Yes, there is a real Irish Kevin. His name is Kevin English, but everyone calls him Irish Kevin. Originally from Carr-o-Suir, Ireland, located 100 miles south of Dublin, Kevin first came to the U.S. in 1986 on a six month visa. He has been performing since he was seventeen years old, and you can find Kevin today as a regular performer at Irish Kevin’s on Duval Street.
Kevin started playing locally at home in Ireland. He left Ireland when he was twenty three years old, and became US citizen in 1990. In November 1992, while based in Boston and playing up and down the east coast of the U.S., Kevin visited Key West with a friend. “The first night here, I went to Rumrunners, with my buddy from Ireland, and Pete Jarvis was on stage playing. My buddy asked Pete if I could get up and play some songs?” After Kevin’s performance, the owner asked Kevin to fill in that week, and he started performing every night that week a non-stop four hour show, no break. “It went really well, people stayed. At the end of the week the owner asked me to stay. I ended up playing at Rumrunners for six years.”
Besides enjoying performing, Kevin always wanted to own his own bar, and was looking at places in Key West, to open an Irish Bar. He learned Hammerheads was for sale, and opened Irish Kevin’s on a shoe string, running the bar, while still performing two shows daily. Next July, it will be twenty years Irish Kevin’s has been open on Duval Street. “No matter when you come in, there will always be a good show.”
“My show is comprised of sing-a-long songs, and interacting comedy with the crowd. Obviously a lot of Irish stuff as well.” Kevin still performs four shows a week, and is a featured performer every Saturday 7:00 – 11:00 PM, at Irish Kevin’s, still doing a four hour show. “All the main performers at Irish Kevin’s have been doing it a long time. N.Y. Paulie, John Solinksi, and Jeff Harris are still there. Jared Hobgood was a wonderful performer everyone loved. Everyone plays four hours, no break. We try to stay humble and make sure we have fun on stage. The audience gets caught up in the show when they see you are having fun. I am very grateful to be able to play music for a living I’ve been doing it for 30 years.”