James Keelaghan

James Keelaghan

 Petawawa, Ontario, CAN

House of Cards, his 11th cd, is Keelaghan at his very best. Topping Folk DJ and top ten lists for 2009, he delivers with his signature voice and songs that actually mean something. There's ample evidence of why he has been called Canada's finest singer songwriter. Catch him in 2010- NA, Aus and EU


James Keelaghan Bio

James 11th CD, House of cards was released on October 12 2009 by Borealis records. 10 new originals, some of them co-writes with such folk luminaries as David Francey, Karine Polwart and Rose Cousins make it one of his best yet.

Called Canadas finest singer-songwriter byone of the most respected music journalists of the last 50 years, James Keelaghan is an artist who has proven to be a man for all seasons.

As the calendar pages have turned, for almost a quarter of a century now, this poet laureate of the folk and roots music world has gone about his work with a combination of passion, curiosity intent andintensity.

His masterful story telling has, over the course of nine recordings, been part of the bedrock of his success, earning Keelaghan nominations and awards - including a Juno (Canada's Grammy) -and acclaim fromAustralia to Scandinavia.

Possessed ofan insatiable appetite for finding the next unique story line, Keelaghanforges his pieces with brilliant craftsmanship andmonogrammed artistic vision, making him one of the most distinctive and readily identifiable voices on both the Canadian and international singer-songwriter scenes.

His journey has attracted fans of literate and layered songwriting to join him on his artistic expeditions, some of which weave their way through marvelously etched historical stories with underlying universal themes, others of which mine the depths of the soul and the emotional trails of human relations.

His songbookhas enlightened,enthralled, and been embraced, by audiences around the world.

"Ive always had the urge to write," says the Calgary native who has been calling Winnipeg home for the past few years. "Some things werent being said in the way I wanted to say them, some thing were not being written about at all. That's why i started to write the historical material. That led me to writing my own personal narratives as well. .

Keelaghan is a disciplined visionary with several aces up his sleeve. He loves language and history, a subject in which he earned a degree;he is askilledthespian, whichexplains his ability to make an immediate connection with a live audience; and he has anear formemorable melodies and harmonies that make those melodies glisten.

Says Keelaghan, Im good for 80 or so books a year, mostly history and non-fiction, but inspiration can come in many forms. Im always on the lookout for a good story or idea. My sister told me the story that became Kiris Piano, a song that visits a dark chapter in Canadian history:Japanese interment camps in the Second World War. The image of someone sacrificing their prized possession in order to maintain their dignity was too powerful to ignore."

Not only does Keelaghan lay claim to adeep catalogue of timeless originals like Kiri's Piano, Fires of Calais, Cold Missouri Waters, Jenny Bryce, and Hillcrest Mine,heis also a possessive interpreter of outside material, a fine example being his gripping take on Gordon Lightfoots epic Canadian Railroad Trilogyfrom the Lighfoot tribute disc Beautiful. There are alsoa number of illustrations of his interpretive skills on his 2006 recording A Few Simple Verses, an homage to his roots in traditional music. The closing tune on that spellbinding set, My Blood, written with Jez Lowe, is one of many examplesfrom Keelaghans careerofhis invitingcollaboration into his creative process.

I was at the Celtic Colors Festival in 2008," says Keelaghan, "and the producers locked six of us in a house for a week, and the company included Dave Gunning, David Francey, and Rose Cousins, it was an amazing experience. At the end of it, we had enough material for a complete show.

Keelaghanhas never shied away from collaboration in his live and recorded performances, touring and tracking with master musicians like Oliver Schroer, Oscar Lopez and Hugh McMillan. "If you work with people who are better than you, you become better," heobserves.

The sparks of collaboration andthe batting of melodies back and forth have produced some wonderful results, says Keelaghan, who is always findinga balance between examining the lighter and heavier sides of life. He ties it all together with a powerfulvocal delivery and a commanding stage presence.

Admiration and respect for his work amongst his peersis reflected in the words ofDavid Francey who recently stated that James Keelaghan is a voice in contemporary Canadian songwriting that has helped us define who we are as a people. He writes with great humanity and honesty, with an eye to the past and a vision of the future. He has chronicled his times with powerful and abiding songs, with heart and eyes wide open.


Timelines ( tm-1 ) Sept 1987

Small Rebellions (Tm-2) Sept 1989

My Skies ( TM-3) Sept 1993

Recent Future (TM-4) may 1995

Compades (CM1) Feb 1997

Road ( tm 5) March 1999

Home (TM 6) may 2001

Then Again (TM7) april 2005

Few simple verses (TM 8) sept 2006

Buddy you where you been (CM2) Nov 2006

Set List

Usually 2 45-50 minute sets.
Current set features songs from his new release House of Cards
Safe Home
Next to you
Since you asked
House of Cards
What's for you
Leave town
Cicle of Stone
and a selection of some of his classics
Kiri's Piano
Cold Missouri Waters
My skies
Sing my heart home
Fires of Calais
Why don't you just grow up
Number 37
Captain Torres
Hope Princeton Road
Princes of the clouds
Tomorrow is another day
Sweetgrass moon