Hall pass: Musicians unite behind her
She may be 50 years old, but in a manner of speaking, Mary Gordon Hall is only just now starting to come of age.
"I had written children's songs for years," she says. "'Love You Now,' woke me up in the middle of the night, and I thought 'Okay, I'm going to stop writing children's songs.' It started a chain reaction."
"Love You Now" ended up as track five on her new album, sandwiched in with a dozen other meditative acoustic pieces. "This is kind of a gentler album, I suppose," she says. "I didn't put any of the really silly ones on it."
And while this collection has more adult appeal than one might expect coming from a third-grade teacher who loves writing kiddy ditties, "Wine Glasses and Wooden Spoons" is still quite friendly. In fact, that's sort of the point.
"On this album, if there's such a thing as a theme," she says, treading gingerly with such a sweeping generalization, "it's about taking care of each other, whether romantically, or tending to your creativity and being aware of the needs of friends."
Appropriately enough, then, the disc was put together under the auspices of Greenwood producer Jeff Romano by a slew of noted area musicians, including Tom Proutt, Emily McCormick, Randall Pharr, Spencer Lathrop, Terri Allard, John D'earth, and Morwenna Lasko.
"This album came together through the creativity of the musicians who came on board," says Hall. "I don't read music. I sit down and I make up my own chords. These people followed me. It was magical."
All this collaboration is a new experience for Hall. "These past two years, I've been playing more than ever," she says. "Even though I've been here for a long time, it seems like this past year it's been coming together, and I feel more connected to the Charlottesville musical community."
The chain reaction that began with the musical night sweats of "Love You Now" will come to a head at Gravity Lounge on Saturday, February 4. And while she'll have plenty of new comrades up on stage with her, Hall is also excited about the ones who won't be sweating under the lights.
"I know I'm going to be playing for friends I haven't seen in 20 years," she says. "They're going to be as excited about this as I am."
If Romano's enthusiasm is any indication, she's probably right. When talking about creating with her, he bubbles over with stories of long nights in the studio filled with musical alchemy, personal chemistry, and just the right amount of wine to get it all rolling along.
OK, maybe a little too much.
"It was a great way to start a friendship," he says, and the album has some of that in it.
Mary Gordon Hall
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO