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Keith Harkin and Celtic Thunder will perform Sept. 14 at OC Tavern. Photo: Courtesy of Keith Harkin
Keith Harkin will perform Sept. 14 at OC Tavern. Photo: Courtesy of Keith Harkin

By Eric Heinz

Musician Keith Harkin finds himself in a natural habitat in San Clemente.

“I travel a lot and surf a lot, and my music is sort of part of who I am, and they go hand in hand,” Harkin said.

The band Harkin heads will perform at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 14 at OC Tavern, 2369 S. El Camino Real in San Clemente, as part of the Ball and Chain Tour, which began Aug. 15

Harkin was signed to a record label about five years ago when he first came to California. He now lives in Los Angeles and said it’s easy for him to do shows in South Orange County.

But before finding permanence, he was a bit of a nomad.

“I was working a lot in Los Angeles, and I bought a 45-foot Santa Barbara trailer and lived there, and now I’ve got an apartment in L.A.,” Harkin said. “I grew up surfing in Ireland and fantasized about living in warm weather.”

A lot of Harkin’s music is derived from rock and roll legends such as Thin Lizzy and Van Morrison.

“I grew up listening to the Irish music and sessions and everyone playing music together, and Irish music is perceived differently,” he said.

The five-piece band recently recorded its first album, On Mercy Street, an all-live music record tracked at London’s Sphere Studios with some of his closest musician friends. The music was played like “proper musicians,” Harkin said.

Harkin said his band enjoys smaller locations rather than large venues, just about all the main big ones.

“We play mainly in small clubs and small theaters,” he said. “The way I like to do it is small places and have them filled up. I’m a fan as well as a musician, and when it’s packed, it’s unbelievable.”

Harkin and his band will be debuting a Christmas album in November and another live album following that.

Harkin will perform a selection of new songs from On Mercy Street.

“From the yearning of ‘Mercy,’ to the roar of the hard-rocking ‘Keep On Rolling,’ the new songs offer the perfect blend of live blues/rock and soul performance showpieces,” Harkin stated in a press release.

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