‘American Made’ songwriter series returns KEAGGY and country

By John Benson


Ian Keaggy has plenty of memories of Northeast Ohio but none of which include performing live.

The son of Glass Harp’s Phil Keaggy grew up in Nashville but often came back to visit family in the Buckeye State. However, the former member of pop act Hot Chelle Rae (“Tonight Tonight”) never played in the Youngstown area.

That’s all about to change as Keaggy is scheduled to appear at the third annual “American Made” Country Music Songwriter Series taking place Friday at Ford Family Recital Hall. The bill also includes Youngstown’s own Bob DiPiero, as well as Big Al Anderson and Leslie Satcher.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Daybreak Youth Crisis Homeless Shelter, Sojourner House and the Rape Crisis & Counseling Center.

“Oh man, it’s going to be a blast,” said Keaggy, calling from the Music City. “I don’t normally do writers-in-the-round acoustic deals, but Bob is a good friend. He asked me to do it. I said it sounded like a fun time, and it’s an awesome charity, so I’m definitely down.”

These days, Keaggy appears to be down with a lot of things. Splitting his time equally between Nashville and Los Angeles, the songwriter, producer and artist left Hot Chelle Rae three years ago to explore his own career.

Today, when he’s not working with various artists (Chord Overstreet, Cody Simpson and Liz Longley), the songwriter is slowly writing a new album as well as contributing music to television and film.

As far as what he plans on performing at the showcase, he joked, “That’s a really good question. Some of what I do personally is very electronic-based and doesn’t necessarily always translate well acoustically. But being in Nashville, I work with a lot of other artists who tend to be more in the indie-folk world. Some of those songs are just amazing, and it will be really fun to actually perform them myself.”

Keaggy said the plan is to play original material from various projects he’s been involved with since leaving Hot Chelle Rae. There’s “Whatever You Want,” which he describes as a smooth jam. He’s also planning on singing “Hold On” (from Overstreet’s new album) and “Never Really Mind” (from Longley’s next project).

“I might even do this slow country song I wrote because it’s mostly country writers,” Keaggy said.

Considering Keaggy is playing the “American Made” Country Music Songwriter Series, does he feel that label fits his music?

“These days, anything goes,” Keaggy said. “Which is kind of what I love about music right now. I will say I’m not a country musician, but I grew up in Nashville and I certainly love country music. I respect those writers and musicians and artists just as much as anyone else.

“I think it will be a blast, and the people who are playing are amazing. They’ve written some incredible songs. It’ll just be a fun, well-rounded evening.”