Posted: May 25, 2012 at 9:22 AM [May 25, 2012]
Mid Michigan resident Letha Allen has been a writer of songs since the day her mother lovingly put her 1956 Gibson LG1 in her hands and showed her how to hold a chord. She has written about many subjects in her songs, from heartache to happiness, and every shade in between. She is passionate about songwriting, but she has always had the desire to write other than music. She finally decided to try her hand at writing a fictional book, and turn another new page in her life.
Letha started writing “Down in Kentucky” a few years ago, and although she had finished the book, she never made it available, until now. “Down in Kentucky” is the fictional tale of a teenaged girl who lives in the backwoods of Kentucky with a less than desirable father who is raising her alone. The book leads you on an unforgettable journey, filled with the excitement of hounds on the hunt, robbery, murder and music. Of course it would include music, which is still her first love.While writing the book it inspired her to write a complete soundtrack entitled the same.
The southern setting of the book and Letha’s heritage made it only natural that the soundtrack to the book be Americana music. Many of the songs on the “Down In Kentucky” CD were performed on “Cigar Box” guitars. Letha got interested in this type of instrument some years back, when a friend of hers introduced her to Richard Johnson on You Tube, and decided to try building a Cigar Box Guitar for her. It was exciting to learn about the history of the home made guitars, and they seemed to fit perfectly with the genre of music she envisioned for the soundtrack for the book.
The origins of the instrument go back to when cigars first began coming in the small boxes we know today. The cigar-box guitar became increasingly popular in the 1920s, and musicians as famous as Carl Perkin, Jimi Hendrix, and even Kid Rock have shown off their Cigar Box guitar skills. In a world of mass-produced and imported instruments, the Cigar Box guitar is as authentic as it gets.
Each Cigar Box instrument is unique, with some of them being not much more than "a stick in a box with strings on it." Letha says that as soon as she strums one, she can feel the soul of blues and bluegrass performers from the past. The songs that they inspire her to write reflect a simpler time when building your own instrument was the only way for some folks to express the stories of their hearts and lives through music. Both the book and the CD, “Down in Kentucky”, highlight her Appalachian heritage.
Letha will debut her book “Down in Kentucky” and be performing Saturday, June 2nd at the White Steeple Stage in Pinckney MI, along with a number of other musical acts. The show will be 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. She will be doing a few of her songs on Cigar box guitar, as a preview to her “Down in Kentucky” CD. All of the songs on the CD were written by Letha, except for the old gospel standard “I’ll
Fly Away” and “Banks of the River”, which was written by her mom, Marge Allen. Letha says this song will always hold a special place in her heart, so she continues to perform it in honor of her mother, who was the inspiration for much of the music that Letha still writes and performs today.
We hope that you will come join her for a truly unique musical night and book debut. She will have some available for purchase at the show while supplies last, along with her Bluegrass originals recorded by the Ann Arbor based trio, Letha Allen & the Benders. Copies can also be purchased on line at:
https://www.createspace.com/3538994 Down in Kentucky book
https://www.createspace.com/1842574 Down in Kentucky CD
https://tsw.createspace.com/title/2045983 Cowboys & Trains
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZblcUNqpGQ Video of “Down in Kentucky”
She is also working on setting it up so that she can offer the book downloaded to a Kindle in the future. Letha wishes to thank everyone for all the support she has received over the years. Special thanks to Stockbridge resident Dave Howard for his excellent mandolin work on the “Down In Kentucky” soundtrack CD.