Okay folks, this post has nothing to do with personality disorders, recovery, rants about corporate greed or life kicking my ass right now. It is, however, all about Pete and Maura Kennedy, folk musicians extraordinaire. I volunteer for a local non-profit whose sole purpose is the preservation of folk music (and of course, bringing it to those of us who really love it!). Tonight I had the honor of working the ticket table for the best concert I’ve seen in a very long time. Tonight was also the first Friday night I’ve spent in months feeling on top of the world and held in thrall to something other than the corporate greed that exploded my life like a super nova. Tonight, thanks to Pete and Maura Kennedy, I felt damned GOOD. Thank you both!
Pete and Maura Kennedy have an onstage presence that put the joie de vivre back in my life. I met Maura in the green room, where she had just sat down to eat before the concert. We introduced ourselves, had a brief chat where I found out neither of them eat pizza, (and I wonder if it’s just that they don’t eat pizza provided at concert venues, cuz I can attest to the fact that the pizza at this venue ain’t the greatest) and I went about my business. This is normal for all the artists we present; the volunteers meet all of them and we have an opportunity to chat with them and see them perform in exchange for our services at the door, at the merchandise table; some of us are sound people; and all of us help set up and tear down.
Tonight was no different. I settled in at the ticket table (which happened to be aligned with the front row – lucky me!), for what I’d heard would be a “really really good performance.” Oh please. “Really really good???” No. Sublime. It’s late and my colorful vocabulary deserts me so I can’t provide a more colorful or apt descriptor.
The first note Maura sang caused the hair to stand up on the back of my neck. Readers, I can’t sing a note, but my life has been saturated with good musicians and I know the difference between adequate, good, excellent and sublime.
Maura Kennedy’s voice will take you places. Literally. I’ve heard only one other voice like it, and that’s China Forbes, of Pink Martini. The color and vibrancy of Maura’s voice is mesmerizing. I challenge you to do anything but sit stock still and listen. If you’re moving, you’re not listening and this is a woman whose voice demands that you listen.
Maura Kennedy has a rare gift; a gift so coveted and so priceless that most other vocal performers would trade their vocal chords for it (but then, of course, they wouldn’t be able to sing!). Maura Kennedy can pick you up with her voice, and take you wherever she wants you to go. The videos I have posted below don’t do justice to their live performance.
Lest you think this rave is all about Maura, let me disabuse you of that notion. It’s about both Maura and her husband, Pete. Have you ever heard Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue performed on ukulele? Yeah, me either, until tonight. Very few people could pull that one off. I remember sitting next to my sister on the piano bench when I was a teen, watching her fingers fly up and down the keyboard as Rhapsody in Blue filled the air around us with with a lush miasma. Never, until tonight, would I have thought I’d witness, let alone LIKE, an arrangement performed a`la rockabilly on ukulele. First I smiled, then I laughed out loud, and as Pete Kennedy’s fingers flew and his face split into a grin, I knew I was hearing sheer musical genius rendered with an impish disregard for musical elitism. YAY Pete!!!
You really have to watch these two perform together, live, to understand the impact of their music. Their onstage chemistry is palpable and their obvious love for music, and, I think, for each other, resonates with each chord wrung from their guitars. They are a musical pair very much in tune with one another and their audience. If you ever have an opportunity to see them live, don’t miss it. It’s worth every penny (or, if you’re like me, every bit of sweat equity!). Take a listen. It’s a little tinny, because it’s You tube, but if you’ve got good speakers maybe you’ll hear what I heard:
They sang this tonight and completely mesmerized the audience:
The Thing With Feathers. Maura Kennedy gives a nod to Emily Dickinson in this song:
Stand: (an anthem for all)
And here is an interview with Maura Kennedy: If you don’t want to listen to the interview, fast forward to 4:29 and you’ll hear her sing Shadows With the Lonely.
Don’t miss these guys. They’re phenomenal. And I gotta say, this was the first time I’ve driven home from this venue without getting lost. I’ll bet The Kennedys had something to do with that.