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Thursday, June 21, 2007

There will be no diva-style jockeying for position, no headliner-vs.- opening act animosity at Wednesday's three-act celebration of new CD releases at Jammin' Java. These three performers say that they're close, and there is reason to believe them.

Drew Gibson now lives in Falls Church and Paul Curreri in Charlottesville, but the two were buddies in Richmond from ages 13 to 18, playing in bands together, writing songs and encouraging each other. And as for the third member of the trio, the fact that Curreri entitled his 2003 album "Songs for Devon Sproule" should give you an idea how much he cares for her. The pair married within two years of its release.

Now three good friends, all fine guitarists and talented singer-songwriters, will celebrate the release of three individual CDs. In keeping with the non-competitive spirit, we'll proceed alphabetically.

Curreri's new album, "The Velvet Rut" (City Salvage Records), is his fifth, and besides producing, he played every note of every instrument on it. An internationally respected finger-style guitarist, Curreri's college years were spent at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied film and painting but graduated with more than 200 songs he was willing to play night after night on the road. Committing to the musician's life, his debut CD, "Long Gones to Hawkmoth" was released on City Salvage in 2002 and he's been collecting critical praise ever since for his bluesy Americana tunes and wild-eyed tales.

It's taken Gibson a bit longer, but his debut CD, "Letterbox," (Cragmont Records) makes a fine calling card for the folk-blues musician as he begins playing out from his current local fan base at venues such as Galaxy Hut and Austin Grill. Citing early Springsteen and Paul Simon as inspiration, Gibson reflects the equal pull of blues masters like Son House and Mississippi John Hurt. And Curreri's still in the picture, having contributed some backup vocals and second guitar to "Letterbox."

As for Sproule, "Keep Your Silver Shined" is her second release, following 2003's "Upstate Songs" (both on City Salvage), which a Rolling Stone magazine critic placed among the top discs of the year. Produced in the heart of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, Sproule's latest is a lovely combination of Appalachian, jazz and folk elements, marked by vocals that invite comparison to Rickie Lee Jones and a songwriting style that echoes Lucinda Williams. Curreri appears on his wife's disc, too, on a duet he wrote called "Eloise & Alex."

Each musician is scheduled to play a 45-minute solo set, followed by a few songs together.

-- MARIANNE MEYER

Jammin' Java is at 227 Maple Ave. East, Vienna. This all-ages venue offers general admission seating and sandwiches, chili, gourmet coffee and a full bar. Tickets are $10 and can be reserved by calling 703-255-1566 or by visitinghttp://www.jamminjava.com.

Your Live! suggestions are welcome, so send 'em tomariannemeyer@comcast.net. Please write for correct mailing address before sending any other materials.


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