Life of Ketch Kennedy – Songwriter & Folk Musician

The songs and stories span various places and times, each with its own sensory recollections, along with some incredibly fascinating friends and acquaintances. Early on, Ketch decided to “live the life that I sing about”. Sometimes, the fact that a song or story would evolve from a specific experience made it easier to bear; other times it enhanced an already fabulous experience. Some were lost in an alcoholic blur, while others were invigorated by a boost from John Barleycorn. There was a jeep ride in Mexico when his traveling companions, Ron and Eazy, sat on the tailgate as they drove between the missions and pueblos in Saltillo–sat there swinging their legs over the stone streets laughing and laughing and laughing. There were many great laughing times, but there were some tough times as well. Some of the songs are about the tough times, but almost all of the stories are adventures in characters and situations.

Ketch also had some of the most interesting and unique friends and relations; he had two brothers, the professor and Fats. The professor generally kept to himself, read the encyclopedia as a child, was extremely brilliant, went through a phase in his early teens when he thought he was Elvis and the girls seemed to like that, but it was just an anomaly. He dropped out of high school one year early to get on with college, zipped through in a flash as a Phi Beta Kappa, and soon got his PhD and began teaching something esoteric. Fats of course was the exact opposite. He too was smart but tried not to show it, had tons of common sense where the professor had none, and was generally wild and crazy until he drank himself to death. This doesn’t begin to describe him; there are many more facets which will come out later.

In telling these stories, there are really two personifications of Ketch. Ketch himself is a young rock star type, while The Elder is an older engineer. Since they’re really the same person, they share friends and family, even perhaps some experiences, but generally from a different perspective and mindset. Ketch shined shoes; he delivered papers; he repaired televisions; he played music professionally; he worked in grocery stores; he was a producer and writer for a multimedia firm. The Elder was a professional engineer and raised a family.

Ketch, for example, was playing drums with a rock band and his brother Fats one night wanted him to help after the gig to move a house. They moved housed on big trailer frames between midnight and sunrise so as not to interfere with traffic, and Mr. Seaky, the groups lead guitar and vocalist had been helping Fats after gigs. This particular house was going to have to go down a hill and back up the other side, and Fats thought that some extra help might be needed, so Ketch and the bass player both went, along with Fats and Sneaky—and Gus, the owner of the house moving busness. After spending too much time under the house clearing some foul smelling connections, the house was ready to go—or so they thought. What do you do with a runaway house? More of this story will turn up later.

The Elder, by contrast, spent years building a family and an engineering career. After infamous trips to Nigeria and such, he found himself on a launch coming out of Bejing, heading across Bohai Bay toward Korea, heading for a literal Chinese fire drill that could have been a disaster. Even though he had been ensconsed in the Houston home office for quite some time, managing the Control Sysems and Electrical departments, business was slow and there was a job in China that had to be done. After a crazy ride on the dubious roads of China, bouncing around in the back of an old and tattered Chevy reject, dodging bicycles, motor scooters and huge potholes, he had boarded this launch for fourteen hours of jostling at sea. Here’s where he started to experience the not so wonderful Chinese toilets, which looked like a tiled latrine. He never got used to it, but later ran across something similar on a party boat in Paris (yes, Paris, France—not Paris, Texas). Their destination was an FPSO; Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel; which is essentially a ship converted into an oil production facility. Upon arrival he was glad to find that the old method of boarding the ship wasn’t used anymore—the one where you jump for a rope ladder on a swell. If you miss you fall between the ship and the launch to be crushed and drowned, and if you judge wrong there’s usually some price to pay. He worked with an engineer that had back problems for years as a result. The new method was to ride up in the basket, which was effectively a large maritime grade inner tube with cone shaped netting above it. When it came to the launch deck, Ketch threw his bags in the middle (computer and all), hopped on the tube, grabbed the netting and held on for dear life. He actually enjoyed it, like a theme park ride, but his companion looked like he would either lose his breakfast or have a heart attack as they rose the equivalent of about 12 stories at the mercy of the crane operator. Once on deck, the fun began.

There are plenty of stories of Ketch and The Elder. Ketch was arrested in Colorado for stealing ski boots he didn’t steal. The Elder and his wife were stranded in a little fishing village in Mexico that seemed okay until it started getting dark. Ketch has a poem about skiing the Alps in Kitzbuhel, a little thirteenth century Tyrolean village that was home to the Winter Olympics one year. The Elder has a couple songs about the mind boggling, frightening land of Nigeria. There are many stories about Ketch and Fats, as well as other friends and relations that are colorful in one way or another. A part of “New York City Walking Talking Homesick Blues”, aka “Chuckie-poo’s Complaint”, goes like this:

They put me on my own one day, and all I did was read.
I thought perhaps some book would see just where my path should lead,
But they all said the same thing, whenever they were done: The said
Do what you should do my boy and try to love someone.

So I went looking for someone to love, and something to do that’s swell,
And since I didn’t know my way, into a hole I fell.