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Laughin' it up with the eclectic Lavin

Songwriter/singer/guitarist/concert artist/comedienne Christine Lavin really does it all.

The eclectic performer learned to play the guitar from one of the great folksinger/songwriters of the 60s, Dave Van Ronk. She said his music helped inspire her to a music career.

"I met him in 1976 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.," she said while waiting to get her nails done. "He told me I should take guitar lessons and I opened shows for him."

Van Ronk died in 2002 and his final album is about to be released by the Smithsonian.


Lavin performs in concert Sat., March 13 at 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Center, 4th and C Streets, Ashland.

Lavin, has recorded and released 13 solo albums of original material, sings her own and others' songs on three disks of the "Four Bitchin' Babes" (a group she founded, nurtured and performed in during the '90s) and has put together and produced eight compilations showcasing the works of dozens of singer/songwriters.

Lavin said her shows have been evolving over the years and her show in Ashland is definitely a part of that process as she will incorporate a brand new song into her show.

"I have a new record coming out on Mother's Day called, 'Sometimes Mother Really Does Know Best,'" she explained. "It's a song about a modern problem. A mother and daughter fighting over the daughter wanting an eyebrow piercing and a tattoo and the mother objecting. And the mother wanting a face lift and the daughter objecting."

And, Lavin warned potential audience members, be prepared to be a part of the show.

"It is extremely interactive," she said. "I have people come onstage and sing and do a science quiz. And I go into the audience looking for the best looking guy and bring him onstage where we write a song together on the spot."

Lavin has not kept track of how many songs she has written but she is always adding new material to the show. She just added a song to the show that she wrote nine years ago and recently rediscovered.

"I took it out of my show a few years ago," she said. "I can't believe I forgot that I wrote something that was so much fun. It is surprise in the show so I can't even talk about it."

A different backstage

Lavin encourages those with tickets to show to bring their knitting or crocheting to the show to knit with her beginning at 7 p.m.

"I had more than 30 knitters before my show in Boston recently," she said. "I knit when I am on the road and it occurred to me that if there were knitters in the house, they would like to come backstage and knit with me before the show. We get knitters and crocheters, bead workers and cross stitch and weavers. It is real social and fun."

A new song she has written addresses, in her own inimitable way, the concerns of smokers who are being forced out of public places by new no smoking laws.

"The new laws are so strict that people can't smoke in restaurants and buildings," she explained. "I noticed this during as particularly cold day in New York City when it was about three degrees so I wrote a song called, 'The New Street People.'"

The first time Lavin sang the song in Virginia, audience members became angry about the song and told Lavin so after the show.

"People got really mad," she said. "This woman came up to me after the show and said, 'You know tobacco is the state vegetable.' But I kept working on it and a few weeks ago, I did the song in Tampa, Florida. There was a high school teacher there who had a film class that was working on a project for 'Kick Butts Day, which is March 31. I went into the recording studio and really did up the song and they are going to use the song for their music video."

All proceeds from the video and the CD single of the song will go to the American Lung Association. Tickets for Lavin's show are $17 in advance, $20 at the door, and $10 for kids 5-17 and SOU students with ID. They are available at the Music Coop in the A Street Marketplace, by calling 541-535-3562 or on line at www.stclairevents.com.