The Northern Westchester Examiner

Homecoming Concert Promises to Be Special Evening for Folk Artist

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Christine Lavin has wonderful memories of growing up in Peekskill with her parents and eight siblings. A graduate of Assumption School, Lavin was valedictorian of her eighth-grade class and went on to Peekskill High School where she was a strong student and a baton twirler for the marching band.

But the summer between Lavin’s sophomore and junior years, the old Peekskill Military Academy where her father taught was shuttered, forcing the family to leave the area. Lavin not only lost her friends but the family lost its home because they lived on the academy’s campus.

Fifty years later and with a long and illustrious career as a folk singer-songwriter, her thoughts of Peekskill are bittersweet.

“That was really, really traumatic for everyone in my family,” Lavin remembers. “We all still talk about it and we have dreams about Peekskill because we loved living there. It was a great place to grow up. It was this safe, little community, nothing to worry about and a really nice campus and we ate in the mess hall with the cadets so (my mother) didn’t have to cook.”

On Friday evening, Lavin, 66, gets a chance to return home and hopes to bump into some old friends. She will perform a homecoming concert at Peekskill’s Dramatic Hall, a performance that was the idea of singer-songwriter Dean Friedman, who will be her opening act. Both Lavin and Friedman recorded for Lifelong Records, including when Friedman had his Top 40 hit in 1977 “Ariel.”

Lavin’s best-known songs are “Cold Pizza for Breakfast,” “Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind” and “Sensitive New Age Guys.”

A longtime Manhattan resident, she still loves taking her guitar and traipsing into small venues, whether it’s in her hometown or on a Monday open mic night in the city. While the folk genre isn’t wildly lucrative, for those with a good voice, a guitar in hand and ideas for songs, you can always work, Lavin said.

“Folk will always have an audience and there will be times when it’s larger than other times,” Lavin said. “You can’t make a killing in folk music but you can make a living.”

Lavin may not have made a fortune, but since quitting her succession of temp jobs in 1984 to devote herself fulltime to her music, she has recorded 23 solo albums and had 10 collaborations with other artists.

Her songwriting and her performances have naturally evolved over the years. For those who watch her perform, she spins stories of various events in her life in between the songs and her sharp sense of humor shines through. For example, Lavin, who was born on Jan. 2 and was always annoyed that Christmas gifts served as birthday gifts, will hold a contest on Friday evening for the audience members whose birthday is closest to the holidays.

At some point during the show, Lavin also promises to display her considerable baton twirling skills.

Some of her music recalls her personal experiences.

“We never knew how little our father was paid and how lucky we were,” Lavin said. “So we had no money for any extravagances at all, so I learned my music from what was on the radio in the days of WNEW, (disc jockeys) Scott Muni and Alison Steele. “It really was just great radio and FM was just getting started.”

Lavin actually learned how to play guitar from the weekly PBS show featuring Laura Weber. In her 20s, she took formal lessons to hone her skills.

Lavin hasn’t been back to Peekskill much, but did have to visit early last year. She was going to be leaving for a series of concerts in Australia and had misplaced her passport. As a result, she had to return to pick up a copy of her birth certificate.

She hopes that some old acquaintances will stop by Dramatic Hall Friday night to say hello.

“I hope there will be a lot of people who show up who remember me,” Lavin said. “I know I will remember them.”

Dramatic Hall is located in the Peekskill Central Market at 900 Main St. Tickets are $35. Show time is 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit or call 914-736-3600.

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