Gary Allegretto

Gary Allegretto

BandBluesAmericana

Recently under consideration for two Grammy Awards, Gary Allegretto is "One of the classiest acts in the music business today, working only with the best backup musicians and taking the time to craft music noted not only for its quality but for its authenticity..." BLUES REVUE MAGAZINE

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Biography

"Gary Allegretto is one of the classiest acts in the music business today, working only with the best backup musicians and taking the time to craft music noted not only for its quality but for its authenticity, ...Intimately honest, and what's best about his genuineness is its completely offhand quality. If someone complains to you that they don't make "real" blues records anymore - albums that sound like lost classics yet retain the freshness of an individual - play (Gary's new CD) Many Shades of Blue for them."
-Robert Fontenot, Blues Revue, June/July 2008

PRESS UPDATES:

~ Gary has been honored with a prestigious 2011 "Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) Award" by the Blues Foundation!

~ Gary has been honored with the 2010 Artists for a Better World "Spirit of Youth" Award!

~On Sept 10, 2010 Allegretto will be contributing his services to set a GUINESS WORLD RECORD for largest music ensemble ~ by teaching 10,000 to play the Blues on harmonica in Houston's Minute Maid Ballpark during an Astros/Dodgers game!!!

~ Allegretto's song "Four Day's Late" (written for the victims of the Katrina disaster and recorded in New Orleans with Ivan Neville and featuring Janiva Magness) has WON FIRST PLACE in Alternate Root Magazine's "Songs for Social Change" contest beating all other entries by 20%! The contest had over 500 submissions for songs.

(See more rave reviews from prominent press outlets and musicians under "Discography" below)

ALLEGRETTO'S BIO:

A down-to-earth guy with lifelong wanderlust and more than a few stories to tell, Gary Allegretto’s resume reads like a men's adventure wish-list: back-country forest ranger, forest firefighter on a "Hotshot" crew, LA city firefighter, bouncer in a couple rough honky-tonks and a Blues bar, cowboy and ranch hand, beach lifeguard, white-water rafting guide… and traveling Bluesman. He’s also the founding director of Harmonikids, an organization that gives music therapy with harmonicas to special needs kids worldwide. Through it all, Gary can barely remember a time when Blues weren't a powerful part of his life, and playing harmonica wasn't as natural as his own voice. He started playing upon receiving his first harp at age 5 from his woodsman grandfather. Soon after, while attending a cultural festival he carelessly wandered away from his family… and into a Big Walter Horton performance. As the loudspeakers blared something about a lost child, he knew he’d found his calling… and he followed.

Down the road, the self-taught Allegretto has performed on stages worldwide and his music has been featured on film and television. He recently scored music for the Johnny Depp film "Rum Diaries". His songs can be found on the soundtrack of the national PBS television program "Roadtrip Nation". Gary was recently filmed and interviewed for the harmonica documentary film "Pocket Full Of Soul" (see www.pocketfullofsoulmovie.com). He has performed nationally & internationally either acoustically or with his all-star electric back-up band. His captivating performances never fail to catch the intrigue of his audiences, often including and prominent musicians and occasionally celebrities. He has received awards for his harmonica playing and is endorsed by Hohner, the world's top harmonica manufacturer.

Renowned for his songwriting, riveting performances, and versatile technique, Allegretto has earned respect as Bluesman on thousands of stages worldwide. In addition, he has taught harmonica in prestigious workshops including the "Cruisin' For A Bluesin'" Blues Cruise 2010, Augusta Heritage Center's Blues Week, Telluride Blues Camp, Riverfront Blues Festival, California Traditional Music Society's Folk Festival, & John Gindick's Harmonica Jam Camp, the Folk Alliance Conference and Stax Music Academy in Memphis. He is supported as a Blues educator by the Blues Foundation's "Blues in The Schools" program, and was invited to teach students in Memphis area schools as part of the 2008 International Blues Challenge. In addition to his captivating performances, Allegretto offers concert promoters the unique option and opportunity to provide entertaining harmonica workshops at their venues. Gary's workshops include new harmonicas & lessons for folks of all ages and ability levels ~ a rare opportunity to learn from a professional.
(SEE PRESS FOR WORKSHOP INFO)

Of special note, Gary is also renowned for his humanitarian work as the founder and director of Harmonikids which is a 501(c)3 non profit charitable organization that provides music therapy with harmonicas and lessons to special needs children internationally. Allegretto has provided aid to thousands of children from the Tsunami refugee camps of North Sumatra, Indonesia, to the Katrina evacuee trailer villages of Louisiana, to earthquake ravaged Port Au Prince, Haiti and many points in between. Harmonikids has recieved widespread acclaim in the media including The Today Show, Blues Revue, and Living Blues Magaz

Lyrics

Four Days Late

Written By: Gary Allegretto (copyright '08)


Commanders of arrogance, we’ve all seen what you’ve done.
They needed food and water, you sent men with guns.
Four days late, you sent men with guns.
Four days late.

Y’all made them out to be wicked in your blame the victim scheme.
Just tryin’ to feed their babies in a flooded New Orleans.
While you twisted the story to suit your lying machine.
Four date late.

Some said it was cause they’s poor. Some said it was cause they’s black.
I say its just the heart and soul y’all lack.
Nothing in it for you and you just turn your back.
Four days late.

I know these little children will remember everything they saw.
Unfeeling men that turned their backs on them all.
A government that proved they feel no higher call.
Four days late.

When it was all said and done, it’s what you said but did not do.
And the cowardly way y’all pointed away from you.
Then just like the sun, the truth came shining through.
Four days late.

Responsibility to our people means protection of our poor.
You sold them fear and lies that sent their children off to fight your war,
While in their hour of need you couldn’t be accounted for.
Four days late, four days late.

She Speaks to Me

Written By: Allegretto (copyright '08)

Everywhere I go I take my a shiny little friend
You know she’s always there for me
She picks me up when I’m feeling low
And she lets my soul run free

She just speaks to me
Yeah she speaks to me
I feel my soul run free when my baby just speaks to me

When this world leaves me weak and confused
She makes me feel like a powerful man
Lord it makes me happy when I’m singing the Blues
And I got her in the palm of my hand

And then she speaks to me
Yeah she speaks to me
I feel my soul run free when my baby just speaks to me

Anytime I’m feeling down and out
When I’m feeling deep down in a hole
All I got to hear is the tone of her voice
And it resurrects my soul

She just speaks to me
Yeah she speaks to me
I feel my soul run free when my baby just speaks to me

You know I ain’t gotta say a thing
There ain’t nothing that I got to prove
‘Cause I know she can bring the whole house down
And I don’t even have to move

I let her speak for me
Yeah she speaks for me
Most talk is cheap but her voice runs deep when she speaks for me

Sommerset

Written By: Allegretto (copyright '08)

First started to rambling’ when I was just 15 tears old
Packed up my duffle & pointed my thumb on down the road
And it was a decision I’ve never come to regret
That first time I left home and thumbed west to Somerset

Papa said under my roof you gotta do what I say
So I just kissed my mamma and left that same day
And it might have been foolish, but my young heart was set
To strike out on my own and thumb west to Somerset

Wrote my destination on a cardboard sign
Packed up my dreams and left my worries behind
And it was a feeling I guess I’ll never forget
To be free and on my own, thumbing west to Somerset

Didn’t have no money, but I was young and I was free
Found out that the road was gonna be my destiny
And having freedom makes life as good as it can get
That’s what I learned from the road, thumbing west to Somerset

Got a ride with a lady, said her husband wouldn’t approve
Imagine my surprise when she stopped the car & made her move
But she was pretty, prettier’n anyone I’d ever met
And she gave me the ride of my life, just off the road to Somerset

Sky drew dark and a thundercloud rolled
Wind cut my stride and the air got mighty cold
But I kept on walking even though my clothes were soaking wet
Just walking in the pouring rain, thumbing west to Somerset

When I get to thinking now about all them places that I’ve been
It always takes me back to where it all began
But I didn’t know then how far away a man could get
When I started down that road, thumbing west to Somerset

(Alt. second half of verse 2 or 3):
And if he was calling my bluff, he done lost the bet
Cause when he dropped me at the turnpike I started west to Somerset

Never The Same

Written By: Allegretto (copyright '08)


Long ago and far away
As a child I heard my grandpa Fiore play.
‘Said I head my grandpa play.
Long ago and very far away
As a child I heard my grandpa Fiore play.
And I knew my world wasn’t ever gonna be the same.

Later on in my young life
I heard John Jackson play the blues with a pocketknife.
‘Said with a pocket knife
(Repeat lines 1&2)
And I knew my world wasn’t ever gonna be the same.

Far away and long ago
As a child I heard the great Big Walter blow.
‘Said I heard Big Walter blow.
(Repeat lines 1&2)
And I knew my world wasn’t ever gonna be the same.

A young boy sittin’ barefoot in a country meadow
Heard the high lonesome sound of Bill Monroe.
‘Said I heard Bill Monroe.
(Repeat lines 1&2)
And I knew my world wasn’t ever gonna be the same.

These were the blessings of my youth
When I learned that there were many shades of blue.
‘Said many shades of blue
(Repeat lines 1&2)
I knew that I wasn’t ever gonna be the same.

Tattoo of Truth

Written By: Allegretto (copyright '08)


I met a gal some time ago that could not tell the truth.
She thought she could redeem herself with a personal tattoo.
So she sat and thought long and hard ‘til it became quite clear.
Truth would follow her around if she tattooed it on her rear.

She’d tried the self-help books, she tried the yoga retreats.
Had her astrological charts done, gave up eating dairy and meat.
In the school of new-age enlightenment, she was first in her class.
So she was sure her search for truth would end there on her ...

Lord knows she was pretty, like a big-time movie star.
Had a mansion down in Hollywood, dove a fancy foreign car.
But my mamma always told me “son, you cannot purchase class.”
So I knew she would not own the truth, if she engraved it on her ...

When she finally had it done she was as proud as she could be.
She left the tattoo parlor, and came looking straight for me.
And she was cryin’ “Halleluiah, I can see the truth at last!”
But the truth was that she couldn’t, ‘cause it was back there on her ...

She still told lies that were big and fat, and some that were small.
She lied to me about things that mattered, some that didn’t at all.
She lied about the future, and lied lots about her past.
She simply, couldn’t tell the truth, even when it as tattooed on her ass.

The tail end of this relationship left me sad and blue.
But you cannot stay with a woman who finds the truth in a tattoo.
And when she offered me a goodbye kiss I just said “Baby, …aw shucks…
Truth is I prefer you plant those lyin’ lips on the cheek…of my buttocks.”

Hurry Down Rounder

Written By: Allegretto (copyright '08)


Getting late on in the evening, and the moon is smiling down.
That’s when a lonesome cowboy, makes his way to town.

(Chorus): Hurry down now rounder, don’t you take too long.
If you get to town late, pretty ones will be gone.

I can hear that ol’ piano; I can taste the beer;
I can smell their perfume, all the way from here.
[Chorus]

Better get yourself a haircut, better get yourself a shave,
If you wanna get yourself a lady, who likes to misbehave.
[Chorus]

Got a pocket full of money, ‘cause you just got paid.
With all of that money son, you might even get ….
[Chorus]

Get yourself in a card game, if the stakes are right.
Get yourself some whiskey; don’t get yourself in a fight
[Chorus]

Red rooster in a hen house says, “Cockle doodle do.”
Pretty lady in a red house says, “Any dude’ll do.”
[Chorus]

Wish the doggone town wasn’t so doggone far.
Better ride that pony fast as a shooting star.
[Chorus]

Bad Man

Written By: Allegretto (copyright '08)

I’m a bad man, bad like Jesse James
Lord I’m a bad man, bad like Jesse James
I take anything that I wanna
I’m even proud to take the blame

Cornered me in Tehachapi, threw me in their dirty jail
Cornered me in Tehachapi, threw me in their dirty jail
But the sheriff’s wife set me free, and made her husband pay my bail

See me comin’ baby, you know you better run and hide
See me comin’ baby, better get yourself inside
Cause if I get you in my saddle
We’re going for a ride

Best not stand in my way boys; better let me have my fun
Best not stand in my way boys; better let me have my fun
Cause if you cause me any trouble
You’ll be lookin’ down the wrong end of my gun

I’m a bad man, bad like Billy the Kid
I’m a bad man, bad like Billy the Kid
And I don’t need your forgiveness, for anything that I did

Settle Down Blues

Written By: Allegretto (copyright '08)

Ain’t but two things make me nervous
‘Bout the term “settle down”
Well that first word is settle
And that second one is down
Ain’t about to settle
Got too much to lose
Don’t wanna be down with
Those Settle Down Blues

On the day I was born
I knew the world was my pork chop
I just hit the ground a runnin’
And I never aim to stop
Yeah I’m still runnin’
Blame it all on my shoes
Gotta keep ‘em movin
Running from the Settle Down Blues

Well my Grandma once told me
“See the world while you can,
You got plenty of time to be
An old married man.”
I took her wisdom
To be the truth
And it’s kept me far away
From the Settle Down Blues.

Well my friends have all been saying
Find a woman you can trust
Why don’t you finally marry
And be miserable like us
You know the life you live
Ain’t the one I choose
Don’t try to sell me on
Your Settle Down Blues

Well don’t assume I’m lonely
Cause I love my solitude
I can have me some company
Any old time I’m in the mood
Try not to worry bout me
Cause I ain’t gonna worry ‘bout you
When you’re all alone
With your Settle Down Blues

Hey if you don’t like my company
You can count on one hand
The number of minutes
‘Fore I’m taking off again
Don’t wear out welcomes
Don’t get me confused
With the kind of man
Who gets them Settle Down Blues

You want me to have a 9 to 5
A mortgage and a wife
But who the hell are you to hand me
The directions to my life
That tie your wearing
To me would just be a noose
Death sentence by hangin’
From them Settle Down Blues

If money’s all your living for
Be careful my friend
If you sell your soul for a dollar
You won’t get it back again
You might get wealthy
But brother you’ll pay your dues
Trading your freedom in
For them Settle Down Blues

When I’m out on the road
I’m as happy as a clam
You ain’t never gonna hear me
‘pologize for who I am
Call me a dreamer
Call me any damn thing you choose
Call me when your feelin’ low
With them Settle Down Blues

There’s a high price for freedom
But I’m proud to pay the cost
Not everyone that wanders
Wanders ‘cause they’re lost
I’ll go my own way,
Down any old road I choose
I’m traveling far away
From those Settle Down Blues

Risk of Love

Written By: Allegretto (copyright '08)

Baby it’s a joy to have you back in my life
But in my heart you know you never left.
Believe me when I say
That I’ve loved you since the day
That our eyes met.

(Chorus):
I give you my heart, please take it.
Let’s share our love, and not forsake it
If we follow the truth we’ll make it
Through the risk of love.

I thought I’d never fall in love again.
I swore my poor heart was through.
But in the dark of the night
I found a powerful light
While I was chasing the moon with you.
(Chorus)

Love songs have caught my ear again.
I’m having dreams of desire and romance.
My heart is reeling
With that vulnerable feeling
Like when you ask your first love to the dance.
(Chorus)

We’ve been friends such a long time.
It’s a privilege to see how you’ve grown.
Let’s walk hand in hand
From where the waves hit the sand
To destinations unknown.
(Chorus)

Many years I’ve run through the gauntlet
To prove my love is true.
I still fear no opponent
But my heart aches every moment
That I have to fight you for you.
(Chorus)

So drop in baby, ride this wave with me
And don’t be afraid to fall.
‘Cause life is too short
To live in caution
And too long to not live at all.
(Chorus)

Saddle My Pony

Written By: Allegretto (copyright '08)

I was born to ramble, I was born to roam
Never had a place to call my own

(CHORUS) Saddle up and go, yeah go
Saddle my pony I believe I’m gonna hit the road

This big city’s been closin’ in
Baby just look at the shape I’m in

(CHORUS)

Pack my duffle in the middle of the night
When things get heavy I’m travelin’ light

(CHORUS)

See me coming baby better run and hide
If I get you in my saddle we’re going for a ride

(CHORUS)

Baby I’ll drink from your loving cup
But when you tell me settle down, I wanna saddle up

(CHORUS)

Out with a woman, having some fun
In walked a man with a great big gun

(CHORUS)

Got a gal in Memphis, one in Kalamazoo
One in Dodge City, one in East Saint Lou
Winslow, Barstow, Buffalo, Kokomo
Catalina, Pasadena, see what I mean
I gottta saddle my pony
Man, I gotta hit the road

Discography

TESTIMONIALS AND PRESS REVIEWS ~

Gary has released 3 critically acclaimed CD's. His most recent "Many Shades of Blue" debuted at the top of the Living Blues Radio Charts, also charting on the Roots Music Charts. Further, Allegretto recently enjoyed the honor of consideration for two Grammy Awards: Best Contemporary Blues Album and Best Traditional Folk Album. Here's some of what folks have said:

"That boy can really blow that harp!"
~ The Legendary Pinetop Perkins

"... I listened to (Many Shades of Blue) often for musical and spiritual pleasure. Gary's Blues tells stories of soul, wit, and humanity and I got to know him real well because he gives everything he is to his music. This is honest music crafted from inspiration, talent, and skills, delivered at a high level of accomplishment. I'm really impressed with the maturity, facility, and depth in Gary's harp playing. He could sure teach a lot of harp players about tone, phrasing, and getting the most expression out of a very expressive instrument. His songwriting, singing and arranging are very accomplished too. No wonder (Many Shades of Blue) is being well received... Gary's music made me feel good, and that's a very attractive quality."
~"Steady Rollin'" Bob Margolin, Renowned Bluesman, Muddy Waters Band Guitarist, and Blues Columnist

This superb album by the American singer and harmonica player is under consideration for a Grammy Award as Best Contemporary Blues Album. It is mostly self penned and several name players appear including Ivan Neville. The sound quality is brilliant, so warm it feels as if you’re in the room with the band playing. You can truly appreciate the amazing empathy of the musicians who have obviously played together many times. This highlights a very special musical gift.

Allegretto has a rare and distinctive quality as a bandleader. The same gift that Miles Davis was noted for; that of being able to conduct, lead, draw together a band with just a slight gesture musical or physical, it seems almost telepathic as, after a chorus or two of ensemble playing, the harmonica just draws all of the musicians back to the main theme. The solos are economical, and the instrumental interplay is faultless. The harmonica playing is exemplary. Every track is good... a brilliant piece of work. Allegretto captures the feel and sound of John Lee Hooker’s early Chess tracks and marries it to a new song. Most styles of city and country blues are explored and the album gets better with every listen.
~Vicky Martin, Blues Matters Magazine

"Full bodied with a sweet aftertaste... Some of these songs sound like instant classics and should be covered just as often as Muddy Waters. This album is a standout in the releases in the Blues markets." (BluesWax rating: 9 out of 10)
~ Kyle M. Palarino, BluesWax

" A warm, diverse outing... impressive... Allegretto is not only a fine harp player but an all around good guy too... Many Shades of Blue is just what the label says, many shades and all done well."
~Living Blues Magazine

"... Allegretto is one of the best harp players you'll hear. In an instant he can switch gears from smooth to sassy. The reeds jump at his command! Don't miss a rare opportunity to see and hear this fine blues veteran."
~ Rich Del Grosso, Blues Revue Magazine

"Allegretto's heady brew ranges from Piedmont style acoustic Blues to hard rockin' electric numbers. He has put together a stunning package that marks him as a compelling songwriter, a masterful harpist, and a strong singer. While his more famous friends make significant contributions to this project, it is Allegretto's vision that burns the brightest. It's hard to believe that he has not garnered more attention up to this point. This recording, which has received Grammy consideration, should finally get him the recognition he deserves. This one is highly recommended!!!"
~Mark Thompson, President of Crossroads Blues Society

"Gary Allegretto is a blues singer, songwriter, and harp virtuoso who does a good job covering many roots styles on his latest CD release Many Shades Of Blue. He includes tastes of swampy, greasy, and rocking flavors in both acoustic and electric formats and has the chops and the all-star backing band to make it all happen.

Special guests on the album include heavyweight champs like Ivan Neville, Janiva Magness, Doug Macleod, Rich Delgrosso and John Cephas and their appearances contribute to both Allegretto’s music and his credibility in the blues scene. He has also lived quite a life and has many experiences from which to draw music from... these experiences populate Allegretto’s original songs and elevate him over the many acts out there that continually re-work standards.

Allegretto’s songs are authentic and individual at the same time, and... he's certainly a hot hand on the harmonica. It is a tough juggling act to remain true to one’s inspirations while finding a unique musical voice, especially in roots sty

Set List

Set lists and songs depend on the venue. Allegretto and his versatile backing musicians are sensitive to the ambience needs of the venues they play. Venues range from festivals, bars, restaurants, conferences, fund raisers, to private parties. Their clientele have diverse needs which they can accommodate. Thus, repertoires may range from soft jazz-oriented dinner sets, to down-home acoustic country or folk blues, to raucous and rocking Blues and R&B dance sets, or some combination of these. Songs are often original with tasteful versions of songs from Blues forefathers. Sets are lively, refreshingly executed, captivating, never "typical".