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"Alruda to play the BBC"

CEDARVILLE — Brendan O’Keefe doesn’t fool me one little bit. He knows how to shake hands and seems positively literary behind those glasses. But the look in his brown eyes has rebel written all over it and he’s just a few genetic codes shy of stand-up comic. I can appreciate that he’s trying to behave for the reporter, however, and the lack of respect we both engender for refusing to take ourselves seriously makes him my brother.
Johnny Morelli books Brendan’s band, Brendan O’Keefe’s Alruda, because it’s fantastic. After signing with several big record labels as a drummer genius, Johnny the Bullet oughta know.
So, maybe it takes an hour before Brendan O’Keefe is scaling the huge Pilgrim statue in Brewster Gardens to plant a kiss on the maiden’s lips. It’s possible I encouraged this because O’Keefe is not run of the mill fair; he’s an interesting spice you haven’t heard of before. Take him to the park for a photo shoot and he’s climbing onto statues and into trees for the sake of posterity. I had to insist he refrain from climbing on the Pilgrim maiden’s shoulders for a shot; you just never know what’s going to happen when you climb on an Amazon. I’m certain it’s not recommended.
Brendan O’Keefe is a phenomenal singer/guitarist/songwriter for his group, Brendan O’Keefe’s Alruda, which rocks the BBC in Cedarville, at 9:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 21. It seems fitting this guy is playing on the winter solstice. His Celtic pagan ancestors used to whoop it up on this festival day; it’s in his blood.
O’Keefe was born 30 years ago, number two of five children. He and his family lived in Bourne. His mother, Susan Downing, bought him a keyboard and drum set when he was a kid, but it was his father’s guitar that lured him outside of himself at age 10. His father left the family before Brendan was old enough to even know who he was. This guitar, then, this little piece of his missing piece, was his only real link to the man.
Brendan played guitar and sang along with the radio. He listened to Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles (of course), Bob Marley, Otis Redding and Frank Zappa. His stepdad, Robert Downing, taught him and his siblings the importance of hard work and responsibility and drove Brendan to practices with his band. But the house was a chaotic affair of younger voices clamoring to be heard; and Brendan was a rebellious 16. In addition, his mother’s beloved brother, and O’Keefe’s idol, Brian McLaughlin, died unexpectedly, devastating the family and fueling Brendan’s rebel fire. Fact was, his family was great, but Brendan had other fish to fry.
He hit the road.
The road took him to San Diego where he met his biological dad. It was a decent meeting, but it didn’t assuage Brendan’s restlessness. He wound up in Vermont for a time, sleeping at friend’s houses and playing music.
“I was a punk,” he said. “I wanted to play music. It was just crazy at home. I got into trouble, but the guitar grounded me.”
For the next 10 years, Brendan played in one band after another, and found himself back on the Cape. He became known for his amazing guitar playing and his great original music. He also became known as a lovable nut who could be dared to do just about anything. One of the tamer stories involves him riding a dirt bike wearing work boots and nothing else. I’ll say no more.
He was playing a gig at The Raven in Wareham, six years ago, when he met his wife, Sarah. In leopard skin pants and a rocker T-shirt, she stuck out like a sour thumb, and Brendan quickly realized they were complete opposites. The two got married and moved into an apartment in Bourne. They have two children, 3-year-old Sadie and Cora, who is almost two. Sarah O’Keefe has a master’s degree in sociology and teaches criminology at UMASS-Amherst. Meanwhile, Brendan O’Keefe does his music full-time, playing at clubs all over the east coast and teaches music on the side.
“We balance each other out,” Brendan said. “Without her, I wouldn’t be able to pull it off.”
His band is originally based, but covers some covers. O’Keefe plays guitar and sings; Mike Farrington, a guy O’Keefe used to skateboard with as a kid, plays bass. Frankie Cecchinelli plays drums and sings backup and Shelley Berube plays keyboards and sings. It’s a powerhouse group of extremely talented laid-back musicians/comics. O’Keefe and Cecchinelli bicker like an old married couple but are best friends. They’d like to hit it big, but, failing that, they prefer to have a good time.
O’Keefe seems unflappable, but he can’t stand bad driving, like tailgating and people who don’t know what yield means. The person he most admires is his wife because “she’s so strong, always going, always happy and organized; I am not.” He said his biggest fault would have to be insecurity. But isn’t that what makes a performer?
He speaks highly of his guitar-playing Irish twin brother, Ryan, and his mom, who died two years ago.
“She could move mountains,” he said of her. “She wouldn’t back down to anybody.”
And Alruda? That’s his nickname. A friend called him that once, and (go figure) it stuck. It seems about right. Because somewhere between the serious musician and the wacky comedian climbing on the Pilgrim is an artist named Alruda.

- Old Colony Memorial


New record due out early 2008



Originally formed back in the mid nineties by guitarist Brendan O'Keefe and drummer Frankie Cecchinelli, Alruda's been through quite a few changes the past decade. After picking up Jimmie Snider (former bassist for Momma Stud, Bad Kitchen and the Wallflowers) and Shelley Berube on keyboards, Alruda's back, sounding fresh and ready to hit the road.