious, heavier and younger brother Ian . The latter calls himself `Mala Kelly’ and for other s who have known him well before he self-exiled back to Mother Lanka a decade ago – that’s a spot-on description for a true extrovert. He doesn’t have the vocal timbre of Des but when it comes to singing bawdy Sinhala Baila `young’ Ian is uncontestable. Trust me…I do know what `naughty as’ is.
To get more `formal’ and `serious’ (neither of which are preferred aspects of my personality) I wish to focus on the great musical nous and talents of Desmond Anthony. He’s styled as the Editor-in-Chief of the excellent E-Lanka Newssite that keeps growing in readership on the back of its twice-weekly appearance. Recently even myself – of whom my many critics reckon has Van Gogh’s ear for music – has been drawn into listening to the many videos of the Country Music that have been posted by Des on E-Lanka Des cherishes the Country stuff and says its music plays out the Story of Life and Love and will last for eternity – evidence for which he cites the stats that in the USA there are 248 radio stations that play ONLY Country! . Long before he was once Melbourne’s top Sri Lankan singer-entertainer – songwriter – presenter Dessa was a young Housewife’s Favourite in then Ceylon with his perennial hit Dream World and a slew of several other record sellers. Des strummed his strings and sang his rich baritone as a virtual teen-age member on the pay-list of all the Big Bands that were in action at all Colombo’s top venues. .However I shall not dwell longer or wax more bull on Des the Performer – he has done his bit – lit up the stages and now in busy retirement still makes time to `educate’ musical novices like me take a livelier interest in his abiding passion – Good Old Country Music of the Des Kelly Genre. To illustrate this I have to appeal to the readers of this literary`garbage’ by me to open up the video-posts `Kelly Klassics. & Singalongs’ links that appeared in the recent editions of ELanka and lend your ear (NOT the VanGogh one) to Des’s choices of `Jealous Kind’ sung by Rita Coolidge …`Ravishing Ruby’ by Tom Hall and a classic `I’ve Got You’by singers Waylon Jennings & Anita Carter. Until he enlightened me I did not realise that the HARMONY being sung to these recordings was taped and sung by Dessa himself……Good long suffering readers – we’ve to hand it to Gentleman Des – the Lovely Bloke’s a GENIUS…and long may he continue to be with us..