9 questions with singer-songwriter Allison Crowe, who’s coming to Beaver Creek Oct. 17
Vilar Performing Arts Center
Underground Sound Series schedule
Allison Crowe on Oct. 17
Bumper Jacksons on Oct. 20
Jarabe Mexicano on Oct. 26
Tierro with Bridget Law + WE DREAM DAWN on Nov. 3
Rob Drabkin on Nov. 9.
Cost: Tickets to Allison Crowe are $28. The Underground Sound series pass is $100 and includes a ticket to each performance plus a drink at each show.
More information: The Vilar Performing Arts Center is located under the ice rink at Beaver Creek. For tickets, visit the Vilar Center box office, call 970-845-8497 or visit http://www.vilarpac.org.
Allison Crowe is a multi-instrumentalist whose music embraces several genres, including rock, folk, jazz, soul, Celtic and Broadway.
Crowe performs Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the Vilar Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. as part of the Underground Sound Series.
Vilar Center marketing manager Ruthie Hamrick recently had the chance to ask her a few questions about her extensive career, which includes creating her own label and 26 albums featuring 200 unique, self-produced tracks.
VPAC: How did growing up in British Columbia help shape you as a singer-songwriter?
Crowe: I think growing up in BC surrounded by music and the beautiful scenery really pushed me toward doing something creative — at the very least it led to an obsession with the elements (specifically water). I’m not sure I could live away from the ocean.
VPAC: You have some incredible takes on pop standards — Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” Joni Mitchell’s “River,” The Beatles’ “In My Life,” and Rolling Stones’ “Shine a Light” — do you have a favorite artist, genre or song to cover?
Crowe: It’s so hard to pick a favorite — so I generally just don’t. I love all music, I really do.
VPAC: Do you prefer to play your own songs or covers?
Crowe: I enjoy both equally — for totally different reasons. Playing originals lets me communicate how I am feeling directly and often very specifically, and covering songs is an interesting way to express yourself through the words and music of another person and to share something familiar-yet-new with listeners.
VPAC: I’ve read you are a musician, composer, arranger, audio engineer and producer — what area do you enjoy most or feel you excel in the most?
Crowe: I think technically I was probably a musician first, then a writer — though I think I could reverse that statement and it’d still be true (except for when I was too young to write at all). I love arranging harmonies and there’s something meditative in mixing — though sometimes mixing drives me nuts. Overall, I’m not super comfortable calling myself any of those things to be honest, I just try to do my work and do it to the best of my ability.
VPAC: Along the same lines, you sing and play a number of instruments (piano, guitar, fiddle and bodhran) — how on earth did you learn so many and which has been the greatest challenge?
Crowe: I obsess about things a lot, and instruments fall in that category of things. I love learning. I’ve been playing piano since age 5. Guitar became more part of my music, and I picked up the bodhran when I moved to Newfoundland about a dozen years back. Fiddle is hands-down the most challenging instrument I’ve tried yet — just the bowing is so different to everything else. It’s so hard. Also, I feel like violins can smell fear and you can hear it so clearly when I’m playing and I’m nervous. It’s definitely a challenge.
VPAC: What has been the most memorable venue that you have played during your extensive touring of North America and Europe?
Crowe: Truly, there are so many favorite places. From tiny pubs and classic halls in Germany to theaters in France, restaurants in Italy and Belgium and outdoor festivals in the Scottish Highlands and BC’s Kootenays — and now coming to the U.S. It’s impossible to choose.
VPAC: You just had a cameo in the Hollywood Superman film, “Man of Steel,” how was it singing for film?
Crowe: That was definitely a highlight of my life experiences so far — film is such an amazing process to see happen. I was just in awe the whole time. It’s so cool to see all the moving parts of a production and how incredible everyone in the cast and crew is at what they do — in their own roles and as a team. Also Henry Cavill (Superman actor) is incredibly handsome.
VPAC: What is the biggest thing you have learned since starting your own record label?
Crowe: I’ve learned how to manage my expectations and be painfully patient, to put it bluntly. There’s no quick solution. Everything doesn’t always work out (often things don’t). Rejection is normal. It’s always a whole lot of work and a very slow and bendy path that hopefully leads in a positive, maybe one day even lovely, direction. You have to be a little crazy, which is great news for me.
VPAC: How long have you been writing poetry and is that the basis for your lyrics?
Crowe: I’ve been writing poetry for as long as I can remember — since I was old enough to put a pen to paper I’ve been trying to communicate how I feel. I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet. Maybe one day. (There’s that whole managing expectations thing again.) My songs often start as poetry that I have to severely and viciously ax and edit to make fit within the frame of a song because I tend to be a bit verbose.
Vail Valley local Jeremy Rietmann, who works for the town of Gypsum, saw Crowe perform last year in Canada. He said of the experience, “Allison’s performance stood out as absolutely world class. I was blown away. She has an unbelievable voice, the kind that leaves you stunned at what you just heard.”
He went so far as to compare her to the likes of Sarah McLachlan and Jeff Buckley. Of the upcoming performance he said “Mind blowing. Don’t miss it. Allison’s voice is therapy for your soul.”