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Library hosts local musicians, no shushing needed

WEST CHAZY Patrons of the Dodge Library were recently treated to an intimate concert and conversation with local musical duo Crossing North. The cozy space inspired the informal concert Jan. 15, in which singer-songwriters Bruce Lawson and Jen Carter-Kelly shared their music and musical philosophy. The group, which has been described as performing music at the intersection of acoustic country, folk and bluegrass, first formed in January 2002, after working together on a Christmas program at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship church in Plattsburgh. The crowd was enthusiastic about the opportunity to get this rare glimpse into the artists creative process, and many had questions about the groups song writing process. I call myself a songwriter very humbly, demurred Mr. Lawson, who explained his songs can start as the smallest inspiration and grow from there. Other times, he may write in the persona of a specific character, as in Wishful Thinking, a song he wrote from the perspective of his father shortly after the death of his wife. In it, he follows his parents relationship from the beginning of their courtship before World War II through their 63-year marriage. Sometimes I labor over a song, but this one just came out, he said. Ms. Carter-Kelly confessed she is not a disciplined songwriter; that is, she doesnt sit down to write every day. The exception was the year she spent with her family in Mongolia in 2004, where her partner was working with the Peace Corps. I was a very prolific writer in Mongolia, she laughed. With our last CD, I went through a big creative push, she explained. But, then I was so focused on those songs while we were recording that I didnt write for a while. But lately, shes gotten the songwriting itch back and the duo is currently working on songs for their third CD. Previous CDs include Late Night Songs, released in 2004, and Fragile, released in 2006. In their six years together, the pairs popularity has steadily grown. They recently performed their first gig in Manhattan, and have been booked for a number of festivals and other shows throughout the northeast during the coming year, including the Palmer Street Coffee House in Plattsburgh, the North Branch Bluegrass Festival and next years First Night Burlington. One of their biggest honors to date, however, is the inclusion of their song When Youre Gone, on North Country Public Radios Music Heard UpNorth, a three-disc CD compilation featuring some of the best musical acts in the region. The CD, which is the culmination of a year-long project aiming to put North Country musicians together with North Country audiences and the world, is expected to be released this spring. But, regardless of the size or prestige of the venue, the duo expressed their continuing enthusiasm for playing together. We do it because we love to do it, explained Ms. Carter-Kelly, adding they would still be playing together even if they didnt have an audience. But, I love playing for other people, she added. The more people I can connect with makes it more satisfying.

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