FHS graduate and music virtuoso launches recording career with 1st disc
"Acoustic Vibez" features 15 original tunes by Corey Allison
FARMINGTON — When he graduated from Farmington High School in 1997, Arthur Allison Jr. received an acoustic guitar for a gift. Unimpressed, he remembers putting it under his bed and leaving it there for the next eight months.
But curiosity finally got the best of him, and it wasn't long before Allison found himself noodling around on the instrument. Since that time, he's barely put it down.
Over the last 20 years, a love of music has become perhaps the defining characteristic of Allison's life, but it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that the songwriter, performer, producer, DJ and sound engineer who goes by the stage name Corey Allison finally got around to releasing his first recording. "Acoustic Vibez," a collection of 15 original tunes that range in age from the very recent to among the first songs he ever penned, came out on July 11 on his Keyah Records label and is available on cdbaby.com along with via digital distribution on iTunes, Amazon.com and other major online outlets.
But Allison is only getting started. He already has plans to release another disc, "The Ecliptic Sessions," by the middle of October and has set a deadline for himself of the middle of August to finish recording the tunes for that project.
He doesn't worry about saturating his fan base with new material. The songs on "Acoustic Vibez" feature minimal instrumentation and vocals, he said, while "The Ecliptic Sessions" will feature traditional full-band instrumentation, even though Allison plays all the parts himself.
"They're different enough to not really compete with each other," he said.
"Acoustic Vibes" is an uncluttered project stripped down primarily to acoustic guitar, ukulele and vocals. Allison said his work tends to get categorized under the world beat header, but he says many of his songs have a reggae flavor, and the debut album reflects that inclination, particularly the tunes "Some Day" and "Riddim Driven." At the same time, much of its also just as easily find a home in the classic singer-songwriter genre.
The disc also features the chestnut "Traveling Song," which Allison wrote soon after picking up the guitar all those years ago.
"I had a chord book, and I started learning covers," he said, describing the typical first steps aspiring musicians take. "Then, I started doing open mics, and I realized I needed to have my own material and do an open mic tour. I think that song gives you a little bit of insight into exactly where I was at that time."
Allison's plan to do back-to-back releases will hardly leave his creative cupboard bare. While he waited to release his first album until he felt the time was right, Allison has been recording steadily for the last eight years and estimates he has 200 tunes in the can. He's been performing many of those songs live for years at venues across the state, as he became deeply ingrained in the music scene in Santa Fe and Albuquerque before moving back to his native Farmington last year.
"Acoustic Vibez" is his first attempt at determining whether there is a market for his music beyond live venues. Allison claims he watches developments in the music industry closely, and he believes the changes the business has experienced in recent years have made the current climate more friendly toward independent artists like himself.
"It's a little more fair playing field," he said. "It's more fair when it comes to streaming. The last thing I want to do is create music people love, and it sells, and at the end of the day, I don't get anything. That made me go a little more into the underground (for many years). I wanted to build a really large catalog of material, which I'm now starting to feel comfortable building."
Allison got to know the ins and outs of the music business not just as a performer but also as a promoter. He's put together shows all over the state and organized the Rock Against Racism concert that featured a variety of local bands at the Totah Theater late last summer.
Since moving back to Farmington, he's launched his own sound system business, performing as a DJ at weddings and private parties. He's pleased at the reception that business has gotten in the last few months, even if he hasn't made much of an effort to test the waters of the local live music scene.
"I love Farmington, and it's always had a special place in my heart," he said. "I think it's a city that really looks at itself and tries to evolve. It's gotten a lot of bad press in the past … but I see the momentum. There are people in this city who want to make this community open and helpful."
Allison wants his music to be part of that process. He said he's drawn interest from the producers of an independent film who are interested in using some of his material on their soundtrack, and he figures he's only started his journey as a recording artist.
"Over the next five years, I plan to produce 10 more albums," he said. "I feel that is very doable. Actually, I'm kind of drawing that line in the sand. This is where it starts."
Mike Easterling is the night editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.