Although her musical career is just getting started, Mo Kenney is attracting the attention of some big names in Canadian music.
Kenney, who is just 22 and hails from Nova Scotia, is about to embark on her second tour opening for folk veteran Ron Sexsmith — including a stop at the Arden Theatre in St. Albert on Wednesday, March 27 — and recorded her first album under the guidance of possibly Nova Scotia’s most successful musical export, Joel Plaskett.
Having two of Canada’s most respected singer-songwriters take her under their wings like they have is still sometimes a little surreal.
“Three years ago, I didn’t really have anything going on musically, so to be in this situation where I have all these awesome artists to work with is kind of surreal,” Kenney said. “I have to stop and think for a second, because it doesn’t seem real sometimes. I’m so fortunate to work with these guys so early in my career.”
Kenney has toured with Sexsmith before, but this tour is much more extensive, and she is very excited to learn even more from one of the best singer-songwriters Canada has to offer.
“It’s quite the experience. I toured with him a couple of years ago, just a few dates around the Maritimes, so I’m excited I get to do a bigger tour with him outside of the Maritimes,” she said.
Kenney is also excited to get another taste of Western Canadian hospitality, having played a few dates in the prairies opening for Plaskett last October.
“October was my first time out West; I hadn’t been there before. I can’t wait to come back and take in all the sights,” she said.
Kenney’s self-titled debut album was recorded with Plaskett at his studios in Dartmouth, N.S., starting in April 2011, although Plaskett was aware of Kenney’s talents several years earlier.
While she said it was an overwhelming amount of information to take in all at once, she said it was “probably one of my favourite experiences ever in my life” and she is grateful for the tips and tricks Plaskett was able to pass on to her.
“Working with Joel in the studio was the first real recording experience I’ve ever had,” she said. “He does everything analog, everything on tape. I mean, I have GarageBand and I’ve used that before, but it’s really cool to get in the studio with him and see how he does everything without a big computer screen.”
The CD was released in September 2012, and Kenney is thrilled to finally have it out there and to let people hear it.
“I feel like I’ve been waiting years and years to have a record of my own out into the world for people to listen to,” she said. “I’ve been writing the material on it since — the earliest song I probably wrote when I was 16.”
Since the album’s release, it has been received positively, and Kenney said that’s a bit of a nice surprise.
“As a musician that hasn’t had anything out there for people to listen to, you’re not really sure how people are going to respond to it,” she said. “I’m just happy that people seem to be liking it.”
But Kenney isn’t planning on resting on her laurels; in fact, she plans to have a long musical career ahead of her.
“Hopefully I’ll do some more travelling abroad — I would really like to travel to Europe and tour a little bit,” she said. “I get to go play the Great Escape Festival in England, which I’m really excited about it, since I’ve never been over there before. It’s just cool to have a job where you get to travel to all these new places.”
Mo Kenney hits the stage with Ron Sexsmith at the Arden Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27. Tickets for the show are sold out.
by Glenn Cook, St. Albert Leader