Irish band Kennedy’s Kitchen will return to the Riviera Theatre in celebration of Three Rivers Promise’s second anniversary with a St. Patrick’s Day concert on Saturday, March 18. Adult tickets are $20, students are free, and all proceeds benefit the Three Rivers Promise.
Kennedy’s Kitchen has been making music and telling stories together since 1998, and have released six CDs to date. Their two newest albums, The Whiskey of Truth and The Birds Upon the Trees, have over 2.5 million streams on Spotify. While the band considers their home to be South Bend Irish pub Fiddler’s Hearth, they also perform at Irish festivals such as Michigan Irish Fest, Milwaukee Irish Fest, Dayton Irish Fest in Ohio, Chicago’s Irish-American Heritage Center Irish Fest, LaCrosse Irish Fest, and Osh Kosh Irish Fest. According to the band’s website, “We’ve a modern sound deeply rooted in traditional Irish music…jigs, reels, hornpipes, aires, stories, and songs; but it’s all about having a good laugh, and if needed, a good cry.”
The band is lead by joHn (not a typo) Kennedy, an award-winning singer and guitarist. Kennedy is the 2004 All-Ireland Fleadh Silver Medalist in accompaniment competing on guitar, and has won numerous Gold and Silver medals in the Midwest Fleadhs. His instruments include a Fender 1100 acoustic guitar, a handmade Jim Shenk guitar, and a Flat Iron Bouzouki.
Other bandmates include founding member Joel Cooper who plays bass, guitar, whistle, and sings backup vocals. Cooper began his musical career as a tenor performing choral music with The Notre Dame Chorale and the South Bend based Vesper Chorale, and began playing with joHn Kennedy in the mid 90s. Other Kennedy Kitchen’s founder, Chris O’Brien, began classical violin at the age of 9, and later turned to Appalachia and traditional Irish music. She plays a 1947 Czech fiddle, an Eastmon mandolin, and a 100-year-old banjo.
Newest addition to Kennedy’s Kitchen is bass-player Nathan Waddill. Waddill brings jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll influences while remaining firmly grounded in traditional music, as well. He also plays lead guitar and banjo, which the band will begin to incorporate into future sets.
All proceeds from the March 18 concert will go toward the Three Rivers Promise, a nonprofit college scholarship program for Three Rivers High School graduates that enables their successful completion of a college or vocational degree. The Promise is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a nine-member board directing its activities. Its goals are to provide financial assistance for college or vocational education, to achieve a 100% graduation rate for Three Rivers Community Schools, and to contribute to the education and economic development of the Three Rivers community. The Promise is funded through donations and a growing endowment fund. All contributions to the fund and endowment are tax-deductible, and more information can be found on the organization’s website.
Kennedy’s Kitchen will begin their concert at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6. Advance tickets may be purchased from Lowry’s Books & More or the Riviera Theatre ticket booth. In addition to hosting the event the theater will also be serving up its seasonal Corned Beef and Cabbage Pizza — a pie slathered in white sauce, then covered in braised cabbage, corned beef, potatoes, mozzarella, and Irish cheddar. There will also be drink specials on Irish whiskey, and a few speciality cocktails will be added to the menu for the evening.
Beca Welty is a staff writer and columnist for Watershed Voice.