Kirby Shelstad is a Percussionist, Composer and Engineer based in Nashville with many years of experience on the stage and in the studio.

Kirby Shelstad

Kirby Shelstad (b.1955) majored in percussion performance, theory and composition at the University of Minnesota, studying with members of the Minnesota Orchestra. In 1979 he moved to Nashville where he became known as a respected studio musician and dynamic performer. As a Composer, Drummer, Mallet Player, Percussionist, and Synthesist he is known for his diverse musical capabilities in Rock, Jazz, Blues, Classical and World Music.

In 1997 Kirby was nominated “Percussionist of the Year” by the Nashville Music Awards and has performed and recorded with such notables as Leon Russell, Jerry Douglas, Mark O’Conner, Bela Fleck, Gatemouth Brown, Richard Bennet, Charlie Rich, Dobie Gray, The New Grass Revival, Kathy Mattea, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Kongdor Ondul, Jill Sobule, Aashid Himons, Giles Reaves, The Nashville Symphony, The Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Tennessee Repertory Theatre and many more. He was also a founding member of the acclaimed rock band The Nerve who dominated the Nashville club scene during the 80’s.

Kirby also has considerable experience in film scoring and post-production audio. From 1990-1995 Kirby and associate Bruce Arntson scored four ‘Ernest’ feature films for Touchstone Pictures following their work on the 1988 award winning children’s series on CBS “Hey Vern, It’s Ernest”. He also recorded and produced the music for the bizarre independent art movie ‘Existo’, which premiered at the L.A. Filmfest 99. He has also composed numerous soundtracks for educational films, documentaries, television commercials and other digital media. Former clients include National Geographic, Warner New Media, Jeep, Toyota, Bridgestone, TNN, Scene 3, Studio Productions, Vanderbilt University and others.

Kirby’s early interest in computerized music programs and electronic instruments led him to be one of the first MalletKat (a MIDI Xylophone) players and he began working as a consultant to Apple Computer performing and demonstrating the musical capabilities of the Macintosh computer around the country. He was a featured performer in Apple Computers Music Expo and the International New Music Seminar held in New York City. At this time he also toured colleges extensively with his solo electronic performances and had articles published in Keyboard Magazine and the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) Magazine. He has also been a clinician at the ’95, ’96 and ’98 PAS Conventions.

In 1990 Kirby Shelstad began studying Tabla and Indian classical music with great Bengali Tabla maestro; Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri and he began attending the Indian music school founded by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, one of India’s most respected musicians. He has pursued this interest further, learning South Indian Classical singing from Dr. Sankaren Mahadevan and western singing techniques with Kathy Chiavola, also a recording artist and renowned vocal coach. He has continued his tabla instruction with Mr Chaudhuri to this day.

He has maintained a small but professional recording studio since 1995, maintaining a busy schedule recording various projects for clients and friends. He has extensive experience recording many instruments and vocals as well as being a skilled technician with digital recording, audio editing and mixing as well as looping, sampling, MIDI sequencing and programming.

He has released a number of recordings under his own name including Dewachen, Mother of the Buddhas and the recent 2011 Sacred Chants with Beth Nielsen Chapman for the Deepak Chopra Center. Highlights for 2012 included a performance at Carnegie Hall as a percussionist with the Nashville Symphony and the ongoing success of The Doyle and Debbie Show, the critically acclaimed musical comedy that has had a 10 year run in Nashville and other US cities which Kirby produced and recorded the music for.

Feature Film Credits – Production, Composing and Recording

1990 Ernest Goes to Jail Disney/Touchstone
1992 Ernest Scared Stupid Disney/Touchstone
1994 Ernest Rides Again Disney/Touchstone
1995 Ernest Goes to School Disney/Touchstone
1998 Existo Home Town Productions

Television Credits– Composing and Recording
1987 “Hey Vern, It’s Ernest” 13 Episodes CBS
Days Of Our Lives Network Licensing
CMT Logos TNN Broadcasting
Toyota commercials
Jeep Commercials
East Side Medical Hospital Corp of America

Video Credits – Composing and Recording
Power Yoga with Brian Kest” Warner Home Video
“TN Sports Hall of Fame” Museum Installation Music
“Lasers” National Geographic
“The Name is Bond” Bridgestone Trade Show Video
“Jasper Project” Vanderbilt University
“Border Blues” Vanderbilt University
“Make A Difference” Vanderbilt University
“Womens Basketball ’98” Tenn. State University
“Listen And Be Heard” Goldpitt Productions
“Project Hope” Goldpitt Productions
“Seeds of Change” Goldpitt Productions

CD Roms

“The Basement Bums” Little Planet
“Childrens Stories” Litlle Planet
“Project Starfish” Little Planet

Beth Nielson Chapman- Sand and Water, Hymns, Warner Bros. Percussion/Pre Production
Prism BNC Records Percussion/Pre Production
Bela Fleck – Inroads Rounder Vibraphone
Mark O’Conner – The Wind and Stone Warner Bros.
Kathy Mattea – Love Travels Atlantic
Kongdor Ondul- Back Tuva Future Warner Bros. – Percussion
Jill Sobule I Kissed a Girl Atlantic Percussion
TONE PATROL Thin Air – Mallet Keys and Percussion Earwave
Aashid Himons The Leaders, Mountain Soul Performance
Suzee Waters Benjamin – The Waters Edge – Produced,Recorded Mixed
Suzee Waters Benjamin Step into the Light – Produced,Recorded Mixed
John Jarvis Balancing Act Writing and Recording MCA
Gary Nicholson 60s are the 90s – Percussion/
Jim Photoglou Time Out Mercury / Japan
Conni Ellisor A Night at the Museum Great Northern Arts
The Doyle and Debbie Show The Doyle and Debbie Show – Recorded and Mixed
Kirby Shelstad Dewachen, Mother of the Buddhas
With Beth Nielsen Chapman Sacred Chants Chopra Center

Kirby Shelstad Instruments and Equipment

Drumsets 2+
Cymbals – many
Musser M55 Vibraphone
Deagan Marimba
Mallet Kat (2)
Conga 2
Ashiko 2
Talking Drum (4)
Tabla (many)
Clay Drums
Frame Drums – many
Various Hand Percussion – large collection
Electric Mbira
Lap Steel Guitars (5)
Yamaha Motif Keyboards
Novation Controllers

Protools HD 11.3
Digidesign Pro Control
Mac Computers
Mics – Neumann, Audio Technica, Royer, Rode, AKG, Shure
Mic Pres – Great River, Focusrite, Presonus
Various powered speakers, mixers and racked synth gear for live performance.

Kirby is fluent in the following software:

Protools HD 11.3
Reason 8
Ableton Live
Waves Plugins
Native Instruments Komplete 10
Pitch n’ Time