News Shadow Recieves NYSCA Grant
Reprinted from:
Sept. 9, 2001


Press Release  
CATSKILL, N.Y. — Poet and songwriter Allen Shadow has received a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts to continue his work in the field of rock poetry.

The grant for the 2001 year was based on Shadow’s forthcoming CD, "King Kong Serenade," a gritty, literate portrait of New York City. The award will enable the writer to continue work on a new album, "Purple Plain," which casts a similar unsentimental eye on America.

As "Serenade" invoked the spirit of the Beats and jazz figures to conjure the sole of the Big Apple, "Plain" shakes the personality of America from film noire, blues, and quiche.

"I feel like a conduit," said Shadow. "I wait for subjects to choose me. I never know what’s going to speak to me, and I avoid the obvious."

Where the canvas of "Serenade" is infused with such touches as Coney Island’s Topsy the Elephant tragedy and the Happyland Disco inferno of the South Bronx, "Plain" is already daubed with the desperation of the film "The Asphalt Jungle" and the desolation of post-war suburbia inspired by an Art Sinsabaugh photograph.

"When I come upon a find, I feel like an intoxicated archeologist. There’s a rich story in that object and it’s somehow up to me to find a way to uncover it."

"Serenade" will be released fall 2001 by Blue City Records. Selections can be heard on the Web site While "Plain" will not be released from Blue City until a later date, selections will be available as they are completed.

Shadow began his writing career as a poet. Two books of his poetry — "Harlem River Baby" and "A Heart in the Anteroom" — were published by Quick Books of Pueblo, Colo., during the 1980s, and his work was included in many small and university press publications nationwide.

Also during the 1980s, Shadow directed a literary reading series and co-edited a literary journal for the Greene County Council on the Arts.

As a performance poet, Shadow toured college campuses in the 1980s with a staged version of "Harlem River Baby," which included the doo wop group the Phantoms. The show played to rave reviews at the same time Shadow’s writing was singled out by such literary publications as Library Journal, which called his imagery "startling."

His music interests led him to a stint in commercial songwriting. He spent much of the 1990s as a songwriter in Nashville, writing for PolyGram, SONY, and Mel Tillis’ music publishing company, among others.

Despite working with such artists as Trisha Yearwood, Shadow, like many literary songwriters before him, ultimately decided Nashville’s formulaic canon was too limiting. Consequently, he returned fully to his poetic voice, this time marrying it with music as he had always intended.

Ironically, Shadow recorded his offbeat rock album "King Kong Serenade" in Nashville with a cadre of alternative-music veterans he had befriended in Music City. Included were Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams guitar alumnus John Jackson, John Prine drummer Paul Griffith, and Janis Ian keyboard player Randy Leago.

The grant is from NYSCA’s Decentralization Program and is Administered through the Twin Counties Cultural Fund in Greene County by the Greene County Council on the Arts.

As part of the grant program, Shadow will perform unplugged and solo at the Catskill Gallery of the Greene County Council on the Arts, Saturday, November 17 at 6 p.m. Call (518) 943-3400 for more information.

He will also give a workshop series in November (dates to be announced) on alternative songwriting at Columbia-Greene Community College, Hudson, N.Y. For information, call (518) 828-4181, extension 3342.


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