There’s a gritty, road-seasoned grace to the words and music of Larry Ahearn. His music is steeped in the classic singer-songwriter tradition, with folk and blues-based melodies framing poetically evocative lyrics that tell stories and paint pictures. Ahearn’s wealth of experience as a writer, performer, concert organizer and mentor to other performers informs every note of his music. His songs are doorways into his own life and the people he’s met, loved and imagined.
A Boston native, Larry musical journey really began when he relocated to the Philadelphia area as a student at Villanova University in 1966. Almost immediately he began working at the legendary Main Point folk club in Bryn Mawr, PA, booking and promoting shows for over a decade. Along the way, he honed his skills as a singer and guitarist on its stage, sharing the bill with everyone from Tom Rush and John Prine to Livingston Taylor and the Velvet Underground. He captivated audiences both as a solo act and with the Larry Ahearn Group (featuring Tom Crosthwaite, Bill Cannon, Bill Shultz, Chris Shannahan and Dan Rossi). It was a heady experience as well as an invaluable education for a young artist.
“Stagecraft is the thing I learned the most from being at the Main Point,” Larry says. “I saw first-hand what works and what doesn’t and how the audience is the most important person in the room. Being on stage with great performers inspired me to keep growing and get better. I always say, ‘If you’re the best guitarist on the block, get a new block!”
Over the years, Larry’s quest for excellence has produced a body of original tunes that veers from introspective ballads to wry story-songs and rollicking highway anthems. Outlaws, lovers and dreamers are vividly sketched in his lyrics with a feel for character and sly humor. Whether he’s unreeling a tale of illicit romance (“The Princess and the Thief”), saluting a heroic rascal on the run (“The Last Cowboy Song”) or painting an impressionistic portrait of his artist father (“Little Boy Blue”), Larry’s touch with words and music is earthy, elegant and authentic.
Larry’s scope as an artist has been widened by his work as a promoter and producer in the realms of music, sports and theater. In 1988 he was a team member with the worldwide Concerts for Human Rights tour that brought Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Youssou N’Dour and Tracy Chapman to shows on five continents. From booking top rock acts with Avalon Attractions in Los Angeles to working with the Harlem Globetrotters on live events in Hong Kong, he was associated with some of the foremost talents of his time. By 2006, though, he was ready to get back to working on his own music.
Moving back to Philadelphia, Larry launched SongGallery/Trespass Music and began managing veteran singer-songwriter Craig Bickhardt. Working with an artist of Bickhardt’s high caliber helped inspire him to step up his own game as a writer and performer as well. Larry began venturing out for live sets and prepared to enter the studio for a recording project. Rekindling the energy of his early years on stage, he forged a connection with the latest wave of acoustic troubadours. He reached deep into his song-bag, found his voice and began to share the musical tales he’d gathered over the years.
For Larry, his commitment to his art goes beyond a pride in writing a good song. “My goal is to reach as many people as possible with songs that inspire them to be better,” he says. “I want to help steer people towards making a better world. That’s what my heroes have done and that’s what I want to do.” - Barry Alfonso