From Staff Reports
Join Appalachian Reggae innovator, songwriter and performer Ras Alan as he chronicles the 25 year history of his original recorded music on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the historic Down Home, 300 West Main Street in Johnson City. The show is at 8 p.m.
The 2016-17 Ras Alan- 25 Years of Appalachian Reggae shows feature singer-songwriter performances of reggabilly hits from his five previous full length albums, as well as new songs from the “Love the Way You Love” recording sessions. Alan will also be debuting his new line of hand built Childres Guitars during these anniversary shows.
Alan will perform original songs from his albums “Native,” “Stone Inna Hurricane,” “Letter From Appalachia,” “Folklife- Live at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival” and “Organic.” In addition to the title track “Love The Way You Love,” the new material includes love songs “River,” “Ital Skillet” and “Time is Right,” the Appalachian dancehall one-drop-two-step shuffler “Swingaround” and cultural dreadneck mashup “Mountain Top One Drop.” This show will be presented in Tennessee, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia by Red Pepper Records and Childres Guitars.
As a young man, Alan left his guitar shop and coffee house in the mountains of North Carolina and moved to Nashville to learn more about the guitars, mandolins and other stringed instruments he had played, repaired and tinkered with for years. He apprenticed with master luthiers that would later run the Fender and Guild guitar custom shops, and spent many hours hanging around the repair shops of George Gruhn and Randy Wood. With decades of designing, engineering and building artisan wooden furniture and interiors, craftsman solar homes and award-winning historic building restorations, combined with years of composing, recording and performing his original songs all over the United States, Central America and the Caribbean, Alan found ample opportunities to learn useful woodworking techniques of the past and apply the best modern musical instrument innovations. His Childres guitars are each handmade in his shop in the forests of southern Appalachia, and each ringing note carries a lifetime full of experience, music and love. Check www.childresguitars.com and click the “Guitars” tab at the top of the page to see a slideshow of his building process. The “MoonShine Polish” hand rubbed finish lets the guitar breathe … no plastics or sprayed finishes are used on these instruments. Don’t panic. Organic!
Alan’s original songs chart the reggabilly journey of a rural mountain guitar player – from an apple barn country dub party, to a two night run in summertime Las Vegas; from the dance floor at the iconic Carter Fold in Hiltons, Va., to the dirt stage under the trees at the Rough House in Jamaica; from crewing on the hand-built Gdansk, Poland, based sailboat Bagheera off the Caribbean islands of Antigua, Dominica and St. Lucia, to singing songs about dreadnecks at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC. Alan told his stories in the amphitheater of the Blue Ridge Music Center in fabled Galax, Va., discussed ital (vital, healthy) food with Jamaican reggae legend Bunny Wailer in the North Carolina foothills and drummed with Nigerian Babatunde Olatunje by the fire. Alan was featured on CMT’s Small Town Secrets along with Wayne Henderson and Jim Lauderdale, showcasing Bristol TN/VA, the “Birthplace of Country Music,” and the various branches of those musical roots. He picked informally with American musical icons Doc Watson and Jethro Burns, and sang on the porch of The Highlander Center, an Appalachian catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building for Rosa Parks, Pete Seeger and Martin Luther King. He played music and shared a tea ceremony with Africa’s “Father of the Blues,” Malian musician Ali Farke Toure, and was a featured keynote speaker at the Appalachian Research Symposium and Arts Showcase at the University of Kentucky.
“We invited Ras Alan because his work challenges and invites us to think about Appalachia in a global context,” said Ann Kingsolver, director of the UK Appalachian Center.
What do people say about his music? “Ras Alan has created a style of his own. His fusion of driving Reggae basslines and Appalachian guitar riffs transcend both genres. Besides the catchy melodies you’ll find yourself humming, his lyrics are straight from the heart, deep and thoughtful. In a nutshell, a masterful artist. If you think the CDs are great, you should see him live.” “True to the Roots reggae with the folk flavor.” “Great to listen to when you’re in a chill mood, or want to get in one.” “A splendid effort in a beautiful fusion of styles.” “Addicting.” “An absolute perfect blend of country and reggae.”
“Great music…socially conscious…entertaining. I’ve seen Ras Alan perform many times… this collection is outstanding.”
Tickets are available from the Down Home at 929-9822 or www.downhome.com. For more info on Ras Alan, his original music and his guitars, visit www.rasalan.com, www.facebook.com/rasalan.1 or www.childresguitars.com.