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Playing this Summer: Jenny Kavanaugh Band

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, June 20, 2011 - PROFILE: It's a short distance geographically from Jenny Kavanaugh's childhood home in south St. Louis to the Missouri Botanical Garden. But it took a considerable length of time for Kavanaugh and the members of her band to take the stage at the Gardens Whitaker Music Festival as headliners this coming Wednesday, June 22.

Jenny and her brother John Kavanaugh grew up playing traditional Irish music with their parents; and the family released three albums over the years. Jenny moved on to musical theater, and John became the lead vocalist for the ska band Mu 330. Jenny moved to Chicago and then Nashville, focusing on a career as a singer-songwriter. In 1999, the siblings decided to get together back in St. Louis to record their own music on an album called "I've Done My Time."

The group opened for bands such as the Bottle Rockets and Poi Dog Pondering before taking a hiatus in 2003. The Jenny Kavanaugh Band decided to reunite in late 2009, and has just released a new five-song EP of originals, "Be Alright." The current lineup includes Jenny and John Kavanaugh on vocals and guitar, Darrell Lee Barber on keyboards and guitar, John Kavanaugh on rhythm guitar, John "Obie" O'Brien on bass, drummer Patrick Turek and lead guitarist Wayne Corners. Everyone in the rest of the band except Corners adds backing vocals, creating a vibrant folk-roots rock sound.

Jenny Kavanaugh adds some addition insight into her background - and the band...

HOME: South St. Louis, and I'm darn proud.

AGE: The band started 11 years ago.

INSTRUMENTS: I play guitar well enough to write songs, but the band features two guitars, drums, keys and bass. All played by some really great guys.

HOBBIES: My current hobby is finishing a graduate degree. I also like to play "superhero" with my little boys (although I am rarely given the cool powers).

LAST CONCERT ATTENDED: I just recently saw my friend Kevin Buckley play fiddle in Tower Grove Park with his friend Ian Walsh. They were great. My last big concert was Leonard Cohen. That one was life altering. I would marry that man if I weren't already married and if he weren't 1,000 years old.

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: About seven weeks ago I had a beautiful little baby girl. My other hobby is spending a great deal of time adoring her.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO: I grew up in a family of musicians, so it only seems natural to spend time with great friends writing and playing music. I can't imagine NOT doing it!

QUOTE: I have a tendency to overthink things. I always go back to a quote that helps me remember to relish the time I have on this Earth:

"What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" -Mary Oliver.

Check out www.jennykavanaugh.com for more info and the band's complete schedule.

Whitaker Music Festival - Missouri Botanical Garden

The annual Whitaker Music Fest - now in its 18th year at the Garden, has undoubtedly become the most popular - and crowded - summer music festival in the area. The Festival takes place on 10 Wednesday evenings from June through early August, and it's common for these concerts to attract crowds of 7,000 to 8,000 people - or more.

There are some basic rules: Admission to the Garden is free starting at 5 p.m., and visitors can bring their own food and beverages in coolers, blankets and lawn chairs. You can even bring a table, but it has to be less than two feet in height. Just remember NOT to bring any pets, flags or banners, sports equipment such as Frisbees, grills or any cigarettes. The Garden is smoke-free at all times. Food and beverages - including beer and wine - are available for purchase. The music starts at 7:30 p.m. and usually ends sometime before 10 p.m.

The best advice is to plan ahead and get there early. Parking can be hard to come by as the concert gets close. So bring your picnic, kick back and enjoy. And if you have kids in tow, remember that the Children's Garden is open with free admission from 5 to 7 p.m.

In case of rain, check the Garden's website - www.mobot.org- Facebook page or twitter.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer who has long covered music.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. He has written for the St. Louis Beacon since 2009. Terry's other writing credits in St. Louis include: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis American, the Riverfront Times, and St. Louis magazine. Nationally, Terry writes for DownBeat magazine, OxfordAmerican.org and RollingStone.com, among others.

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