Lui Collins returns to the stage
Folk singer put performing on hold while caring for parents
Folk singer Lui Collins, an Ashfield resident who has been performing, writing and recording for over 40 years, will headline a concert at All Souls Church in Greenfield on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 7:30.
She will be accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Anand Nayak (Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem.) Nayak and his wife, Polly Fiveash, will open the show with a set of their original material.
Collins’ music ranges from original and traditional folk, to bossa nova songs sung in the original Brazilian Portuguese. She has released 16 recordings of her own and has sung and played guitar and banjo on the projects of many other artists. She has shared the stage with a host of well-known musicians, including Bonnie Raitt, Dave Van Ronk, John Gorka and Anais Mitchell.
A native Vermonter, Collins moved to the Pioneer Valley in 1997 and became a strong presence on the local music scene. Throughout the late 1990s, she performed with singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Dana Robinson and they released two recordings, “Paired Down” in 1998 and “Paired Down Vol. 2” in 1999.
After that period, Collins focused on her solo work and frequently performed at area concerts, festivals and in schools.
In the early part of this decade, Collins took her love of music in a new direction and started teaching music to families and their children. Under the umbrella of Upside-Up Music, she has created two different programs that are directed at children. Hilltown Music Together is geared toward parents and their children who are 5 and under. Then there is the Kids Jam Family Music Workshop, which is a more formalized training program for older children. She has also designed a curriculum that can be used for home-schooling.
As much as she loves performing, once Collins became involved in teaching, she cut back on her concert schedule. During the past three years, she has done very few shows as she devoted her time to caring for her aging parents who lived in Vermont. Her mother passed away in December and at the time of our conversation, she was mourning the loss of her father, who had died two weeks ago.
“The past few years, everything has been on the back burner and I dropped a lot of my concerts at this time because I was spending weekends in Vermont,” said Collins in a recent phone conversation. “I know that I’m now in a period where I am doing a lot of grieving, but I’m looking at a new part of my life where I am going to be free to do more concerts and I am excited about that.”
Collins said she is looking forward to the show at All Souls Church. She has chosen to perform in the downstairs room of the church as opposed to the sanctuary where musical performances are usually held.
“I played that room before and I remember that it was cozy and I like cozy spaces,” she said.
She is also excited to perform with Nayak, whom she met years ago when she played a house concert when Nayak and his wife were also performing. She was so impressed with Nayak’s musical talent that she enlisted him to produce her last studio album, 2006’s “Closer.” Since then, they have worked together on recordings for the Kids Jam project but haven’t done much in the way of concerts.
“I just love working with him and we’ve started rehearsing for this show and it’s a joy,” Collins said.
Collins did add that she and Nayak have done eight CDs for the Kids Jam Family Workshop project.
“I loved working with him on ‘Closer,’ so after I recorded the first years worth of CDs for Kids Jam, I brought Anand on board,” she explained. “I do all the research and writing and choosing of songs for each collection and then we would meet and go into the studio and record the songs. “
In addition, to teaching, one of her other passions is bossa nova guitar, which she began studying and writing songs for in recent years.
“I love singing those songs and the first thing I did when I started rehearsals with Anand was to play some of these and I knew he would get them and be really wonderful and he did not let me down.”
Once she has enough of this material together, Collins plans to do an album, but that is sometime in the future.
“Right now, this is just a time for reassessing what direction I am going in, but I do think the Brazilian stuff will be one of those directions,” she said. “And I’m excited about this show and playing with Anand and having Anand and Polly open because I love their music. I really hope people will come out.”
The All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church is located at 399 Main St., at the corner of Main Hope streets. Tickets will be sold at the door (cash or check only) on a sliding scale of $7 to $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. Doors open at 7 p.m. Please use the Hope Street entrance to enter the building. For reservations or more information, contact Russ Pirkot at 413-768-0705 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at email@example.com.