Annie, Get Your Guitar

Ahead of headlining at The Whale on October 6th, Annie Keating charts her long-gestating love affair with music.

I learned to play guitar when I was 12 years old.

My good friend taught me a few chords in Belmont, Massachusetts, where her mom lived. I used to spend a lot of time there, so that’s where the title of my third album Belmont comes from. Once I discovered three chords and the truth (as they say), I was pretty well hooked.

I wrote some bad songs as a teenager and played live in college, and when I first moved to NYC, I did some live shows too. But then I got started doing NGO/non-profit work – I felt the obligation to address some of the social injustices of the world after getting a deep wake-up political education at the progressive college I attended, Brown University.

At first I liked the work a lot, was good at it and as a result, played less and less guitar and worked more and more hours. I kept writing songs a bit, but playing out in NYC was hard (if not totally focused on it), and I had a 12-14hr daily job.

Then everything changed when my partner and I had our first child. It was like a lightbulb went off that said, ‘Stay home. Be with your baby! Make music! Finally do what you always wanted and make an album’. I was burnt out, exhausted from the long hours making gains then suffering losses on social justice campaigns (depending on who got elected, in the American political system, it’s usually one step forward, then one step back), and the newborn gave me the excuse I needed to stay home and slowly start to build my music career.

At 32 years of age.

So, you could say I was a late bloomer, finally giving music a chance as a ‘career’ or at least making the time for writing and recording that first album. Twenty years later (and 10 albums deeper in), I guess I’ve tried to make up for lost time. The last album I made (a 15-song full length called Bristol County Tides, released in 2021) is the one I’m by far the most proud of and it seems to have been very well received, for which I’m grateful.

I’m also honored to have found my brilliant producer, Teddy Kumpel (who just finished a big tour in the UK and beyond with Joe Jackson before our recording session last week). Bristol County Tides was the first album he produced (in addition to his genius guitar work all over the album) and it’s an honor to work with him – every day he makes the songs better, richer and stronger through our collaborations.

I’ve also found a spectacular touring band, all based in the UK, featuring Scott Warman on double and electric bass, Joe Coombs on guitars and Jamie Dawson on drums. We came together in April of 2022 as a band and it was honestly magical – the chemistry onstage and off. I’ve never been happier on stage than with these guys. The joy live is kind of infectious, we play off and with each other every song, and I feel ridiculously lucky to have found my dream tour band in my (dare I say) at 52 years of age!

The Annie Keating Band play The Whale on Thursday, October 6th. Pic by John Morgan.


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