For Pete and Maura Kennedy, it all started with a day off.
It was on that day, when Pete Kennedy was taking a break from playing with Texas songwriter Nanci Griffith, that he played a solo show in Austin.
Attend the Show
When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Where: The ArtsCenter in Carrboro
More info: artscenterlive.org
Maura came to the show, and the two hit it off right away.
Pete Kennedy soon had to go to Telluride, Colo. to play a show — 1,000 miles away from Austin. But he said he really wanted to meet up with Maura again. So he called her.
“We looked at our road atlases, and the equal point between us was Lubbock, Texas,” he said.
He said they both laughed because one of their favorite artists they had discussed at their first meeting, Buddy Holly, was from there.
“This is what we decided: We each drove 500 miles solo, and we met at Buddy Holly’s grave in Lubbock,” he said. “We’ve been together ever since.”
Pete and Maura Kennedy, now celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary, began traveling and playing together soon after.
And their next stop is The ArtsCenter in Carrboro on Wednesday.
Art Menius, the executive director of The ArtsCenter, said The Kennedys represent folk rock in the spectrum of folk music that the center tries to present.
“They’ll do Beatles songs as well as wonderful original material all in a folk pop or folk rock aesthetic,” he said.
Menius said The Kennedys are special because they represent one of the rich traditions of that falls under the broad umbrella of folk music.
“Their ability to mix 20th century pop music with folk music in an upbeat way is what stands out about The Kennedys,” he said. “They are a duo who can effectively sound like The Beatles — which is very hard to pull off with just two people.”
Pete Kennedy said it was natural to incorporate rock into The Kennedys’ sound because it was something he and Maura grew up with.
“The definition of folk music changes constantly. It changes with every generation,” he said. “As a younger generation comes up, they include music that they grew up with under their definition of folk music.”
He said he sees things like The Beatles and Buddy Holly as a part of his folk tradition.
He said The Kennedys also try to reach back and do really old folk songs which are a couple of hundred years old.
“By tying those things together, we’re hoping to broaden the range of folk music,” he said. “I think that’s a continuing process.”
Janet Kenworthy — the director of The Rooster’s Wife, a music venue in Aberdeen where The Kennedys also play — said The Kennedys have top-notch songwriting skills coupled with deep meaning.
“They’re universal,” she said. “They really resonate with people. They have such joy on stage, and it’s so engaging.”
Kenworthy said audiences can identify with The Kennedys because they play with such exuberance.
“They really understand where they are in the world — whether it’s in New York City or Aberdeen or Carrboro. They can find that place and be right there with you and draw you into their songs,” she said. “The experience makes you feel like while you’re in Aberdeen or Carrboro, you’re also out in the world with Pete and Maura.”
Pete Kennedy said he thinks the most fun thing about traveling and playing music is meeting people and seeing the effect their songs have on them.
“A lot of our songs have a very positive message and they’re songs of encouragement, and to see that that actually does help people – to have people come up to us and say, ‘You know what, I’m glad you did this particular song because I needed it tonight,’ I think that’s the best part of the whole thing,” he said.
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