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Mysterious Traveler - Mike Kennedy

Mike Kennedy 1

Mysterious Traveler 4 Concert Series

March 19th, 2018 / Mike Kennedy

Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189


All events in this series are FREE.


Mysterious Travelers 4: Further Investigations - a collaboration between The Free Library of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Jazz Project. Back by overwhelming popular demand! FREE concerts on Monday nights from September 2017 through May 2018; audiences will hear from veteran, as well as up-and-coming musicians who are shaping the future sounds of Philadelphia with a sharp ear to the legacies of our past. This season our artists will continue to celebrate the massive and amazing collections of the Free Library by exploring them as a source of inspiration for the creation of new musical works.


Mike Kennedy is a guitarist, composer, recording artist and music educator. He has been performing in Philadelphia and the Mid-Atlantic regions since 1989 and continues stretching his boundaries. Mike’s varied musical interests from journalism to creating film scores have shaped the sound of his music in unique ways. Fusing Jazz, Pop, Rock and Country music is something that has surfaced organically over the years. Originally from Lansdale, Pennsylvania, Mike moved to Philadelphia in 1987, where he began studying Jazz guitar at the University of The Arts, and received his Bachelors and Masters degrees. Mike Kennedy is currently the Guitar Department Chairperson at UARTS. Mike’s performance schedule over the past 20+ years has taken him to venues across the country, including The Mann Music Center, Walnut Theater, Prince Theater; Center City Jazz Festival, Freedom Theater; The Kimmel Center, Arden Theater; Bucks County Community College Jazz Festival, Sellersville Theatre; Santander Performing Arts Center, The Patriot Theater, The Keswick Theatre, Longwood Gardens, Theatre of The Living Arts and the Collingswood Jazz Festival.


Mike Kennedy 2


Guitarist and composer, Mike Kennedy will be our next guest artist in the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series. In his concert, Mike Kennedy will musically Compare & Contrast – The Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde. Transforming words into sounds, Kennedy will compose sound paintings of works from these pioneering modernist writers' literary catalogs.


PJP spoke with Mike Kennedy about his music, approach and the new project that he will reveal in the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series.


PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction?


Mike Kennedy:  ​Over the last few years, my direction as an artist has focused on producing music that is uncluttered melodically and harmonically. I am enjoying the possibilities that simplicity can sometimes provide.


PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?


Mike Kennedy 3Mike Kennedy: My creative approach is most influenced by artists making art. The process that one follows to realize an idea is all that matters, and that is the strongest motivator to me. Wes Montgomery, Wayne Shorter, James Taylor and Jimmy Webb are among some of the most important musical influences to me. Each of these artists have enriched my approach to music making because of their individuality of voice.


PJP: What are you going to present at the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series?


Mike Kennedy: ​ I have chosen to study some writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde because of the rich imagery they created in their work. My goal is to portray my impressions of these writings musically without following standard forms.


PJP: Why is this theme/concept so important?


Mike Kennedy: To me, this concept is important because these authors revealed a different path for me to explore. I forced myself to look deeply into the material and refrain from making musical decisions too quickly. I don’t think I would have stumbled upon this process otherwise. It has been a very valuable and meaningful experience for me.


PJP:  Can you explain your process and the steps that led to this performance?


Mike Kennedy: In approaching this project, I decided to make every attempt to allow myself to be guided by the material and the impressions or imagery that came to me from this reading. The most difficult part of my process was putting aside pre-conceived ideas or existing modes of operation that I would otherwise follow. I took a lot of notes about things like location, temperature, attitude, etc. Almost anything that made some impression, really. I tried to complete any reading before picking up the guitar. From there, I played on my impressions without editing the direction of the music and repeated this process until an idea became clear. After an idea presented itself, I would slow things down and map out any destination I thought worth visiting.


PJP: How do you manage the task of creating and encouraging fresh, new, forwarding moving musical ideas while simultaneously exploring, celebrating and documenting the past?


Mike Kennedy 4Mike Kennedy: Patience and persistence has been an important part of this project for me. I’ve learned to give an idea a chance by staying with it long enough to explore as many directions as possible.


PJP: When listening to your music what advice would you give the audience to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment?


Mike Kennedy: For someone listening to my music, I would suggest trying to listen to the piece as a whole, not as individual instruments. My musical interpretations of these writings are born from some kind of connection with my own experiences and feelings that were inspired by the text.


PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?


Mike Kennedy: To me, Jazz is an expansive and creative gateway to endless musical ideas and experiences. As an artist, variety of process and discovery is vital to the work and Jazz music is a very multi-layered form of expression. Jazz has inspired me to continue to reach for honest self-expression.


Check out Mike Kennedy in action at Chris' Jazz Cafe in Philly back in 2015


Keep up with Mike Kennedy's activity by visiting his WEBSITE, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM, REVERBERATION, or YOUTUBE.



Mysterious Traveler 4 Concert Series

March 19th, 2018 / Mike Kennedy

Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189



All events in this series are FREE.


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Mysterious Traveler 4 - Further Investigations Concert Series is produced by Philadelphia Jazz Project in collaboration with The Free Library of Philadelphia.


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.