Guitarist finds a home, or two, in Vermont
BRATTLEBORO -- Larry Brown, a guitar player and music teacher for about 30 years, moved from Chicago to Vermont about a year and a half ago.
Brown saw that members of the Brattleboro Open Music Collective were mostly accomplished jazz musicians and thought his experience at Berklee College could be helpful for joining its ranks.
"I didn't really think they were interested," said Brown. "I took a shot and contacted them. I just gave them a little background."
He has taught composition, music theory, improvisation and more. Recently, Brown has moved toward finger-style picking on acoustic guitar as well as playing in different tunings.
The Open Music Collective is a group of musicians who share a space to rehearse, teach instruments to students and hold concerts at the Cotton Mill Studio in Brattleboro.
Open Music Collective Artistic Director Jamie McDonald told Brown to come by the studio. He was told that the Music Collective was looking to branch out and expand, so his new techniques could be put to use. In early June, Brown was asked to join.
Members of the Open Music Collective use the space provided in the Cotton Mill building to hold their lessons. Then, they contribute $5 to the group for each hourly lesson, which then mostly goes toward promoting the Open Music Collective.
"The teachers recruit their students and have space to go and teach," said Brown. "As a collective, we're all contributing to the overall benefit of everyone else. It works out pretty good."
McDonald has also allowed Brown access to the administrative panel on the group's Facebook, so that he could post articles about music theory as well as information about his lessons and rates.
Brown is actively seeking more students. He's averaging about 40 students a week right now. When he was living in Alabama, he had up to 73 students a week. But that was before the recession hit.
Following a decline in the amount of lessons he was giving, Brown went back to Chicago, where he grew up.
He moved to Brattleboro shortly after recording an album in Dummerston with Will Ackerman, Grammy Award-winning guitarist and producer. Ackerman's studio is named Imaginary Road Studios.
"I fell in love with Vermont," said Brown. "It's my home now."
Once he joined the collective, he hit the road, going as far as White River Junction and Montpelier to showcase his skills at different open mic events. Brown also attends open mike nights in Brattleboro, such as the Metropolis Wine Bar, where he was the featured artist early in June.
McDonald encouraged him to use those events as ways to let people know he would be teaching at the collective.
Brown has started working on a whole new batch of songs that could fill an album, he said. Although his fellow collective members are in summer camp until July 8, Brown plans to utilize a few of their musicians after it is over, when he plays a few of the new songs live.
He plans to use the performances not only to promote his own music but also the collective. McDonald will be playing upright bass. There will be a fiddle player and possibly a percussionist.
"It says, ‘Guess what? This is happening in Brattleboro,'" said Brown. "I think the important thing is getting out and getting heard. If I'm writing this music and arranging it, it'd be a good idea to go out and play this music. Then people can say, ‘Where can I learn how to do that?'"
For more information, go to the Open Music Collective Facebook page or call 802-275-5054.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.
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