Arts & Entertainment

‘Voice of Don Beyer’ Set to Play at Newly-Renovated JV’s Restaurant

jay keating (left) and his Know1Else bandmate Kelly Diamond. (Photo: Patricia Leslie/News-Press)
Jay Keating (left) and his Know1Else bandmate Kelly Diamond. (Photo: Patricia Leslie/News-Press)

Falls Church native Jay Keating and his band, Know1Else, will play their first gig, their “Third Wave Americana” music Sunday night, April 19, at the newly renovated and enlarged JV’s Restaurant, at the corner of Annandale and Arlington Boulevard in Falls Church, from 8 p.m. – midnight.

Keating’s voice is a familiar one around town. He’s been the voice on television and radio of car dealer and U.S. Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) for more than 30 years.

In 1983, brothers Don and Mike Beyer were looking for a different twist to market their dealership, something original and homegrown unlike the usual messages created by the big ad agencies, when they chanced upon Keating who was doing standup comedy in Georgetown. The next day at work when they praised Keating to their employees, one piped up: “I know that guy! He’s my brother!”

The Beyers had found their man who’s been writing for them ever since, including an instant local classic Keating wrote for Don Beyer’s successful congressional race last year, the Blue Cup Song sung by Keating’s children, Mae, now 14, and John, now 13.

“The only part of my campaign that went viral was Jay’s political rendition of the Blue Cup Song. Jay Keating is the voice of Don Beyer Volvo,” Beyer said. “His wacky imagination, his Dylanesque voice and his great musicality have entertained radio listeners for decades.”

In an interview at JV’s, Keating, 61, joked that Don Beyer “is as nerdy as I am,” quickly adding, “in a good way.”

Keating, a former government multi-media and tech guru, is building upon his writing and marketing skills to sculpt a music career, a lifelong passion.

Not only does he sing and play guitar, but he writes “songs you haven’t heard but have already lived,” with his co-composer, band member and neighbor Kelly Diamond. They had been neighbors for six or seven years before they “discovered” each another.

The content of their songs they call “NowStalgia not Thenstalgia,” differs from most songwriters’.

Rather than romantic love and teen angst, they write about a different kind of love, self love and life’s later stages, in a style which embraces just about all of it: jazz, blues, rock, folk, and “RastaBilly,” a term they’ve coined for their brand of country reggae.

“We play moonlight and some Miranda Lambert,” Keating said, but practically all their songs are original. Their first CD is in the works. Their music is “folk rock that’s more ambitious,” Keating explains, “rock and roll in a folk music setting.”

“Hip Pity Hop” is a “get-over-yourself song that’s happy. People love to dance to it,” Keating said.
“It’s infectious with words that are clever and encouraging.

“Life is ungentle, I’ll testify to that,” he says, quoting some of the words. “Funny that old white people are rapping [to this] circusy music.”
Their songs can be “about what it’s like to raise children and accept yourself,” like “In My Skin,” about a song which celebrates age.

“Youth isn’t the goal and it shouldn’t be,” Keating says, “because not only is it unattainable, but you reach a certain age and say, ‘Hey! This is me and I like it!’
“You’re not full of anxiety, constantly lusting after what you may not get, uncomfortable. It isn’t really what you want,” Keating says, since it may not be what you are.
Diamond wrote most of lyrics for “Halfway Son,” about the conflict which may occur with children.

“We must meet each other halfway to sustain the relationship,” Keating said. Family relationships are the “impetus for a lot of our songs.”

Music has always been a part of Keating’s life, beginning when he was a child with piano lessons and choir, starring in shows and musicals.

He and family members (including cousin Tom Keating who will also play Sunday night at JV’s with some of his Nashville music) have always had a musical bent, but Jay Keating didn’t realize how deeply it flowed in his veins until, before the aftermath of a 1973 hurricane struck parts of Pennsylvania, he helped his grandfather and cousins clean out his grandfather’s home where the youngsters found a trumpet and touring materials in the attic.

What was this?

Turns out his grandfather, “Duke” Earl Keating, was a former trumpeter who toured the county with his own big band and played with others, including Benny Goodman’s. Like many others whose dreams are interrupted by reality, his grandfather was unable to continue his music career, one that Keating has picked up and is determined to pursue to life’s end.