Kenny Munshaw begins residency at Mansion on Forsyth Park in Savannah
Amber M. Smith
When something feels right, you just have to deal with it. At least, that’s how acclaimed singer-songwriter and producer Kenny Munshaw describes his journey to making Savannah his home. After coming with a friend for a visit, Munshaw fell in love with the area and bought a house. Ten years later, he’s still part of Savannah’s live music scene.
The Canadian born musician grew up in Toronto, where life was very different from what he found in America, especially in the South.
“I love the stories of The Alamo, Daniel Boone and all those great stories,” he recalls the tales he loved as a child. “These things have always inspired me. Clint Eastwood always seems to capture that character in a movie where you really identify with that guy, that character. You know he’s not doing the right thing, but you know he’s also a bit tricked out and trying to help those around him. And I think there has always been this identification with it.
Munshaw attributes the rise of the good guy with the rough edges as the quintessential American hero to our famous and tumultuous national history. This is in stark contrast to what he saw growing up in a country where people were much less inclined to make a scene.
“Canadian history is a history negotiated with the British,” he explained. “By virtue of this negotiated history, you tend to have a seamless settlement, so to speak. And someone would say, what does that mean? It’s like Iggy Pop never made it to Canada because no one would let you get angry.
Like the great American singer-songwriters, Munshaw has always been someone who decided to live differently. When his hometown music scene focused on heavy metal and rock bands like Rush, he preferred George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.
Many Canadian contemporaries of Munshaw followed a similar path to find their fame in America.
“I grew up in the same area as Robbie Robertson and The Band,” he said. “What was really cool about The Band is that if you listened to them you would never think they were four guys from Canada. You would think they were four guys from the Southern Marshes.
Do it in the USA
Canadians, explained Munshaw, are not risk takers like American artists. This contrast, however, is exactly what fueled his love of American culture.
“[With] Canadian music, they’ve always had this thing about “They’re really smart lyricists” and I’m like “so does Bob Dylan,” he said. “Corn [Dylan’s] poetry was a reaction to the culture he lived in, as opposed to an intellectual exercise in being a good poet.
Even as a student, he remembers completely ignoring the advice of his guidance counselor, seeking a fulfilling career rather than one that offered him government benefits.
“None of this makes sense to me, to waste the best years of my life doing something that I’m not even interested in getting a pension,” he said. “What if I die in the middle?” I remember going back to my father who was a musician, just like my grandfather, and I told him I was really confused. […] Guess I kind of shut it down every time it went from one thing to the other until [my dad] said ‘What do you wanna do?’ I just wanted to play in a rock band.
According to Munshaw, his father’s advice was simple.
“Well, that’s pretty easy,” he recalls, telling his dad. “Go play in a rock band.”
It was not an easy road for Munshaw, but he built a network of relationships with some of the biggest names in the music industry. Although he has performed in several groups over the years, for much of his career Munshaw has performed as a solo artist. He performed at Drake’s personal salon in Canada and wrote songs for Justin Bieber. Munshaw’s music was featured in more commercials than he could count. He even performed at the G8 summit in 2010.
New concert at Savannah’s Mansion on Forsyth Park
His free-spirited art and life path made him a natural choice to perform in the mansion of Bösendorfer Lounge in Forsyth. Its namesake piano is just the type of instrument that Munshaw prefers to play.
“I love the acoustic piano,” he beamed. “I love to play it. I like how it feels, which allows me to express myself better and interact with people because I’m more comfortable with it. It’s kind of like a guy and his running shoes. Why are you wearing this one? And those? Because you can run better. I can run better at the piano.
Munshaw especially likes the one-of-a-kind Bösendorfer piano from The Mansion.
“Sir. Kessler knows which pianos to put in his place, that’s for sure,” he said. “He gets the best.”
Kessler Collection hotels are well known for their dedication to providing guests and visitors with a one-of-a-kind luxury experience and The Mansion is no exception. Southern Living named the hotel as one of the ‘Best Inns in the South’ for 2019 stating, ‘You can’t beat the view or the location of this historic property in Savannah’.
Overlooking Forsyth Park, The Mansion is convenient for locals and tourists alike. Guests and visitors alike can sample fine cuisine and even attend a cooking school at 700 Drayton Restaurant. Unlike traditional concert halls, attendees are invited to enjoy food and drink while enjoying intimate performances in the Bösendorfer lounge.
For example, when Munshaw plays at the Lounge on Friday nights, he likes to connect with the audience.
“I’m moving the piano up so I can engage more of these people,” he explained. “One of my things is always trying to find out where people are coming from. It gives me a very good barometer to know where I’m going musically. That’s another great part of Savannah, is that we get a lot of tourists here, so you get a lot of immediate feedback depending on where the people are from. If they’re from California. How many large groups came from California? So it’s really useful.
Munshaw will continue her weekly performances at The Mansion in Forsyth Park until the end of the year with two performances on Fridays, 2 to 5 p.m. and 8 to 11 p.m.