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Hungry Girls at Paddy Brannan's

"This is the most response I've gotten from any musical project I've done," says singer and songwriter Dave McKey. "It completely surprises me."

McKey, who performs under the name Hungry Girls, has seen some major changes this year, which includes parting ways with the other half of Hungry Girls, guitarist Jesse Miller.

"It was a civil departure," McKey says. "But he took a lot of the songs he wrote with him, so I was left with a pretty small set."

McKey built up a new set quickly and says he now has roughly an hour and a half of music.

Hungry Girls will play at 9 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at Paddy Brannan's Irish Pub, 23 S. Second St., Ashland. He will be joined by singer and songwriter Black Bears Fire. There is no cover.

McKey says that after he became a solo act, he had to step up his game as a guitarist.

"I come from a heavy metal background," McKey says. "I wasn't used to playing these chord structures. It's a different style of playing. I had to clean it up."

McKey says that a big part of the inspiration for his songs has come from the stress of everyday life.

"I work six days a week, and then I have to take care of the kids," McKay says. "Usually, the only days I have off are the days I'm playing a show."

Musically, McKey draws influence from singer and songwriters such as City & Colour and Gregory Alan Isakov. He's happy to see this style of music grow in popularity.

"There's been this influx of underground acoustic folk," McKey says. "It's nice to hear something that isn't simply recycled, electric garbage."

McKey has shows scheduled throughout June, including a slot on this month's Reggae in the Trees Festival in Provolt. After that, he plans to take time off of performing to be with his family and work on his debut full-length album, which he plans to release this winter.

While McKey wants to push forward with his music, he doesn't plan to make it into his career.

"I had my kid at an early age, and it's made my goals more realistic," McKey says. "I don't want to bank on this for mine and my child's future."

However, the attention he's received lately isn't lost on him.

"I've had a lot of opportunities lately that I didn't expect to have," McKey says. "I've been getting picked up by different satellite radio shows and music podcasts all over, even some from the UK.

"I'm giving myself a little time to focus on this, but it's definitely on a timetable. I've written and recorded my own music for about 15 years. No matter what else I'm doing, I'll always be making music."

David McKey Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Bob Pennell