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Dusty Keleher writes songs that tell a good story and searches out gems from the past that do the same.
Simply put, roots/traditional music that takes its cue from ancient Irish ballads to songs from the folk and folk/rock canon.
From whatever genre and tradition he draws on, Dusty brings a heartfelt soul to all the songs he sings
His most recent recording, 2018’s The Way to Grace (b/w The Road to Connemara) is a double lp. Three sides of originals backed by a full band, and one side, a collection of deep Irish traditional songs sung acapella.
It was nominated for Best Folk Roots Recording by Music Nova Scotia.
The band on The Way to Grace portion of the record includes Celtic harp, fiddles, whistles, uilleann pipes, bodhrán, bass and drums.
The Road to Connemara part of the record was adapted into a stage play first performed at The Halifax Fringe Festival in September 2018. It combines Dusty’s interest of folklore, storytelling and singing from the Irish tradition known as sean nós, or old style.
The album includes a couple songs sung in the Irish language which Dusty studied in Halifax and in Galway.
Dusty uses his study of folklore and Irish storytelling techniques as a tour guide with The Halifax Ghost Walk, leading tourists and locals alike through the streets of Halifax, Nova Scotia on dark summer nights.
He has been releasing work since the mid 90's when he went by the name Dusty Sorbet. Putting out lo-fi 4 track cassette recordings and then making the big jump to compact disc(!)
In 2000 he released Unfinished Business on the No Records label
In 2002 he was voted best busker in The Coast Reader’s Poll, Halifax’s weekly newspaper.
He continues to busk most Saturday mornings at the Brewery Farmers Market in Halifax, NS.
In 2004 the independently released "Wanderers Grounds" was nominated for Best Folk/Roots recording by Music Nova Scotia (formerly known as The Music Industry of Nova Scotia MIANS).
In 2006 he dropped the Sorbet moniker for the family name and released Rain or Shine as Dusty Keeler and his band The Rusty Wheels (Phil Sedore, Lukas Pearse and Benn Ross)
2007 Under the Radar and Over the Canyon a solo acoustic CD is released. Plays in Ireland and Wales
2008 – 2010 Studied Irish language, history and folklore at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS and spent a summer at National University of Ireland – Galway (NUIG) doing a language immersion program on a scholarship from the Irish Canadian University Fund.
In 2009 a short run of two eps "East to Ireland" volumes 1 and 2 came out after he traveled to Ireland and started focusing his music on more traditional sounds.
2010 Starts working for The Halifax Ghost Walk as a storyteller. Combining his love of folklore, history and performance, he guides locals and tourists alike on this 2 hour walking tour through the city's downtown core.
2015 "Not a Mile From Spancil Hill" a collection of pub songs and ballads with Benn Ross on percussion, Ellen Gibling on Harp and Glenn Coolen on whistles and uileann pipes.
2018 The Way to Grace (b/w The Road to Conamara) a double lp set of originals backed by a full band complimented by a collection of acapella songs is released.
facebook reviews “Dusty is a modern day bard, in every sense.”
“Dusty is an expert in story telling and building mystery and suspense”
“…a masterful storyteller. Dusty was enthralling and had me on the edge of my seat (even when I was standing!)”
ABOUT THE ALBUM
The Way to Grace b/w The Road to Conamara; songs and stories in the old style
Dusty Keleher's family was always proud of their Irish heritage. He had heard tales of his grandfather, Howard, performing at variety shows in Halifax in the 1930’s, and being called on to sing at parties, weddings, funerals; any sort of social gathering. But Dusty knew there was more to it than just that. So, when circumstance and fortune allowed him a bit of time, and a little bit of purse, he set out to uncover the history, culture, music and folkore of his roots.
Dusty is now releasing the fruits of his labour and study; a thesis, his latest recording, The Way to Grace (b/w The Road to Conamara). The album, a two-record set, pressed to vinyl and cd, is the culmination of a decade’s worth of exploration and study of Irish history, folkore and song.
The Way to Grace is a collection of originals, many inspired by his studies and travels throughout Ireland. “I spent a lot of time absorbing Irish melodies and sounds and they have distilled within me until I could call them my own,” says Keleher.
It was recorded with Charles Austin (Superfriendz, Buck 65, Old Man Luedecke, Al Tuck) at the Echo Chamber in North End Halifax and features Ellen Gibling on harp, Gina Burgess on violin, Colin Carrigan on violin, Glenn Coolen on whistles and pipes, Mark Currie on bodhrán, Benn Ross on percussion and Lukas Pearse on the bass.
The Road to Conamara is a tribute to the great Joe Heaney who was a master sean nós singer and storyteller. Sean nós (in English, “old style”) is an Irish form of acapella singing. Keleher found his way to Heaney while enrolled at the Irish Studies Department at St Mary’s University and The National University of Ireland – Galway (NUIG).
The Road to Conamara is a collection of a cappella songs and stories from the tradition, recorded at his home in the Irishtown district of Halifax one afternoon over a bottle of Jameson’s.
Keleher’s Irish roots run deep in Nova Scotia. Six generations ago his great-great-great-grandmother Mary Leahey, from Midleton, Co. Cork was on one of the few boats from the famine to make land in Halifax. Her husband Patrick, and son John, were butchers in downtown Halifax. Their shop was one block up the hill from where Dusty held the Halifax release party for his record.