One of the hardest working musicians in Curry County andndash; for himself and for others in the local music scene andndash; is Perry Devine.
Perry has been writing songs for over 35 years. His material draws on rich life experiences, which include growing up in rural eastern Canada, serving in the U.S. Navy and surviving the hi-tech rat race of California's Silicon Valley. He now lives with his wife Lucille on 6 acres of Winchuck Riverfront property.
For the last 10 years I've watched as Perry organized and established the monthly open mic nights, first at the Winchuck Fire Hall, then in Harbor, and now at the Centre Stage in downtown Brookings. The open mics have given many aspiring and established musicians and bands opportunities to perform live, not to mention bring some much-needed musical entertainment to our community.
Over the years Perry has also performed covers and his growing collection of original folk/rock songs at various community festivals and non-profit events. When he's not playing his own music, or helping others perform or record theirs (he's a seasoned recording engineer), Perry can be found serving on the board of the American Music Festival, the group responsible for the Summer Sunday concerts in Azalea Park .
More recently, Perry has become a board member for Stagelights Musical Arts Community, a fledgling non-profit (of which I am a board member, too). It was his idea to present the music documentary "Playing for Change" as a fundraiser for the group. The Jan. 20 showing of the film at the Redwood Theater, along with a live concert featuring the Stagelights House Band, netted more than $400 for Stagelights' projects.
Those familiar with Perry may think of him as a shameless promoter of his own music, which he will readily admit. In fact, he's debuting his latest CD release andndash; a five-song collection of folk/rock music called All Hands on Deck andndash; at 7 p.m. tonight (Jan. 30) at Centre Stage in downtown Brookings. His music is available at www.perrydevine.com, his myspace page, and iTunes.
I've listened to the new CD and enjoyed hearing his songs get the full-band treatment andndash; the disc features professional artists Keith Greeninger, Dayan Kai, Jim Norris, Steve Uccello and Brookings keyboardist Gil Kirk.
Normally, his performances consist of Perry and his guitar. While the raw acoustic feeling of such performances is a treat for fans of such stripped-down music, Perry's songwriting skills and knack for infectious hooks shine when he's accompanied by other musicians.
Whether you like his style of music or not, you can't doubt his integrity and commitment to his philosophy on life, which permeates many of his original songs. He's sentimental and overly optimistic andndash; my kind of guy!
"I love a great story," Perry said. "When I listen to music, I want to be lifted up, pulled up and pysched up with sounds, rhythms and meaning that fill my heart and mind with optimism and a drive to move mountains."
That optimism and drive are evident in many of his songs, including the activist-themed "Make a Change" or "Stop the Oil Man's Greed," or the unabashedly sentimental tunes "Loving You Makes the World Go Away" and "Home."
Perry wears his heart on his sleeve for all to see and hear. See him and hear him tonight.