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VOL. 126 | NO. 248 | Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sounds of the Season

Deering & Down single benefits Humane Society

By Andy Meek

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The blues and folk duo Deering & Down turned their new Christmas single into a Christmas present for a Memphis-area nonprofit organization.

Neil Down, from left, Lahna Deering and Jonathan Ciaramitaro of the group Deering & Down perform some of their songs at The Booksellers at Laurelwood to raise support for the Memphis Humane Society. Deering & Down have a holiday song about Memphis featured on iTunes. (Photo: Kyle Kurlick)

Lahna Deering, the Canadian-born singer backed by Rev Neil Down on guitar, sings about some of the sights, sounds and feelings of Christmas in Memphis on “Wonder What Elvis or Rufus Might Say.” And throughout the month of December, the proceeds from every download of the song on iTunes will go to the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County.

The cover art on the iPod or iPhone screen when the song is played shows Deering smiling and seated at a piano while holding a small, white dog.

The band performed the song last month at the Downtown Memphis Commission’s tree-lighting ceremony in Court Square, at which representatives of the Humane Society, a few dogs and a crowd of Downtown workers were in attendance.

The band also performed it a few days ago at the Booksellers at Laurelwood as part of an acoustic set that included other Christmas songs.

“Check out those pretty lights in the old Presley yard – it is Christmas in Memphis, Tenn.,” go the lyrics.

“Rev Down wrote it a few years ago, and it just has this feeling of Elvis’ place with the lights – a warm feeling of kind of olden times,” Deering said. “It’s a warm, cozy feeling of Memphis. And we’re really hoping we can make a nice donation to the Humane Society.”

It’s a gift from a band that has reason for the good cheer.

Deering befriended Down in Alaska, and they’ve lived and performed in places including Alaska, Ireland, Switzerland and Los Angeles. Over the last few years, though, they’ve found themselves playing in and calling Memphis home.

Evelyn represented the Humane Society during  a performance by the acoustic group Deering & Down. (Photo: Kyle Kurlick)

“Memphis flavor cast in a glow of shimmering Northern light,” is how the band’s website describes the members’ blend of voice and guitar.

Deering said the band will play a show Friday, Dec. 23, at Rust restaurant in Clarksdale, Miss. For New Year’s Eve, they’ll play Felicia Suzanne’s in Downtown Memphis.

The band’s next record comes out in February and was produced by late Memphis music icon Willie Mitchell, the producer and arranger at Hi Records and Royal Studios who worked with stars like Al Green and Ann Peebles in the 1960s and ’70s.

Mitchell died in January 2010 after suffering cardiac arrest in December 2009.

Down called recording at Royal Studio “a magic experience” and said the band cut a few tunes with the Hi Rhythm section.

Deering & Down aren’t the only group or institution supporting the Humane Society this holiday season. Celtic Crossing has scheduled a New Year’s Eve Midnight Masquerade and is donating a portion of the night’s proceeds to the animal group.

The Humane Society also is holding a holiday donation drive for dog and cat treats, cat toys, pet brushes, kennels, pet food and more, a full list of which is available at www.memphishumane.org.

Also, the group has a holiday honorarium opportunity this year. Donations of $10 or more will receive a commemorative holiday ornament.

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