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Folk Club Welcoming Back Old Friends

Former Fair Lawn resident Christine DeLeon and James Keelaghan, from Canada, set to grace the stage Saturday

With March ending, April brings a new month with another concert from the Hurdy Gurdy Folk Music Club. This month's show, set for 8 p.m. Saturday at the , features former Fair Lawn resident Christine DeLeon opening for James Keelaghan, a native of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Keelaghan said that he is performing three shows in the United States before heading to do a tour in Western Canada.

DeLeon, in a telephone interview, said she is looking forward to returning to Fair Lawn. She moved to Dover after she married fellow musician Michael DelVecchio.

“I love married life and I was very fortunate to meet him,” said DeLeon. “I wish I had met him earlier but it is working out wonderfully.”

She said this is her second marriage, but it was the break-up of her first marriage that inspired her music and even inspired its most popular hit, “New Day,” from her 2007 album “January Hiding.”

“A lot of people will say that they listened to that song and were able to get a meaning that I had not intended and I enjoy hearing that,” she said. “I feel that as a songwriter, I have accomplished my job to hear someone say that.”

DeLeon, who calls herself an acoustic musician, said she was into music when she was young.

“I remember I was holding a railing on a stairwell and I was dancing to the music on the radio,” she said. DeLeon said she sang along with John Denver songs to practice pitch, and by 14 years old she received a guitar.

“I wanted to play like Kevin Cronan from REO Speedwagon,” she said. “I taught myself the chords and took lessons.”

By 17 years old, she was writing songs, and she was further inspired by other acoustic performers like the Indigo Girls, Melissa Etheridge, Sean Colvin and Dar Williams.

“Once I started feeling like I had substance to perform, I began playing at open mic nights,” she said. “And after 2005 I started performing with more and more frequency, and my career really took off when I became involved with the Folk Project of Northern New Jersey.”

DeLeon said that it allowed her to meet many local performers and pick their brains and learn more and more about the business.

On April 2, she said she is looking forward to returning to Fair Lawn.

“When I got married, it made sense economically to move into my husband’s condo, but I miss Fair Lawn, and I look forward to coming back,” said DeLeon.

Keelaghan said in a telephone interview that it has been nine years since he last performed for the Hurdy Gurdy Club, and he looks forward to returning.

“I do spend a fair amount of time in the States,” said Keelaghan. For the last few years, the Canadian musician has called Perth, Ontario home, where he has enjoyed playing father.

“Right now I am trying to rebuilding connections and trying to tour and do concerts,” he said. Keelaghan said he grew up in British Columbia, which has a thriving folk community.

Keeleaghan said he has been doing this as a full-time job for 25 years.

“I got my start singing in the choir and I was able to pay for university by performing,” he said.

He said that Perth has five or six folk clubs, the largest with 500 seats and the smallest with 150 seats.

“It is hard to get tickets for these clubs,” he said. “They are always sold out.” 

Ron Olesko, president of the Hurdy Gurdy Folk Music Club, praised Keelaghan for having an “insatiable appetite for finding the next unique story line." Keelaghan "forges his pieces with brilliant craftsmanship and monogrammed artistic vision, making him one of the most distinctive and readily identifiable voices on both the Canadian and international singer-songwriter scenes,” Olesko said.

“Though I have not been back to the Hurdy Gurdy in several years, Ron and I have stayed in touch,” said Keelaghan. “I look forward to coming back.”  

Tickets for Saturday's show are $25, and $22 for Hurdy Gurdy Members. Call 201-384-1325 for more information.

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