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Playing this summer: Salt of the Earth

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 4, 2011 - PROFILE: The phrase, Salt of the Earth, has its roots in the Bible and, these days, is used as an idiom to refer to people who have a basic, fundamental goodness. It's also the name of a St. Louis area band that performs its own original music with a distinctive, fundamental appeal. The members of Salt of the Earth -- Lynne Reif, Mike Schrand, Jim Heiger and Jake Brookman -- have a definite focus on acoustic-based music that is primarily composed by Reif, but with musical contributions to the finished sound by everyone in the group.

Both Reif and Schrand worked together for several years in Belle Starr with well-known St. Louis musician and songwriter Kip Loui. After Loui's band, Belle Starr, broke up, Reif decided she had enough original material to start her own band and asked Schrand to join on bass and vocals. The addition of guitarist Doug Carson completed the original trio version of Salt of the Earth. The band expanded to become a quartet with the addition of cellist Brookman in 2005. Heiger replaced Carson on guitar in 2006, and the group has had the same lineup ever since.

Over the years, Salt of the Earth has recorded three CDs: "Against the Muse" in 2005, "These New Days" in 2007 and "So Sing To Me" in 2009. The group is planning to record a live CD later this year. But you don't have to wait until that comes out. You can catch the band live this Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Kirkwood Farmers Market Tunes At Ten concert from 10 a.m. to noon. Check out Lynne Reif's answers to some questions about herself and Salt of the Earth - and find out more info about the Tunes At ten series.

HOME: St. Louis (Richmond Heights)

AGE: 44. I've been singing professionally for about 18 years -- oh my God!

INSTRUMENTS: I play acoustic guitar, harmonica, foot tambo (tambourine) - not the official name but what I like to call it - as well as cajon (Peruvian box drum) and occasional mandolin.

HOBBIES: Writing songs, swimming, hiking, yoga, coaching girls basketball, cooking (and eating :-), photography, being with good friends, enjoying simple pleasures and impersonating strange animal calls.

LAST CONCERT ATTENDED: Hmmm. it's been awhile, but it was probably Shawn Colvin at the Sheldon. Nope, it was Girlyman in Mascoutah in a little chapel/concert hall.

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Salt Of The Earth winning the Webster Groves Art and Air Idol Competition!

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: There is an incredible chemistry in this band - a genuine appreciation and respect for each other, and a love of creating and playing original music and having fun in the process. We are good friends and we each contribute our own personal touch to every song, so the end product is truly a group expression that morphs and gels a little bit more each time we play together. I think the good energy comes through when we perform, and allows us to connect and have a blast with audiences wherever we go. It truly is a labor of love...

QUOTE: "He [or she] who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once" - Robert Browning

(I put in the "or she" part which is probably illegal somehow!)

Check out Salt of the Earth on Facebook for more info and the band's upcoming schedule.

Tunes At Ten Concert Series

Kirkwood Farmers Market and Greenway hosts Tunes At Ten concerts on select Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. The market is located just off Kirkwood Road across from the Amtrak Station at East Taylor and Argonne. Now in its 35th year of operation, the market features fresh produce from a variety of vendors as well as an array of flowers and plants for sale. You can get a great snow cone from Tropical Moose, and there's BBQ and kettle corn for sale as well. Plenty of nearby restaurants, too. Bring chairs if you plan to settle in and listen to the band. For more info, go to www.downtownkirkwood.com/tunes-at-ten.asp.

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer who has long covered the St. Louis music scene.

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