CULTURE- FRIDAYS UPDATE- Ready to rumble: Allard promises to cut loose

Terri Allard has been one of Charlottesville's most popular songwriters for 20-some odd years, and by now she has almost certainly earned the right to pull a disappearing trick if that's what the times should call for.

Allard has been laying pretty low since an April 2006 live release from a Paramount Theater performance (which, paradoxically, was launched with a CD release party at Gravity Lounge). She says she hasn't even really been working on songs for the next one.

"I crank them out every two to four years, maybe even five," she says. "I'm not John McCutcheon– I think he puts out two a year."

Instead, she's been filling her days with other projects, including an upcoming television program and a songwriting instructional course for elementary school children.

"Elementary school kids make the best songwriting partners," she says, "because they don't edit.

"I've been a busy girl, wearing some new hats," she continues. "I've just been so busy learning new tricks and polishing my old tricks."

One old trick which should seem familiar is padding out the ranks of her band. It's not quite as bad as the tremendous swelling caused by the featured guests at the now-immortal Paramount show, but Allard's band still is still up to a five-piece these days. Her father, photographer Bill Allard, is also a fan favorite as a guest vocalist– "I think if I didn't bring him, I'd get in trouble," she says.

"That's it," she says, "unless we pick up someone from off the street. And you never know– there are so many musicians in this town that we could do it."

It'll be a change of pace from the spartan private gigs she's grown used to playing recently. "The whole songwriter circuit is really more about the troubadour," she explains. "The folk world isn't going to pay you much for that, and if you bring drums they look at you like you're crazy."

In contrast, she says they'll be cutting loose for Friday's After Five. "We rock it up a bit. I even play electric guitar, which you don't see me doing at Gravity or the Paramount," she says. "When we do our quieter gigs, you get a lot more ballads. But this is Fridays, man!"