Alive and Well is just that – and playing Feb. 1 at Island Center Hall for the First Fridays series.
The pick-up band that will play back-up for guitarist Larry Dewey is a floating group of friends who support each other musically.
“The group is whoever shows up to play,” Dewey says. “Tongue-in-cheek, it’s whoever’s ‘alive and well’ at the time.
“They’re our musical family from Seabold and the Coffee Cantina (in Suquamish).”
Dewey says the ensemble for Friday will include Ken Savage on dobro; Sandy Sandridge on guitar; Rich McAllister on bass; Eddie Williamson on harmonica and one “Seattle guy,” Glenn Ayers on percussion.
With the group as back-up, Dewey will perform folk favorites.
“I’m not a purist, though,” he says, “I interpret.”
Dewey was always drawn to the folk idiom, even when he was a teen playing guitar. He liked songwriters Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton and Bob Dylan.
“I was in the folk scene much more than the rock scene,” he says. “The thing about folk music is that it shares stories, ideals and philosophies in a concise manner.”
As an adult, Dewey relegated his guitar-playing to desultory strumming on his own, “pickin’ and grinnin’ by the fireside.”
His stroll to center stage took a few years.
Around 1990, the Coffee Cantina started a Friday night folk music jam, and Dewey attended.
“First, I just sat in the back and watched,” Dewey says. “Then one night I brought in my guitar. Now they can’t shut me up.”
Dewey says that playing a lead in the mid-1990s Bainbridge Performing Arts production of “The Music Man” also made him less reticent about performing.
“I was Marcellus Washburn, the ‘music man’s’ sidekick,” he says. “That took away any semblance of shyness. I set goals that I would perform in public, that it felt good to do that.”
Next, Dewey and fellow musician Hugh Hosman traveled to Tacoma to a live open mike broadcast on radio.
Dewey ended up hosting the show once a month.
Now, he doesn’t get stage fright.
“I just get nervous energy. A lot of people stand up and close their eyes to sing, but I like making eye contact,” Dewey says. “It’s such a positive thing. You’re pushing yourself to put your little light out there. It’s my passion, it makes me feel whole.
“I’ll never quit. They’ll have to pry my cold, dead fingers from the strings.”
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Folk guitarist Larry Dewey and the Alive and Well Band follow the bluegrass band Rocking Arrow at the First Fridays concert, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at Island Center Hall. Cost: $8 for adults, $5 for kids.
Call the park district at 842-2306 for more information.