Music : Don Groover, Kevin Keady weekly at The Wharf
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Friday night was a chance to exhale and see our community at The Wharf. At 8 pm, a group of well-scrubbed 18- to 20-year olds who made you wish they were your kids quietly celebrated a birthday with dinner in the back dining room. Couples and families lingered over the dinner specials and table-hopped.
Around 9 pm, guitarist and vocalist Kevin Keady and his sidekick, Don Groover on electric guitar, set up in the window in the main dining room overlooking Main Street to entertain a sparse early crowd. They opened with "Candle in the Wind." A little blonde girl stopped on her way out from dinner, transfixed by fingers on guitar strings, perhaps mesmerized by live entertainment in real time. Maybe as captivating to her as "Toy Story 3."
The crowd grew in twos and threes, including three women at a corner table who knew the songs, obviously fans of the duo. Bob Hines, a weekend resident, was down from Quincy, trying to get some video. "I'm a big fan of these guys, listen to them every weekend in the summer at the Artisans Marketplace in West Tisbury," he said.
The two are musical fixtures here. We've heard them countless times in bars, at street fairs, and at festivals. They have a specific style, freshly rendering talkin' songs and '70s and '80s standards. Maybe the soft snow falling behind them and the relaxed patrons in front changed the mood but somehow on Friday night we were able to listen to rather than just hear the music.
The thought occurred that when there are only two players, each playing the same instrument, they have to bring some virtuosity to do a lot. For Mr. Keady, it's the voice. We are not talking Nat King Cole here. It's a growly, cambered voice. He can ramp it up, as he did on a song out of Bob Dylan's later, aurally incomprehensible period.
Mr. Groover uses his instrument to create subtle, evocative echoes. There's a hint of sitar in trippy songs from the '70s, and Jimmy Hendrix and Billy Ray Vaughn edges on up-tempo anthem pieces.
On country-flavored songs, Mr. Groover adds the sound of the pedal steel guitar, transporting one listener back 30 years to the Kitty Kat Lounge in Printers Alley in Nashville. The Kitty Kat was then a favored hang for studio players and country singers. On that night, an 18-year-old child named Crystal Gayle came out of the audience to sing "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" for the first time.
Mellow Friday nights will do that.
Don Groover and Kevin Keady, Fridays through January, 9 pm, The Wharf, Edgartown.