(Posted 3:30 p.m., Oct. 2)
Local balladeer releases homegrown CD
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans poet and songwriter Bill Keats
recently released his debut CD entitled 'You Can't Borrow Time'. Fred Sherwin/Photo
Bill Keats has been singing and strumming the guitar nearly all of his life, but his real passion though is song-writing and poetry.
“With a name like Keats, it sort of came naturally,” says the Orléans resident who grew up on the Rock before joining the Armed Forces in his early 20s.
Keats recently combined his two passions by recording a CD in his nephew’s basement in Nepean. “You Can’t Borrow Time” is a collection of 14 songs which Keats has penned over the last 20 years.
The CD is dedicated to the two most important women in his life – his second wife Mary and his 90-year-old mother Nora who still lives on her own in a small home in Newfoundland.
After listening to the CD, I was immediately reminded of old time balladeers like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, although Keats says he’s been influenced by Canadian singer songwriter John Pine.
The selections are all folk songs in the truest sense of the word, offering an extra-ordinary perspective on ordinary life.
They are humourous songs on the CD like “Why Do Women (Want Sex On A Hockey Night)”; insights into Keats’ philosophy on commuting in “Too Many Cars and Not Enough Roads”; and an heartwarming ode to his mother simply called “Message to Mother”.
Many of the songs were inspired by phrases he’s overheard, or simply popped into his head at the most impromptu of moments like “Money”.
“I wrote half that song while riding home from work on my bicycle. I had to keep repeating it over and over again in head until I got home and wrote it down,” says Keats.
My personal favourites include “Life’s Other Side” which includes nearly a dozen coloquilisms and “Bonavista”, a song about a man longing to return to the shores of Newfoundland.
Like any true folk song, the words and the story they tell are paramount and requirement an investment on the part of the listener.
“The CD was recorded for people who want to listen to the words. I’m not a background singer. I need an audience that’s willing to listen and not just drink beer and laugh a lot,” says Keats.
Keats’ nephew Jason did the audio mastering and at various times played lead guitar, bass, drums, slide guitar and an array of percussion instruments, while his son Will took the photo and designed the CD jacket.
The CD is available at Compact Disc in the Glebe, the Ottawa Folklore Centre near Bank and Sunnyside and Legend Records on Rideau Street. If you want to save a buck or two you can also buy it directly from Keats by dropping him a line at 613-824-2118.
was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local
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