Performing for a song

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Performing for a song


Greg Allen’s musical vision is organic, and his work is testimony to the fact that when you stay with something long enough, your labors will produce fruit. Allen is the guiding force behind Songsharing, a loose-knit group of songwriters and musicians who are committed to performing free concerts in locales where you might not usually find live music. Songsharing has put on concerts for Region Ten and The Kluge Children’s Rehab Center, among others. The goal, as Allen puts it, is “to make a variety of music more accessible for underserved audiences.”
    Allen got the idea when he was racing motorcycles and became interested in the idea of sponsorship. “If people get money thrown at them to tear up cars, there should be sponsors to promote musicians in community service,” he says. An official entitity since 2002, Songsharing has worked with a fine group of local
musicians, including Thomas Gunn,
Jeff Romano, Tom Proutt and Emily McCormick, as well as well-known nonlocals like Asheville’s Dana Robinson. Proutt and McCormick, who are great musicians and a winning live act, are starting to tour outside Charlottesville more often, and their upcoming tour will include a
volunteer Songsharing performance at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Maryland.
    Allen has more ambitious plans himself, and recently recorded a CD of his own music that he hopes will be the first in a series of CDs by Songsharing artists. Recorded at Greenwood Studio, the CD, Tales of the Uneasy Writer, is now available for pre-order online at www.songsharing.org. Due for September release, the CD will also be available in local record stores, as well as at Allen’s gigs. The disc features Allen’s regular drummer Granville Braxton, and a host of high-profile Charlottesvillers like Ian Gilliam, Richelle Claiborne, Bud Bryant, Charlie Bell and Nate Brown. Allen says that, given Songsharing’s nontraditional nature, they are unlikely to have a traditional CD release party, but you can find out where he’s playing on his website, www.graspingatlaws.net.

A Boston band with goals beyond the music will be appearing at The Satellite Ballroom on Saturday, August 19. Fans of Fela Kuti and Antibalas should check out The Boston Afrobeat Society on their stop here. The band consists of 12 pieces, many of whom were students at The New England Conservatory of Music. Also, band leader and kit drummer Adam Clark grew up in Roanoke. But the band views political activism as part of Fela’s legacy as well. As part of that idea they partnered with Beantown’s Green Grease Monkey and are making the two-week tour in a schoolbus converted to run on 100 percent vegetable oil. So that weekend, when you think you smell Grillswiths, go catch a good band.

Did you know that one of Larry Keel’s first paying gigs was a stint at Tokyo’s Disneyland? Now a fixture on the bluegrass and festival scene, in 1985 Keel played with a trio in Japan for as long as their visas held out. As fans know, he came back to Rockbridge County and was one-fourth of the great McGraw Gap, and then set off on his own after winning the
flatpicking championship at Telluride. Recently, Keel and his wife, Jenny, have put out a new CD, Grass, with another well-known Virginia musician, Keller Williams. And Keel is the subject of a new film, Beautiful Thing, that focuses on the life of a musician on the road. Go check out the mostly traditional ‘grass of Larry Keel and Natural Bridge at Starr Hill on Friday, August 18.
    At Gravity Lounge Thursday night, you’ll get a chance to hear Matt Curreri performing with his band. This is a rare occasion, because The Exfriends are based in San Diego, but Matt decided to bring all five pieces east for the release of their new CD. That CD, Exercise Music for the Lonely, has been nominated for Best Local Recording by The San Diego Music Awards. Also look for an appearance by Paul Curreri and Devon Sproule. Sarah White and The Pearls will open.

Larry Keel’s CD picks (one old and one new): Tony Rice, Backwaters. Tony’s “Space Grass” is as innovative today as it was 20 years ago. Greensky Bluegrass, Less Than Supper. An incredible up-and-coming bluegrass act from Michigan. Who knew they had great bluegrass up there?

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