First Published August 2015
PETE POWERED COUNTRY!
If I was to ask you which Irish country star has two British Country Music Association U.K. Album of the Year Awards to his name, won back to back, and just in the last few years, I wonder how many of you would be in contention for first prize? And what if I told you that this same man was also an Official C.M.A. (Country Music Association) Artist at C.M.A. Fest in the last couple of years? Or that his talent and versatility have seen him tour with pop greats like Neil Sedaka and The Stylistics? Any takers…..?
Well, music is a funny old world sometimes, folks, so we won’t hold it against you if every name you thought it might be turned out to be wrong. Instead, we’ll just get on with introducing you to a man whose name you’ll be telling your friends all about once you’ve found and enjoyed his music. We’re back in Offaly in the Irish midlands once again, also home to last week’s featured artists, Little White Lies. And this week, readers, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Birr man Pete Kennedy. Myself and Pete caught up with each other for a quick chat last week and there was only one place to start, with Pete’s latest single, the instantly catchy ‘Crazy Country Girl.’
“That’s right, it’s my new single alright. It was on my ‘Nashville Sessions, Volume 2’ album back in 2012, then I released it on my ‘I Am The One’ album in the U.S. too, and it just got a massive pick-up on itunes. So I decided to do a little more work on it; put in some extra guitars to rock it up a little bit, re-recorded the vocal, and brought out a different mix. So it’s my summer single now and it’s doin’ pretty good, I’m happy to say. It’s been picked up by the BBC and many stations across the U.K here, in the U.S, at home in Ireland, of course, too. But also in countries like Sweden, Italy, France, New Zealand, Australia, and even Brazil and Peru! So if it’s anything, it’s out there! [laughs]”
And Pete has some big shows coming up where fans can hear Crazy Country Girl…
“Yeah, I’m playin’ at the 98FM festival down in Cork in Ireland, that’s an original music festival and I’ve been chosen to be the country artist there, that’s August 29th. After that I’m over in London playing the Water Margin at the O2 for a show called Caddy’s Country Kitchen, really looking forward to that one. It’s back to Dublin then where I’m headlining in Whelan’s on September 4th, and I’m in my hometown of Birr, in Offaly, on the 5th. Then back over to the States again for a while. So there’ll be plenty of chances for fans to hear the single ‘live’, for sure. I’ve got two shows that I do really. One is a full band where we go out all guns blazing, and I toured Ireland that way last time out. But then for the fans who like to hear the stories behind the songs that you write, I’ve got a show that does just that, tells the stories behind the songs. These dates will be a mix of both.”
A fact that stands Pete apart from other Irish artists at the moment, is that he has a career on the go both at home in Ireland but also in the States, in Nashville.
“It’s something that I’ve been working on since early 2012 really. To get in on the scene over there you have to pay your dues and just keep workin’ it, ya know. And you just have to keep doin’ it little by little. Get some solid co-writes under your belt, show that you’ve got something to offer. Once it’s seen that you have, well then people open their arms to you and you get involved in some bigger co-writes. And for me, it’s exciting how that’s brought my career forward. Because you do things differently that way than if you had stayed put in Ireland or the U.K. It gives you a certain versatility and a uniqueness to what you do.”
I asked Pete who some of his co-writers have been while in Nashville.
“Well there’s Earl Bud Lee, who co-wrote ‘Friends In Low Places’ for Garth [Brooks], and ‘One Night At A Time’ for the great George Strait. Kirsti Manna is another, she wrote Blake Shelton’s brilliant number one hit, ‘Austin’. Then you have Bobby Boyd, one of the writers of ‘Bless The Broken Road’ for Rascal Flatts. And Jan Buckingham, who’s written for the late Whitney Houston and Pam Tillis. And not forgetting my co-writer on my new single, ‘Crazy Country Girl’, Jo Leah Tilbury. Some great, great people, not just great songwriters.”
If you’re looking at Pete’s photo for the first time and thinking you know his face from somewhere, well maybe you do! Because as well as gigging and writing in Nashville, Pete has also appeared in some episodes of the smash ABC series, Nashville…
“That’s true, yeah, and ya know what, sometimes it’s just about being in the right place, at the right time, to meet the right people. But generally I find that you’ll have taken some decisions yourself that play a part in helping those stars to line up that way. That was a great experience for me, playing one of Luke Wheeler’s assistant managers and getting some good screen time, meeting all the cast. Hopefully that will come in handy again somewhere on down the road. I got a great kick out of it, and I suppose when you’re an artist you’re really an actor too in some ways. Once you’re on stage you’re both being yourself, but also playing the part of what everybody expects you to be for that particular two hour show.”
The good news for Pete’s Irish fans is that they may soon be able to see him perform more often on home soil.
“Yeah, I’ve been looking at the scene in Ireland, seein’ what people expect and want. Whether it’s music they can dance to or sit down and enjoy, ya know. And it’s obvious the shows here are getting bigger and better all the time. There’s a great buzz and excitement around shows, and that’s something I want to make sure I can match when I really start to go out on the road. And that’s something that I’m really excited about too, about making sure that happens. Because when you’re from a certain part of the world, you want to do well in that part of the world, don’t you.”
What does Pete make of the old argument that the ‘country and Irish’ sound and the ‘american country’ sound, would struggle to exist side by side on the Irish scene?
“Well yeah, some people have said that maybe Irish audiences aren’t ready for ‘american’ sounding country music yet. But I’ll tell you what, I don’t buy into that. From my own experiences lately, I think they’re more than ready for it. And that’s one reason why I held back on releasing ‘Crazy Country Girl’ in Ireland for a while, until I felt the time was right. And I feel the time is right now. D.J’s and radio producers are comin’ back to me sayin’ they’re really lovin’ the sound. So, let’s get to it, that’s what I say!”
~ For more info and all the latest news on Pete, check out www.petekennedy.net