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Just Call Her

This article by Elaine Strauss was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

March 3, 1999. All rights reserved.

Whenever the funny and original Christine Lavin comes

to town, she sells out shows up and down the Route 1 corridor. "Hilarious"

is a word that seems to attach itself to this folk diva, but it really

doesn’t say enough, dangling there uselessly on its own. Lavin’s performances

have been described as "a one-woman musical revue of life, love,

laughter, astronomy, book giveaways, and baton twirling." Her

song "Planet X" has been identified by Internet World magazine

as the world’s first song containing a URL.

After 13 years of recording for the Rounder and Shanachie labels,

Lavin launched her own label in 1998, calling it

records. She now markets her new recordings only at her concerts and

through her website at

"I am convinced that the Internet will become more and more important

in the sale of music," she says, "particularly this brand

of sophisticated contemporary urban folk, so I am bypassing the record

stores." (Yet she is still printing a bar code on her CDs in case

she is wrong.)

This Saturday, March 6, Lavin appears at Saje Productions’ Concert

at the Crossing to perform music from her latest CD, "One Wild

Night In Concert," as well as her standards and probably her most

requested song, the bittersweet, "The Kind of Love You Never Recover

From." Here are some excerpts from a November 22, 1995, U.S. 1

interview by Elaine Strauss:

Maybe it’s embedded in the middle regions of a family of eight

children that gives folk singer and songwriter Christine Lavin her

verve. Maybe it’s a sunny personality that would have emerged even

if she were an only child. At any rate, her refreshing observations

on life, and her ability to see most anything with a new slant are

irrepressible and not to be resisted.

Lavin exudes a sturdy self-image. She’s modest without being self-effacing.

If she does something well, she frankly owns up to it. "I’m able

to put our lives into music," she admits. "Many people turn

up who think I’m eavesdropping on them." But Lavin doesn’t have

to eavesdrop. She’s onto the human condition and capable of turning

any mortal event into a song.

"I wrote a theme song for the Republican party," Lavin says,

"but they rejected it. It was inspired by the Pat Buchanan speech

where he said, `We are the true Americans. We are in the right.’ Part

of the reason I did it was that I always noticed that folk singers

side with liberals and Democrats. I thought it would be a good idea

for a folk singer to be associated with the Republicans."

Lavin grew up at the military school in Peekskill, New York, where

her father taught. She was the fourth of eight children. The family

was not particularly musical. Christine’s early piano lessons were

a fearful experience. Her teacher would rap her knuckles when she

made a mistake.

At 12 Christine learned to play guitar by watching Laura Weber’s instructional

show on public television. "My little brother would hold the rabbit

ear antenna near the window," she says "so I could receive

the guitar lessons. I couldn’t play guitar and hold the antenna at

the same time. I’m sure I had to give him money. It was probably a


Lavin’s career has been slow to develop. For six years beginning in

1976 she worked at temporary jobs in New York City, while pursuing

her folk singing interests. The she went to work full-time as an administrative

assistant at Bellevue Hospital. Her dissatisfaction with this situation

led Lavin to quit her day job and plunge into music completely in

1984. "The thing that pushed me was the idea that if that was

what my life was going to be, I’d rather take the risk of being musician,"

she says.

In 1989 Lavin made a splash with "On a Winter’s Night," a

90-minute tape production of 21 singer/songwriters. She funded the

whole project herself. In two subsequent years Lavin’s autumn workshops

on Martha’s Vineyard resulted in the recordings "Big Times in

a Small Town" and "Follow that Road." Lavin had established

herself as a performer and producer. In March, 1995, she made her

debut with the Shanachie label with "Please Don’t Make Me Too

Happy." On this album Lavin, at 43, has the light voice of a 16-year-old

and the clear-eyed wonder of an even younger person.

— Elaine Strauss

Christine Lavin, Saje Productions, Unitarian Church

at Washington Crossing, 215-862-1917. Guitarist Tom Prasada-Rao opens.

Bring canned food donation for the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. $17.

Saturday, March 6, 8 p.m.

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