Bill Lauf will appear at Heart and Soul's 'Upstairs' Singer-songwriter Bill Lauf will be appearing for his second time in southeast South Dakota at Heart and Soul's "Upstairs", downtown Vermillion, this Friday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m.
"Upstairs" is located on the second floor of the Heart and Soul Fitness Center, 15 Court Street.
The Connecticut native has previously appeared at Gayville Hall. Lauf is an innovative player on the tenor (four-string) guitar, having performed in a variety of bands, duos and as a soloist for over 35 years.
Lauf grew up with both sacred and pop music, jointly singing in the church choir and covering Everly Brother's tunes at age 12. His father taught him some basic chords on the tenor guitar at age 10 and he learned the rest by trial and error. The tenor guitar, Lauf's primary instrument, has a deep, mellow sound that lends itself to unique melodic structures.
After playing in bands throughout his teens and early 20s, he migrated to the folk music scene and began to write his own songs. He continued to perform in coffeehouses throughout the northeast and eastern Canada. During several of these trips, he met a handful of writers who had a profound effect on him, notably Bruce Cockburn and Paul Lauzon of Canada and Susan Osborn (a familiar name to many in southeastern South Dakota) and David Darling (formerly with the Paul Winter Consort), folk legend Dave Mallett of Maine, Vermont native Lui Collins, and especially, Horace Williams.
After co-producing and playing on Collins' first LP Made in New England, Williams and Lauf teamed up to create the Follow the Fire autumn minstrel walks, three successive musical walking tours of New England and Quebec. The first, in 1980, was spawned by Lauf's single Vermont is Afire in the Autumn. The two troubadours walked the length of Vermont Route 100 from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts border in 14 days, performing at grange halls, churches and schools at each town they visited.
The duo released their only LP in 1981, The Weight of the Rose and walked from Sherbrooke, Quebec, to New Haven, CT, following the Connecticut River valley. The trip took 23 days and covered some 390 miles.
Their final walk in 1982 was the longest � Montreal to Manhattan. The two performers played day shows as well as the traditional evening concerts, completing 86 shows in 26 days over a span of 430 miles.
Lauf released his first solo album in 1983, Songs From the Heart, and continued to play both as a soloist and with Williams. He also appeared on Osborn's Living Music release, Susan, and performed with her in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Boulder, CO, and Orcas Island, WA. His appearances then took a back seat to raising a family, though he occasionally played in local venues throughout the late '80s and mid '90s.
When Osborn decided to make another CD of her own songs in 2000 (after years of recording known songs for her growing Japanese audience), she asked Lauf to join her and Reunion was the result. Lauf helped to arrange some of the tunes and accompanied her with tenor guitar and voice (along with Ralf Ilenberger and Jim Bredouw).
Lauf's most recent CD, Gray Diner at 5 am, was released in September of 2001. The CD features mostly new material from his songwriting efforts over the past years. Osborn says of Gray Diner, "Bill Lauf is one of my all time favorite musicians. His playing is a miracle of complex rhythm and harmony on four strings and his songs are rich tapestries of life. And to top it off, Bill is one of the funniest people I know. You are in for a wonderful evening."