Larry O. Dean has released his 13th solo album and his first since 2009, “Good Grief.”
The Northeastern Illinois University English instructor said he started this project as a form of musical therapy. Dean unexpectedly lost two people close to him, his mother, Marilyn, and friend and former bandmate Al Shippey. Another musician friend, San Francisco bassist Ned Doherty, suggested the two record some material while he was in Chicago on a visit.
“I hadn’t planned to do another solo album as I was working with The Injured Parties (his current band), but there you go,” he said.
Released in September, “Good Grief” is Dean’s most cohesive album to date, he said.
“While none of the songs were written in reaction to its tragic origins, they seem to have a thematic unity and to be in dialogue with each other,” he said. “I also feel the musicianship is stellar across the board, which makes my own primitive playing sound better.”
Dean, who also is a published author and poet-in-residence with the Chicago Public Schools, said his creative nature was cultivated at a young age.
“I grew up in a town with crummy radio, but I started reading about music that sounded much more interesting to me in magazines and fanzines, and that led me to seeking it out on my own,” said Dean, a native of Flint, Mich. “I guess my need to discover has been a major component of my creative education.”
If you’d like to see him perform, Dean hosts a songwriter round robin called Folk You at Silvie’s Lounge on the third Friday of each month. He and other artists showcase their original music with either a guitar or piano as an accompaniment. The round robin is in its 14th year.