Dusty Keleher


Halifax, Nova Scotia, February 2018

Growing up, Dusty Keleher‘s family was always proud of their Irish heritage, often celebrating it with a whole lot of drinking. But Dusty knew there was more to it than that. He’d heard tales of his grandfather, Howard, performing at Halifax variety shows in the thirties; and being called on to sing at social gatherings. So, when circumstance and fortune allowed, Dusty set out to uncover the history, culture, music and folklore of his roots.

Dusty is now releasing the fruits of his labour, a two-record set titled The Way to Grace (b/w The Road to Conamara). The thesis-of-sorts is a culmination of a decade’s worth of exploration and study of Irish history, folkore and song.

The Way to Grace is a collection of originals, many inspired by his studies and travels throughout Ireland. It was recorded with Charles Austin (Superfriendz, Buck 65, Old Man Luedecke, Al Tuck) at the Echo Chamber in North End Halifax and features Ellen Gibling (harp), Gina Burgess and Colin Carrigan (violin), Glenn Coolen (whistles/pipes), Mark Currie (bodhrán), Benn Ross (percussion) and Lukas Pearse (bass).

The Road to Conamara is a tribute to the great Joe Heaney who was a master sean nós singer and storyteller. Sean nós or “old style” is an Irish form of acapella singing. Keleher found his way to Heaney while enrolled in Irish Studies at St Mary’s University and The National University of Ireland – Galway. The Road to Conamara is a collection of a cappella songs and stories from the tradition, recorded at his home in the Irishtown district of Halifax one afternoon over a bottle of Jameson’s.

Keleher’s Irish roots run deep. Six generations ago his great-great-great-grandmother Mary Leahey, was on one of the few boats from the famine to make land in Halifax. Her husband Patrick, and son John, were butchers in downtown Halifax. Their shop was one block up the hill from where Dusty will release his record.

The Way to Grace album release will take place Saturday, February 24th in the Seanchaí Room at The Old Triangle. Show begins at 7pm with an Irish session followed by the release party at 8pm. The Way to Grace b/w The Road to Conamara will be available for purchase at the show.


Dusty Keleher writes songs that tell a good story and searches out gems from the past that do the same.

Simply put, roots/traditional original music that takes its cue from ancient Irish ballads to songs from the folk and folk/rock canon. Original modern day tales on subjects far and near.

From whatever genre and tradition he draws on, Dusty brings a heartfelt soul to all the songs he sings.

He has been releasing work since the mid 90's when he went by the name Dusty Sorbet. Putting out lo-fi 4 track cassette recordings and then making the big jump to compact disc(!)

In 2000 he released Unfinished Business on the No Records label

In 2002 he was voted best busker in The Coast Reader’s Poll, Halifax’s weekly newspaper. He continues to busk most Saturdays at the Brewery Framers Market in Halifax, NS.

In 2004 the independently released "Wanderers Grounds" was nominated for Best Folk/Roots recording by Music Nova Scotia (then known as The Music Industry of Nova Scotia MIANS).

In 2006 he drops the Sorbet moniker for the family name and releases Rain or Shine as Dusty Keeler and his Band The Rusty Wheels (Phil Sedore, Lukas Pearse and Benn Ross)

2007 Under the Radar and Over the Canyon a solo acoustic CD is released. Plays in Ireland and Wales

2008 – 2010 Studies Irish language, history and folklore at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS and spends a summer at the National University of Ireland – Galway (NUIG) in a language immersion program

In 2009 a short run of two eps "East to Ireland" volumes 1 and 2 came out after he traveled to Ireland and started focusing his music on more traditional sounds. It was at this time that Dusty legally changed his name from Keeler to Keleher. In the 1910’s his great grandfather David, a Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Famer, changed the name to sound “less Irish in an English port town” as stated in a letter from a relative alive at the time.
“Davy” Keeler played right field for the much-celebrated Halifax Wanderers baseball club.

2010 Starts working for The Halifax Ghost Walk as a storyteller. Combining his love of folklore, history and performance, he guides locals and tourists alike on this 2 hour walking tour through the city's downtown core.

2015 Records "Not a Mile From Spancil Hill" a collection of pub songs and ballads with Benn Ross on percussion, Ellen Gibling on Harp and Glenn Coolen on whistles and uileann pipes.

2018 The Way to Grace (b/w The Road to Conamara) a double lp set of originals backed by a full band complimented by a collection of acapella songs is released