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Tracy Lawrence lends Boys & Girls a hand

WANT TO GO?

Tracy Lawrence Boys & Girls Club benefit

WHERE: Clay Center

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday

TICKETS: $23, $28 and $53

INFO: 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.orgCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Country star Tracy Lawrence has trouble keeping track of his charitable work. Over the years, he's done quite a bit. Around Thanksgiving, he does an annual turkey fry for the Nashville Rescue Mission, and just a few days ago, he joined the relief effort for the people affected by the devastating tornado in Oklahoma.

On Friday, the singer, who is known for hits including "Sticks and Stones," "Time Marches On" and "Find Out Who Your Friends Are," performs a benefit for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Charleston and Parkersburg at the Clay Center.

It's a favor for a friend.

"I have a friend, Larry Steel. He's one of my golfing buddies I've been hanging out with for several years, and he's helped put this whole thing together," Lawrence said. "I try to be supportive of my friends and the things they're passionate about because they do the same for me.

"The Boys & Girls Club is something Larry is passionate about, therefore I'm passionate about it, too."

It's a good cause, and Lawrence is always willing to lend a hand. When the tornado blew through Oklahoma, he was glad to get involved with the relief.

"I grew up in 'Tornado Alley,'" he said. "I'm from Southwest Arkansas, and tornadoes were a constant thing in our lives growing up. I also have friends from Oklahoma City and have played up there a lot."

As part of his contribution to relief efforts, Lawrence released an acoustic version of his song "Butterfly," on his website (www.tracylawrence.com). It's a cut off his upcoming record, "Headlights, Taillights and Radio," due out in August, and he hopes it will bring awareness to the Oklahoma Disaster Relief Fund.

"I wrote that song a couple of years ago, after the Joplin tornadoes," he said. "I was inspired to do something uplifting.

"The song is about the angels who watch over people during trying times and even those that ferry us on to the other side when our time is done.

"I wanted to put a song out there that would inspire people and give them hope."

Though the song is a free download, Lawrence hoped it would uplift people and encourage them to contribute to the American Red Cross.

"It's a pretty powerful song," he added.

Lawrence acknowledged that it's been a while since he's had a full country record out --about five years. Part of that, he said, has to do with his own creative tendencies.

"It's taken me longer to finish this record than any of my other albums," he said. "I could go back and remix two or three songs, but I just had to stop."

The rest, he said, had to do with business issues. He had a company with his brother and that went sour. There were legal headaches. He started a new label and had to staff it. There was a lot of starting over just to get back to where he could focus on recording again.

Still, he's happy with what he's got.

"It's more progressive than anything I've ever done," he said. "It's really heavy guitar, no steel guitar. It's got a lot of edgy rock 'n' roll country right in your face."

That's kind of the sound of country music these days -- at least, he hears a lot of that sound out there. Some of that, he thought, had to do with the evolution of the music. Part of it is the marketing.

"It's what the kids want to hear, and they're the ones buying the record," he said.

Lawrence said there's also been kind of an influx of rock and pop performers who've crossed over (at least temporarily) to country, people like Sheryl Crow and Darius Rucker who are just looking for a place to get their music played.

"I think it's great," he said. "Country music is very guitar-oriented right now, which has always been good for me."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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