"Kevin Campion is a storyteller, not just a songwriter. Steeped in the tradition of the likes of Gordon Lightfoot and such, Mr. Campion has got it going on."
-Joe Limongelli, Connections Magazine, May 2006
By Joe Limongelli
I like a guy who starts an album with its title track. Check out the line in this song - "and the dreaded need for money kills romance." Tell me that isn't right on the mark.
All seriousness aside, Kevin has become a good friend of mine and a really fine acquired taste. He's got a big, burly Irish voice that is just so darn listenable you can't help but like his style. While his ability to re-do cover songs is strong, his real heart lies in his own original material. He's got a bit of a blues background - take a listen to "Kevin Electric" (Kevin works as an electrician by day) and also "The Louise Boogie;" a song that just knocks me out.
Kevin Campion is a storyteller, not just a songwriter. Steeped in the tradition of the likes of Gordon Lightfoot and such, Mr. Campion has got it going on. He records at home at his own personal studio, and you could probably find his CD on most jukeboxes across Wayne County. When he sings about Doc Smith being a "cool old dude but he's a "Downhill Man:” you can't help but relate to the story.
"Stormy Days" continues to be a favorite for this writer. While Kevin is now (and has been for quite some time) a"Honesdalian;' he came here from Long Island, New York and spent much of his time on the water as any native Long Islander would do. Hence, "Stormy Days" was created. Check out the song "Ehrhart's" (no, not the one on the Paupack) but a club on Long Island where Kevin still performs monthly.
"My Brother, My Friend" might just be the sweetest thing Kevin has done. Although dark because it speaks about the death of his brother, it speaks of love and truth for a brother who "has left the stage."
While it may be difficult to find "Point of View" in local record stores, check out Kevin's website at www.BayhouseStudio.com, where you can easily purchase the CD. You can also find Kevin's listing of local live dates and get email updates. Kevin Campion is cool; it's that simple.
MUSIC ON THE MENU: Campion’s musical revival
by Alan K. Stout
Singer/songwriter Kevin Campion paints plenty of pictures on his new CD, “Running Late.” The melodic, thoughtful collection of songs offers looks at life and friendship, and in some cases, the world around us. It’s a very enjoyable, accessible album and one that Campion should be proud of. And though he’s got an easygoing, grounded, self-deprecating manner, one senses that he is.
“I just hope people like it,’ says Campion, 55, who lives near Honesdale.
“Some of it is just fun. Some of it has a message. When I do a CD, I just do the best I can. I’m trying to make music that people will like.”
People should like “Running Late,” which is the follow-up to Campion’s previous efforts, “Point Of View,” “Kevin In The Green,” an Irish album, and “It’s Not Too Late.” He says he’s changed as a songwriter over the years, shifting from very personal songs to tunes with more universal themes.
“I’m still trying to get a message across but make the music more upbeat,” he says. “To me, that’s what music is all about. It’s about being fun, but it’s also about trying to get a point across. A lot of songs are about people.”
Indeed. One of Campion’s older songs was inspired by a friend who lost a sister in an accident. Another was inspired by a friend — a firefighter — who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. And a newer track, titled “Jason Miller,” was inspired by the famous local actor and playwright, though Campion says it also serves as a tribute to all people involved in the creative arts. A blues-flavored number, “Louisiana’s Cryin’” was inspired by the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina. And, of course, his wife of 33 years served as his muse for a few others.
Listening to the new CD, one hears a vocal style sometimes reminiscent of Eric Clapton. One track, “When Eagles Fly,” sounds a bit like Bruce Springsteen in its delivery and arrangement. Campion says his own tastes are eclectic, though he names Gordon Lightfoot and Jackson Browne as favorite songwriters. “I just love Jackson Browne,” he says. “He’ll show you a movie in a song and was able to get such complicated ideas across in a song, and I always admired that.” His all-time musical hero is Van Morrison. “That guy is amazing,” he says. “He sings every song like he had never done it before. He’s in his 60s, and he’s still kicking ass.”
Campion records at his home studio and plays all instruments, though a friend, Gary Mazz, plays piano on a track and his daughter, Colleen, sings on another. Interestingly, Campion says that though he was involved with music in his 20s, he put it aside for almost 30 years but began writing again six years ago.
“Now, it’s 24 hours a day,” he says. “It’s kind of like making up for lost time.”
Campion says he always loved music but sometimes got discouraged when he was younger. And though he now regrets that, he chooses to look forward.
“As I got older, I learned that you have to (do it for yourself),” he says. “I used to take everything to heart, and if someone said something bad, I took it too serious. Now, I don’t care what anybody says. I’m on a mission. As soon as I stopped listening to everybody and did what I wanted, things started to come together.”
Campion, an avid boater, is originally from Long Island, N.Y., but has lived near Honesdale since 1987. He knew the region from his childhood, when his parents had a summer home here. He later saw the area as an ideal place for his wife and two daughters.
“It was just too crowded there,” he says of Long Island. “I wanted to get out, get into the country, and raise my kids up here. And that’s what I did.”
Today, you can see Campion gigging all across NEPA, including some of Scranton’s most popular venues. When he plays live, he sets up a PA and uses pre-recorded background instruments except for the guitars and vocals. His shows include originals plus tunes from Van Morrison, The Beatles, Jackson Browne, Bob Marley and even some Irish music or old country gems. He says the use of drums usually helps get people onto the dance floor, and that his goal at his shows is simple.
“I hope they don’t hit me with a bottle,” he says with a laugh, before turning more serious. “I was in Kilcoyne’s the other night, and it was a nice crowd, and I don’t know if I ever played that well in my life. I just really got into it. It feels good to play. Sometimes, I’ll get so into the music, I’ll open my eyes and forget where I was. Even if there are just a few people, and you know they’re listening, and you see them get into it, there’s a connection. It just feels good.”
Alan K. Stout - Music Columnist 570.829.7131