Livestream Review: The Kennedys

Livestream  New York

Contact: P.O. Box 8673, Tarrytown, NY; thekennedys@kennedysmusic.com

Web: kennedysmusic.com

Players: Pete Kennedy, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals; Maura Kennedy, acoustic guitar, vocals

Material: Inspired by genres such as country, swing and bluegrass, married couple Pete and Maura Kennedy have been playing together since 1994. The Kennedys is just one of their musical outfits. They’re also known for groups The Strangelings and The Stringbusters, as well as extensive solo work. Since the pandemic began, the duo has delivered weekly Sunday livestreams. Each episode has its own specific subject matter. Past shows have included a tribute to The Byrds and an exploration of music by The Beatles, as well as numerous all-request performances.

Musicianship: For their 58th online appearance, the theme was Songs of Encouragement. It was the first entry in a proposed series aimed at lifting up those who are struggling with life during our seemingly endless pandemic. “Live,” a song about being in the moment, was inspired by an interview with famed mythologist Joseph Campbell. “The Bend In the River” was spurred into existence by Robert De Niro movie The Mission. “A Letter To Emily” concerns American poet Emily Dickinson. Their original songs are expertly crafted, shining like polished diamonds in the summer sunlight. Maura’s voice, while not legendary, feels great. Pete’s effortless strumming stirs the soul. One minute, he’s spitting flamenco-style runs. The next, he’s emitting rivers of beauty by repeating one simple, brilliantly placed note.

Performance: Years of experience have primed The Kennedys for delivering polished productions. Their affable nature and ease with telling stories immediately fills viewers with a sense of comfort. By the end of their hour-plus set, you’d be forgiven for imagining they’re old friends. The pair’s penultimate song, “Sing the Chorus,” naturally came with an invitation for viewers to contribute their own vocalizations.

Summary: Pete and Maura’s first date involved meeting one another at Buddy Holly’s grave. Nothing could be more emblematic of their musical perspective. By wearing their folksy influences on their sleeves, The Kennedys are a treat for anybody obsessed with seminal ‘50s- and ‘60s-style rock. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, yet treading old ground limits the breadth of their modern appeal. Luckily for them, this disadvantage is mitigated by the fact that they’re magical performers. It’s reassuring to know that somebody’s keeping rock & roll’s original dream alive.