How Floyd Kellogg became Nantucket’s resident music man.
Making it as a professional musician is difficult even in the best of times. Making it in the midst of a pandemic, with music venues shuttered indefinitely, sounds next to impossible. Yet local musician Floyd Kellogg has always been a bit of a rarity. A jack-of-all-trades music man, Kellogg switches from sound engineer, to multi-instrumentalist, to session player, to songwriter, to composer, to producer with the ease of an old bluesman picking through a solo. Indeed, Kellogg’s ability to improvise has enabled him to not only survive over the last year—but thrive.
Prior to the pandemic, Kellogg could be found playing in a half dozen bands around the island. One day, he’d be ripping electric guitar solos at the Rose & Crown for the rock band Buckle & Shake, the next he could be laying down reggae riffs with the Foggy Roots outfit at the brewery or hammering the bass at the Box with Lance Mountain. Off Nantucket, Kellogg toured with the nationally renowned band Andy Frasco and the U.N. All the while, between gigs, in the airports and on the road, Kellogg worked away on his laptop scoring soundtracks for a variety of films and television networks like Showtime and A&E.
“It’s always been about playing a better show, being better,” said Kellogg, who also serves as the studio engineer as well as music production and beat-making instructor at the Nantucket Community Music Center. “It’s shutting the door on the last thing you did and keep moving forward to the next one.”
The pandemic prompted Kellogg to spend more time creating and composing music for various film projects as well as performing in recording sessions for a variety of musical endeavors around the country. More locally, he collaborated with Nantucket-based artists recording their debut albums while also co-producing, recording and engineering the first season of The Dreamland’s high-definition, recorded music series Dreamland Live Sessions.
Part of Kellogg’s magic is his mastery of multiple instruments, from electric guitar, to drums, to his first love of the bass. He began playing bass at ten years old, which led to drum lessons and then forming a handful of bands in his hometown of Newtown, Connecticut. By fourteen, Kellogg was booking gigs all over New England, including in roadhouses and over-twenty-one clubs where his parents needed to chaperone him.
He joined the school band, discovered jazz and got his start in music theory. Manning the upright acoustic bass, Kellogg performed at such a high level that when it came time for college, he had his choice of top music schools like Oberlin and the Berklee College of Music in Boston. “I guess I was about as proficient as a high school kid could be,” he admitted, “but that’s all I ever wanted to do.”
He ultimately decided to stay close to home and attend the University of Connecticut where he studied classical percussion, jazz drumming and bass. During those four years, Kellogg’s raw talent congealed with a formal education in music. “I wouldn’t trade my schooling for anything,” he said. “Even though I’ve been in rock bands ever since, rock doesn’t come at music from a place of theory. Rock may be more visceral, but understanding music theory is a way of understanding and explaining a lot of what music actually is.”
With that solid foundation, Kellogg dove headlong into the rock scene with his first major band called Adios Pantalones. “We had tours, merch, a van, a bank account, the whole thing,” he recalled. “We got to play big festivals and it was our music, all based on our own ideas.” This was also how he discovered Nantucket, coming out during summers to play gigs at the Chicken Box. He quickly made friends on the island and met his fiancée, local designer Audrey Sterk, whom—perhaps not surprisingly—Kellogg later started a trio band with called You Scream, I Scream.
In the years since, Kellogg and Sterk have built a life together on Nantucket with their nine-year-old son Van (a rock’n’roll name if there ever was one). Much of his time is now spent in the recording booth of Nantucket Community Music Center mixing tracks or working with a wide variety of local and visiting musicians. While always looking for his next great project or memorable collaboration, Kellogg said his work with his students and local musicians is deeply fulfilling to his life as an artist. “Certain recording sessions can make your hair stand on end,” he said. “It can be rare when it happens, but it’s amazing when it does. To be able to create that feeling for myself and for other people, I think that’s where I find the passion for what I do.”