James Keelaghan in Concert, October 23
Advance tickets $15, door $18, 8pm
One of the finest songwriters of this or any other age (check out Cold Missouri Waters and you’ll know what I mean) James Keelaghan is both a national treasure and one of the most popular male folksingers on the planet. He’s also fiercely intelligent and cuts an imposing figure ( he’s built like a walk in freezer, has a neck about as big around as my waist and doesn’t exactly suffer fools) to say the least. Fortunately for a guy who looks for all the world like he could just reach out and twist your head off as easy as opening a beer, he’s about as sweet and goofy as they come.
Called Canada’s finest singer-songwriter by one of the most respected music journalists of the last 50 years, James Keelaghan is an artist who has proven to be a man for all seasons.
As the calendar pages have turned, for almost a quarter of a century now, this poet laureate of the folk and roots music world has gone about his work with a combination of passion, curiosity intent and intensity.
His masterful story telling has, over the course of nine recordings, been part of the bedrock of his success, earning Keelaghan nominations and awards - including a Juno (Canada's Grammy) - and acclaim from Australia to Scandinavia.
Possessed of an insatiable appetite for finding the next unique story line, Keelaghan forges his pieces with brilliant craftsmanship and monogrammed artistic vision, making him one of the most distinctive and readily identifiable voices on both the Canadian and international singer-songwriter scenes.
His journey has attracted fans of literate and layered songwriting to join him on his artistic expeditions, some of which weave their way through marvelously etched historical stories with underlying universal themes, others of which mine the depths of the soul and the emotional trails of human relations.
His songbook has enlightened, enthralled, and been embraced, by audiences around the world.
"I’ve always had the urge to write," says the Calgary native who has been calling Winnipeg home for the past few years. "Some things weren’t being said in the way I wanted to say them, some thing were not being written about at all. That's why i started to write the historical material. That led me to writing my own personal narratives as well.” .
Keelaghan is a disciplined visionary with several aces up his sleeve. He loves language and history, a subject in which he earned a degree; he is a skilled thespian, which explains his ability to make an immediate connection with a live audience; and he has an ear for memorable melodies and harmonies that make those melodies glisten.
Says Keelaghan, “I’m good for 80 or so books a year, mostly history and non-fiction, but inspiration can come in many forms. I’m always on the lookout for a good story or idea. My sister told me the story that became Kiri’s Piano, a song that visits a dark chapter in Canadian history: Japanese interment camps in the Second World War. The image of someone sacrificing their prized possession in order to maintain their dignity was too powerful to ignore."