The Kennedys in tune with Delaware Friends of Folk

Folk-rock duo The Kennedys, comprised of the husband and wife team of Pete and Maura Kennedy, will play the Delaware Friends of Folk monthly coffeehouse concert Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Wesley College’s Bennett Chapel in Dover. (Submitted photo/Hub Wilson)

Folk-rock duo The Kennedys bring their Endless Tour to Dover Saturday night for a date with the Delaware Friends of Folk Coffeehouse series.

The tour started way back in 1993 when they first came together and really hasn’t stopped since.

“We just love playing gigs,” said Pete Kennedy, who teams with wife Maura in a musical and life collaboration that has lasted more than 25 years and has seen them tour throughout the United States and abroad.

They’ll be in England, Ireland and Scotland later this year and will lead a musical cruise with fans to Cuba in November.

Despite playing all over the world, it’s places like Dover and people like those that make up the Friends of Folk that Mr. Kennedy says warms their heart.

“It’s a great area with great audiences. We’ve played their folk festival a few times. There are a great bunch of people involved,” he said.

“They are patrons of the arts. They love music. They put in the time and effort to help all of us keep going and to play the kind of music we like to play. It’s a perfect environment.”

Known first for being in folk legend Nanci Griffith’s backup band, The Blue Moon Orchestra, it was Ms. Griffith herself that suggested the two perform as a musical pair and open for her during a tour of the United Kingdom in 1993.

“We were all in on the idea from the beginning but we hadn’t written many songs together at that point so it motivated us from the beginning and was a good challenge,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Mr. Kennedy started playing with Ms. Griffith in 1991 after performing with singer Mary Chapin Carpenter for a time before that.

“My last gig with Mary Chapin Carpenter was on the TV show ‘Austin City Limits.’ Nanci was also on the show and her guitarist had just quit,” Mr. Kennedy explained.

“Without even being asked, I just played with Nanci on the show and transitioned into working with her. With the one tour ending, it was a good time to start with her.”

Mrs. Kennedy, whom Mr. Kennedy had already known, was asked to join the band a short time later by Ms. Griffith, who he says has been an integral part in their career.

“We are so fortunate to know her and she has been so supportive. She gave us opportunities to build our own audience and we never forget that,” he said.

They released a tribute album, entitled “Dance A Little Closer – The Kennedys Sing the Songs of Nanci Griffith,” recorded live in New York in April 2014 and also co-produced her most recent album in 2012, “Intersection.”

The Kennedys cite many influences for their music, noted for its rich harmonies and ringing 12-string guitars. Among them are iconic acts of the past, including Buddy Holly, The Beatles, The Byrds and Bob Dylan.

For their first date, they each drove 500 miles from opposite ends of the country to meet at Mr. Holly’s grave in Lubbock, Texas. In previous interviews, Mr. Kennedy has referred to Mr. Holly as their “patron saint.” When the two first met, they compared musical tastes, with Mr. Holly being right at the top for both of them.

“We both love American roots music and he was just a wonderful blend of country music, folk music, blues and gospel all blended together. That’s the kind of stuff that was happening in the 1950s. The Everly Brothers were right there too,” Mr. Kennedy said.

“Buddy Holly wrote most of his own songs and set the template for The Beatles, The Byrds, Neil Young. Bob Dylan cites Buddy Holly as one of his main influences going right to the roots of music.

“If an actor wants to get to the root of acting, he checks out Shakespeare. If we are in the car, we’ll put a Buddy Holly CD in now and then and sing along. It always gets us going.”

Mr. Holly died in a plane crash when he was just 22 years old. Mr. Kennedy still wonders what he would have done musically had his life not been cut so tragically short.

“He was being interviewed once and someone asked him ‘What do you think of this rock ‘n’ roll trend?’ He said ‘I think it’s over. I’m already working on another kind of music.’ We don’t know what that was. Nobody knows. The secret died with him. The Beatles and The Byrds really studied Buddy Holly for his harmonies and smart lyrics.

“Bob Dylan continued that and raised the bar for everyone to write intelligent, deep lyrics. We’ve really related to that to keep our own standards high.”

Every year, The Kennedys perform at a Bob Dylan tribute music festival in Hudson Valley, New York, near their residence in the New York City area.

“Every year we learn new songs of his and have really become students of his work,” Mr. Kennedy said.

In 2015, The Kennedys wrote and recorded 40 new songs, which produced a solo album for both of them and the release of “West,” a duo release that weaved their influences over the last two decades.

“We like to keep things fresh and not follow a formula by doing the same things over and over again,” Mr. Kennedy said.

“We keep trying different things to get fresh songs so people see different shows and hear different songs when they come to see us.”

Along with their contemporary work, they have also released an album of Hawaiian swing music played largely on ukulele, calling themselves The Stringbusters and a collection of children’s songs as The Snacks.

“It’s good to have side projects I think. It makes it all fun,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Saturday night’s show at Wesley College’s Bennett Chapel, on the corner of Bradford and Division streets, will feature music from their latest album “Safe Until Tomorrow” but will also be rich with requests.

“We like to do requests from the audience. We’ll find out what they want to hear right beforehand and we’ll work up a setlist from there or we’ll just take some requests as the show goes on,” he said.

Admission for the 7:30 p.m. show is $10 for members of Delaware Friends of Folk, $15 for non-members, and those 12 and under are admitted free. Coffee, cookies and other snacks will be available

Delaware Friends of Folk have received a Special Presenters Initiative grant from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and the Delaware Division of the Arts to support The Kennedys’ appearance.

Bubniak in ‘Storm’

Dover native and Caesar Rodney High graduate John Bubniak sends word that he has the lead role in a short film called “Storm,” that will make its premiere as part of New York City’s prestigious Tribeca Film Festival.

Dover native John Bubniak stars in the short film “Storm.” It will make its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City next week. (Submitted photo)

Storm, directed and written by Will Kindrick, is described as the tale of an unexpected user accidentally launched through a series of turbulent splash portals when his government-enforced dating app malfunctions in his bathtub.

“We shot it in Northern and Southern California, a lot of which includes over 50 hours of being submerged in water,” Mr. Bubniak said.

“It’s a kind of ‘Black Mirror’ love story between my character and another in which he goes through rigorous work to find her. It’s a bit of a coming of age and showing what the future may hold, all in one.”

Mr. Bubniak will be in New York City starting Tuesday for 10 days for the premiere and interviews. The festival starts Wednesday.

He will also be featured in the film “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” coming out May 31 and another feature film entitled “Pacific Park” later this year,

He has previously appeared in HBO’s “Barry” and “Girls” as well as ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Wall of Cain nominated

The Dover-based rock trio Wall of Cain is up for a couple of awards from the International Singer/Songwriters Association.

The categories are Band of the Year and Single of the Year for “Highland Lullaby.”

Wall of Cain will be performing on the main stage during the awards show on Aug. 3 at the Dawson County Performing Arts Center, north of Atlanta.

Voting can be done at https://issasongwriters.com/2019-awards-show/. Entries close May 11.

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

The Milton Theatre will present its first self-produced show — “Jesus Christ Superstar” featuring a regional cast this weekend.

Tonight’s performance is sold out but there are limited tickets available for shows Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 21 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” is a 1970 rock opera with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. The musical started as a rock opera concept album before its Broadway debut in 1971.

The musical is mostly sung-through, with little spoken dialogue. The story is loosely based on the Gospels’ accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life, beginning with the preparation for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples in Jerusalem and ending with the crucifixion.

Tickets are $27-32. Purchase them online at www.MiltonTheatre.com, via phone by calling 302-684-3038 or at the box office at 110 Union St.

Free tickets are available for active-duty military and veterans.

Sponsored by The Chad Clifton Foundation, tickets must be reserved in advanced (two tickets per personnel). Contact the Milton Theatre at 302-684-3038 or email miltontheatreshows@gmail.com.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the music-based film “Teen Spirit,” the horror film “The Curse of La Llorona,” the faith-based film “Breakthrough” and the documentary “Penguins.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Escape Room” and Nicole Kidman in “Destroyer.”

 

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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