The musician Dan Kennedy isn’t so far away – an old farmhouse in South Amherst, a distance of a little more than 80 miles from Bedford.
Culturally, it can be harder to measure.
“Here, ‘bad traffic’ is when you’re stuck behind a tractor for 100 yards,” he laughed.
Time has also separated Kennedy from the town where he grew up, and the 1988 Bedford High School graduate is looking forward to a homecoming solo piano concert Sunday, Oct. 23, at 3 p.m. at the First Parish Church on the Common.
The suggested donation for “Dan Kennedy Comes Home” will be $20 per adult and $15 per senior or student. Kennedy will host a post-performance “meet-and-greet” session, with some of his compact discs available. One of those was recognized by the Enlightened Piano Radio platform with its 2019 Album of the Year award. His seventh album comes out next month.
“I am grateful to Bedford for giving me a start. It’s my privilege to play music for people. I enjoy it every single time I go there,” Kennedy said. “Because it’s a homecoming for me, I’m going to be giving thanks to a lot of people that I grew up with – teachers, librarians, health workers. It’s going to be a bit of a reunion, so I want to give thanks where thanks are due.”
Kennedy likes to label his music “solo piano, because that way it can be any music from classical to popular.”
His website (www.dankennedy.us) says, “With a style sometimes described as classical crossover, Dan normally approaches his compositions with a conservatory-trained formal sensibility, and along the way overlays sparkling melodies and flashes of unexpected improvisation.”
“What I like to do is play things that I’ve written – my original music has over half a million plays on the internet,” Kennedy commented, adding, “I always sprinkle in my versions of some well-known tunes.”
One recent reviewer in Maine wrote, “Kennedy’s piano compositions are praised for their sophisticated sensibility and their variety – from rhythmic energy to humorous reflection on daily life to soulful, reflective melodies.”
As an undergraduate in the conservatory at Oberlin College, “When I wasn’t writing a chamber work or doing a music theory assignment, I stole away to the campus coffeehouse where I would play hours of improvised solo piano music,” Kennedy related. “Sure enough, what I was doing on the side ended up being more of what I do for my work now.”
Nevertheless, he also earned a master’s degree in music composition from the New England Conservatory of Music.
“My teachers in Bedford were Mr. and Mrs. Ball – they had a horse farm on Carlisle Road,” Kennedy recalled. “A lot of kids studied with them.”
Kennedy taught music for some 25 years, mostly with private piano students, but also including a stint in the Bedford schools. He said he stopped teaching in June as his recording and performance schedule accelerated.
He did some singing in high school, and recalls with admiration, “We had a barbershop quartet – Pete Corea, Bobby Sullivan, and Jimmy Larkin. It was really close harmony. Pete got sick the night of the concert, and (BHS Music Director Keith) Phinney just stepped in and did the tenor part.”
These days, Kennedy said, “I play like I want to be a singer, and I sing through my piano.”
The musician said he has performed in 21 states – the most distant is Washington – and his music is featured on more than 30 international streaming platforms, including Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Music Choice, and Sirius XM. He said his music has garnered more than 500,000 spins on the internet, and has been heard on some 250 radio stations.
Kennedy and his wife Rachel have two children.