Music » Bang und Strum

Gambling with a Purpose

Folk singer Darryl Purpose performs at house concert


A storyteller with a purpose  Darryl Purpose in concert on Thursday, Oct. 21.
  • A storyteller with a purpose Darryl Purpose in concert on Thursday, Oct. 21.

On the surface, it may seem that music often comes in a fast frenzy of simulated synth beats and inane lyrics about oops, having done it again. Look closer: There are still poets and troubadours in this world.

Darryl Purpose is one of those whose music swells not only with rhythm and melody, but also with a strong love of storytelling and showmanship. Catch Purpose's eclectic show, accompanied by fiddler Julie Beaver, as he performs for Friends House Concerts on Thursday, Oct. 21. Local songwriter Malcolm Lucard will open the show.

With his distinctive baritone voice, smooth finger-style guitar technique, and a sense of drama and storytelling in his lyrics and music, Purpose delivers a charismatic performance that captures coffeehouse and theater audiences alike. His past experiences as a professional gambler and peace activist only lend fuel to the creative fire.

The concert is part of a series that will be Purpose's last as he embarks on a touring sabbatical.

"I'm taking time off to write material, think about a new CD and generally recharge my batteries," he said. "I've been doing 150 shows per year and writing nonstop. It's a grueling lifestyle, but that's over. Don't get me wrong -- it's also very rewarding. I write songs ... and I'm going to find some way to make it work."

To be honest, if anyone can, it's Purpose. The man has had an amazingly colorful past, excelling in almost everything he has attempted. Lured as a teenager to the world of casino gambling, Purpose went from betting dollars in downtown Las Vegas to being one of the best blackjack players in the world by his mid-20s.

In his late 20s, Purpose left blackjack to walk across the country with The Great Peace March. Eventually, one thing led to another and he found himself writing and playing music during the march. Though it was his first experience performing, it proved to be a watershed event. At one point, his path led to his playing in the then-Soviet Union and the first-ever outdoor stadium rock concert there, featuring Bonnie Raitt, Santana and James Taylor.

This unusually eclectic resume provided Purpose with a wealth of compelling stories.

"I like to tell a story in a song. Since I have no dancing or trombones, all I can do is tell a story. People really respond to that," he said.

One might wonder how anyone leaps from being a world-class gambler to a professional musician.

"Well, I'm not comfortable with a regular 9-to-5 situation, and both [blackjack and music] are essentially playing. Also, both are mathematical in a lot of ways," said Purpose. "The difference is that when you get good at blackjack, they ask you to leave. But with music, they applaud and ask you to stick around."

With a brief retirement from music on the horizon, will Purpose stick around? He maintains that the break from performing is nothing if not temporary.

"My heart is in it," he said. "I will always play a song."

-- Kara Luger


Darryl Purpose in concert with guest Malcolm Lucard

Thursday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m.

Tickets $10

Call 329-1644 for reservation and location or visit

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