Once is not enough when it comes to eating at a favorite restaurant, watching a hilarious movie, and having the Pete Kilpatrick Band play at Bowdoin. Last Thursday, Kilpatrick played his third show ever on campus to rave reviews.
"I really enjoyed the solo show he played at the Pub last year, so I wanted to go back and see him with the full band," said Rachel McDonald '12. "They put on a great show and kept people there dancing and singing along until the very end."
Brunswick resident Kilpatrick first played at Bowdoin in 2007 when his band opened for State Radio. That event has been just one of the highlights from the band's career rated by the Portland Phoenix as best male vocalist and best local act of 2010.
After spending the first half of his adolescence in Boston, Kilpatrick moved to York, Maine after eighth grade. His love of singing continued in high school, where he also learned how to play the guitar. His music career kicked into full gear after graduation when he went on tour with friends who had been signed to Universal Records.
"I was sort of their tour manager and guitar tech even though I was 18," said Kilpatrick. "I'd be hanging out at their shows sometimes and one of the guys in the band would come up to me and tell me I was opening for the band that night. I'd play one of the few songs I'd written—they were all kind of cheesy."
As the tour manager and occasional opening act, Kilpatrick got his first exposure to playing in front of a live audience and alongside musical greats. Kilpatrick and his friends' band played with groups like the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd all along the East Coast.
"It helped build my confidence to play these solo shows in front of crowds of people when I was so young," said Kilpatrick. "Now that I'm older, I know how to entertain the crowd and have more stage presence."
After his first touring experience, Kilpatrick moved to Portland in 2003 and continued to pursue music.
"My friends think I'm very sensitive so I guess I'm just drawn to being a singer-songwriter," said Kilpatrick. "I want to write music that people can take something away from."
Once settled in Portland, Kilpatrick reached out to colleges and clubs all over New England to set up as many shows as possible. He initially performed as a solo act and would recruit friends in other bands to play alongside him when recording music.
"When I started getting more opportunities to open for national bands, I wanted a band to play with me so it would be a little more action packed," said Kilpatrick.
The Pete Kilpatrick Band's first performance was opening for O.A.R. at the University of Maine in 2003. Since then, the group has opened for and played alongside the Barenaked Ladies, Spoon, Guster, Blues Traveler, and G. Love, among others.
The members of the Pete Kilpatrick Band have changed over the years, but the group has been the same since 2008.
Besides Kilpatrick, the band features Matt Cosby on bass guitar, Pete Morse on electric guitar, Tyler Stanley on keyboard, and Ed Dickhaut on drums.
Since its conception, the Pete Kilpatrick Band has formed many connections with other musical greats. The most beneficial of these has been with Adam Gardner, the lead singer of Guster.
"I met Adam in Portland and gave him one of my CDs and we started e-mailing," said Kilpatrick. "We were going into the studio a few weeks later and I asked if he wanted to come in and sing and play guitar. He hadn't played on any albums beside Guster albums."
Since that meeting, Gardner has been a friend and mentor to Kilpatrick. He facilitated a connection between Kilpatrick and the team that manages the Dave Matthews Band. Thanks to this networking, the Pete Kilpatrick Band is joining a nationwide tour set up by the Dave Matthews Band this winter.
Kilpatrick and the band typically play at clubs or colleges, but sometimes their shows benefit greater causes. The band performed in Auburn, Maine in October for The Dempsey Challenge, a run/walk and cycle tour that benefits The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing at Central Maine Medical Center. The band got to meet Patrick Dempsey.
Kilpatrick has heard his group described as "a folk singer/songwriter with a rock band." The band does not join Kilpatrick for every show, but the blending of the two styles provides the audience with a nice contrast.
Theresa Merchant '13 attended Kilpatrick's show last Thursday and enjoyed the mixing of the genres.
"The atmosphere worked well and allowed people to either sit or dance," said Merchant. "The band had good energy, but in a chill way."
Kilpatrick is well-known for his original lyrics. His songs are inspired by his everyday experiences living in Maine.
"There's a lot of landscape-type images in my lyrics," said Kilpatrick. "Many of my songs are about walking through the woods, being at the ocean, or other nature-related things."
Some of Kilpatrick's music also reflects current events and the band's struggles. His 2008 album "Hope in Our Hearts" was inspired by the band's own experiences with the recession.
"We were signed to Epic Records for a while, but we got dropped from the label when the economy went bad because we weren't very well-known at the time," said Kilpatrick. "They gave us some money and we decided to record our own album 'Hope in our Hearts'. A lot of the songs are about being hopeful and still doing what you love even if you come across bumps in the road."
The Pete Kilpatrick Band is still unsigned and puts out its own albums. It uses half the money it earns through playing shows and selling CDs to record tracks.
The band also makes money by working with a music licensing company that puts its songs into TV shows or movies. The song "Apartment Hall" was featured on an MTV show this year.
Kilpatrick serves as both the band's lead singer and manager, a role that can be exhausting.
"It's fun at times but sometimes I wish I could just focus on the music part of it," said Kilpatrick. "We're working with the guy that manages the Dave Matthews Band and are hoping to eventually have him be our full-time manager."
The band hopes to put out a new album sometime next year and continue to publicize its name.
"We're not as big as I want us to be at this point, but I think we've had some success," said Kilpatrick. "People can see we're working hard on our music and that it's something we really love doing."
Kilpatrick has had his ups and downs in the music industry, from playing shows for over 10,000 people to getting dropped from a record label, but he continues to make music for himself.
"I try to stay humble and write the best music I can," said Kilpatrick. "I advise anyone interested in music to stay true to what you want to do and not really worry about anything else."