Drew Kennedy bases out of New Braunfels, a lovely Texas Hill Country town nestled along the banks of the Comal and Guadalupe rivers between Austin and San Antonio. A town settled in 1845 by German idealists and a fitting locale for a principled and energetic artist like Kennedy.
He might be called a reluctant but diligent optimist, looking for the good in people and circumstances while not always sure he will find it. Like many of us, Kennedy loves a sad song, the deep longing and familiarity of a well-crafted testament to lost love. However, in his work he strives to look forward, to new days and new loves, to the wonderful life we have left.
But damn, he can sure write a sad song. Consider “Sleeping Alone”…or a hopeful celebration of love not lost, like “Rose of Jericho”. Kennedy is a young man, and like the best of songwriters, his music chronicles the map of his own life, and in the process he speaks to each of us about our own life…beautiful stuff indeed.
Kennedy released his first LP, Hillbilly Pilgrim, in 2003, and has since blessed us with six more, including his latest, 2014’s Sad Songs Happily Played. He is also a writer of fiction, having published Fresh Water in the Salton Sea in 2011, the story of a heartbroken musician, which is connected, in letter and spirit, to his album of the same name.
Also in 2011 Kennedy launched the Red River Songwriters’ Festival, an annual gathering of mostly Texas songwriters in the stunning beauty of mid-winter northern New Mexico. A core group of friends and writers are always there, including Walt Wilkins, Susan Gibson, Kelley Mickwee, Josh Grider and Brandy Zdan. Austin Songwriter will be in attendance at this year’s fest, running from January 26th through 29th and featuring the usual cast and headliner John Fullbright.
Three things to know about Drew Kennedy: (1) he came to the Hill Country via Virginia, his birthplace, and Houston; (2) the work of the great Guy Clark is a major influence, and (3) he is a master of hats.