Review: Tone, Twang, and Taste by Pete Kennedy

Most often hitting the stage as part of the folk/rock duo The Kennedys, alongside his wife, Maura, Pete Kennedy is well known in the genre for his exceptional guitar playing skills. Every now and then, Pete and Maura also work on solo projects. The latest of these is Pete’s new album, Tone, Twang, and Taste. This all instrumental release is a stellar showcase for Pete’s intricate string wizardry. With a variety of instruments ranging from electric guitar to ukulele, every note played is crystal clear. The music sounds quite effortless, though one can be sure that countless hours of rehearsal and study led, and still do lead, to this level of play.

Kennedy plays almost every measure on this recording himself, utilizing electric and acoustic guitars, ukulele, electric sitar, mandolin, 5 string banjo, bass, B3, and drums. He has some accompaniment on one track, “Seven Come Eleven,” playing along with Danny Gatton (duet guitar) and John Previti (bass). When I look at the list of instruments being played by Kennedy, I can’t help but wonder if there is a stringed instrument out there that he has not yet mastered. If there is, I’d believe that he could have it wrangled very quickly. Continue reading

Review: Flying Dream by Catie Curtis

About 20 years ago, I saw one of my first Catie Curtis shows, at Club Passim (then simply Passim, run by Bob and RaeAnn Donlin). Transitioning at the time fully into music and away from social work, Curtis was well on her way to establishing herself as a serious folk musician. Putumayo had also just released a compilation called The Best of Folk Music which included Curtis, Joan Baez, Indigo Girls, Cliff Eberhardt, John Gorka, and others. I asked her that night how it felt to be included in such company, and she said, “like I could die happy now.”

Luckily for all of us, Curtis is still here and continues not only to add to her catalog of music, but to do it in a way that is both re-inventive and consistent with her style over the years. This certainly holds true for her latest release, Flying Dream. Produced by, and largely co-written with, Kristen Hall (who also had a track on the same Putumayo release), this album continues to build on Curtis’s talent for creating and releasing solid, enjoyable songs. Hall herself has also had a long career as a songwriter, including as a solo performer and as a founding member of Sugarland. She has written many gems in her own catalog, and the pairing of these two women works well here on all levels. Continue reading