Folksinger Marty DeJarnette has been involved in music all his life, but he didn't put it on the front burner until his dad died in 2006.
"It made me realize how short life is," said the Kannapolis singer-songwriter and finger style guitarist. "The first thing I did was to reach out to people who had inspired me with my music. I contacted people and said 'Thanks.'"
Then he started writing songs - lots of songs. He wrote songs about people - a high school teacher, a fireman, his wife - and places such as the Reed Gold Mine or the sea.
By 2007, he had enough songs for his first CD. Encouraged by friends and family, he released "String of Hope."
His second CD, "Far Away from Here," is completed and will be released with a concert Sept. 2 at the Davis Theatre in downtown Concord.
DeJarnette, 52, compares songwriting to putting together a jigsaw puzzle: "You have one or two pieces, and you look for the others. Sometimes you find the others really quickly, and other times it takes a long time.
"An audience helps you decide whether a song is finished."
People have been listening to DeJarnette play and sing at restaurants, clubs and private parties throughout North Carolina and the San Francisco Bay area for more than 25 years.
He has done preshows for Phil Collins; Crosby, Stills and Nash; and the Charlotte Symphony. For the past few months, he has been playing four nights at week at the Old Stone Vino in Kannapolis.
Guitar also plays an important role in his songs.
"The guitar is an amazing instrument, and I'm always challenging myself to find new ways to play things," he said.
DeJarnette is a finger-style guitarist, meaning he plays without using a flat pick. He plucks each string individually using his thumb as the main bass line and the first three fingers, and occasionally the pinky, to pick out the melodies and rhythm.
Some finger-style guitarists use metal picks on their fingers, but DeJarnette prefers to use his nails. "Now that I'm playing all the time, I have to pay attention to my nails," he said. "I never had to do that before.
"I just do my nails when my wife does hers."
Michael London, a voice talent/event producer who counts himself as a friend and fan of DeJarnette, describes his music this way: "If you put Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills and Nash in a blender, then added a splash of Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, you would have a 'Marty.'"
With all those mixed influences, DeJarnette still manages to be himself, according to London, who calls him "a complete joy to listen to."