Folk rocker Kevin Connolly, who is a Marshfield native, plays the Poetry Readers and Songwriters Coffeehouse in the G.A.R. Hall, at 157 Old Main St. “That old hall has some history for me too, since I used to walk by it on the way to school every day, ” Connolly said.
A Marshfield Hills coffeehouse is the ideal setting for Kevin Connolly to showcase his music. Both the location and Connolly’s lyrics are uncluttered and soulful.
Connolly, a native of Marshfield, will perform his folksie rock at 8 p.m. Dec. 11 at the Poetry Readers and Songwriters Coffeehouse in the G.A.R. Hall, at 157 Old Main St.
“It’s been a while since I was able to play in Marshfield,” Connolly said. His last album, 2008’s “Still Standing Still” was well received, but the attention wasn’t enough for him to be able to leave his day job at WROR radio station in Boston.
“I’ve been general sales manager now for seven years, and it’s been just what I wanted,” said Connolly, who is married with two children and now lives in Lexington. “I now play a handful of shows every month, don’t have to travel, and can just choose to go locally in my car to my gigs. It has been great for stability and a more normal, reasonable lifestyle.”
The Marshfield gig is especially important to him.
“That old hall has some history for me too, since I used to walk by it on the way to school every day. I was really psyched when they called and asked me to do this. My mother still lives in Marshfield Hills, and this one really feels like I’m playing in my own backyard .”
Marshfield was such an influence on Connolly that it inspired the album “Little Town,” with lyrics reflecting the joys and travails of growing up in “MarshVegas,” where a big night out usually ended up at the Rexicana Ballroom.
For the first couple decades of his career, Connolly was the quintessential rock vagabond, touring the country, with a band or solo, on literally a shoestring. Ten years ago, he began to think sleeping in a van or on some stranger’s couch wasn’t quite the rewarding experience it had been when he was 22. He still wanted to make music his own way, but he also wanted to have an occasional home-cooked meal.
“I had been averaging 160 gigs a year, traveling all the time, and yet never seemed to have any money. I was married to Liza by then, and my daughter Lyla was already 2 years old. I had to stop and look at where I could realistically go from there. For me, even if my career had gotten better – and it figured to at that point – I had to conclude that it would be difficult to do that and still have the kind of family life I wanted. I was on the road all the time, and that is hard on a marriage and hard on kids.”
Connolly’s daughter is now in the seventh grade and son Nicholas a fourth-grader.
Connolly reports he has about three-fourths of his next album already written and will release it early next year. One of the most unusual things he’s done lately is co-write a song about daredevil Evel Knievel with former Sports Illustrated writer and biographer Leigh Montville. Knievel is also the subject of Montville’s next book.
“I met Leigh about five years ago,” Connolly said. “I was opening for James McMurtry at Johnny D’s, and had been reading the Ted Williams book. When I was selling CDs after the gig, Leigh came up and mentioned a mutual friend we have. I asked what he did, and he said he used to be a sportswriter, but is now writing books. He told me he’d done a Manute Bol book, and I blurted out ‘you’re Leigh Montville? I’m reading the Ted book and loving it!’”
They became friends and soon Connolly challenged Montville to pen a song with him about Knievel.
“I wrote a first verse, and mailed it to Leigh,” Connolly continued. “He wrote a second verse and sent it back to me. We went back and forth like that, and then Leigh sent me a whole bunch of verses, and told me to feel free to edit him.”
The Marshfield fans are likely to hear that new Montville song along with a lot of “Little Town” stuff.
“That album did very well around here. I just missed my 30th high school reunion, and I’m sure a lot of people in my class would get that one, and will really appreciate hearing those songs. A handful of those songs really resonate. But even our last CD has songs that harken back to those days... like ‘Walking Out In the Woods’ was based on my memories of this recluse who used to live in our neighborhood, and had a sort of junkyard in his backyard. And “Bumpy Road” is definitely about my old neighborhood.”
PROPHET’S LOCAL TIE: A typically blistering two-hours-plus concert from California rocker Chuck Prophet at the Narrows Center last Sunday was punctuated with a guest appearance from Weymouth bluesman Rick Russell. Russell’s nephew, Kevin T. White of Millis, is the bassist in Prophet’s band. Russell jammed with the Prophet band in their first encore, adding sizzling blues licks to a torrid sprint through the Yardbirds’ “I’m Not Talking,” and a version of Bob Dylan’s “From a Buick 6.”
MORE VOCALS FOR THE BUCK: Limited vocal range and style is the most common failure of cover bands. A refreshing exception is the Marshfield-based Infractions, with the Happenin’ Horns, a sextet we caught last weekend at Bad Abbots in Quincy. The late set included a Steely Dan song, two Eagles covers and a pair of Stevie Wonder romps. Infractions leader Brian Stratton said that four of the members have been lead singers fronting their own bands, and it was obvious that this lineup has talent. Highly recommended.
Jay N. Miller covers music in the Boston area. If you have information or ideas send it by e-mail to email@example.com.