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By day, he is one of the suited masses that work at various law firms in the city. By night, he is an expressive and creative songwriter. Dave Massey, a partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, released his first CD, “Blissful State of Blue,” in June. The music is a mix of folk, rock, and country styles. Massey says he has no secret ambition to be a rock ‘n’ roll star, but enjoys music and songwriting as a pastime. “If I could combine law and the band and justify recording, that would be ideal,” he says. But for now, he’s keeping his day job. Massey started playing the guitar in college. On his new CD, which Massey released on his own label, Poetic Debris, he plays the guitar and sings. He also wrote or co-wrote all 13 songs on it. For two years, Massey worked part time at the firm. His reasons for his curtailed schedule were twofold: “One, my wife was in telecom and at the time it looked like she had a lot of options and that we wouldn’t have to work as hard. Two, I wanted to spend more time with my son, who’s now 13, and see what it was like to not do law 24/7. . . . The firm was very flexible in letting me go part time.” Massey says he got into songwriting to amuse himself, but grew to enjoy it. “I just happened to pick up my guitar and start writing songs,” he explains. “It came in a burst of energy.” He adds, “Songwriting is what I really like. I love the challenge of writing something meaningful.” “I grew up on rock and folk rock, and I started listening to Americana music in the late 1980s, artists like Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle,” he says. “Americana is folk rock with different flavors like old-time bluegrass and country. The songs are real. They’re about real people.” Now back at the firm full time, the 45-year-old Massey says his interest in performing Americana music was piqued when he took on the National Council of Traditional Arts (NCTA) as a pro bono client in 2002. The NCTA is a nonprofit organization that preserves traditional arts in America. He says he became friendly with many of the council’s musicians who introduced him to other local Americana artists. He started playing with them for fun and kept on doing it until he decided to do his own recording. Friends from the NCTA helped Massey get in touch with local record producer Zan McLeod. Local musicians on the CD include Steven Wade, who performed “Banjo Dancing,” a long-running show at the Arena Stage; Rodney McGruder, who was Mary Chapin Carpenter’s drummer for many years; Dudley Cannel, a lead singer for the Seldom Scene; Jim Roboson, who played in the North Star Band, a popular group along the East Coast, and now plays in the Cathy Ponton String Band; Mike Aldridge, a well-known Dobro player; and Emily and Susan Hsu, members of indie pop rock quintet Exit Clov. Massey held a CD premier party on June 27 at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Va. Half the proceeds from the show were split between the NCTA and Stars for Stripes, a group that entertains American troops overseas. “It was really fun, and I liked raising money for charity by doing something I enjoy,” Massey says. Approximately 100 people came to the show, and Jammin’ Java has asked Massey to return. Many of the songs on the album are in the first person, but Massey says his songs aren’t about him. “I write in first-person because it’s easier to get into the character of the song,” he says. “People have said that I’m not as country as I sound, because I get into the characters when I sing.” In “The Drunken Letter,” Massey explores the persona of George Rarey, a World War II fighter pilot stationed in England who was killed by German anti-aircraft fire. Three months before his death, Rarey received a letter from his wife telling him he was a new father. The letter he wrote back to her was printed in The Washington Post and served as Massey’s inspiration. “A dad his son would never see/a fading memory/Just a drunken letter pressed inside a book/That’s all that’s left for me,” Massey wrote. Massey also got inspiration from the Civil War. “Pretty Summer Day” is about the famed Pickett’s Charge up Cemetery Ridge during the battle of Gettysburg. In the song, Massey contrasts the beautiful summer morning with the gore and horror of the battle. “Damn Yanks won’t agree to let us be, so we’ll send them all to hell/Then walk back to old Virginia before we say farewell.” Guest appearances by musicians playing instruments like the cello, the banjo, the fiddle, and the organ keep each piece lively and unique, appropriately fitting the lyrics. Massey says that his family has been supportive: “They worry when the lyrics aren’t upbeat, but I have to remind them I’m writing in character.” He also says his colleagues at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan “think I’ve lost my mind, but they went to the CD release party and were impressed.”

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