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Folk Friday #4

I completely missed Folk Friday last week! My brain is in summer mode, and the days just ‘flow by like a broken-down dam’, as John Prine put it in Angel from Montgomery.

This week’s tune is one by James Keelaghan, in my humble opinion the best Canadian male folk singer/songwriter since Stan Rogers. I fell head-over-heels in love with Mr. Keelaghan and his music at the Lunenburg Folk Festival years ago. I already knew one of his songs, Jenny Bryce, from Garnet Rogers’ recording, so I was prepared to be impressed, but not blown away.

I watched this dark-haired young man with the receding hairline and thick glasses tuning up in the festival tent before the show. Well, says Jennie, he’s nothing to look at. Then, when he came back at showtime, my jaw almost hit the floor. He’d put on contact lenses, and the man has the most amazing electric blue eyes. But when he started to sing, I wouldn’t have cared if he looked like Stephen Harper (Sorry, Stephen.) Mr. Keelaghan has a voice you can feel to your toes and the soul of a poet. He’s also highly intelligent, articulate and a confirmed history buff.

I couldn’t find a clip of my favourite song, Rebecca’s Lament, but this one, Kiri’s Piano, is another beauty. I’ll let you listen to Mr. Keelaghan discuss it himself. Enjoy!


  1. Anne MacFarlane
    July 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    That's beautiful, Jennie. I've never heard him sing. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Janet
    July 23, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Wow – he reminds me a bit of John Denver's wonderful folk singing, that same rich, deep voice telling a story to music. I love listening to songwriters – their process, their passion, the story and lessons learned. This was a great Folk Friday, Jennie 🙂

  3. Jennie Marsland
    July 23, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Ann and Janet, glad you enjoyed it. Mr. Keelaghan definitely is a storyteller. I wish I could have found Rebecca's Lament – the lyrics would make a great springboard for a novel.

    I'm fascinated by the songwriting process too. At one workshop, Mr. Keelaghan explained – with tongue in cheek – how to use your phone number to come up with a chord progression for a song. Then he asked for a phone number, and he did it. And it worked. That's talent for you.