Yesterday I listened to Urban Suite by Leonardo as drove to work and ran errands. As I listened I thought about how some folk music CDs are much like short story collections, especially Leonardo's CDs, as he is as much story teller as singer. "King of the Hill" tells about a tough kid who grew up in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago, while "East Chicago" tells about old union workers and young immigrants in the industrial city. "Covered Bridge" is a story about lovers reuniting at a high school reunion in Indiana. "South Shore Line" tells about the commuter train that takes workers from South Bend to Chicago. Nelson Algren and Simone de Beauvoir's love affair on Miller Beach is the subject of "Nelson and Simone."
Leonardo writes all of his own songs, crafting melodies that stick with you. I particularly like how most have a sense of place.
An anthem called "Friday Night in America" is my favorite Leonardo composition. He opened his Friday Night at the Ford concert two years ago with this lively song. He sang all of the songs mentioned above and told stories of his youth and his travels. He plays regularly in the Midwest, and has planned many children's concerts at libraries in Illinois and Indiana this summer. His website has a schedule, as well as music samples, a press kit, reviews, information about Down Syndrome, and a bibliography of children's books he recommends. His new CD Makin' Lemonade is aimed at children.
I recommend Leonardo to adults and children.