By Anita Stewart, Journalist and Chyrisse Tabone, Photographer–Rock At Night Tampa
Location: Tampa Bay, Florida–December 14, 2017
Formerly of the commercial “Celtic Thunder” Keith Harkin is an independent singer/songwriter extraordinaire and in his words, plays “good music!” He has been traveling, touring, recording for over ten years and has seen the world. In his travels he has picked up 60 to 70 guitars and admits that he has not even counted them all and he owns a recording studio in Ireland. In addition to smaller tours, he also does the festival circuit and played at the Byron Bay Blues Festival in Australia last spring and Rock at Night was there. Story HERE.
For this latest tour, Keith Harkin has been traveling throughout the US in roving Irish troubadour style; driving in a conversion van and doing shows in support of his latest album, “In the Round” by Blue Elan Records. Along for the roadtrip are his tour manager Ian Votteri, keyboardist, Peter Sheridan and bass player, Vezio Bacci. They have been entertaining devoted fans in primarily house concerts all along the way; an exhausting schedule of thirty shows in thirty-five days. Keith returns home next week to the west coast to perform some holiday shows and will get some well-deserved time off.
The house was a great venue and Bruce and Bonnie Cardwell, the hosts were gracious and welcoming, and guests were made to feel comfortable. Holiday snacks, beer, wine, even a bottle of Irish whiskey, flowed! The band had come in earlier and helped prepare the performance space by moving furniture before they set up their instruments.
With the high cost of ticket sales for concerts in large stadium sized venues, the house party circuit is rapidly growing and many music aficionados prefer to hear live music in this type of performance format. Much more intimate and more bang for their buck as one gets to meet their favorite artists, the artists get to meet their fans, there’s more time to look over and purchase the merch, and people get to meet other music lovers so this is a win-win for everyone.
Keith’s personality precedes him; he is jovial and engaging and while career driven, Keith spreads kind and cheerful words wherever he goes. In addition to the classic “Meet & Greet” (where everyone that attended this show got a personally signed holiday card), Keith added in a 45 minute Q & A session into the usual house show format so fans could ask him any questions. The questions were great and ranged from music, auditioning for Celtic Thunder, instruments, sports, famous people he has met (ie., President Obama, the Princess of Monaco), traveling, surfing and so much more. This was better than any formal interview and provided everyone there a chance to really get to know this artist.
Keith is multifaceted; when asked what format or genre he plays, he said he plays “folky, country-rock and pop,” music that makes “people not think too hard but makes them think enough.” Keith’s advice to a budding songwriter in the audience? “Don’t care what anyone else thinks.” Keith also described surfing in Ireland (yes, it is a thing) and noted that he also paints fine art when he has the time. Newly married he explained why his wife, Kelsey does not come on tour with him as she runs several businesses of her own.
The show began right after eight o’ clock and Keith played for two hours non-stop with little stories in between each song. He primarily played a tres cher McPherson guitar with the stand out sound hole positioning and he endorses this brand along with Guild Guitars. He uses a tuner, reverb, chorus and distortion pedals along with a looper. During his performance he alternated between guitar and snare drum, playing with brushes for the mellower and slower songs. He played plenty of originals interspersed with brilliantly done covers.
Several covers that stood out were “The River” by Joni Mitchell, “Moondance” by Van Morrison, “Whiskey in the Jar” Thin Lizzy style and “Gentle on My Mind” by Glen Campbell, the latter being one of his many musical influences. Originals that stood out were “Carefree Heart” and “The Ring Tailed Rat,” both co-written with Jack Tempchin (singer/songwriter who sometimes teamed up with Glenn Frey of the Eagles and who wrote some of their biggest hits). “Two Bloodied Hands” with a lot of incredible looping and intricate guitar work was amazing! “Keep on Rolling” was an audience participation song from the new album and so much fun!
Check out Keith’s website HERE and his upcoming tour dates. He will be in Tampa again in March of 2018 and is scheduled to play at The Attic in Ybor City, Tampa. This is one artist you don’t want to miss!
Keith Harkin Christmas House Concert Tour:
November 19 Carlsbad, CA
November 25 Houston, TX
November 26 Dallas, TX
November 27 Dallas, TX
November 28 Tulsa, OK
November 29 Kansas City, MO
November 30 Des Moines, IA
December 1 Minneapolis, MN
December 2 McHenry, IL
December 3 McHenry, IL
December 4 Cleveland, OH
December 6 Lebanon, PA
December 7 Stroudsburg, PA
December 8 Tomkins Cove, NY
December 9 Philadelphia, PA
December 10 Baltimore, MD
December 11 Charlotte, NC
December 12 Atlanta, GA
December 14 Tampa, FL
December 18 Los Angeles, CA
December 19 Los Angeles, CA
December 20 Seattle, WA
December 21 Bellingham, WA
December 22 Vancouver, WA
From the new album “In the Round”
To Follow Keith Harkin
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