Saturday, May 21, 2011: Big Wide Grin

BWG Postcard
Big Wide Grin is the right name for this trio! When you hear them, you will have your own big wide grin! Their music and performance is joyful and uplifting, a mix of traditional and original music. This bi-coastal trio of Karl Werne, Elaine Dempsey and Lawrence Lambert from California and Virginia, bring diverse backgrounds of experience, music and theater together to form a rich, soulful blend of character and deep harmony. They are constantly on the move- whether at festivals, concert series, shows, or select house concerts and have shared the stage, collectively, with such artists as Janis Ian, Harriett Schock, Lowen & Navarro, Richie Havens, Bruce Hornsby and toured with legendary blues man Keb’ Mo’.

I saw Big Wide Grin in their Premiere Showcase at FAR-West (Western Region Folk Alliance) and was blown away by their performance. The opportunity to host them came up as the result of their being one of the winners of a contest sponsored by Concerts in Your Home. 30 artists submitted videos of their songs and 45 house concert hosts reviewed the entries and in multiple rounds, narrowed the top submissions down to 3 artists, each of whom won merchandise, cash and a house concert tour. Big Wide Grin’s tour is in the southwest, including Las Alturas House Concerts.

Born on the Mississippi, raised on the James, educated on the Appomattox and the Boneyard; Elaine has lived most of her life on the the Chesapeake and San Francisco Bays. She moved to the San Francisco Bay area from her home in Virginia with a desire and dedication to write. As a singer, songwriter and performer Elaine blends a background of folk, rock, gospel and blues to create a dynamic vocal and acoustic guitar style truly her own.

Raised on a farm in rural Virginia, Lambert started singing as a child with his twin brother and older twin brother and sister. Although the group could never replace the “Jackson Five,” it was a great way to spend those quiet nights in Pungo, Virginia. Music has always been a big part of Lambert’s life. Early piano lessons lead to the tenor sax and finally the show choir in high school. He found his voice again and the power of a well written song. Lambert continued to pursue his interests in music and theater at the University of Virginia. Although Lambert has developed the nickname “the Voice” for his unique vocal style; he wants nothing more than to write the kind of music that ‘helps someone to get over that broken heart; music that will make a difference and make the world better place.’ But, if you asked his mother, she would say that he should sing more in church.

Karl Werne has been entertaining the Hampton Roads area of Virginia Beach since he was 16 years old. Eight years with The Lewis McGehee Group and four years with his own Instant Karma have made Karl a local favorite with his versatile guitar work and smooth hypnotic vocals. Highlights of those years include touring as the opening act for Bruce Hornsby’s Grammy winning ‘The Way It Is Tour’ and numerous recordings still receiving airplay. When not on the road with BWG, Karl can be heard these days playing with saxophonist Eddie Williams and electric guitarist Curtis Eley.

“Big Wide Grin … Good singing. Great songs and the hardest working band in folk music.” Keb’ Mo’

“Take three supremely talented performers, throw in a generous portion of intelligent and heartfelt songwriting, add a dash of wit and charm, then sit yourself down to a spellbinding evening of top-notch entertainment with Big Wide Grin … guaranteed to put one on every face.” BJ Leiderman, theme composer, National Public Radio

“Big Wide Grin is well named. Their groove and their vibe will put a big smile on your face and in your heart.” Freebo, singer/songwriter, formerly Bonnie’s Raitt’s bass player

Suggested artist donation $20

Music starts at 7:00 p.m. Socializing from 6:00 p.m.

Light refreshments provided, guests are welcome to bring wine or refreshments to share.

Attendance is by invitation only. For more information, please contact Lee at 575-522-5197 or by e-mail at lasalturashouseconcerts (at)

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