If the audience at a Keith Kenny show were to close their eyes for the performance, they would swear that there was a full band on stage. Kenny's fans, however, are too busy dancing to the one man act's layered guitar riffs, singing, blues harp, percussion, and even simulated mouth trumpet to even think about looking away. "I like to throw a lot of stuff at you," Kenny said.
The 24-year old Monroe Township native is able to create a multifaceted sound by using a loop sampling pedal with his Martin DX1 acoustic-electric guitar, which he fondly calls "Martina." The percussion sound comes from Kenny drumming on his guitar, which is equipped with a pickup to amplify the sound.
A good portion of his concerts consist of improvisation. "It's all about the moment," Kenny said. "I want people to feel like if they didn't come to the show last night, they missed something that's not going to happen again."
Kenny's roots as a musician date back to days of jamming with his father at the age of 11. Today, they still play together, though it sometimes takes a little coaxing on the younger Kenny's part. Kenny remains impressed with his Dad's musical talent, and his ability to improvise lyrics during their jam sessions. "Those are usually the best times that I have," Kenny said.
As Kenny grew up, his musical influences changed over time, which is why his sound does not fit neatly into any one category. One can hear traces of his childhood heavy metal tastes, along with stylings of Michael Hedges in his finger-style guitar and acoustic percussion. He also noted influence from musicians of the 1960s and ‘70s, like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. His most recent musical role model is blues man Reverend Gary Davis. "He just sings his soul out," Kenny said.
Kenny's fans might say the same about him as they hear him belt out his emotionally charged original tunes. He said playing music is therapeutic for him, and he often derives different sounds from different moods he experiences. "Basically, it's like my only outlet," Kenny said. "What I'm really going for is, I'm trying to portray different experiences I've had in my life in my music."
Kenny and "Martina" make appearances all over the state and beyond. He has been featured on NJ 101.5 with the Jersey Guys and has also appeared on Sports Radio 66 with Boomer Esiason & Craig Carton. Kenny recently won an Asbury Music Award for "Top Male Acoustic Act" and has been nominated for several other awards in previous years. Venues he's played at include The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, CBGB's in NYC, The Whiskey Bar in Hoboken, The 2008 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim CA, and The World Café Live in Philadelphia.
In the Fall of 2007, Kenny began recording his first full-length album entitled "Limit is the Sky" in which he is joined by musicians Tyler Chiara and Jonathon Luberecki. When the album was released in June of 2008, the power trio hit the stage in front of a packed house at The Saint in Asbury Park. Since then the album has received several rave reviews and has been sold worldwide. Kenny is currently planning a solo acoustic tour of the east coast for the summer of 2009. Don't be surprised if this one man band rolls up to your hometown…