Darien native performing virtual concert to benefit charity
Concert lovers who are feeling down due to social distancing can cheer up on Friday night by listening to a Darien native perform in a virtual concert.
Corbin Cares is sponsoring a special Zoom concert event on April 24 at 7 p.m., with singer and songwriter Doug Allen. The event benefits The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, a charitable organization whose mission is to create safer schools.
Allen, who now lives in Franklin, Tenn, describes his music as a combination of new country and classic acoustic rock.
On Friday, he’ll play “Choose Love” — his new single, and “Thank God for Friday Nights,” and “Blue Room” from the Meryl Streep movie “One True Thing.” He will also play new country songs by Zack Brown and Kieth Urban and classics by the Eagles, John Denver and Johnny Cash.
To access the link to the concert, visit thecorbindistrict.com, click Events and then Doug Allen Concert.
Accomplishments and current work
Allen recently co-wrote a song with Kadie Lynn from America’s Got Talent called “Born to Shine.” The single was added to the “Don’t Mess With Texas” playlist by Apple Music.
The pair also wrote “Picture This” for a new film called “The Bluesman,” a takeoff on blues legend Robert Johnson and how he trades his soul to the devil for fame and fortune. The film is currently in production.
Allen is also submitting songs to the Hallmark Channel and soap opera The Young and the Restless.
He also teaches guitar through Skype and FaceTime to people around the country.
His songs are featured in a Universal Pictures movie, “One True Thing” and a Lions Gate Films movie, “A Reason to Believe.”
He has played in over 200 shows a year in theaters and at corporate events between LA, Chicago, Nashville, and New York. He has opened for Gregg Allman, Will Hoge, Thomas Rhett, Matt Ramsey of Old Dominion, Kevin Bacon of the Bacon Brothers and John Entwistle of The Who.
He also performed an online concert with Victoria Jackson from Saturday Night Live.
“Victoria and I have become friends by playing a lot of the same clubs together, in and around Nashville. I’ve opened for her stand-up act at comedy clubs, and she’s joined me on my gigs,” Allen said. “I’ll be appearing on her new show on YouTube soon and she’ll also join me on my Saturday Night Facebook Live shows as soon as restrictions on social distancing have been lifted.”
Effect of pandemic
Allen had been performing about four nights a week, either locally or out of town. However, because of the pandemic, he now only plays virtually once a week — at a Saturday Night Facebook Live gig.
“The pandemic is affecting all of us,” he said. “All of our events have been canceled, and the servers and bartenders are now out of work.”
To help them out, at every virtual gig, he puts a virtual tip box on the screen.
“Because of these Facebook Live shows, I have already been able to donate to 12 to 15 people who have lost a lot of work due to the shutdown,” said Allen, adding that he has donated a total of $1,200 to date.
Allen said he loved growing up in town.
“On Friday after football games, we used to ride our bikes to Post Corner and go over to Baskin-Robbins to hang out,” he said.
He also spent a lot of time at Cherry Lawn Park. “I loved the outdoor attractions. The beaches were a second home to my friends and I,” he said. “We would shoot off model rockets and go skating and fishing.”
Allen said he was inspired by late Darien native David Spadaccini, a guitar player, singer and songwriter who The Spadtastics, a Grateful Dead cover band and Dave Spadaccini tribute band, is named after.
“Dave Spadaccini got me playing guitar the way I play now,” Allen said. “He wrote down the chords to “Sugar Mountain” by Neil Young on a napkin in the Darien High School cafeteria, and that’s when guitar finally took with me. I’ve been playing guitar ever since.”
Allen said he was also influenced by Darien native Tom Constable, “a fantastic guitar player who spent hours with me playing blues and rock by the Allman Brothers at my parents’ house on Point O Woods Road.”
A 1986 graduate of Darien High School, Allen played on the school’s first lacrosse team.
While in high school, Allen and four friends formed a band called Strawberry Jam. Their first gig was at Weed Beach for Earth Day. They played classic rock music.
“We debuted on May 10, 1986, and I will be going back to Weed Beach at the end of July to play a concert for the town’s 200th birthday,” he said.
He has performed with his guitar students at UCBC Upper Crust Bakery & Cafe. “My students and I do coffeehouse shows there,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
He has also played at the The Goose American Bistro & Bar, as well as at private and corporate events in and around Connecticut.
While in college at Ithaca, N.Y., Allen got some solo gigs.
After he graduated, he traveled across Europe with a guitar and fishing pole.
“I was busking, where you play in public places for tips,” he said. He played on the street and in subways all around Europe, and in Greenwich Village, N.Y.
He also performed in a band called Native Rain for several years, writing and playing his own songs.
Allen has played in the Darien Summer Nights concert series, sponsored by Baywater Properties and PG Properties every year since the series began in 2009.
Breaking in, getting inspired
At one point early on, Allen said he was feeling very discouraged about his musical career. Then, just when he was going to quit, he got his “lucky break” when he was chosen to play one of his own songs in a movie called “One True Thing,” starring Meryl Streep and Renee Zellweger for Universal Pictures.
He said he then became inspired to keep going.
About five years ago, he moved with his family — his wife Penny and two children, ages 11 and 13 — to Tennessee.
In regard to how he gets inspiration for his songs, he said, it’s a “mystery.”
“The ideas for these songs come out of thin air,” he said.
“The melody will come, and I’ve never played it before, and for some reason, it becomes a song,” he said.
He said he often thinks of new songs, after coming home from a gig.
“It’s quiet and I’m done playing, and I’m winding down and driving home, and then I get an idea for a song,” he said.
For more information, visit dougallenmusic.com.