By Luke Z. Fenchel
If you’ve been in Ithaca for a little while, chances are you’ve heard of Kevin Kinsella. You might even think you know him. If you’ve never heard him, you’re in for a treat.
In any case, it may be time for an introduction.
Friday, February 26 at The WildFire Lounge Kinsella will showcase a new project with the Aceto Brothers. The show, which is set to start at 9pm, may be the best place to acquaint yourself with the singer and songwriter.
We at The Ithaca Post humbly suggests that you check your preconceptions at the door along with your coat.
Kinsella’s reggae roots run deep, and he recalled fondly a tape with UB40’s “Labor of Love” on one side and Bob Marley’s “Legend” on the flip. But he’s always been just as influenced by what he called his “acoustic roots,” citing Van Morrison, Neil Diamond, and ‘70s style folk.
“I’ve always have done Americana, soul and revival stuff as well singer and songwriter material,” Kevin said. “This is like an I-Town Revival.”
The only thing more intriguing than the prospect of the Kevin Kinsella songbook filtered through folk music is Friday night’s line-up: Dana Billings on drums; Harry Aceto on upright bass; Chad Lieberman on keys; and Kevin singing and playing guitar.
Kinsella began as the front man for the now-defunct Tribulations, then served as the founding member of the regional sensation John Brown’s Body, and has in the last few years performed steadily as a solo artist with two albums under his own name. He also formed I-Town Records, the local cooperative label, which has released records by artists as diverse as Plastic Nebraska and Hubcap, IY (New Neighbors) and J.B.B.
Further, if Ithaca music has a founding family, Kevin is its first son. Hank Roberts, Johnny Dowd, Richie Stearns, Jennie Lowe and Donna the Buffalo may have set the stage. But on any given night at any given nightclub, chances are good you can hear the influence of one man.
“He invited me to play with Millionaires of Love, and he encouraged my songwriting,” Solstice’s Elisa Sciscioli, who credits Kevin as her mentor, said. “He taught me that all music is soul music. Gospel. R&B. Funk. Reggae. It’s all soul.”
But Kevin’s extensive back-story as a local celebrity belies his generosity, his graciousness and his glowing aura; he is a man on a mission to share his own “thanks and praise” music with all who will lend an ear.
“The music that I love is the best of the reggae, the country and the soul, and what that all has in common is that it shares great songwriting and great singing,” Kevin said. “And I guess what this show is turning out to be.”
Kevin Kinsella and the Aceto Brothers perform at The WildFire Lounge tonight, Friday, at 9pm.