Melody has defined Allison’s life because she has always been surrounded by music.
Allison is a fourth generation musician who, from childhood, dreamed of joining the family business. She grew up listening to her grandmother’s violin and viola, her grandfather’s cello, and her parents’ pianos.
Allison’s grandmother was a conductor and orchestra violinist, her grandfather was first chair cellist. Her father taught jazz theory at a University and performed all around Europe, her mother is a concert pianist and celebrated composer. On her father’s side, her grandmother played guitar and sang cowboy songs.
Over more than a century of making music, they have played with some of the greats, talents like Sinatra, Elvis, and the Jackson 5. Allison is proud to have performed and recorded with members of Little Feat, Tower of Power, Parliament Funkadelic, Lenny Kravitz, Lionel Ritchie, and many others.
As a child, she sat through hours of her family’s music lessons, rehearsals, and performances; she wanted to be a part of that world. Allison spent hours lying on the floor with giant headphones on, studying the family vinyl collection. Her favorites were the Beatles, Elton John, Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, and Bessie Smith. From these icons she learned the basics of songwriting; she began writing songs at age 9 and joined her first band at 13.
She became a working musician while still in High School, playing proms, parties and dive bars. Fellow band members snuck her in through the back entrance, where she hid until showtime. In College, she met aspiring musicians Dino Soldo, Bryan Head, and David J Carpenter. Allison and Dino started the band Barebones, signed with Monster Music and released “For the Mind, Body and Soul” in 1997.
Billboard Magazine July 26, 1997 wrote “This West Coast act does its bid to revive the retro-funk sound of the ‘70s with this slap-happy throwdown, which is fueled by super-tight live instrumentation and Allison [August’s] flexible vocals. Mature minds will find this too tasty for words, while kids may find it a useful history lesson.“
In 2016 she came back together with David J Carpenter, Bryan Head, and Dino Soldo to release a new album. Encouraged by one of her biggest influences, Paul Barrere of Little Feat; the four songs he agreed to play on became a whole album: “Holy Water”. Also lending their talents are Coco Montoya, Greg Liesz, Josh Smith, and Lance Lopez.
Her songs are inspired by the joys and tribulations of her life: marriage, divorce, motherhood, abuse, cancer, but above all, a love of music and hope for the future.
When I asked Allison to share some of her cancer experiences, one was not quite what I had expected…
Allison recounted a particularly compelling story - it was about one of her experiences during the “bad dream” otherwise known as breast cancer. It goes something like this -
“In the middle of treatment,” she started, “The guys convinced me to come into the studio. I was exhausted and in a lot of pain, but their persistence encouraged me to continue recording the album. One recording session in particular was… inexplicably magical. Greg Liesz sat down to play.” Reflecting on her experience with a puzzled look, she continued - “when he hit certain notes, I could feel it reverberating through my body - as if the tones were somehow altering me on a molecular level.” She spoke with an awareness of the peculiar nature of the words coming out of her mouth - with incredulity of the truth of the situation, but I urged her on - “It was as if he was changing my chemical makeup… healing me. It was super weird - an out of body experience, for certain. I sat back, amazed by the power coming from this quiet, unassuming guy. I’d never experienced anything like that before” She repeated.
Music’s ability to inspire and invigorate is nothing new.
Vibrational medicine as a cancer treatment and such alternative medicines have long been explored, but to date still lack definitive evidence. What we do recognize is that our knowledge the physical world is always changing. Discoveries in physics, for example, chime in to this discussion :
“Everything—and I mean everything—is just a consequence of many infinitely-large fields vibrating. The entire universe is made of fields playing a vast, subatomic symphony. Physicists are trying to understand the melody.” (Don Lincoln, Particle Physicist)
Whatever the exact nature of what Allison felt that day is, it had a definite effect. This resilient woman felt something - something simultaneously mysterious, welcomed, and beautiful.
So let’s hear it for Allison - a survivor, a mother, a friend. Let’s appreciate her life, her existence, and her talents. Whoever you are, let’s appreciate this humble musician with a genuine ambition to move people through her music, as she has been moved by others ❤
Finally, as Allison would say: peace, love, and music.
From a friend, Samantha Reinard.
Listen to the particular song here - (the pedal steel was the special sound)
The magic-man : Greg Liesz https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Leisz
For an explanation of the “subatomic symphony” and the source of the quote, see this article.