Kennedy's Kitchen
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Kennedy's Kitchen

South Bend, Indiana, United States | INDIE

South Bend, Indiana, United States | INDIE
Band World Celtic


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"Review: The Birds Upon The Trees"

The first one arrived in the Post just as I was finishing last month’s column. Kennedy’s Kitchen’s new release “The Birds Upon the Trees” has been with me a solid month and seldom has a day gone by that I didn’t put it on for another listen. After a string of memorable CDs, this is by far the best they’ve done and it has something for everyone. A load of finely done instrumental pieces, some powerful vocals, masterful renditions of traditional tunes and some new tunes as well. One bit I particularly enjoyed is a new ballad written by John Kennedy about his Grandfather, Patrick Coyle, who, as a young man, fought in the Easter rising. I am a fan of rebel songs and it’s a thrill to be present at the birth of a new one written with the love and respect that this one so obviously was. It’s a joy each year to watch Kennedy’s Kitchen perform at local shows. They play it trad and their love for the music is always evident. It’s great to know that a local band (Northern Indiana) have developed a style as unique and entertaining as these folks have. They are a delightful bunch of people as well. One last point, this CD takes the prize for beautiful cover art as well. - Irish American News

"Kennedy's Kitchen: The Birds Upon The Trees . . .Review"

Let me tell you about my first listening of Kennedy’s Kitchens new release, The Birds Upon the Trees. I went through their website first to find some info on them, and it’s a band of family and friends that meet together, often, in joHn Kennedy’s, you guessed it, kitchen and jam traditional Irish music. Sounds like my kind of band. My first listening, I heard tin whistles and flutes, often. Hrmm, I thought.
Okay, here’s the honest truth. I am not the tin whistle’s biggest fan, nor it’s detractor.If I listen to a record that focus’s on that instrument and I like it, then it says something about the player, or in this album’s case, players, and that’s why artists record. To capture musicians playing at their top skills, and if luck has it, capture lightning in a bottle, and share it with anyone who will listen. I haven’t listened to their previous work, but listening to this album is like watching a trad band in a pub, and I was on the bus when I first listened to them. I dare you to think of a better day then going to a pub, drinking a pint of dark, having a great meal, with good company, and having a phenomenal group of musicians playing traditional songs off to the right (all the while slipping in a few of their own, the sly devils). I may be getting old, but I can’t think of a better way to spend the evening. That’s what this band evokes when listening to them.

You might have noticed I’m not mentioning too many specific songs, and yet I am recommending this album, highly. Why am I not giving shout outs to certain songs? Because this is not that kind of album. This is a full on, trad album. Who cares what the songs names are. Well, there is one that comes to my attention. Patrick Coyle. It’s about joHn’s (not a misspelling or a caps lock error) grandfather. A tribute to a rebel of Ireland. I admit I have a soft spot for rebels (especially fenians), so it deserves a listen, if just to help us remember what some people had to go through, even if it’s just a few of us that do listen.
The band as a whole, works perfectly together. They accompany each other well, and yet all get a moment to shine (except the bass player). A shout out to the bass player by the way. It’s easy to praise the fiddle, the bodhran, and the guitar (I play that instrument, so I’m biased) but the bass player in this band plays to what is best for the song, and not what shows off his skills, which is a skill in and of itself. 4 stars out of 5… Hmmm. Next review, maybe, I’ll have my own rating system.

"Kitchen Releases Third CD"

South Bend Tribune
November 26. 2006 KAREN RIVERS Tribune Staff Writer

Kennedy's Kitchen dishes up third CD

This may be hard to believe, but there was a time when "It's the Little Things in Life That Will Kill You" -- also known as "The Dead Cat Song" -- did not go over so well.

This jaunty tune, in which more than just a cat dies, was written by joHn Kennedy and his buddy Joseph Dolan back in college. The first few years of taking it to the stage, it never quite clicked. It sometimes outright died, the audience looking at Kennedy like he was "a horrible person."

Kennedy shelved it for almost a decade, but he eventually brought it back and got the comedic timing right. Today, it's a fan favorite for his band, Kennedy's Kitchen.

The song also makes a notable appearance on the band's newest (and third) album "A Pocketful of Lint," which will be officially released Dec. 3 at Fiddler's Hearth.

A rollicking Irish ensemble, Kennedy's Kitchen has made a name for itself through regular gigs at Lula's Café and Fiddler's since it grew out of informal jam sessions at Lula's more than seven years ago.

The band now features members Kennedy, Bob Harke, Nolan Ladewski, Chris O'Brien, Rob Weber and Joel Cooper, and features the sounds of the fiddle, flute, mandolin, bouzouki, guitar, bodhran and bass.

Their sound thrives in the pub atmosphere, so, of course, re-creating what they're all about on an album took some effort.

"The Dead Cat Song" is the only live track, because, Kennedy explains with a serious air, "you can't do that (one) in a studio." In fact, none of this album was recorded in a professional studio. They did it in Kennedy's home, in hopes of capturing the merry, spontaneous air that has made this group a local favorite.

"As soon as you put a microphone up, all of a sudden, there's a little distance between you and yourself," Kennedy says. "The challenge is to have the tape running when something magic happens."

The home sessions seemed to be the right method for turning on the magic. "A Pocketful of Lint" is a lively mix that captures the fun and energy the band is known for and features everything from traditional Irish tunes to their own compositions.

Among the varied tracks:

"Jug of Punch," a well-known number that's served as their show-closer for almost two years.

"The Mangled Whistle," an intricate piece composed by Ladewski, the band's 18-year-old tin-whistle player (and Kennedy's nephew). It requires such a high fidelity sound that they don't often play it in public.

Then there's "The Life of a Country Boy," a traditional Irish song that the group sings in lovely harmony. As is recounted in the liner notes, Kennedy learned this song from Bob Berryman (the late local musician whose Irish tenor was well known at Fiddler's). This occurred, the CD book explains, "at about 3 am one morning, half way though a bottle whiskey, standing on a sidewalk in the rain."

Clearly, there's plenty of personality on the new CD in addition to the music. As for the overall package, Kennedy believes "A Pocketful of Lint" marks "a major step up" for the band. He hopes fan reactions confirm this.

And if they do?

Kennedys says regional and national stages are something for Kennedy's Kitchen to shoot for -- and this album could be their ticket.

Staff writer Karen Rivers:
(574) 235-6442
- South Bend Tribune

"Kennedy's Kitchen, A Life in Irish Music"

Kennedy’s Kitchen, “A Pocketful of Lint”

We Irish know that our music is at it’s best in spontaneous moments: the back snug of a small pub after hours, singing with friends on a sidewalk as we walk home in the rain, or sitting in the kitchen over pots of tea. Kennedy’s Kitchen plays its music there, in the kitchen, the heart of any Irish home, where our music is at its intimate best. On stage and on recordings they strive for that same intense intimacy, the mystery, wonder, and just pure darn fun of our ancient music.

A Pocketful of Lint, their third CD, shows the comfort and polish of almost ten years together. The first years they sessioned as friends, family, and neighbors just getting together each week to play traditional Irish tunes and to sing a bit as do so many Irish in pubs, coffee houses, and homes all around the world. These last five years Kennedy’s Kitchen has been a working band, and it shows. With A Pocketful of Lint the band has arrived. Their original compositions and fresh takes on old favorites honor the tradition while showing astonishing ambition for a local band from South Bend, Indiana.

Sleeping Under The Tables, the opening track of the CD begins with a traditional sound, a bare whistle and bodhran. The track then builds, bringing the listener from the old world sitting by the hearth to a big, full, new sound. That first tune is original, by Nolan Ladewski, the band-leader joHn Kennedy’s nephew, but it sounds ancient. It might be a Donegal tune, repetitive, driving, the sound of an army in the final maddening march to an inevitable war. The next two tunes in that opening track are well worn veterans, The Musical Priest and The Salamanca. Many tracks on the CD begin this way, a traditional, spare sound, perhaps an unaccompanied voice, and then instruments and layers are added while maintaining the traditional core of Irish music…which is the intense love of melody.

In a pub or concert, an evening of music with Kennedy’s Kitchen is a carefully unplanned event, joHn says, “We know how we intend to start a show and we know how we intend to finish up, and sometimes it works out that way; but we let the middle of an evening take care of itself. The best musical moments are usually surprises so we try to leave room for that to happen.” In Kennedy’s Kitchen hear whistles, fiddle, guitar, bodhran, mandolin, tenor banjo, bass, songs (both old and new), voices (both old and young), stories (exaggerated to the point of being true), all together with joHn Kennedy, his nephew Nolan Ladewski (O'Brien), Chris O'Brien, Bob Harke, and Rob Weber. No, they have not put out a cookbook yet, but it's only a matter of time.

In concert you might hear a moving recitation or an unaccompanied voice raised in song. In a pub you might hear the sacred text of Finnegan’s Wake, the unabridged version, telling of how Saint Patrick himself converted the pagans of ancient Ireland to the church and the message of self-sacrifice by singing to them in the language that they understood: whiskey, the water of life. In concert or pub you’ll tap your toes to jigs, reels, and hornpipes played with imagination and joy. On a great night, if only for moments, we’ll all feel like we are sitting together in a small kitchen, that we’ve known each other all these years, shared the tragedies spoken of in our songs, and risen together again and again to dance and sing another day.

During the Great Month (March, of course) The Kitchen performs in the Chicago area at: TJ Maloney’s on March 2 at 9:00 PM; the Tara Room as part of Gaelic Park’s annual celebration on March 11 from 2:30-5:00 PM; and, as of press time they’ve been in conversation with the Irish American Heritage Center about a performance there on March 18, but nothing is confirmed, so check the calendar. For their other area performances you can visit the virtual Kitchen at They’ve links to their myspace page and you can listen to and purchase music from their CDBABY.COM site.
- Irish American News

""A Pocket Full Of Lint" by Kennedy's Kitchen"

"A Pocket Full Of Lint" by Kennedy's Kitchen

by Catherine L. Tully

Artist: Kennedy's Kitchen
Album: "A Pocket Full Of Lint"
Year produced: 2006

Wow! From the drum-thumping that begins this CD, to the velvety-smooth harmonies to the willowy whisper and flighty dancing around of the flute, this CD is a lovely one all the way through. This Midwestern band seems to have figured out a recipe that works!

Fans of a throaty drum beat and perky flute will be thrilled to listen to this album, as they are used and highlighted quite well here. There is also some fine (if somewhat unexpected) guitar work on the title track that catches the ear by surprise. It is a really fabulous track that you could really say sums up the work this band does quite well. The only thing missing from it are vocals--but those are front and center on other tracks throughout...

One such example is track 2, "The Life Of A Country Boy" which is skilled vocal harmony at its very best--one of those songs that you can play again and again and never tire of, and probably my favorite on the album. Back again a bit later on the CD, the harmonies on "The Jug of Punch" are also top notch.

This is the band's third album, following their 2004 release, "Music in The Glen" and their self-titled debut in 2003. While this effort is well within the traditional range--there are a few pleasant surprises here and there that set it apart from being just another Celtic CD.

"Kennedy's Kitchen records toe-tappin' Irish CD"

From Sunday, January 14, 2007 12:05 AM CST
Times Correspondent

Review of A Pocketful of Lint:
Five Stars out of Five

For fans of Irish music, "A Pocketful of Lint," a new CD from Kennedy's Kitchen, is a toe-tapping good time. Every Irish band worth its salt can play a reel, but Nolan Ladewski on the whistles lifts Kennedy's Kitchen above the crowd.

In addition to traditional Irish reels and jigs, the addition of original reels such as "The Mangled Whistle," "Sleeping under the Tables" and title track "A Pocketful of Lint" demonstrate Ladewski's talent.

Leader John Kennedy, songwriter, arranger and musician, describes himself as "a story teller who sings and a singer who tells stories." His a capella arrangement of traditional song "The Life of a Country Boy" demonstrates the vocal blend of the band.

In fact, all of the members of Kennedy's Kitchen are multitalented musicians. Bodhran player/singer Bob Harke's loyal following, The Bob Fan Club, loves "The Moon on Clancy's Wings."

Chris O'Brien on the fiddle, mandolin or banjo, and Rob Weber on bass round out the band.

South Bend-based Kennedy's Kitchen performs regularly at Fiddler's Hearth in South Bend, Indiana and at venues in and around Chicago where audiences love to sing along with "It's the Little Things in Life That Will Kill You," also known as "The Dead Cat Song." - Michigan City Times

"Kennedy's Kitchen Shares the Bill with Tommy Makem"

Kennedy's Kitchen Shares the Bill with Tommy Makem

September 15 2006 DeBartollo Performing Arts Center

Makem strives for spontaneous feel

Staff writer Howard Dukes: (574) 235-6369

SOUTH BEND -- It's tempting to call Tommy Makem a folk singer. After all, Irish folk songs make up the bulk of his repertoire. Plus, his mother, Sarah Makem, sang folk songs, and he performed on-and-off with the Clancy Brothers for years.

Makem, however, says it's not right to call him a folk singer.

"I'm a singer of folk songs," he says. "Not a folk singer."

That's a distinction without a difference for many people, but Makem stands ready to explain. Makem, who performs tonight at the University of Notre Dame's DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts, compares himself to his mother, whom he calls a source singer. She knew hundreds of songs and their histories.

"Collectors came from all over the world to collect songs from my mother," Makem says.

"I grew up listening to Tommy Makem together with the Clancy Brothers," Kennedy says. "His music filled our house."

Kennedy, whose band, Kennedy's Kitchen, also performs tonight, says Makem is intertwined with the growth of folk music in the United States.

"Tommy was a part of the whole Greenwich Village (folk music) scene," Kennedy says.

Kennedy says Makem influenced such singers from that scene as Bob Dylan.It shouldn't be surprising that Kennedy counts Makem as a major influence.

"Since I grew up listening to him, it's almost like he influenced my whole sense of what an Irish singer is," Kennedy says.

Kennedy says that he strives to give audiences the sense that they are sitting on a porch or in a kitchen listening to friends sing. Kennedy wants an organic and spontaneous feel.

Makem has a similar performance style. Did Kennedy adopt the style as a homage to his musical hero? Not necessarily. Kennedy says folk music is made to be sung among friends and family members while sitting around a kitchen table.

Those friends and family members wouldn't use a set list to decide what songs to sing. Instead, they'd probably sing what felt good at the time.Kennedy operates in a similar fashion, whether performing in an intimate setting such as Fiddler's Hearth or at DeBartolo.

"When I talked to Tommy, he said that he does not work from a set list," Kennedy says. "Other than a couple of key songs, he just wings it, and that's what I do."

Makem says he realizes that people don't come to a concert to be lectured to. They want to be entertained.

"Most people like to sing," he says, "so I try to get them to sing." - South Bend Tribune

"The Heart of Tradition"

"To hear Kennedy's Kitchen is to experience the heart of music, the culture of the songs being handed from musician to musician, the beauty of melody untouched by gimmick and the magic of this group of musicians coming together with one aim - to leave you, and them, breathless. Then, on the the next song, they'll have you partying and dancing as never before. One of America's best."

Tom Shaub, Director of Michigan Irish Fest - Michigan Irish Fest


Kennedy's Kitchen 2003
Music in The Glenn 2004
A Pocketful of Lint 2006
The Hotting Fire 2008
The Birds Upons The Trees 2013

Our music is featured regularly on and on radio stations around the world.



Kennedy's Kitchen has been making music together since 1998, averaging about 80 performances per year playing everything from backyard birthday parties and weddings to concert halls and festivals. We have traveled from our home-town of South Bend Indiana to as far as New York City and Naples Florida, releasing five CDs along the way. We are family and friends sharing the music that we love, rooted in traditional Irish music... jigs, reels, hornpipes, aires, recitations, stories, and songs…. and adding our own compositions. It’s a mix of all things Irish from traditional to pub songs, from toe tapping to deeply moving.. and it’s always fun.

The band is lead by joHn Kennedy, award winning singer and guitar player. It's Kitchen music... from the home, the hearth, and the heart ....

Based in South Bend, Indiana. We play fiddle, flutes, whistles, mandolin, bouzuoki, guitars, tenor banjo, harmonica, bohdran, and bass.

The Celtic Fire Step-dancers frequently perform with Kennedy's Kitchen.

A few highlights…

Michigan Irish Fest in Muskegon MI (Seven times) and counting
Milwaukee Irish Fest (two times and counting)
LVD's Concert Hall in Goshen, IN (Eight times and counting)
Chicago's Irish American Heritage Center's Irish Fest. (Six times and counting)
Dayton Irish Fest (2005 and 2011)
The Carnegie Center for the Arts in Three Rivers MI. (Six times and counting)
The Acorn Theater in Three Oaks Michigan (Four shows and counting)
DeBartollo Performing Arts Center University of Notre Dame. (Four shows and Counting)
Front Porch Music, Valparaiso, IN (Seven shows and counting)
The Schauer Arts and Activities Center, Hartford, WI (2011)
The Riviera Theatre in Three Rivers Michigan. (2009)
The Majestic Theater in Gettysburgh (2008)
The Ramsey Auditorium at Fermilab in Batavial IL (2008)
Musikfest in Bethlehem PA. (2008)
The Kranert Center for the Arts at the University of Illinois (2005)
The Shaheen Music Series at Saint Mary College (2004)
The Front Porch in Valparaiso,