Listen Up for Joe Crookston!
BY: JEFFREY STITES
The folks at Listen Up Brunswick County have established a fine tradition of bringing quality, interesting talent from the musical Americana tradition to our doorsteps. The first show in Listen Up’s 2017 line-up carries on that tradition in a big way.
Joe Crookston will be stopping at Brunswick County Community College’s Odell Williamson Auditorium on Saturday, January 21. The show will be at 7:00 pm and take place in the Virginia Williamson Event’s Center, a more intimate venue inside the larger auditorium building.
Crookston is more than a folk musician, though his musical talents include singing, songwriting and playing guitar, slide guitar, banjo and fiddle. He is also a painter, with artwork displayed alongside that of musical greats like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix at the True North Gallery of Fine Arts in Ontario, Canada.
Folk art is at its best is when it’s closest to real, average, everyday people. The struggles of the everyman, both modern and historical, have informed folk art, and especially folk music, for centuries. The legendary Woodie Guthrie based much of his work on his travels from the dust bowl to California looking for work during the Great Depression. He turned not only his own experience, but the experiences of hundreds of fellow Okies, into abiding songs that still speak to us today.
Joe Crookston took a page from Guthrie’s playbook and used a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to create a project called “Songs of the Finger Lakes.” He traveled up-state New York collecting stories he would later turn into songs on his second studio album, Able Baker Charlie and Dog. One of these songs, “Brooklyn In July”, about an African American World War Two veteran returning home to face racism and personal troubles in the big city, has inspired a film of the same name that is now in post-production under the direction of Bob Celli.
But Crookston is mostly about the music, and that’s what he will be bringing to Brunswick County. With a voice slightly reminiscent of James Taylor and some incredibly nimble slide guitar, fans of folks and Americana are sure to be pleased.
“I do feel as though I’ve honed a way of writing and performing that has identifiable themes and expresses my quirky uniqueness,” says Crookston. “I’m learning to trust my voice as a songwriter. Be who I am. Trust the stories and follow no trends. More and more I find that when I tell my true story, it has wider breadth, deeper impact, and resonates more clearly.”
Crookston’s repertoire includes everything from a cover of Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” to “Red Rooster in the Mash Pile,” from the Finger Lakes project, based on the story of a family’s chickens getting drunk from the wastage of an illegal still during Prohibition.
Tickets for Joe Crookston’s show are $20 and are available on the Listen Up Brunswick County website, www.listenupbrunswickcounty.com, and locally in person, cash or check only, at the following locations: Fuzzy Peach in Southport or Leland, Grape & Ale on Oak Island, South Brunswick Islands Chamber of Commerce in Shallotte and Beach House Fine Arts in Calabash.
Tickets are also available via mail. Just enclose a check for $20 with the date of the performance you wish to see and mail to Listen Up Brunswick County, C/O Jeannie Dufour, PO Box 133, Supply, NC 28462.
Refreshments, including beer and wine, will be available for purchase at the Virginia Williamson Events Center.
Listen Up Brunswick County’s motto is “Good Music/Good Deeds” and a portion of each show’s proceeds are donated to a designated charity. This year’s charity is Hope Harbor Home, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing shelter and services to victims of domestic violence and to promoting nonviolence in our communities for over 30 years.
Helping others while enjoying a night of music and maybe even learning a thing or two from a self-described “social archaeologist,” what better way to kick off the New Year?