Flyer Profile: Jeff Kearney

Considering the fact that Jeff Kearney is in every band in Fayetteville (almost), it would appear as though selecting him as our next candidate for a Flyer Profile would be an easy choice.

The hard part is deciding which of his projects to talk about first.

Jeff Kearney moved to Fayetteville in 2005 from Harrison, but it seems like he’s been here forever. We first discovered him in the funkiest band in Fayetteville since Punkinhead, the Flipoff Pirates, and then noticed he was in the funkiest band since the Flipoff Pirates in 1 oz. Jig. After that, we realized he was the funkiest solo act we’d ever seen since, well, ever.

He is also the emcee of the twice-monthly Skinny Squinty Show at the Smoke and Barrel Tavern, a sort of singer-songwriter showcase that features guest artists often from differing genres. The Skinny Squinty show ultimately allows some of Fayetteville’s best musicians to collaborate and improvise in a one-of-a kind performance. Those who’ve seen it know what I’m talking about. Those who haven’t – where have you been?

We got in touch with Jeff, this time to talk about his solo stuff, and he was nice enough to answer some questions for us.

Fayetteville Flyer: What have you been listening to lately?
Jeff Kearney: I have been collecting and listening to a lot of old vinyl records, anything I can get my hands on. I realized lately that I had become somewhat narrow minded about what music I was listening to. What I mean is, I just had this idea of what music I liked and I rarely let anything else in, so now I try to set aside a little while each day and listen to something I have never heard before, instead of listening to music I know I like already, and records are a good place to start. You really come across some stuff that you might otherwise never see. My four-year-old son has helped me to open my eyes to new things as well. We have been listening to a lot of The Chipmunks, and he’s big into Europe.

FF: We first head you with your work in the Flipoff Pirates. Are you guys still playing?
JK: The pirates are my family and we will always play together. We had a bit of a baby boom that slowed us down for a couple of years. The pirate family is growing and between the 5 of us we have 9 kids. Funk makes you fertile.

We have teamed up with Marlon Davis on drums (from Joseph Israel’s band), and are writing a crop of amazing new songs, playing new shows, and recording a new album (tentatively entitled “Chicken Coupe Deville”) coming out around the first of the year. Our sound has really matured over the years, and I feel very fortunate to have been a part of a band that has had the chance to be together long enough for that to happen. You can see us live at The Smoke and Barrel Tavern September 18 and Halloween night.

FF: What are some other bands that you’ve been in around town?
I was in a band called Segundo that was a lot of fun. We were featured on the first United We Jam DVD. I am currently in a funk outfit with some of Fayetteville’s heavy hitters called The 1 oz. Jig. The band features more of my original songs with some old funk songs from the 70’s thrown in. It is a fun band to play in and I hope even more fun to see. We put the Funk in dysfunctional. Check us out.
I have also really enjoyed playing solo lately. It has been very refreshing to me to have that freedom playing alone gives you.

FF: If you ask us, the Fayetteville music scene is in a pretty good place right now. Would you agree?
JK: I do agree. I think it always has been. True, there was a lull for a while with the closing of Chester’s, but there was still great music being made. People just weren’t that into going to shows. I heard a lot of people complaining about how the scene was dead, but I never saw those people at any shows. Our music scene is all of our responsibility. There were a few musicians who soldiered through and kept it alive during those times, and I am glad to say that , today there are some very exciting things happening in town right now.

FF: What are some of the bands in Fayetteville right now that you enjoy?
JK: I have been trying to get out and see more bands lately but they get together and break up so fast it can be quite a chore. Opal Fly is one of my favorites. She is pure style. I’m glad to see Punkinhead is playin shows. The Matt Smith Group is a band that really pushes the limits. If you want to hear somethin fresh and alive go see them. The Pope Co. Bootleggers are great and some of the nicest fellows you would ever want to meet. I just saw a Radiohead tribute fronted by Jovan Arrellano that was outa sight. Tiffany Christopher is a soul machine born to make music. Candy Lee has a voice as sweet as sugar. The OneUps take me to the minus worlds and I can’t wait to hear Wade Ogle’s new record.

FF: Tell us about the Skinny Squinty show that you’ve performed at the Green Door, and more recently, at the Smoke and Barrel.
JK: Oh how I miss the Green Door. The Skinny Squinty Show is how I get to see people I want to see and still play myself. It started at the Green Door when Paul Boatright was doing a weekly gig there and every week he would have a different guest or two. He asked me to join him for one of his shows and I did. Later on he asked me to emcee once a month, and I really enjoyed it. Sadly, the Green Door closed down and that was the end of it, until The Smoke and Barrel Tavern opened. Evan and all the guys and gals at the S&B are super, so I asked them if I could use their bar twice a month to keep The Skinny Squinty Show alive. Oh yeah, Skinny Squinty was a moniker given to me by Jake Weeden of FOP one sunny morning.

FF: There’s a great letter to the editor that you wrote on your Myspace page about the development that has happened around Dickson St. recently, and in particular, how that has effected the music and culture down there. Do you still think we should electrocute the rich (those who complain about the volume of music on Dickson)?
JK: Certainly. I am sponsoring an initiative to get the cattle prods handed out very soon and again there will be peace in the valley. Seriously though, the rich and the poor need each other. We need their bread to pay our bills each month and they need their pristine lawns mowed, the oil changed in their gas guzzling SUVs, and their fancy clothing dry cleaned. I just wish that we could consolidate them and move them all to a quiet, cozy yet over extravagant compound on the outskirts of town.

FF: How much of your music is arranged, and how much of it is improvised?
JK: I am trying to move toward more arranged music right now. Of course improvisation is a necessary part of the music that I play. Without it songs can become stale and repetitive, especially if you are a band or entertainer who plays a lot of shows. But being a songwriter I don’t want to rely on it too much. A lot of times new songs will come from an improvised jam, but then you have to sit down and sort of whittle away the excess to find the heart of the tune. It is important to have a good balance of both.

FF: Are you excited about the new Greenhouse Grill?
JK: Yes, I don’t know if I am more exited about the music or the food, but I am sure both will be outstanding.

FF: What’s next for you?
JK: Recording. I am recording a solo album and a 1 oz. Jig album at Listen Lab in the next couple of months. Hopefully I will be done with those by New Year’s. The 1 oz. Jig is planning a month long southern tour in the spring. The Flipoff Pirates are also doing some studio work. Most of the rest of this year I will be spending in the recording studio. But the thing I am happy about most is the birth of my 2nd son. I’m livin the dream.

Click below to hear Bankrupt by Jeff Kearney

[Photo by Echo Photography]