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Bap with a vengeance
Bap Kennedy is back in his native Belfast after a 20 year spell in London and Nashville.
Greg McAteer, 24 Oct 2006
After plying his trade in London for over 20 years and honing his songwriting skills with regular stints in Nashville, the lure of a re-vitalised Belfast is proving too much for Bap Kennedy and he is returning to his native stomping ground.
Over the years, he has always made regular visits home and he is intimately bound up with the Northern city’s burgeoning music scene.
One of the key reasons behind his decision to move back lock, stock and barrel is a project he is developing with Francis McPeake, of the celebrated McPeake family. Conscious that the canon of traditional song has not been widened significantly in recent years, the pair came up with the idea of teaming up the instrumental skills of the students of the McPeake school with the songwriting skills that Bap has spent many years perfecting in an attempt to foster the composition of new songs in a traditional style.
When a great folk song comes into being it acquires a timeless quality – ‘Will Ye Go Lassie Go’ by Francis McPeake’s grandfather (also named Francis) being a case in point. The tune is so transcendent that the majority of listeners assume it is a traditional song that has always been there.
Leaving aside Shane MacGowan, Bap feels that no-one is currently writing strong new material to match the great songs of Irish folk music’s past and he is pinning his hopes on the wealth of talent in the McPeake school as a chance at cracking the mould.
It takes a very brave man to put out two albums simultaneously. Tim O’Brien, long one of the most distinctive voices in bluegrass, has just chosen to do exactly that with the release of Cornbread Nations and Fiddler’s Green.
Of the pair, Fiddler’s Green is more pared back while Cornbread Nation sees him embracing the heaving heart of Americana with impressive vigour.
His work in this style has garnered serious musical praise including a Grammy. Irish audiences will be given the chance to experience live exactly what it is that makes these particular songs tick in his hands.