Woodstock author plays pieces from future album

Gretchen Smith-Klainer

WOODSTOCK – Gretchen Smith-Klainer has been warming up her music-making muscles working on an accompanying album to her book “Cricket and the Northern Lights.”

She’ll be getting into the swing of things with a concert at Handley Library’s auditorium from 2 to 4 p.m.  Saturday, playing folk songs and tributes to artists like Irving Berlin and Woody Guthrie on multiple instruments. Smith-Klainer said she’ll be sharing some songs she’s written for the album thus far.

“Mainly, it’s just using music as a vehicle to excite young readers,” she said. “It’s really about getting children, especially young children and their parents and those of all ages to be part of the fun and the story,” she said.

While working on biography-gone-adventure tale “Cricket and the Northern Lights,” Smith-Klainer knew that an accompanying album would be the natural next step. The book follows her younger alter ego Cricket through her life and escapades in the Alaskan wilderness alongside her late husband Ray, or “Fuzzy.”

Parts of the story touches on Cricket’s love affair with music, playing at coffee shops and serenading the northern lights with a wooden recorder. One tale even recounts Willie Nelson asking after her guitar and dulcimer folk sessions in Indian, Alaska.

“The music and everything has always been core to my being,” she said.

Facing some health-related hurdles to her musicianship, Smith-Klainer said she needed to take a bit of time after the 2014 release of her book to “perfect my own talents.” She said her brother advised her not to set a deadline for the album and has been instrumental in helping her in the process, creating the album’s working title of “Cricket and Danny and the Northern Lights.”

“When you record by yourself, you don’t have any leeway for imperfection,” she said.

Besides working on songs specially composed to accompany the book, Smith-Klainer said she’s been looking at an easier studio venture in recording her book on tape. She also said she’s hoping to continue musical performances alongside the work on her album.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com