Danny O’Keefe: Legendary singer brings blues to Vashon

Legendary Northwest singer/songwriter Danny O’Keefe is bringing the blues to Vashon.

  • Wednesday, April 2, 2008 11:41am
  • Arts

Danny O’Keefe’s songs have been recorded by many well-known artists.

Legendary Northwest singer/songwriter Danny O’Keefe is bringing the blues to Vashon.

He began his storied musical career in the Minnesota coffeehouse scene in the 1960s and spent 35 eventful years on the music scene. A meeting with Buffalo Springfield manager Charles Greene in 1969 led to a telephone audition with the president of Atlantic Records, which resulted in O’Keefe’s first record deal. Flipping through O’Keefe’s own record collection, one might find American folk music, country and jazz.

Atlantic released “O’Keefe” in 1972, which featured the top-ten hit, “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues.” His next album was the 1973 classic, “Breezy Stories.”

O’Keefe will perform in a rare CD release concert at Blue Heron Art Center on Saturday, April 12. His newest album, “In Time,” was two-and-a-half years in the making. He says it is a collection of moving reflections about life lived in music. O’Keefe will be joined by Northwest multi-instrumentalist (guitar, harmonica, clarinet) Joel Tepp.

While most people who were around in the 1970s have heard “Good Time Charlie,” most are probably not aware how many times it has been reincarnated. It has been recorded by Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, Charlie Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie McCoy, Cab Calloway, Earl Klugh and Chet Atkins among others. Mel Torme performed it on the hit television series “Night Court” and, most recently, it was recorded by Dwight Yoakam for his “Under the Covers” release and featured in the film “Wild Things.”

O’Keefe has been recording and touring since the release of “O’Keefe.” Between l975 and 1979, he recorded a third album for Atlantic Records and two albums for Warner Bros.

In 1985, O’Keefe released “The Day To Day” under the Coldwater Records label, which was re-released in 1989 as “Redux” for Beachwood/Chameleon Records. Its singles, “Along For The Ride” and “Someday,” both made the top 20 on the adult contemporary music charts.

A video of “Along for the Ride” was aired on VH1. O’Keefe has toured with Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Buffett, Jessie Colin Young, Maria Muldaur, Linda Ronstadt, the Hollies and Loggins and Messina. He has also performed on the same bill with acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Yes, Tom Waits, John Hammond, Little Feat, Rita Coolidge and The Beach Boys.

Many of O’Keefe’s songs have been recorded by well-known artists such as Jackson Browne, John Denver, Judy Collins, Sheena Easton, David Lindley, Jesse Colin Young, David Mallett, Molly O’Brien and Alison Krauss.

O’Keefe’s heartfelt album, “Runnin’ From the Devil,” wrapped in soulful troubadour stylings, was released in February 2000 along with re-release of “The Day To Day.”

A leader in environmental circles, O’Keefe has followed his inner music to an appreciation of songbirds, inspiration for both his music and activism. In 1998, O’Keefe founded the Songbird Foundation, which seeks to protect songbirds and their habitats that are being destroyed by deforestation caused by non-sustainable coffee growing practices in Latin America. The foundation encourages coffee drinkers to drink sustainably grown coffee. See its Web site at www.songbird.org.

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