A concert featuring cowboys, Gary Allegretto and Ian Espinosa both songwriters and musicians who love the blues and western music put on an outstanding show at the Arts Center in Angels Camp yesterday. But the standout performer, Allegretto, is not a guitarist, but a harmonica virtuoso. Never in my life could I have imagined the sounds and range of “vocals” that come out of a simple carry-in-your-pocket, harmonica. After the show, the duo sold and autographed CDs.
A “people” person, Gary posed with a local admirer, Chris Doty. Some of the music he has written qualifies him as a comedian. His range of music from the foot stomping, “This Ain’t My Last Rodeo,” (number one on the charts for three years running) and a sing-a-long number, “But You Can’t Stay Here”, reflect his days as a bouncer in a Santa Fe bar. He reminds us that Santa Fe, when he worked there, wasn’t all “pinky boutique” but a pretty rough shod place full of hard drinkin’, fists ready cowhands. His music is difficult to describe, a blusey-western mix; throw in an African American spiritual, and something akin to dance with Ian’s singing and playing on a guitar older than anyone in the audience, and you have a rave collaboration.
Allegretto is internationally known for his humanitarian work with children. He brings to kids- be it Indonesia, Africa or Wales-the universal language of music. He can talk through that harmonica and leaves each boy and girl with a harmonica of their own with which they can play four songs. Now that is peace making on a very basic level.
Calaveras Arts Council Director, Mary Jane Genochio brought them to Angels Camp and then on stage, gave a tearful farewell. Her house was destroyed in the Butte Fire and she said, “I am building a house and I must turn this job over to another.” We will definitely miss her.
Equally loved, former Director, Penny West, who held the reins for at least 20 years brought us Mary Jane. We in Calaveras County owe so much to the wonderful leadership provided by these two amazing women. Our Arts are strong, and we are so lucky and grateful.
Another arts venue is involved in the simple act of story telling, poetry, writing and critiquing new writers. A powerful group also in Angels Camp under the Arts Council umbrella. Here Joy Roberts recruits wanna be writer, Lizz Emerson. The Arts Council begins its free music in the parks concerts in early June, just a mention here while I’m at it. But, back to Allegretto. You can listen to a sample of his music on this website: garyallegretto.com. But more than that, this is one of the finest accolades I’ve ever seen:
“I cannot express enough gratitude for what you have done for the harmonica and for Hohner.
Without you, we would be less of a brand.”
~ Clay Edwards, CEO, Hohner Harmonicas Inc.
You gotta see this guy!