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Cutting CDs for Meals

Local musician Tom Allen offers young musicians an opportunity to be professionally recorded . . . all for the sake of helping the community's oldest citizens
by: Barbara Adams, Tom Allen of Estacada is a career studio and touring musician who’s funding a music recording project called “Locals” that will feature young musicians and benefit the Estacada Meals on Wheels program.

In his 'musical' life-like most people, his life has many different facets-Tom Allen is booked for the next two years. He's writing, arranging, mixing, recording, and even promoting-all from the comfort of his Estacada-area home.

But that hasn't stopped him from dreaming. And, unlike many people, his dreams quite often become reality.

This dream is to help the senior citizens of Estacada, and what better way than through music?

'I really want to help the seniors of this town,' Allen, 48, said. 'There are some who are in real need. I have put aside my solo album work and scheduling to get this project done first.'

The project called 'Locals,' will highlight the talents of elementary- through high school-age musicians.

On the website, www.portalogy.com/locals, Allen writes, 'I want to produce an eight song variety CD featuring local young artists that I will recruit or enlist based on their talents. I am also seeking one of the local schools' support to do a song that will include an entire class.' He said he will bring all of the recording equipment to the school and record on-site.

All of the proceeds from CD sales will be donated to the Estacada Meals on Wheels program. 'I will have the CD professionally made and packaged and am hoping local retailers will contact me through the website to carry some of them for sale,' Allen said.

Allen has been married to his high school sweetheart, Candy, for 27 years. They met at Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, Calif., where she graduated in 1975, and he in 1976. He was first introduced to music when he was 5 years old when he began taking private guitar lessons. By the time he was 7 he was in an all-child rock band, and in the sixth grade he took on his first guitar student. In 1972, he founded the power trio, Fusion, which later changed its name to Hanje (named for a cryptic language shared by a group of his childhood friends). The band performed throughout the western United States in mid-sized venues and as opening acts until 1984. In 1991 he and Candy moved to the Estacada area from California to escape the 'rat race,' he said. 'It was an overnight decision. We haven't looked back.'

Along with music, Allen is steeped in the software business. He runs a company called Grandflow with three partners, all grade school and high school friends, who were also active in his music career when he was young.

Thanks to the Internet and a loaded home office, Allen has been able to continue his work at Grandflow, recording his songs with his life-long friends and, also, with people that he's never met.

'I have done a few albums with artists from Europe that I have never met,' Allen said, 'all via the Internet-but what a venue to share with.

'My software company offers DVD production, so I get to use my musical skills on music soundtracks for commercials, short films, and marketing venues.'

Allen said he feels moved to help support the Meals on Wheels program in Estacada because of his compassion for the elderly, especially those in need, and from his own struggles to get by early on.

'Candy and I started out with nothing. We had to pay our rent in pennies . . . we worked very hard in both music and software to get where we are today,' he said.

Allen's looking for original lyrics for the CD about the local area and town (he will write music to the lyrics), sax and horn players for a jazzy blues solo and background work, and local retailers willing to carry or buy copies of the CD for resale. He hopes to make it available for sale before the holidays.

Interested musicians can find more information at www.portalogy.com/locals, where they can also upload a sample of their work for consideration. Allen said his company's studio will donate the initial pressing of the CDs, the studio time and the equipment.

'Music has taught me structure, releasing of emotions and sharing of ideas,' Allen said. The 'Locals' project is a way for Allen to share his compassion, generosity, and expertise to benefit a good cause. 'I have a place in my heart for the seniors of this community,' he said.