Solo artist Patrick McKeone, 26, performs alternative rock every Thursday night at Friar Tucks in Claremont and every Wednesday at Kelly’s Sports Bar in Chino. McKeone has been playing the guitar since he was 14 years old and has performed in various venues across the Inland Empire for the past six years.
As the occasional swirling hum of smoothie-making blenders drifted through the air, the lulling and more commanding sound of alternative rock artist Patrick McKeone’s voice overwhelmed the small quarters of Podge’s Claremont Juice Co. on April 7, happily filling the ears and hearts of his growing following – known as “Pat Nation” – with compositions torn directly from the pages of his soul.
On almost every night of the week, McKeone, a 26-year-old Moreno Valley resident raised in Upland, can be found serenading dedicated devotees – all known by name, welcomed at the door and personally seen out – at various venues throughout the Inland Empire in a concentrated effort to impart his musical-passion-turned-profession on the immediate world.
“I always liked how Jim Morrison was referred to as a poet, because, if you think about it, all songwriters are in a sense,” McKeone said. “The only thing that separates me from everyone else is that I share.”
McKeone was easily enthralled by music at a young age. He said he had often pulled his father’s guitar out from its hiding place under the bed, dragging it to him and singing along to such classic rock songs as “Bellbottom Blues,” “Twist and Shout” and “Wonderful Tonight,” all of which eventually became his melodious foundation, leading to a stint with drums at age eight, bass at 12 and an everlasting guitar-oriented obsession.
“I remember that music was always very good for me as a child,” McKeone said. “Music can do so many things; it can make you smile, it can make you dance, make you think, make you feel.
“When I received the gift of song, it was like I was able to write my own stories and take my pain and put it into healing for others,” he added. “There were times when I really felt like it was a gift and a curse all in one, but once I got over that hill and understood the beauty of it, I thought it was total serenity.”
His amazingly versatile voice is a throwback to his school choral training, and the slew of representative songs posted on MySpace and offered on his two demos, “Live @ BB King’s” and “The World CD,” hardly compared to the raw talent he displayed while live and three-dimensional.
He sometimes turned the body of his guitar into a drum while singing – moving his head to the resultant rhythm – and seemingly intertwined progressive and simplistic, melody-driven harmonies in songs such as “Show Me the Way” and “Jeffrey,” emphasizing heart-wrenching messages through poetic persuasion, all the while solidifying or building relationships with existing and potential fans.
“The key is writing things that people can connect with,” McKeone said. “There’s nothing you can say that hasn’t been said a million times over, so you have to make it your own; it has to come from within.”
Although he has been the embodiment of a solo musician since abandoning hopes of turning his on-again, off-again band Well Spent into a permanent effort in 2003, songs such as “Does it Exist,” “Father’s Love” and “If You Only Knew” exhibited his impressive vocal range and capability of producing an all-encompassing sound, typically only feasible through full instrumentation.
By his own admittance, he would place last at a spelling bee, but his songs – condensed love letters mixed with insightful responses to everyday occurrences – consisted of beautifully symbolic and intelligent prose.
He pointed to the world as his inspiration, lending more than 100 works to his three songbooks sometimes jokingly referred to as versions of the Old and New Testament.
“I always try to recreate myself and never write the same song twice, both musically and lyrically speaking,” McKeone said. “I don’t want to get in that rut; I want each song to be its own entity, so to speak.”
Sideburns reminiscent of Elvis Presley, a slight soul patch and vintage clothing have given McKeone the appearance of a well-dressed, clean-cut rock ‘n’ roller who once knew grungier days.
His undeniably humble appeal, combined with his magnetic personality and masterful abilities as a self-taught musician, has earned him many lifetime supporters as well as regular gigs at Kelly’s Sports Bar and Billiards in Chino every Wednesday and Friar Tuck’s in Pomona every Thursday.
“I think a lot of artists have a ‘rock star’ mentality that I just don’t have,” McKeone said. “I’m just a normal person; I put my pants on one leg at a time.”
Mary Longtin, a longtime fan and friend from Rancho Cucamonga, said McKeone’s innate star qualities allowed him to turn even the slummiest of bars into an acoustic heaven.
“He’s a really good songwriter and an outstanding musician, as well as a very talented entertainer,” Longtin said.
“His music hits that heart chord inside,” Claire Jackson, a MySpace fan from San Bernardino, added. “I know when music is good because it consumes your senses, even smell. I’ve smelled his music and it smells good.”
For more information about McKeone, visit www.myspace.com/patrickmckeone.
Kady Bell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.