DUSTY KELEHER - The Way To Grace b​/​w The Road to Conamara; songs and stories in the old style

by Dusty Keleher

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Margaret Apple Brown, song and story, performed live December 2017

Halifax, Nova Scotia, February , 2018

The Way to Grace b/w The Road to Conamara; songs and stories in the old style

Dusty Keleher ‘s family was always proud of their Irish heritage. He had heard tales of his grandfather, Howard, performing at variety shows in Halifax in the 1930’s, and being called on to sing at parties, weddings, funerals; any sort of social gathering. But Dusty knew there was more to it than just that. So, when circumstance and fortune allowed him a bit of time, and a little bit of purse, he set out to uncover the history, culture, music and folkore of his roots.

Dusty is now releasing the fruits of his labour and study; a thesis, his latest recording, The Way to Grace (b/w The Road to Conamara). The album, a two-record set, pressed to vinyl and cd, is the culmination of a decade’s worth of exploration and study of Irish history, folkore and song.

The Way to Grace is a collection of originals, many inspired by his studies and travels throughout Ireland. “I spent a lot of time absorbing Irish melodies and sounds and they have distilled within me until I could call them my own,” says Keleher.

It was recorded with Charles Austin (Superfriendz, Buck 65, Old Man Luedecke, Al Tuck) at the Echo Chamber in North End Halifax and features Ellen Gibling on harp, Gina Burgess on violin, Colin Carrigan on violin, Glenn Coolen on whistles and pipes, Mark Currie on bodhrán, Benn Ross on percussion and Lukas Pearse on the bass.

The Road to Conamara is a tribute to the great Joe Heaney who was a master sean nós singer and storyteller. Sean nós (in English, “old style”) is an Irish form of acapella singing. Keleher found his way to Heaney while enrolled at the Irish Studies Department at St Mary’s University and The National University of Ireland – Galway (NUIG).

The Road to Conamara is a collection of a cappella songs and stories from the tradition, recorded at his home in the Irishtown district of Halifax one afternoon over a bottle of Jameson’s.

Keleher’s Irish roots run deep in Nova Scotia. Six generations ago his great-great-great-grandmother Mary Leahey, from Midleton, Co. Cork was on one of the few boats from the famine to make land in Halifax. Her husband Patrick, and son John, were butchers in downtown Halifax. Their shop was one block up the hill from where Dusty will release his record.

Saturday, February 24th In the Seanchaí Room at The Old Triangle

The Way to Grace b/w The Road to Conamara will be available at the show on Vinyl and CD.

For Bookings contact Dusty Keleher directly


Dusty Keleher writes songs that tell a good story and searches out gems from the past that do the same.

Simply put, roots/traditional music that takes its cue from ancient Irish ballads to songs from the folk and folk/rock canon. Original modern day tales on subjects far and near.

From whatever genre and tradition he draws on, Dusty brings a heartfelt soul to all the songs he sings.

He has been releasing work since the mid 90's when he went by the name Dusty Sorbet. Putting out lo-fi 4 track cassette recordings and then making the big jump to compact disc(!)
In 2000 he released Unfinished Business on the the No Records label

In 2002 he was voted best busker in The Coast Reader’s Poll, Halifax’s weekly newspaper. He continues to busk most Saturday mornings at the Brewery Framers Market in Halifax, NS.

In 2004 the independently released "Wanderers Grounds" was nominated for Best Folk/Roots recording by Music Nova Scotia (formerly known as The Music Industry of Nova Scotia MIANS).

In 2006 he drops the Sorbet moniker for the family name and releases Rain or Shine as Dusty Keeler and his band The Rusty Wheels (Phil Sedore, Lukas Pearse and Benn Ross)

2007 Under the Radar and Over the Canyon a solo acoustic CD is released. Plays in Ireland and Wales

2008 – 2010 Studies Irish language, history and folklore at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS and spends a summer at National University of Ireland – Galway (NUIG) in a language immersion program on a scholarship from the Irish government

In 2009 a short run of two eps "East to Ireland" volumes 1 and 2 came out after he traveled to Ireland and started focusing his music on more traditional sounds. It was at this time that Dusty legally changed his name from Keeler to Keleher. In the 1910’s his great grandfather David, a Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Famer, changed the name to sound less Irish in an English port town. “Davy” Keeler played right field for the much celebrated Halifax Wanderers basebal club.

2010 Starts working for The Halifax Ghost Walk as a storyteller. Combining his love of folklore, history and performance, he guides locals and tourists alike on this 2 hour walking tour through the city's downtown core.
Some Facebook reviews “Dusty is a modern day bard, in every sense.”
“Dusty is an expert in story telling and building mystery and suspense”
“…a masterful storyteller. Dusty was enthralling and had me on the edge of my seat (even when I was standing!)”

2015 "Not a Mile From Spancil Hill" a collection of pub songs and ballads with Benn Ross on percussion, Ellen Gibling on Harp and Glenn Coolen on whistles and uileann pipes.

2018 The Way to Grace (b/w The Road to Conamara) a double lp set of originals backed by a full band complimented by a collection of acapella songs is released

Dusty Keleher – The Road To Conamara; songs and stories in the old style

As luck would have it I accidentally fell into a job on a television
show one time. In line for coffee, one day, out of my routine, I
bumped into a friend who asked if I needed work. The puppet show she
was working on needed hands in the art department. It was great and it
paid. So when it was over I traveled. From the Giant’s Causway to the
great Cobh of Cork.

When I returned to Halifax I was immediately struck by the clean air;
no trace of peat smoke on the breeze. And the absurdly wide roads. I
needed to hold on to the memories I had just made, best I could. So I
enrolled at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.;The Irish
Studies Department. Irish language and folklore from Pádraig Ó
Siadhial. And the history of Irish music from Kate Dunlay. After the
first year I went back to Ireland to study for a summer in An Cheathru
Rua, in County Galway. It was full immersion; living with a family;
intensive class time. All of it in Irish.


The outside activities were great. There were dance classes, hikes,
tours of the region, races, fires on the beach and of course the pub.
And we were treated to wonderful workshops with the best sean nós
singers around (sean meaning old and nós meaning style). Máire Uí
Dhroighneáin and Breandan Ó Madagáin bestowed valuable lessons about the secrets of songs.

The old style led me to the recordings of Seosamh Ó hÉanai, or Joe
Heaney. He came from Carna and sang sean nós for collectors which led
him to touring and making a go of it on his own. I bought the
recording called “THE ROAD FROM CONAMARA, songs and stories told and sung to Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger” (that was the full title), from one of the caravans that came around selling souveniers to the
international students like myself. It was an epic purchase.

One of my professors, Neasa Ní Chuaig, suggested I look up The Joe
Heaney Archive and I suggest you do to. You might find him saying
that sean nós singing is music unaccompanied by instruments, simply
music with voice alone. And it is music that doesn’t have a beat.

But it has a pulse.


released February 24, 2018


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Dusty Keleher Halifax, Nova Scotia

Dusty Keleher writes songs that tell a good story and searches out gems from the past that do the same.

Simply put, roots/traditional music that takes its cue from ancient Irish ballads and songs from the folk/rock canon. Original modern day tales on subjects far and near. From whatever genre and tradition he draws on, Dusty brings a heartfelt soul to all the songs he sings.
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