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‘If you can help out, I think you should: Allison Crowe & The Huron Carollers
Mike Devlin, The Times Colonist
Saturday, December 4  2004

Nanaimo performer Allison Crowe is a woman for all seasons. But in terms of her performance schedule, Christmas is by far her most wonderful time of the year.

“It tends to be pretty busy,” the 23 year-old singer-songwriter says with a laugh.  “Actually, really busy.”

Sightings of Crowe - a familiar face to islanders since wowing crowds as a teen in the late ‘90s - are increasingly prevalent as Christmas approaches.

For the past few years, she’s performed a handful of December concerts designed to raise both awareness and funds for the needy. This year is no different.

During an interview from her Nanaimo home, Crowe relived the year that was - and the month that will be.

“This year has been particularly good. Last year, I was dealing with record company stuff; it was more that part of it. There wasn’t a lot of playing, there wasn’t a lot of recording or anything. This year it’s been nice to get back into that swing of things.”

At the Royal Theatre on Sunday, Crowe will make her second appearance in three years at the Huron Carole benefit concert, an event designed by musician/actor Tom Jackson to aid national food banks. It’s a role Crowe seems overwhelmingly comfortable in.

Crowe often produces in conjunction with a local charity; she’s written songs about missing women, gathered coats for the under-privileged, and penned pleas for peace. Pitching-in whenever possible is something Crowe feels very strong about.

“It is something I try and do fairly regularly. If you can help out, I think you should. I’ve been given a platform to do things like that, and it feels great. Why not do it?”

Crowe made holiday life even more difficult for herself Nov. 11 when she released a full-length seasonal recording, Tidings. Comprised of mostly seasonal fare, Crowe’s interpretations include faithful treatments of traditional tunes such as What Child Is This and In the Bleak Midwinter and seasonal classics Silent Night, The First Noel, and O Holy Night

There are curveballs, however. “It seemed like it would be fun,” Crowe says of her decision to cover inspirational songs by Leonard Cohen, the Rolling Stones, and the Beatles, among others.

“It was also kind of an interesting project to try and put together a different seasonal CD, once not necessarily with all traditional songs.”

Tidings is Crowe’s second release this year. The first, Secrets, was a more conventional singer-songwriter recording that hit stores in July. Having two records on store shelves is a far cry from last year, when she was recording songs in New York under contract with music impresario Jack Ponti’s Bardic Records. The highly-touted deal, which was to result in a 2003 full-length with distribution by Sony Music, eventually fell apart and Crowe returned to Nanaimo an independent artist once again.

The deal hasn’t hampered Crowe’s outlook on her career. It has only made her want to work harder. “I learned tones. I couldn’t even explain how many things I learned,” she says confidently.

“But, in a sense, that was what advanced everything. It was a progression, and that helped with writing. It was not really starting from scratch, because the whole time I was learning and experiencing different stuff.”

Crowe is already planning a Canadian and U.S. tour early in the new year and hopes to travel to Europe for the first time in late 2005. She’s also toying with the idea of releasing another recording, the rockier Alive and Breathing.

She’s back in full force - and has a Manhattan performance under her belt to prove it. The city that was, at one point, responsible for her broken dreams became the point of her triumphant return in late October. “I was in New York last year for three weeks, but I never got to play live. It was so exciting just to be able to play there, because it’s such a huge thing, I think for every performer.”

Crowe performed to a packed house at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, a cabaret-style venue located in a basement on vaunted 42nd Street, not far from where fellow piano players Billy Joel and Tom Waits got their start.

In typical fashion, Crowe made sure it was a benefit concert.