Bap Kennedy

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Today’s post features what must be one of the longest established americana artist in Ireland yet whom I have never heard of till this year; that is Bap Kennedy.If like me, you are Ireland based and have not heard of Bap or his musical output before, you might be wondering why you are so familiar with the music of his younger brother Brian and not Bap. It seems a crime that the melodies of Bap Kennedy are not more prevalent on the radio here.

Bap hails from Belfast. He began his musical career at an early age forming his first band at the age of sixteen. He went on to become part of the successful Energy Orchard, a group that was a round in the late 1980’s- early 1990’s and who were not only influence by the rhythm and blues of Steve Earle but also incorporated elements of traditional Irish music. After their breakup in 1997, Bap was invited to Nashville by Steve Earle to record with him. Steve produced Bap’s first album Domestic Blues (released in 1998) which featured Jerry Douglas, Peter Rowan and Nanci Griffith amongst others. The album went on to become a modest success for Bap with five of the tracks off the album being used for film soundtracks.

Bap has continued to maintain a prolific recording presence since his début 15 years ago recording two albums in two years (Hillbilly Shakespeare in 1999 and Lonely Street in 2000) after the release of his début. The man has deserves attention in that he attracts some of the worlds best musicians to work with him. AS well as Steve Earle, he recorded The Big Picture (2005) with Van Morrison and the current release; The Sailors Revenge (2012) with Mark Knopfler. The collaboration with Van Morrison included a co-written song: “Milky Way”. The song is a lovely, paced americana piece blending both Irish influences with typical americana instruments like organ.

After this Bap went on to record Howl On (2009), an album that feels like a love letter to america and americana. With references to Neil Armstrong, a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe“, it is in particular an ode to 60’s America. The songs remain though americana through and through, melodic rich with lyrical content like “Brave Captain”.


His most recent release as I said, is “The Sailor’s Revenge” produced by Mark Knopfler in Mark’s own studio’s. Some have called it the celtic Blood on the Tracks. It is fair to say that this album has an strong effect its listeners. Again Bap has collaborated wit the best in the business on this record with Jerry Douglas and Glenn Worf featuring. The opening track sets the album up best, again incorporating the best of styles of both sides of the Atlantic, the song-writing is again affecting, a timeless story about home.

You can find out more about Bap and buy the records through his official site here and through the Facebook page here.
Photo: Atlanticsessions.com

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