Up Close with Singer/Songwriter, Chris Kenny

There’s something intriguing, alluring and very cool about a talented, mature female blues musician.  She sings about the struggles and triumphs of life in a way that only a troubadour with life experience can accurately communicate.  Canadian transplant, Chris Kenny is exactly that fascinating, accomplished and truthful musician.

Chris was a constant in Canada’s music scene over the years playing festivals and clubs.  She’s shared the stage with many of Canada’s best recording blues artists and musicians.  Since 2011, Chris has been delivering her powerful and diverse vocals to Puerto Vallarta audiences.  Her style can be described as jazz, blues and a little rock n roll.  As an experienced artist, she consistently delivers a captivating and strong performance.

The Chris Kenny band is in high demand at Puerto Vallarta’s restaurants, bars and other venues. This season Chris Kenny and her band perform:

Tuesdays, 9pm-12 at Nacho Daddy’s (Chris Kenny Band)

Wednesdays, 4pm-6pm at El Rio BBQ (solo/unplugged show)

Thursday evenings at the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort

Every 2nd Friday at Cassandra Shaw Jewelry(South Side Shuffle)

Every 2nd Saturday morning at the Old Town Farmers Market

Saturdays, 9pm-11:30pm at Kabuki

In my recent interview with Chris, she opened up about her life and her music.  Here’s a glimpse into the life of this extraordinary blues musician.

You have been a world traveler . How has music guided and fulfilled your life?

I have always been restless so music has helped me to move around and still support myself.  I have often had to work other jobs in order to make ends meet.

I would not say music has always fulfilled my life. It is a hard road to travel and I had many misconceptions of the sacrifices and work it takes to succeed.

What is your musical history?

I first sang in front of my Grade 3 class at Bells Corners Public School in Ottawa, Ontario.  I sang ‘The End of the World’ originally recorded by Skeeter Davis. I received much praise and applause and I was hooked after that. I started playing the guitar when I was 11.  I jumped from picking out notes to chords and figuring out how to play songs on my own.  I am self-taught.  My moderate success has been through trial, error and persistence. On the other hand, many people tell me my style is very soulful and heartfelt. You cannot learn that from books.

How did you make the decision to move to Puerto Vallarta?

I crewed on a boat when I was 19 leaving from Marina Del Rey to Cabo San Lucas.  I fell in love with Mexico, the climate, the people.  It has been my dream to live here ever since.  I slowed down to raise my beautiful daughter Lindsay who is now independent and doing very well.

The real opportunity to relocate here arose when visiting in Nov 2011. I was doing a little solo show at Kabuki Sushi on Olas Altas and the General Manager of Dreams Resorts saw me playing solo while dining there and offered me a show at the resort.  So I joined the Jalisco Musicians Union and this gave me the ability to legally work here.  I worked for Dreams for nearly 3 years.

What was your childhood like?

It was very sheltered and very average. Very cold!!!!  Ontario was a great place to grow up though.  I am a first generation Canadian.  My parents are from the North of England.  I often wonder why they chose Ontario and not Florida!!!  My father started working for CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) and moved the family to Nairobi, Kenya.  It was a huge culture shock for us all.

My first gig with a band was in Nairobi. It was with a group of expats from all over the world. We had some memorable gigs. One being at a private residence on Lake Naivasha called the Jin Palace.  We spent a couple of crazy days there; bombing around in jeeps, hippos grazing on the lawn and peacocks wandering in the gardens.  I met the late Joy Adamson, who wrote Born Free – Elsa the Lion).  I was very glad to have seen Kenya in the 70’s.

What is it like to work in a number of different Puerto Vallarta venues?

Most musicians who work with actual live audiences don’t work in a single venue or stage anymore.  We take the work where we can get it.  I guess you can call that freedom.  There are few live venues left as compared to when I started playing.  I still work Kabuki every Saturday evening but now with a full band. The dream never faded and here I am!!!

You have a great love of animals. Describe what they have meant in your life and the animal charities in Puerto Vallarta that you have been involved with.

My mom was a great lover of critters.  I would bring home half dead things from the forest or off the road and she would try to nurse them back to health. I remember her trying to keep baby field mice warm with a towel in a pie plate over a low watt light bulb.

I have performed shows for various PV animal charities including the Colina Spay and Neuter Clinic that offers free spay and neutering services. I recently performed at a MexPup fundraiser.  MexPup finds new homes in the U.S, Canada and Mexico for Puerto Vallarta strays. I personally have rescued a number of cats and dogs.

Other charities I continue to support here in PV are Corazon de Nina, Bandaras Bay Woman’s Shelter and Pasitos de Luz.

What type of music do you most enjoy performing now?

I have jumped on many bandwagons, from jazz standards to new country. The biggest influence, in so far as styles go, would be blues.  I think I sing this genre very well and have written some of my best songs in this style.

Who are your band members and how do they contribute to your sound?

I have worked with some fabulous people here in PV.  I was very lucky in the beginning to have Steve and Lisa York take me under their wing when I had broken my wrist and was unable to play guitar.   I think a lot of people here in PV do not realize what a big star Steve York is and how much he contributed to the British Invasion and how many super stars he has shared a stage with. Lisa York is a wonderful musician in her own right. I have been working with my current band for 3 years.

Bassist Miguel Cerventas Gonzolas has been with me the longest.  He is a fine bass player and my musical director so to speak. I rely on him greatly to keep me grounded.

Enrique Jimenez  is my regular drummer.  Enrique is a little new to my styles of music but he keeps us swinging, He has a wonderful natural style and is always smiling and positive

On lead guitar is Gilberto Luna.  Gil has a long history of playing some of the really great clubs here in PV.  I love his style, passion and commitment to music.

I am very lucky to have a back up guitar player as well, Fernando Lopez who began with the band, but has a great day job he wishes to pursue.  He still plays with us at Kabuki on Sat. nights and puts a little different spin on our sound.

Your CD ‘Something So Right’ is fantastic. How did it come together?

My CD, ‘Something So Right’ came together through friends/fans who really wanted me to record some of my originals. They helped me raise the funds for studio time.

I was also lucky to have some great musician friends who assisted.  Fabulous players like Whitey Glan – who toured with Bette Midler and Alice Cooper, Michael Fonfara – who toured with numerous great bands including Lou Reed, Sax Player Pat Carey of the Downchild Blues Band  and Downchild’s Lead Singer Chuck Jackson who did a duet with me on the disc.

It also could not have come together without the help of my long time musical partner Brian Gauci and the help and support from The Rhythm Ranch Recording Studios.

I have a lot of new original material and hope to put another CD together in the very near future.  I want to continue to work on more of my original material and write more songs that reflect my time here in Mexico.

What would you like your fans to know about you?

I have been told I cook like I sing!!  I love to cook.

What have you learned in life that you’d like to pass on to others?

Don’t let others tell you what you can and cannot do.

Take some chances and knock on some doors.  You can’t win if you don’t play!

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