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3 Great Songwriters Coming to the Ariel Theatre

PAT ALGER, country music songwriter, singer and guitarist and Nashville Songwriter’s Association Songwriter of the Year

MATT KING, Americana singer/songwriter and recording artist

JON VEZNER, Grammy award winning songwriter

Three ‘greats’ performing on the stage of the historic Ariel Theatre in downtown Gallipolis, Ohio. The concert begins at 8 pm and tickets are only $20. Don’t miss this incredible blend of talent in one night on one stage!

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Alger,Pat HIGH RES photoPat Alger

Pat Alger, who is among the most successful country songwriters of the late ’80s and early ’90s, comes from a folk background, and that colors the unusually thoughtful, articulated songs he writes. He first turned up on record himself playing guitar and singing with the loosely constructed Woodstock Mountain Revue on the album More Music from Mud Acres in 1977. He was a co-author of the song “Ocracoke Time,” which appeared on the Revue’s third album, Pretty Lucky, in 1978, as well as “Old Time Music” on its fourth album, Back to Mud Acres, in 1981, and the sole author of “Southern Crescent Line” on the same album.

But Alger really began to gain recognition as a songwriter with the release of Nanci Griffith’s third album, Once in a Very Blue Moon, in 1985. Alger co-wrote the title song, which reached the country charts in 1986. He was also heard from on Griffith’s fourth album, The Last of the True Believers, in 1986, for which he co-wrote the song “Goin’ Gone.” (He also played guitar on the album and did its graphics.) Alger was co-author of the title song on Griffith’s 1987 album, Lone Star State of Mind, and that song became a Top 40 country hit. In 1988, Kathy Mattea’s version of “Goin’ Gone” hit the top of the country charts. In 1990, Mattea took Alger and Fred Koller’s “She Came from Fort Worth” to number two.

It’s no surprise, then, that when Alger came to record his debut album, True Love & Other Short Stories, in 1991, he was able to call on the help of the cream of the young Nashville writers and performers. Trisha Yearwood, Nanci Griffith, Mary Black, Ashley Cleveland, Kathy Mattea, and Lyle Lovett all turn up, though Alger himself is the focus, singing his best-known songs. “No one sings or plays Pat Alger like Pat Alger himself,” Griffith writes.

jonNewJohn Vezner

Grammy award-winning songwriter, Nashville based, Jon Vezner is a tunesmith of rare sensitivity and dry wit. His catalogue of recorded songs, topped by the poignant “Where’ve You Been,” reflects his straight-to-the heart sensibility and emotional awareness. Vezner weaves the particulars of his own feelings with the lives of people he has known into universal themes that deeply touch listeners’ emotions.

Vezner was honored with a Grammy for “Best Country Song” and the Nashville Songwriters Association “Song of the Year” in 1990, for “Where’ve You Been”, the true story of Vezner’s grandparents, co-written with Don Henry, and recorded by Kathy Mattea. “Where’ve You Been” was also honored as “Song of the Year” by the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM).

Born in Minnesota, Jon Vezner began his musical career as lead singer and bassist in high school, going on to earn a B.A. degree in music education and music theory at Minnesota Southwest State University in the mid 70′s. Vezner’s preparation as a music educator was well earned, but songwriting was and remains his main interest, the next logical step in his career led him to Nashville in the 80′s.

Vezner attended his first Nashville Songwriter Association (NSAI) Spring Symposium, an intensive songwriting workshop in 1983. By 1984, Vezner began working with Ree Guyer of Wrensong Music, a music publishing company with offices in Minnesota and Nashville. Mel McDaniel and Dave and Sugar were the first to record his songs.

Jon’s catalogue of songs reads like a songbook itself, interpreted and recorded by the greats in the business as varied as the songs themselves; artists such as Martina McBride, Janis Ian, John Mellencamp, Nancy Griffith, Faith Hill, Clay Walker, Diamond Rio and Native American recording artist, Bill Miller. Other co-penned songs recorded by Kathy Mattea include “A Few Good Things Remain,” “Time Passes By,” “Whole Lotta Holes,” “Slow Boat,” “Who’s Gonna Know,” “All Roads to the River,” “The Innocent Years,” “Calling My Name,” “Trust Me,” and most recently the touching ballad “Ashes in the Wind.” Singles written by Vezner include “If I Didn’t Love You” by Steve Warriner, “Has Anybody Seen Amy” by John and Audrey Wiggins, “Then What” by Clay Walker, and “You’re Gone” by Diamond Rio.

Graduating with a B.A degree has also led to another labor of love, producing CD projects and earning a growing list of production credits with artists such as Danny O’Keefe, Victoria Shaw, and singing legend Patti Page.

photoMatt King

Singer/songwriter Matt King lives in a world of contrasts. One inhabited simultaneously by conspicuous consumption and creeping poverty, sprawling suburbs and decaying rural communities, by embattled corporate chieftains and quietly struggling workaday Americans. King walks a winding path between these extremes, bringing a photographer’s eye to his vivid musical portraits. Yet his lens is not given to the cinematic fantasy and marketing hyperbole that has spilled into seemingly every corner of society. Rather, he strips away the artifice of contemporary culture to reveal what is, at times, a sobering reality.

His perspective draws on the determination of Appalachian forebears who endured the iniquities of coal mines and timber companies, but with a broad vision that looks askance at agri-giants in the Plains states and mass merchants on Main Street. His music is rooted in this timeless struggle-an American tenor struck in different keys by Steinbeck, Guthrie, Dylan and John R. Cash. Even upon such formidable foundations, however, King is a solitary structure if for no other reason than the alarming absence of such sentiment in millennial American music.

“As I was walking down Hard Luck Road I met a farmer with a heavy load He said, Gonna dig in the dirt, gonna sow a seed And one good crop is all I need.”

“People sometimes make choices because they think they have no choice,” King says, perhaps speaking of the characters in his songs. “We back ourselves into corners, or we’re backed into corners, and the decisions we make about what to do or believe…I’m interested in those decisions.” In many ways, these hard choices speak to that which is most basic and human, yet they are rarely examined in the news or entertainment media. “If it’s not glamorous or titillating or depraved,” he says, “it’s not on the screen. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important.”

Matt King’s music exists in and explores the broad expanse between those ratings-getting extremes. He sees the debt-ridden farmers, the single mothers, the drunkards and the spiritually hungry. “I’m walking a tightrope,” he says, “keeping a tension between being

cynical and just painting a picture the way I see it. There’s a whole world out there yearning for something more. The only way I know to give back, to fight for what certain people have always fought, is through music.”

“The devil doesn’t need to use an axe To split the night or break my back He steals my sleep with fear and loss A hungry woman and an angry boss.”

“The people I grew up with are riding D-9 Caterpillars, or they’ve got a kid and two jobs, or maybe they’re a computer tech,” King says, “but I don’t see a lot of places in the mainstream they can relate.” He speaks of those for whom incessant stock market reports are but a cruel reminder that there is no retirement fund, and little if any savings. Where is their American Dream?

“This music is about the human condition,” he continues. “We’re very attracted by that of the spirit. And yet we’re deeply enamored of what we’re made from-trying to maintain youth and beauty, and sucking the marrow out of both ends.” When that pressure needs release, King sends his characters in search of the same balms we all seek. He isn’t afraid to have a little fun in his songs, or laugh at his problems. “Have I introduced you to my demons?” he smiles. “I confront them in my music, and find that they’re not that big and scary after all. Well, that’s everybody, just on different levels.”

“I have tasted Eden’s apple And there’s venom in my veins.”

King’s perspective is informed by a life journey that has opened his eyes to iniquity obscured by mass media’s shiny veneer. His people are “salt of the earth from western North Carolina,” he says. “It’s not anything terribly unique. It was a sad little family-a very broken family. But I don’t want to make more out of it than was there. Music was a refuge. I could disappear.”

Eventually, Matt’s escape became his reality. He signed with Atlantic Nashville in the late nineties, writing and recording two albums that generated midlevel charting singles and a few nice reviews. And yet that brush with success was prelude to a dark time of divorce, alcoholism and near financial collapse. “I lived the sins most people try to sweep under the rug, burned through them and got to the other side,” he says.

“I was buying everything that was sold to me,” he admits. “One day a voice was like, ‘You have been asleep for thousands of years.’ And that was when everything changed. But it took a lot of personal tragedy to get to that place.”

His eyes finally opened to the empty promises and shallow dreams spoon-fed through the flickering screens of our profit-driven culture. “What if you bought that thing you can’t live without and it made you happy?” King asks. “What if you were actually satisfied? If the machine’s promises came to pass, it would crumble. That’s how you know it’s a lie. And that’s what this music is about.

“I went through the machine and came out emotional sausage on the other side. But I

also came out with something to say. This is just one man’s view, but for once I’m being true to myself.”

Step One: Purchase Your Tickets

Don’t forget to purchase your tickets online by clicking the button below, or calling the Ariel at 740-446-ARTS!

Buy Tickets Here

Step Two: Register Online

Don’t forget to purchase your tickets online by clicking the button below, or calling the Ariel at 740-446-ARTS!

Register Online

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