Communicating with the audience

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BELLOWS FALLS — Gurf Morlix has quite the resume, having produced and/or played guitar with the likes of Lucinda Williams Butch Hancock, Ray Wiley Hubbard, Slaid Cleaves, Robert Earl Keen, and southern Vermont favorite Mary Gauthier as well as two icons that are no longer with us: Blaze Foley and Warren Zevon.

The native of Lackawanna, New York also has 10 solo records to his credit, the latest being "Impossible Blue" which dropped back in February.

Having carved out a huge niche supporting with some of roots music's finest songwriters, it is not surprising that Morlix would eventually try his hand at composing his own tunes. What is surprising is that Morlix began writing songs when he was 16 - long before his guitar-slinging, studio-nob-turning successes with the aforementioned.

So, how did working alongside some of the best songwriters rub-off on Morlix?

"I had the great opportunity to talk with some of the people I consider some of the best songwriters on the planet. The main lesson I learned took me years to understand. To not give up on a song until it is as great as you can make it. Very important."

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"If the germ of the idea is good, spend as long as it takes to get it as perfect as you can make it. I now have songs that have taken me 10 years, or more, to finish. When you finally get every word in place, it's worth all the work you put in. And hopefully, it's a little piece of art."

One little 4-minute, 45-second piece of art entitled "Backbeat of the Dispossessed" closes "Impossible Blue," an intensely moving track about the suicide of a long-time friend. It took Morlix over five years to get the words and textures just right.

That attention to detail and depth of emotion is laced throughout "Impossible Blue," which many, including Morlix, see as his finest work to date. "I want the songs to stand on their own power. When I finish a song I want to be able to play it anywhere, in front of any audience, and be able to hold my head up high at the end. And I want every album I make to sound better than the one before it. I think that's workin' for me.

Morlix will be sharing those songs tonight at Popolo's in Bellows Falls. I asked him what he hopes will happen between him and his audience. "A show in an intimate venue by a solo performer is about communication with the audience. I play my songs, and I tell some stories, but, there needs to be a personal connection between audience and performer. We are a community. I also really like being able to talk to everyone who wants to talk after the show. I sell some albums and find out what my audiences are feeling. I get a lot from that interaction."

His wishes and wants for the future are pure and simple, but expect Morlix to continue his meticulous ways. "All I'm really interested in is writing songs, recording them, and then playing them for people. That's all I want to do these days. More songs. More stories. More communication with the audience."

Gurf Morlix will perform Thursday, May 16, at 8 p.m. at Popolo Restaurant, 36 The Square, Bellows Falls Reservations: 802-460-7676


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