He toured the world with his band Energy Orchard from the late 80s, playing with the likes of Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Steve Earle. When the band split in the mid 90s, Bap pursued a successful solo career, which saw him record Domestic Blues with Steve Earle in Nashville and reunite with Van Morrison on the Big Picture album. He also toured with Mark Knopfler several times and Mark would later record and produce his Sailor's Revenge album in Knopfler's own British Grove studio, London.
Bap was a highly intelligent, quick witted man, a master of the one-liner, though he could be somewhat awkward and shy; no doubt as a result of his now well documented Asperger's which was a late diagnosis. I first met him with Energy Orchard, in Kelly's of Portrush as a 16 year old thanks to the legendary Sticky Torrens in the sound booth, (as I snuck-in for free up the external fire escape as usual). In those days he liked a drink, he was cheeky, cocky and his stage antics were well renowned. To this day, that is still the best gig I have ever attended. I saw him EO/solo in London several times (Mean Fiddler, Filthy's, Boogaloo) and rarely missed a Belfast gig after he returned home. He was always ready with a track or album recommendation when quizzing him about his vast and eclectic musical knowledge and his connections within the music industry were a who's who of top artists. I had the privilege of meeting his parents Lily and Jim on a couple of occasions and they were fiercely proud of his achievements and Lily told me that she was so happy that he had found Brenda as she had been so good for him in every way.
Now, over the last 3 years I must admit that I have struggled to enjoy his music. His songs have always represented landmarks in my life and I was overwhelmed with sadness every time I tried to listen to a track; something which I kind of felt guilty about. It is actually only in the last month or so that I have begun to reconnect with his music and started to enjoy it once again; and there's so much to enjoy. If I had to pick one song that defines Bap's music to me I think I'd go for Loverman from The Big Picture album. I remember the first time I heard it and it still feels the same today.
RIP Martin 'Bap' Kennedy (1962-2016)