Debbie Allison Altherr has been performing her bluesy-style music in Williams Lake and the Cariboo Chilcotin for many years now.
Over the past two decades she has taken to the stage with the likes of Peter Gooch, Michael Butterfield, Brian Sawyer and others.
For the last two years she has teamed up with her husband Dave Altherr, accompanying her on stand-up bass.
This summer she released her first album, Casitaville.
Dave Altherr’s bass has its own interesting saga. At a recent house concert, Allison, (as Debbie likes to be known now), started introducing her fellow musicians.
“Who do you think is the oldest one up here? And what year was he born?” Brian Sawyer started shuffling his feet.
“I’ll give you a hint. He was born in 1935.” Brian stopped shuffling.
Then Allison introduced the stand-up bass Dave was playing as an instrument was rescued from an attic in Switzerland.
It was refurbished with its broken bridge replaced, and brought to Canada where Dave learned to play it.
In her 20 odd years of performing, Allison had never recorded an album. Two years ago she decided to do something about it.
She went to Vancouver with a list of cover songs to record, but friend and recording engineer Jim Woodyard encouraged her to write her own material.
“I bought a horse trailer in Arizona with living quarters in the front, and turned the back into a recording studio.”
This allowed her to pre-record songs and create arrangements while she travelled about the country seeking out the various artists she wanted on her album. She then recorded them in professional studios along the way.
“Rather than pay the cost of flying the musicians somewhere, I went to them.”
Her first stop was California where she recorded tracks with renowned bluegrass mandolin player Eric Uglum. Next it was over to Idaho to lay down tracks with Grammy award-winning guitarist Mike Dowling.
Back in Vancouver Allison recorded guitar tracks with Jim Woodyard, along with bass and piano tracks with other musicians.
Once she accumulated all the material she needed, she headed to Seattle to get David Lange to do the mixing.
“David is an outstanding engineer. He understood the feel I wanted.”
She says in Seattle there is a Northwest sound that isn’t heard anywhere else. Travelling around the country to record her album she feels she got the flavour of the various regions.
While Allison produced the album herself, writing most of the material, arranging it, and assisting with the cover design and layout, she is quick to credit the support and advice of all the wonderful engineers and musicians who helped her.
“I couldn’t have done it without their expertise.”
Recently Allison and Dave gave a house concert at the home of Brian and Linda Sawyer, backed up by Brian on guitar and Mike Butterfield on flute and recorder.
She hopes to do more house concerts so stay posted. It’s a great evening’s entertainment.
You can follow Allison on her casitaville.com website, to sample her music or buy her album.