643_TheKennedysfinal1It’s called the Earth Room Concerts series — mainly “because of the attractive stained glass in the sanctuary where concerts are held,” but also in a way that the new slate of programming at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County takes a more expansive worldview of the kinds of music currently in regular rotation on Shore area stages.

Designed to “fill a local gap” by bringing nationally known folk and singer/ songwriter artists to Monmouth County — acts that are more commonly seen and heard at festivals and venues in NYC and North Jersey — the series fulfills its mission from the get-go in its inaugural show this Saturday evening, April 23, when the UUCMC Meetinghouse gives the greater Red Bank audience its first-ever local look at an acclaimed modern folk duo that’s been enchanting listeners on both sides of the Atlantic for decades: the husband/wife team known as The Kennedys.

Coming off a year in which they celebrated their 20th anniversary (both as a touring/recording band and as a married couple), Maura and Pete Kennedy marked that double milestone by releasing no less than three all-new albums — one solo project apiece, as well as West, their twelfth together as a two-hander. For the Kennedys — both of whom are veterans of Nanci Griffith’s highly respected band — the newest release “seamlessly weaves their influences over the last two decades: Buddy Holly style roots, the tuneful cadences of the Everly Brothers, and the ringing 12-string jangle of the early Byrds, interspersed with darker moments that recall British folk rock a la Fairport Convention.”

At live venues of all shapes and sizes (including numerous pond-hopping shows for their ever growing UK fanbase), the multi-instrumentalists have made new friends and commanded each space via their mastery of a guitar-store’s worth of stringed things (vintage electrics, acoustics, ukeleles, bass and even electric sitar) and a rich vein of original songs that evoke influences ranging from Griffith, Dylan and Richard Thompson, to the Beatles, the Byrds and the late (late-bloomer) folkie Dave Carter.

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. concert by The Kennedys are available online here ($15 adult, $7.50 children age 12 and under) or at the door ($20 adult, $10 children age 12 and under). The Earth Room Concerts series continues with scheduled appearances by sister act The Nields (September 24), former Dave Carter partner Tracy Grammer (November 5), Toronto duo The Young Novelists (April 8, 2017) and Celtic-tinged songsmith/ painter Joe Crookston (May 6, 2017), for which details will be announced at a later date.