Arts Festival hometown touch

Griffin House at home at Turner Pavilion stage.

The Summer Arts Festival was missing something in 2012. There was plenty of great entertainment to be sure, but a local connection from the previous seven years was absent.

To make up for it, homecoming Friday has been moved up to July this year.

Springfield native singer-songwriter Griffin House returns to perform at Turner Pavilion in Veterans’ Park at 8 p.m. Friday, July 12, sponsored by the Springfield Arts Council.

He now lives in Nashville.

House has fond memories of past Arts Festival acts like fellow mainstays Phil Dirt and the Dozers and musicals in his youth, but never envisioned himself on stage. Now it’s a highlight of his tours.

“It’s a little surreal, but being up in front of those 5,000-6,000 people feels good,” he said. “I like that amphitheater setting.”

If things had turned out differently, House may instead be found at Windy Knoll Golf Club, Locust Hills or another area golf course instead of Turner Pavilion.

House was a dedicated golfer for North High School and spent his summers playing in tournaments, even earning a partial golf scholarship to Ohio University.

“It just didn’t feel right, so I didn’t go,” he said.

House found a new interest in theater at North, first performing in a two-person play, which taught him how to perform for an audience. Being cast as antagonist Judd in the school production of “Oklahoma!” offered his first chance to sing.

It’s strange to hear an accomplished singer and musician admit to being unconfident early on, but House said it took time to establish his stage presence and voice. He recalls listening to the “Oklahoma!” soundtrack trying hard to get it right.

Encouragement from teachers and friends brought out the best in House. “I just enjoyed those plays so much.”

It wasn’t until attending Miami University that House truly found his voice and his talent. He bought a guitar and joined a band.

He also could have ended up a creative writing professor. One of his professors suggested he combine his love of poetry and music, and now eight CDs and two EPs later, House is where he wants to be.

House doesn’t like to say his music is one specific genre, giving Americana as the closest. He likes to be open to everything. “One word means different things to different people. I like being known as a singer-songwriter.”

House’s latest CD, “Balls,” came out in February. His song “Real Love Can’t Pretend” has become a fixture on Sirius XM’s Coffee House channel, while “Go Through It” is getting airplay on Sirius’s Loft channel.

Given when the CD came out, House found it ironic that two of his songs became timely following a huge news event a couple of months later. “Lay Down Your Guns,” a song about disarmament, and Fenway, named after the home stadium of the Boston Red Sox, prefigured the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Springfield is the first stop on a tour that will take House across the country. He may take some time out in August when his second child is due to arrive. Then it’s back on the road this fall with his electric and acoustic guitars, a bass player and drummer.

Starting in his hometown is the perfect start.

“I grew up here. I feel attached. I’m home.”

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