About tonight's guest, Colin Allured: I was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana October 15th, 1980. My father (Ross Allured) was, and is, a hard-working musician and his father (Don Allured) was, too, before he passed. My mother Charlotte is a sweet bodhisattva angel from compassion's heaven and I strive to be more like her every day.
My first words to say as a baby were ""Touchdown!"" and ""Tiger"". There were times that my dream was to be the quarterback for the LSU Tigers but mostly I knew I wanted to be a musician and singer. I love throwing and catching the football but I dislike being tackled. When I was nine I begged my Dad to teach me the guitar and he finally relented. He taught me a Bach Prelude by shapes, the blues scale, and all my chords. That fall he sent me to Eric Sylvester at Lake Charles Music to learn how to read. Eric was a versatile teacher and guitarist. He taught me a lot of the basics of classical guitar, blues, rock, and jazz. I wrote songs since before I could play guitar, but now that I could read and write music, and fancied myself a composer, I wrote out little guitar and choral pieces.
Several years later I continued studying classical guitar with Richard Greene at Loyola University in New Orleans. Every three weeks we would make the three and a 1/2 hour drive east on I-10 to the St. Charles part of New Orleans across from the Audubon Park so I could have a few hours of lessons with Dr. Greene. I loved walking around the park with my mother during the break between my lessons. There were people doing Tai Chi under the trees, geese, and ducks begging and quacking near the pond, fresh grass, and flowing conversations with my mother as I tried to figure out life.
My dad would go down to the French Quarter to the Tower Records and buy dozens of CDs to replace his classical collection of records which had been burned in a fire caused by lightning while my family was at church. Occasionally after my lessons were through, my dad would pick us up, and we'd go back to the French Quarter to walk around. I loved all the street musicians, painters in Jackson's Square, second line bands of brass and drums celebrating weddings and funerals spilling out of St. Lewis Cathedral, and the Zydeco good-times-music bellowing out of bars even if only two people were dancing. Louisiana, though I took it for granted at the time, shaped the first 16 years of my life in ways which I can appreciate now more than ever.
My muse took me to Winston Salem, North Carolina following the dream of being one of the world's greatest classical guitarists. I had been winning some guitar competitions against some much older competitors and was on a roll. The North Carolina School of the Arts guitar program saw promise in me and with the generosity of the late-great Aaron Shearer, I was able to leave home a year early and move to NC to study guitar for my senior year of high school. There was a honeymoon period of intense practice, dedication, and spiritual growth. I stayed at NCSA for college. In this school, an amalgamation of dancers, musicians, visual artists, actors and film-makers, I met many of my closest friends, and we still share that closeness today. That's why I still live in Winston Salem. It's a land of cheap rent, and a great scene of artists cultivating their art and inspiring each other through deep friendship, deep enough to make a grown man cry! It's what I call Soul Family. Besides, North Carolina is a good state! The mountains and the ocean. Mild climate with the most gorgeous springs and falls.
I graduated NCSA, which is now called UNCSA in 2001 with a degree in classical guitar performance. Halfway through my time in school, there was a growing suspicion in my soul that I wasn't just a classical guitarist. There was such a great big world of music out there. There is so much that I have left out about my musical life, namely "The Bands"! But, I'm saving that for the sections under their names. Being creative, writing music, especially writing songs, has always been something I've felt compelled to do. Classical Guitar would be a foundation for my technique and an inspiration towards discipline and the intellect with music, but there was something else out there that called me. Something raw and primordial, some essence that could not be limited to playing previously written music, no matter how great.
Getting out of college with a degree in classical guitar posed some definite economic challenges. For almost two years I was an on-call substitute teacher for the Forsyth County Public Schools (hell on earth). In one destitute summer, I was mercifully employed by a couple from the church choir I sang in to help on their farm. I painted miles of fence green. Fed the chickens, got attacked by the rooster, sunburned, wasp stung, pulled weeds in the corn rows in the noonday summer sun, face a faucet of sweat, cleared thick brush away from sheds. Then, after the outside work was complete I worked as an indoor maid. Cleaning the house, folding and ironing laundry, thankful to have a job.
Then some friends got me on the teaching roster at Jackson's Music and in came a flood of guitar students. I was so happy to book 7-hour blocks of students 6 days a week. My enthusiasm wore down gradually as I felt like I was in a music lesson factory, and going through the motions. The students that have a relationship with their instrument and receive what you have to share, well, I could teach them for free anytime. But, when you teach guitar that much there are a lot of students that simply show up for their lesson and you have to figure out what to say. That's when I'd rather be working on music of my own, or doing something else, like taking a walk. Still, I was glad to be making a living with my guitar on my back.
One of the most meaningful "jobs" that has come along has been Arts for Life. My friend Polina had been teaching guitar for this tiny non-profit grant funded organization that brought music to kids with cancer going through chemotherapy at the hospital but she was leaving town. She suggested me as her replacement and I've been there ever since. The music program has expanded from 2 hours to 11 hours a week in the 6 years I've been going up there. Seeing the powerful healing qualities of music with those kids and families has been one of the biggest inspirations for me. I go up there and teach guitar, jam and hang out with the kids and their parents every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and we just hired a new musician to come up for Mondays and Fridays. I also still teach at Jackson's Music and have a home teaching studio. The rest of my time is devoted to my bands and the ongoing study of music, especially Indian and African music. I am always learning and writing songs, too.
I want to express myself, but I don't want to get caught up in my own neurosis. I create my music in service of my family, my planetary brothers and sisters and myself. I want to make it better with music.