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Take a Break onthe Courthouse Lawn
Local musicians form alliance to promote music
Albright says songwriting about drawing in listener
Artists pay homage to 1913 Flood survivors
By Richard Jones
HAMILTON — One of the many iconic photos from the Great Flood of 1913 is one of a man standing on a box, looking plaintively at the rising waters and the High-Main Bridge before it plunged into the rushing waters of the Great Miami River.
Local dancer and choreographer Demetrius Klein and singer/songwriter Greg Albright said that after they decided to collaborate on a project as part of Hamilton’s commemoration of the Great Flood’s centennial, they started going through the hundreds of photos of the event, and stuck on that one as the key to the story they wanted to tell.
“It started with this photo, a guy standing on a box thinking, ‘Everything I love is over there and I’m over here,’ ” Albright said. “We don’t know who this guy is, but we wrote his story as he ponders ‘This flood is just too large a thing, too large to deal with.’”
From that photo came “After the Flood,” a cross-genre dance and music program that will premiere May 4 at the RiversEdge Amphitheatre as the finale of the centennial commemoration that began in early March.
“It reminds us that history doesn’t always happen somewhere else,” Klein said, “but history happens here, too.”
Although it deals with a historic event, the collaboration has been to create something modern and contemporary.
“People might expect that it would be music from the era and people doing whatever dance was popular at the time,” Klein said. “We’re dealing with the subject not as a period piece at all, but approaching it from a contemporary music and contemporary dance point of view.”
“So we’re experiencing the flood from a contemporary vantage point,” Albright said. “One of the things that sticks out in studying this is the idea of ‘remembering the promises,’ that we shouldn’t forget what we’ve told each other, so we’re recognizing that in a modern voice.”
The two got to know each other from working on programs at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts.
“I’ve done tech support for some of Demetrius’ shows,” Albright said. “That gave me an interest in exploring dance. I understand music and working with bands, but I didn’t really understand dance.”
“Working with Demetrius has forced me to think about how to keep the music from getting in the way of the dance but contribute to it,” Albright said. “I’ve written some long form stuff before, but this is new for me.”
“At first, it wasn’t clear how the piece was going to happen,” Albright said. “When we started thinking about the concept of ‘after the flood,’ it started falling into place, thinking about how the flood affected this guy.”
Their collaboration, they say, illustrates how the arts is playing a key role in Hamilton’s future.
“One of the things that excites me about this project is how the commemoration has brought so many people together,” Albright said. “The mix of people working on this is so cool and everyone is adding to it, including 3rd Street Music, where we’ve been rehearsing.”
“I think people sometimes don’t give the community credit for what it has — across the board,” Klein said. “It’s important to me that people understand how art can be a part of the community other than just being decorative.”
“It comes back to how you measure the impact of of art,” Albright said. “We need to get the message out that the arts have benefit to economic development and the quality of life in the city.”
“After the Flood” is composed of seven songs, some instrumental, some acoustic, some with a four-piece band that includes Albright, David Hisch, Jody McFarland and Mark Walker.
“Look at What We Still Have” refers to the fallen bridges and the building of the pontoon bridges going up as the community starts to rebuild.
“Roll Up Your Sleeves” ends the show with a Broadway-style show stopper featuring six young singers who are members of Hamilton High School’s Rhapsody in Blue show choir.
“It’s full of words about building the levee and cleaning up the mess,” Albright said. “It’s a celebration of the rebuilding of the city so that the show ends on an up note.”
“That the flood was tragic is obvious,” Klein said, “but the whole piece is built on the concept that we’re moving on.”
“I had toyed with the idea of a large-scale piece with a lot of dancers, and then we toyed with the idea of making it a solo dancer — me,” Klein said. “But when we started thinking about this guy, we started adding bodies to it.
In addition to Klein, the dance company includes Ashley Marcum, Sarah Sperling and Jo Bryant.
The one thing missing from their show is the use of the photographs that inspired them. They originally had envisioned projecting some of those photos on the stage until they realized that they would be performing in the middle of the day in an outdoor venue.
“We hope that we’ll have another opportunity to do it in a theater setting,” Klein said.
They do plan to revive the musical portion of the program at the June 25 Music Cafe program at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts.
Take a Break on the Courthouse Lawn
BY RICHARD 0 JONES
The Take a Break on the Courthouse Lawn Music series kicks off at lunchtime next Wednesday with Gregory B. Albright, veteran singer/songwriter and the series founder.
Albright said he first got the idea of a weekday, lunch-time music series when he was touring out West in 2005.
"While I was in Salt Lake City, I played at a concert series much like the one we've produced here," he said. "I thought even then that this would be something great for the city of Hamilton."
So when he got back home, he wrote a letter to Hamilton Mayor Don Ryan, who forwarded his proposal to the Downtown Special Improvement District, which just happened to be working on a promotional program to get people to "Go Out Downtown."
"I was overjoyed by the excitement this has generated in the musical community, in the city and its business partners," Albright said. "This is one of the few events where everybody wins."
Most of the players are from Butler County, he said, and those who don't live here have some musical ties-- such as being a regular performer at the Music Cafe at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts.
"We have world-class, top-notch players who live right here among us," he said.
After Albright's opening June 4 performance, the series will feature John Belanger on June 11; Sonny Moorman on June 18, Papa Joe Kretschmer on June 25; Eric Loy on July 9; Jerry Gillespie on July 16; Dave Hisch on July 23; Dave Sams on July 30; Mark Cormican on Aug. 6; Jamon Zeiler on Aug. 13; Rick and Hillary Wagner on Aug. 20; and Chris Dunnett on Aug. 27.
Albright will have copies of his new CD, "Between Summer and Winter," released in March, on sale during and after his performance.
"I turned 58 one month before the release of this CD," he said. "That definitely qualifies as being 'between summer and winter."'
CONTACT this reporter at (513)820-2188 or email@example.com.
Local musicians form alliance to promote music
By Richard 0 Jones
?Too often, musicians don?t realize we?re all in this together,? says David Hisch. ?There are a lot of people around here making good music with unique attitudes and styles.?
To that end, Hisch and his local label, Tasty Orange Music, .has released an li-song compilation of some of the area?s singer/songwriters and guitarists.
?It?s another of my harebrained schemes that has been percolating for a while,? Hisch said.
It began during breakfast at the now defunct Cozy Cafe on High Street in Hamilton, which featured an area musician every Saturday morning.
Hisch, a Hamilton resident, and fellow singer! songwriter Gregory B. Albright of Fairfield Twp. were listening to Middletown?s Jerry Gillespie play, talldng about how scarce local venues were, and how nice it was to have another place to play, and how if they banded together, they might be able to promote each other?s work.?We spent about two months meeting for breakfast every Saturday after that to put some flesh on that skeleton,? Albright said. ?We talked about a lot of things, mostly what this could be the start of and how we can support it.?
They also talked about who to invite to participate, and looked at some of the regular players at the Fitton Center?s Music Cafe.
?Dave started asking people if they were interested and they were given the option of submitting something already recorded or setting up a session to record their songs,? Albright said.
The result is ?Close to Home,? featuring performances by Hisch, Albright, Gillespie, John Belanger (Fairfield), Eric Loy (Lewisburg) and Tevi Thrler (Eaton). The CD is available at Mebas Music, Galaxy CDs and on the Web sites and at the gigs of the featured artists. Hisch and Albright are hoping to stage a show of all the participants sometime in May.
"Our purpose is to enhance the local and regional music community,? Hisch said. ?This also gives us a chance to share our own resources, including audiences.?Contact this reporter at (513) 820-2188 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 22, 2004
Singer believes in power of story
By RICHARD 0 JONES
For local singer/songwriter Gregory B. Albright, there's not much space between his work and his self.
"Being a songwriter is not what I do, but who I am," he said.
Consequently, his songs are very personal, but in making the music personal, he said, he hopes that listeners will be able to relate and to understand something more about their own lives.
"I believe in the power of the story," he said. "As we listen, we hear ourselves in the songs and look at this shared world in a new way. It's not just what's on the surface, but songs contain insights and revelations, revealing the hidden truths".
Tuesday evening at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts, Albright will play new songs and songs from his 'Storyteller' CD-- which will he on sale when he performs at the next Music Cafe at 7 p.m.
Joining him on the bill will be singer/songwriters Jerry Gillespie, Kevin Ross and Keith May, as well as a trio of singer/songwriters by the name Raison D'Etre.
Like most singer/songwriters of a certain age, Albright pinpoints his interest in writing music to the emergence of the Beatles in the early 1960s.
"My mom had a ukulele - like Arthur Godfrey -- and I'd walk around playing songs on that," he said. "After hearing the Beatles, I soon realized that I needed a guitar."
Through the years, he's played with a number of area rock bands, including the Mystics and Steam Furnace, but two years ago he upgraded his home studio and began to work on more personal songs.
"Historically, successful songs develop when an artist creates a story around something that actually happened," he said. "I often change the details around, and that helps take the ego out of the material, but there's very little of my music that isn't self revelatory in some way".
And, he said, he hopes those revelations will extend to the listeners. He cites one recent song, On the B&O, that he wrote from his family mythology, how his grandfather would walk railroad tracks picking up stray pieces of coal to help keep his family warm during the Great Depression.
By the time it reaches the stage of a performance piece, Albright said, "the story is no longer his story, but there's the kernel of the man saying, 'My family is going to freeze to death if I don't do something. When people hear that, they think about the times they crawled on their knees in the dark to look for whatever the coal is in their lives."
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