Seamus Kennedy,
By Popular Demand, Vol. 1
(Gransha, 1993)

When I first listened to this album, I was immediately drawn in when Seamus Kennedy said "We're gonna start off with a nice happy Irish song about death" before performing "Finnegan's Wake." I never thought I would laugh out loud from listening to a CD. Seamus Kennedy made that possible.

Kennedy's art is taking traditional Irish songs that are favorites to everyone and using them in a comedy routine. He introduces each song with a joke related to what the song is about. The "Black Velvet Band" opens with Kennedy saying "It's one of the very few Irish songs where a girl gets a guy in trouble and leaves him."

Audience participation is what makes Kennedy's performance really fun. In "The Wild Rover," where traditionally everyone claps in one part of the chorus, he has the audience shout out "clap clap clap clap!" as opposed to actually clapping. This later morphs into "right up your kilt" and "Harp Harp Harp Harp" and "Guinness" (promoting one of Ireland's grand alcoholic beverages).

Kennedy is a fine musician. He sings and plays guitar in a style well suited to his genre of music. Plus, his voice is perfect for Irish folk songs. His guitar acts as the primary accompaniment to his music -- and as a prop to his show, as it is green, white and orange like the Irish flag.

My favorite song on this album is "Monkey Farts," and I'm not exactly sure what that says about me! The lyrics and the sound effects accompanying the lyrics are far too amusing to not laugh (unless you find the word "fart" to be offensive). Another favorite of mine is "The Rattlin' Bog," which ends the CD. Many of you may be familiar with "The Rattlin' Bog," but he takes this song to the absolute extreme by carrying on all the way to a sub-atomic particle. ... You can draw your own conclusions.

After listening to this CD, I learned Kennedy was playing at the Shannon Pub in Buffalo, N.Y., so I jumped at the opportunity to see him. His performance was just as amusing and interactive as it had been on CD, only magnified by the effect of being in the same room with him. I brought a few friends along who were never into Irish music and we all had a great time. They enjoyed the show just as much as I had!

After the show, I spoke with Kennedy and told him I was reviewing this album. "Let me give you a better one to review," he said. It may not be one of his favorites, but it is certainly one of mine.

[ by Stephanie Giamundo ]
Rambles: 29 September 2001

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