Keith Reins

Keith StrapThe son of a former big band saxophonist, Keith began his musical life at the age of five with piano lessons.  In junior high and high school,  following in his father’s footsteps, he began playing clarinet and saxophone in concert and jazz band.  At fourteen, he started playing professionally at country clubs and dance halls with his father and older brother.

After a brief flirtation with rock’n’roll piano in high school, Keith started hugging guitars and quickly became obsessed with traditional music.  At various times throughout the last four decades or so he has played bluegrass, old time, classic country, country blues, all manner of American folk songs and most recently, traditional Irish music.  The eclectic, improvisational nature of Irish guitar accompaniment allows Keith to synthesize all of his diverse musical influences.  He is now one of the top Irish-style guitarists in the region.

In 2010, Keith was awarded a Major Artist Grant from The Iowa Arts Council to produce The Beggarmen’s third CD, A Soft Day.

Keith is also an English Professor Emeritus at Kirkwood Community College and an essayist.  His project, Folk Songs You Never Sang in Grade School, began as an endowment allowing him to research and write about traditional songs, song craft and balladry.  The result is ten essays, an interactive website, a performance, and soon, an album.

Tara McGovernTara McGovern

A fiddler from the age of 3, Tara’s unique style blends her Irish roots with her classical and jazz training. Tara’s degree in music therapy is from The University of IowaIn addition to performing with The Beggarmen, Tara runs the McGovern Music Studio. In 2014, Tara was the featured musician for eleven performances at the Riverside Theatre, Iowa City’s professional theatre. Tara frequently performs alongside Jeffrey C. Capps and with the Family Folk Machine.


Tara and I are both seasoned performers.  Here are some of the venues I’ve played, mostly with Tara in The Beggarmen, but also with other bands or solo:

Gallagher Bluedorn Center (opening for The Boys of the Lough), Cedar Falls, IA
Cooley Collins Festival Fundraiser Concert (with Frank Claudy), Gort, Ireland
The Englert Theatre, Intimate at Englert Concert Series, Iowa City, IA
Loras College, Dubuque, IA
Ballydoyle Pub, Downer’s Grove, IL
Friday Night Concert Series, Iowa City, IA
The Carl Sandburg Birthplace Songbag Concert Series, Galesburg, IL
Peoria Erin Feis, Peoria, IL
The Ritual Cafe, Des Moines, IA
Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA
Iowa City Arts Festival, Iowa City, IA
The Lincoln Wine Bar, Mt. Vernon, IA
Anchor Coffee House, Des Moines, IA
Midsommar Music Festival, Bishop Hill, IL
Donnybrook in the Park Festival, Hanover, IL
The Englert Theatre (opening for Dervish), Iowa City, IA
The Waukee Area Arts Council, Waukee, IA
Prairie Lights Book Store, Iowa City, IA
With the University of Northern Iowa Symphonic Band performing “Lincolnshire Posy” with support from the Iowa Arts Council
The Riverside Theatre, Iowa City, IA
The Des Moines Art Festival, IA
Kirkwood Community College, Iowa City, IA
The Ward Irish Music Archives, Milwaukee, WI
The Saint Louis Tionol, Saint Louis, MO
The Touchstone Arts Council, Red Oak, IA
All Things Scottish Festival, Usher’s Ferry, Cedar Rapids, IA
Live From Studio 1, KUNI, University of Northern IA, Cedar Falls, IA
Jameson’s Pub, Waterloo, IA
Maharishi University, Fairfield, IA
The Iowa Mennonite School Concert Series, near Kalona, IA
The Mill Restaurant, Iowa City, IA
The Coralville Center for Performing Arts (children’s show), Coralville, IA
The Java House, Iowa City, IA
With the University of Iowa Symphony Band performing “Minstrels of the Kells” with support from the Iowa Arts Council
The Red Poppy, Iowa City, IA
Radio Station WSUI, University of Iowa
Galway Tribes Pub, Frankfurt, IL
The Iowa City Farmers’ Market, Iowa City, IA
The Running Dog Ranch Folk Arts and Learning Center, Stockholm, WI
The Sanctuary, Iowa City, IA
The Tuscan Moon Restaurant, Kalona, IA
The Iowa Children’s Museum (children’s show), Coralville, IA

The Stone City General Store, Stone City, IA
The Community College Humanities Association Conference, Iowa City, IA
Iowa City Public Library (children’s show), Iowa City, IA
Law Law Palooza, Equal Justice Foundation Benefit, Iowa City, IA
Johnson County Heritage Trust Benefit Auction, Solon, IA
Iowa City Shelter House Benefit Auction, Iowa City, IA
The Celtic Knot Restaurant, Evanston, IL
Lots of benefits and fundraisers
Three shopping malls
Plenty of bars and coffeehouses
Many festivals
Several churches
Classrooms, classrooms, classrooms
More dances than I can possibly remember
Weddings, parties, celebrations and a bar mitzvah

What’s This?

Folk Songs You Never Sang in Grade School is one folk musician's effort to document, honor and share a collection of folk songs I love and my personal history with them through research, essays, and performance. Read the essays here and watch this site for future performances.

What’s New?

Tara McGovern and I, joined by uilleann piper Jon Cooper, have completed the album version of Folk Songs You Never Sang in Grade School. For a taste of the CD listen to "Oh, the Wind and Rain/The Quail It Is a Pretty Bird" and "Let No Man Steal Your Thyme."

Oh, the Wind and Rain/The Quail It Is a Pretty Bird
Let No Man Steal Your Thyme