Tag Archive: Pete Kennedy

3 July 2015

Sarah Jospitre, Editor, HorizonVU Music Blog

Sarah has an ever increasing pool knowledge of the fast-changing music industry landscape. She has earned a Masters in Music Business at New York University (NYU) and she has worked for hip-hop music mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, EMI Music Publishing, CBS Radio and most recently, Russell Simmons’ celebrity blog, GlobalGrind. As Editor, Sarah brings not only her knowledge, but her passion for music journalism and discovering emerging talent.

Villanelle_Maura Kennedy_200x200

Maura Kennedy
Villanelle: The Songs of Maura Kennedy and B.D. Love
(Varèse Sarabande Records, 2015)

(Not) Formerly one-half of the folk-rock band, The Kennedys, Maura Kennedy is back with her sophomore studio album, Villanelle: The Songs of Maura Kennedy and B.D. Love. The concept for Villanelle first came to the singer/multi-instrumentalist after reading Love’s collection of short stories entitled, A Day in the Life of a Severed Head. One particular story, “Stitches,” inspired Kennedy to write a song using the poet’s dialogue and literary characters. From that, a musical genius plan was born: the writer/poet/professor would send Kennedy poems and she would fit them to music―Love’s only ingenious twist being that he would make no effort to craft the poems in music-friendly form; challenging Kennedy to think outside the box to work a melody into them.

The result is a 15-track collection with the album’s title and opening track taking on the form of a 19-line poem consisting of five tercetsMaura Kennedy_2014_200x300 (any three lines of poetry, rhymed or unrhymed, metered or unmetered) followed by a quatrain (a type of stanza, or a complete poem, consisting of four lines). With effortlessly soothing vocals similar to a mother’s calming lullaby, choir-like melodies strengthening the chorus as well as dominant “twangy” guitars that solidify an ever-present old western feel throughout the album, Villanelle sets the tone for the rest of Kennedy and Love’s musical lovechild.

The beautiful, complicated and fragile tones and textures present in Kennedy’s vocals as well as the country-like guitars found in the opening track can also be heard on the folk rocker “Bicycles with Broken Spokes,” the love-and-longing-themed “Mockingbird,” and the powerful “Borrowed Dress,” which offers an emotional tale of immigration. As a result, such titles are reminiscent of the works of country-folk singer-songwriter Tish Hinojosa and Kennedy’s mentor, Nanci Griffith.

An incredible element that holds true throughout Villanelle, thus, elevating its words and music to a higher level of artistry is the juxtaposition of effortlessly sweet melodies to emotionally-charged, heavy lyrics. In “Darling Cutter”―which discusses the hardships of a teenager’s life that results in the youth physically harming himself―the same vibrant old-time country guitars (acoustic guitars, bass and percussion played by Maura with a gut string solo by Pete Kennedy) remain powerful yet do not overpower Kennedy’s voice, which in giving off a surprising 1990s alt-rock, angsty vibe sings, “Your stupid face/that nappy hair/You ugly slut/You’re fat and fatter/Why don’t you just jump off/Some roof somewhere?” The same technique is found in the slow and ethereal “I Cried to Dream Again” (with acoustic guitars played by Maura; drums, bass, electric guitar and banjo played by Pete): “I had a dream/I was circumscribed by flame/When I heard you call my name” and in the bluesy, “She Worked Her Magic on Me” (acoustic guitars played by Maura; bass, electric guitar, mandolin and a gut string solo played by Pete): “She put me into a box/And then secured all the locks/And then she cut me in half/Said it was good for a laugh/She worked her magic on me.”

Ranging from old time country to upbeat and bluesy to slow and ethereal, Villanelle: The Songs of Maura Kennedy and B.D. Love proves that the East Coast veteran singer-songwriter’s effort to intertwine her voice and B.D. Love’s words in an effortlessly magnetic way was a success. Kennedy has composed a musically innovative collection where rhythm and phrasing follow poetic image instead of the other (conventional) way around.


01. Villanelle
02. Bicycles With Broken Spokes
03. Darling Cutter
04. I Cried to Dream Again
05. Fireflies
06. Soldier’s Wife
07. Be the One
08. Mockingbird
09. She Worked Her Magic on Me
10. Borrowed Dress
11. Coyotes
12. Father to the Man
13. I’ll Be Alone Tonight
14. Breathe Deeply, Love
15. Beneath the Mistletoe

For more about Maura and her music, visit: MauraKennedy.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

To find out more about B.D. Love or to order his books of poetry and fiction, visit: BDLove.org.

Sarah Jospire receives comments and suggestions at sarah@horizonvumusic.com

The Kennedys: West review

Posted on February 5 by Dave Simpson

Reposted from http://www.puremzine.com/kennedys-west-review/

Maura and Pete

American folk duo, The Kennedys, have a busy year ahead of them. Singer/songwriters Pete and Maura, who have been performing together for two whole decades, plan on releasing three different records in 2015. The first of these, West, will be exclusive to Ireland and Britain when it hits on April 13th, preceding a UK tour at the beginning of May.

The album’s eponymous opening track is an altogether innocuous affair that blends together elements of folk and country and western. Its warm, relaxing riff and soft melody serve as a pleasant starting point.

“Elegy” features cool and crisp guitars that develop into an enthralling riff bordering on classical about three-quarters of the way in. A rousing harmony persists throughout the pressing instrumentation and is particularly arresting.

Musically, “Sister of the Road” has quite a sentimental feel, affording it a compassionate air. The transfixing vocal work washes over the senses and captivates entirely from beginning to end. “Signs” exhibits another mesmerising melody amid guitars that are a little more dark and serious. There’s something both intriguing and exciting about it all as it trucks along at a steady pace.

Light and breezy instrumentation joins upbeat, reassuring vocals during “Jubilee Time.” This song acts like it doesn’t have a care in the world, emanating a contented and unconcerned atmosphere.

Exotic guitars and romantic lyrics breathe life into “Locket”. Their heartwarming disposition results in a touching and amiable love song. The cheeriness continues into “Southern Jumbo”, which is a bright and jovial entry. Its music and melody glide along merrily, evoking feelings of joy and happiness.

The guitars and vocals of “Black Snake, White Snake” build steadily, forging a strikingly stirring and powerful piece. “Bodhisattva Blues” follows along whimsically with riveting instrumentation and a swift melody. “Travel Day Blues” opts for a heavier approach, recalling the rock and roll anthems of artists such as Chuck Berry while adding a country spin. It’s an irresistibly enthusiastic addition, loaded with energetic vocals and vigorous riffs.

The hushed acoustic guitars and optimistic vocal work of “The Queen of Hollywood High” develop gradually to become lively and hectic, building suspense and anticipation as they do so.

“Perfect Love” is a bustling ballad with a tender melody and spirited instrumentation, after which a mellow acoustic riff and sobering lyrics take over for “Good, Better, Best”. Its affecting tune ensures that it serves as an eloquent finale.

The Kennedys’ work here showcases a splendid blend of acoustic folk and easy listening pop. West is a collection of thirteen enchanting tracks whose heartfelt and passionate execution makes for a wonderful listening experience. Be sure to check the album out upon its release in April and in the meantime, head over to Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with the band.

17 October 2012

Reposted from With New CD & Tour, The Kennedys Are ’Closer Than You Know’

By Bill Bliss

After eleven previous albums discovering the musical paths of folk and pop philosophies, Pete and Maura Kennedy of the band, The

The Kennedys

The Kennedys

Kennedys decided to stir up the recipe of creativity with their latest CD titled “Closer Than You Know.”

With a career in music spanning twenty years, this new “inspiration in individuality” has brought forth a different collaborative perspective to the songwriting process. There is also a strong canvas of “hope” weaved throughout the songs. This musical mindset is of a helpful nature with eyes wide open to the promise of better days but never blindly exuberant in feeling.

Pete Kennedy spoke with EDGE about discovering this creative outlet in the songwriting process for the new album, his partnership in music and marriage with singer and lyricist Maura Kennedy, his thoughts on the generalized stigma associated with the label of “folk” music, and why creative freedom matters.

The Kennedys

The Kennedys

A hopeful feel

EDGE: There is a new song on the CD called “Happy Again.” The words chosen to title your new work “Closer Than You Know” are a part of the lyrics from “Happy Again.” Why did you decide on the words ’closer than you know’ as the CD’s title?

Pete Kennedy: There is a lyrical theme to the album. I think it’s an attempt to help people get past rough spots in life. One of the problems with rough spots in life is that it’s hard to foresee a time when you’re not going to be in a rough spot. There is this running theme about supporting somebody who is unhappy right now. Trying to encourage them by telling them, “I know things are bad at the moment but they are going to get better. You just have to believe that.”

So, I think the line “it’s closer than you know” sort of sums up the lyrical theme of the album. It’s a little bit of a trick, although we didn’t think of it as a trick. At first, when you look at the album cover, you would think that we’re referring to “ourselves” because we’re a couple. We’ve been married for a number of years. It could apply to that but it actually applies to trying to bolster someone’s confidence that things are going to get better.

EDGE: There is definitely a presence of “hopefulness” sprinkled throughout the music.

Pete Kennedy: Yeah, it’s not about gleefulness. We’ve all heard songs that are blandly happy. It’s hopefulness coming out of a lack of hope. And hopefully, it’s an album that will be helpful to people who are either in rough straits right now or who remember being in rough straits in the past. It’s not really a naïve “happy-go-lucky” album… it’s a hopeful album.

The Kennedys

The Kennedys

Triggering imagination

EDGE: “Closer Than You Know” has several layers to it, if you listen and think about the lyrics.

Pete Kennedy: Hopefully, there is a lyrical depth to all the songs.

EDGE: You mentioned your relationship in regards to the cover. Initially, just seeing the cover for the first time, I thought it was somewhat gothic, surreal and somewhat ghostly. In the photo, there is a transparency where you can see through you both.

Pete Kennedy: Yeah, yeah. (laughter) I think that’s interesting. In the photographic process, it was actually done by Maura’s sister [Suzy Allman] who is a master photographer in New York. It’s not Photoshop… that’s the thing. What she does is take an analog photo. Then, without advancing the film, she takes another photo of something completely different. She does a whole series of those. When she develops them, she finds out what she got. It looks like something that might have been done later on in Photoshop but it’s actually this artistic concept that she had.

It does make us transparent because you can see some kind of background through us so I think that’s interesting. Being a little bit surreal is OK. I think because it triggers people’s imagination.

The Kennedys

The Kennedys

Combining music & marriage

EDGE: Definitely. Now, after twenty years together in both music and marriage, how would you describe your collaboration? No marriage is easy all the time.

Pete Kennedy: Well… that’s an interesting question relating to this album really. We did try a different method with this album. This is our twelfth album and we’ve consciously tried not to repeat ourselves musically. So, we thought trying a different writing format would be an interesting thing to do.

Maura suggested that I compose a lot of music that would be kind of soundtrack-type beds that didn’t have melodies. I wrote about thirty pieces and gave them to her. She listened to them for about a year and these songs came out of that. She came up with melodies and lyrics that fit them.

We haven’t always done that. There are albums where we sat down like Lennon/McCartney in the early days and banged out songs together. Maura was thinking that I would probably come up with some chords and stuff as I listen to some offbeat classical music and stuff that is different than singer/songwriter music. She thought I would come up with chords that would challenge her melodically. So, I think that’s cool. It wasn’t like sitting down with our two guitars and writing songs as we have done in the past.

I think this way is great. Like you said, we’ve been married for twenty years… this gave each one of us certain independence in our own realm. I did the music which I really enjoy doing and Maura did the self-expressive lyrics.

EDGE: I’m glad I know that now. I wouldn’t have thought of that.

Pete Kennedy: It was a conscious decision. There have been a lot of songwriting duos, especially on Broadway like Rodgers and Hammerstein and also Bacharach and Hal David or Elton John and Bernie Taupin, where one person wrote music and the other one wrote lyrics. We thought, “Let’s try something a little bit akin to that this time.”

The Kennedys

The Kennedys

A Grace Slick vibe

EDGE: That brings me to your song called “Home.” The sounds in the arrangements have a cool effect and reminded me somewhat of Grace Slick’s song “White Rabbit.” “Home” has a lopsided background to it and an electronic feeling.

Pete Kennedy: Yeah, “White Rabbit” is a really good comparison, actually. I wasn’t thinking of that song at the time. Grace Slick said in an interview that she had listened to the Gil Evans/Miles Davis album “Sketches of Spain” where they took some classical pieces and rearranged them with jazz harmonies. She said she listened to that over and over and digested it so much that “White Rabbit” came out as sort of an extension of that.

I think with this piece “Home,” I’d been listening to and been stuck on this period of classical music from the early 1900s, which was a really progressive time. Instead of just playing chords, there are a lot of interweaving lines and so the electronic keyboards seemed good for that. It has a bit of a “sci-fi” theme too where you’d imagine someone in outer space or something. I didn’t want it to sound too organic in a way and create this almost spooky and robotic atmosphere.

EDGE: Not every person has the patience to listen or relate to this blend of folk rock. I took the time to listen and discover the intricacies in the music and lyrics. What are your thoughts on the certain stigma associated with this category of folk music?

Pete Kennedy:
I think we’ve always tried not to get boxed into one category. When you have that as a goal, you are always going to be doing projects that are not going to be to the taste of some people. Just as we do acoustic stuff and we also do “pop” stuff. Sometimes, we have a classical influence or whatever… I don’t think we’ll ever do an album that just “everybody” likes. We’ve accepted that from the very beginning.

If you go back to our second album “Life is Large,” that was very electric. It had bass and drums and lots of electric guitars. I remember one of our core fans saying, “Oh I remember that album. It made my ears hurt.” I thought that was funny because our pop fans like that album better than the acoustic stuff.

One way to get ahead in the music business is to create a brand, a really identifiable sound and look. Then, just stick with that. But I think we’d be going crazy by now after twelve albums if we were under pressure to do that. The trade-off for us is that we feel that we have total creative freedom in exchange for not becoming really “super popular” with one kind of audience.

The Kennedys

The Kennedys

Having creative freedom

EDGE: It’s kind of a blessing in a sense because you get to do what you love and have the freedom as well.

Pete Kennedy: Yes. You realize that if you were to encounter people who have been famous for one thing, a lot of them feel they may have missed things in life because they couldn’t get away from the one thing that they were successful at early on. While it would be great to be widely recognized, the trade-off of having the creative freedom is really a good one. I’d much rather have the freedoms because we can do an album like this and go, “Yeah, it’s not going to sell ten billion copies.”

There aren’t ten billion people who would be into this range of influences in music. But, the people who do become interested… they’ll be interesting people themselves. That’s the audience that we enjoy building.

What’s The Buzz ?

Spring Forward and The Kennedys by Hannah Judson

HJ with Pete and Maura Kennedy and Phil Cartwright of Horizon Vu Music.
Horizon Vu Music organized a great show at OPA (Bastille) on Saturday night with me HJ, Tarah Who? and The Kennedy’s.  If you haven’t come across Pete and Maura Kennedy yet, I recommend more than a click and a listen, but you can start here. This talented

Hannah Judson, Maura Kennedy, Pete Kennedy, Phil Cartwright

Hannah Judson, Maura Kennedy, Pete Kennedy, Phil Cartwright

and engaging duo from New York follow a rigorous touring and production schedule, fortunately for their loyal and large fan base. They were just coming off tour with Nanci Griffith in the UK, and came to Paris for a few days to play a show and soak up some beautiful days along the Seine.
Underbelly is now on regular rotation on New Driven Radio. The  show airs Tuesday evenings 8-midnight (eastern time) on 89.1 WBCX and is streamed internationally at: www.Brenau.edu/wbcx.

Read more from Hannah Judson at http://hannahjudson.wordpress.com/

Maria Zubova, Media Writer, Music

Maria Zubova and “Maria’s Sound Space…” is a regular column for HorizonVU Music. Maria has a passion for music and she likes to communicate about it. Maria is herself a trained musician. She is follows photography, arts, fashion, and travel. Of course, she frequently attends different concerts and rock festivals.

“The story of Pete and Maura Kennedy’s personal and professional relationship, now in its second decade, is somewhere between fate and a fairy tale.” -The Kennedys Biography www.kennedysmusic.com

After listening to their Retrospective album many people would for sure agree with such a wonderful quote. The Kennedys is an American folk-rock band that is built on country music traditions. In live performances, Maura plays the acoustic guitar and the ukulele, Pete is using not only both of those, but he even plays an electric sitar. The band has more than 15 years of experience, and now, 10 great albums.

Today, what I am highlighting, is their big present to all their fans – the new CD that features songs from their entire career! Very mild and positive music, soft sounds and pleasant melodies – sometimes it really makes us smile. We find peace and enjoy life. The album starts off with “Half a Million Miles”, an openhearted song that closely connects to the couples’ career and life. The songson the CD flow like a narrow mountain river – they are active, they move, but at the same time the tracks are “not in a hurry”.

Like their sound, The Kennedy’s lyrics are pleasant, peaceful and endless. “Breath”, the fourth track, has a very different style – very catchy. And right after, the “Midnight Ghost” brings us to to the world of Country.

As for my own taste, I found that “9th Street Billy”, “Matty Groves” and “Shadows With The Lonely” deserve some special attention. Listening to them really gives you understanding as to how these musicians have mastered combining different styles and rhythms.   As a result, they manage to surprise first-time listeners, and without doubt, please long-time followers. The album shows off the many-sides of The Kennedys and one fully grasps why they command the respect of colleagues and love of fans.

Special thanks for the very sensitive, pure and melodic “Angels Cry”. The track stands out from the whole album. The song itself has very strong story, sense, and power. I strongly recommend The Kennedy’s Retrospective album to people who appreciate and seek harmony, peace and positive emotions. Great musicians-marvelous CD!

Don’t miss an opportunity to listen to their live performances!

Maria Zubova

You can visit  The Kennedys at www.kennedysmusic.com. The Kennedys will be in Paris, France, 24 March 2012 at OPA Bastille http://eventful.com/paris/events/kennedys-concert-hannah-judson-and-tarah-who-/E0-001-045549859-4

What’s The Buzz ?

Maura and Pete Kennedy

Maura and Pete Kennedy

Pete and Maura Kennedy have been writing and recording new material for their next album, due to be released in the spring of 2012. In the meantime, you can hear The Kennedys perform several of their new songs in concert. Tour dates in 2012 include a handful of shows on the east coast, and then a month-long tour of the UK and Ireland starting late february and lasting until the end of March.

The Kennedys have been writing, recording, producing and touring with long-time friend, mentor and collaborator, Nanci Griffith, and will be touring with her throughout 2012, both as her support act and as her bandmates. Dates include a month-long tour of the UK and Ireland to coincide with the European release (february 2012) of her new album, “Intersection”, as well as a U.S. tour in support of that same album, which is set for an April 2012 release in the states. For an inside preview of Nanci’s upcoming CD, as well as an account of how it was recorded, visit: http://www.nancigriffith.com/about/biography/

The Kennedys http://www.kennedysmusic.com will be performing at OPA Paris/Bastille on 24 March joined by Hannah Judson http://www.hannahjudson.com/and Tarah Who? http://www.tarahwho.com/!!!

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