By Jenny Neyman
Faces will be smiling when their eyes land on the Irish next week in Soldotna.
Musician Seamus Kennedy returns for two shows, Feb. 3 and 4, at The Crossing in Soldotna. The performer has been popular in Soldotna and includes the venue in his Alaska travels to Anchorage and Fairbanks.
“He was accepted so much last time that he’d like to try two shows,” said Mike Sweeney, organizer of the event.
Kennedy has been performing in Soldotna for about 18 years, Sweeney said, mostly in the same venue.
“They came down here and played at the Catholic Church, the O’Neill Hall, back in ’94, and I saw him then. They just wanted a way to get a bigger location so I got them in at the Tides (now The Crossing). So it’s been the Tides and The Crossing at that same location, and he likes it,” he said.
The show’s content has changed over the years, with Kennedy adding new songs and stories from his travels around the world. But the venue in Soldotna and reception he gets when he’s here stays the same. His shows typically sell out, although he’s added cruise ship performances out of Florida to his itinerary, so he hasn’t made it to Alaska in a few years.
“He was doing that and he missed Alaska so he wanted to come back to Alaska. People really enjoy him,” Sweeney said.
The performances are a fundraiser for the Kenai Peninsula Literacy Program. Proceeds from ticket sales go directly to the program, which then provides grants to local elementary schools, like Kalifornsky Beach, Redoubt and Soldotna, to buy reading materials or otherwise support literacy.
It’s an appropriate cause for a performer who’s part musician, part storyteller. Much of his performance is comedy, with jokes, silly lyrics and tongue twisters where the audience is asked to sing along — or try to, anyway.
His musical repertoire is vast, ranging from lively jigs to somber ballads, reminiscent of his cultural heritage from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He’s got 12 albums, and sometimes mixes in songs from his major influences, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, the Dubliners’ Luke Kelly, and the Irish Rovers.
Tickets are $20, available in advance from Sweeney’s. For more information about the show, call 262-2906. For more information about Kennedy, visit the Web site, http://mcnote.com/seamus.