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The Sound of Spring coming to Beckwith

Published 5:00pm Thursday, March 6, 2014

For singer John Kennedy, Michiana isn’t just the region he calls home, but the very inspiration for many of his songs and poems.

The first song he ever wrote, in fact, was entitled “Springtime in Indiana,” based on his memories of growing up in South Bend.

It’s the theme of spring that he and his band, Kennedy’s Kitchen, will deliver to music-lovers in Dowagiac on Saturday night at Beckwith Theatre.

“We’re going to be singing spring,” Kennedy said.

The concert is the first activity of 2014 at Beckwith. The theatre has hosted the Irish music group for the last several years, with the concerts growing in popularity each successive year, said Board President Jeff Gunn.

“We’ve come short of selling out, but our audience grows by about 10 to 15 people every year,” Gunn said. “We’re hoping to sell out this year.”

Gunn reached out to the South Bend-based musicians to bring their distinctive Irish sound to Dowagiac after listening to them perform on public TV. Their unique folk-style music combined with their local roots, made them a perfect fit for the Beckwith audience, Gunn said.

“You can tell the band really likes playing here, and it shows in their performance,” he said. “They interact with the audience, they just don’t play a 90-minute set and leave.”

For lead singer Kennedy, Beckwith is among his favorite venues to perform on.

“It’s a theater with the most perfect stage, and there’s a strong sense of community within the audience,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy’s Kitchen has been performing and recording Irish music since 1998. The five-person group has released five albums, with their latest release, entitled “The Birds Upon the Trees,” coming out late last year.

“If we’re not the best, we’re certainly the longest lasting Irish band in the Midwest,” Kennedy said.

While he grew up in South Bend, Kennedy visited Dowagiac quite often as child, as his parents owned a summer home on Indian Lake. His attachment to the city was so strong that he wrote a poem about the area, “North on State Road 51,” which he will recite on Saturday.

“Whenever I hit 51, all these emotions and memories just come running back toward me,” Kennedy said.

The group promises to deliver a diverse lineup of music to the audience this weekend, all with an Irish-flavor just a few days shy of St. Patrick’s Day.

“I’m looking to getting people singing along with us,” Kennedy said. “Dowagiac audiences always jump in. You never have to ask them to sing along.”

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. with o’dourves and drinks served at intermission. Seating is still available for $20. Reservations can be made by calling Beckwith Theatre at 269-782-7653 or by email at info@beckwiththeatre.com.

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