Singer/songwriter/guitarist Carol Ames says "I guess I'd describe my music as Americana music, with a lot of varied influences. Pretty much whatever I decide to write, that's what goes in there. You know, old-fashioned singer-songwriter storytelling, down-home music. It's about songs being real." Ames will be performing with her band tonight at Humphrey's at a benefit she helped organize for Photocharity, which raises money solely for a homeless teen shelter in San Diego called the Storefront (in operation since 1970).

Over the past three years, the Storefront has raised over $400,000, enabling them to maintain a 20-bed, 24-hour emergency shelter for homeless and runaway youths age 12 to 17, including a medical clinic and on-site tutoring. "Their goal is to return these young people to their families or to find them safe, independent living arrangements and prevent their sexual or other physical abuse. They have a 75-percent success rate for placing teens in safe, long-term housing options. In order to stay in the shelter, the teens must help themselves by agreeing to go back to school or get a job...they don't just hand the kids a toothbrush." Also performing at the benefit are Cathryn Beeks, Blue, HM75, Tapwater, 21 Grams, the Fryday Band, Christopher Dale, and Annie Bethancourt.

Early in the evening, five youths who stay at the shelter and have formed a band (three boys, two girls) will perform two original songs. They haven't decided on a band name yet (though they're thinking about TNT) or on song titles, but Vernon (12), Venisha (13), Emmanuel (14), Andy (13), and Amanda (16) promise they will by this evening.

WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER NOW?

1. Old 97's, Fight Songs

2. Aimee Mann, Aimee Mann and the Young Snakes

3. The Jayhawks, Sound of Lies

4. Dave Howard, Into the Wind

5. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Best Of

FAVORITE MOVIES?

1, 2, and 3. The Lord of the Rings trilogy ("I like total escape when I go to a movie, not to get depressed.")

4. Last of the Mohicans ("With Daniel Day-Lewis. I love the cinematography.")

5. "Any good fantasy film."

FAVORITE CHRISTMAS CAROL?

"What Child Is This" ("I always feel like I need to kill myself when they start playing those but, if I had to choose, I like old ones like this.")

FAVORITE COVER SONGS TO PERFORM?

1. Incubus, "Drive" ("Because usually a woman wouldn't sing that song.")

2. Prince, "Kiss" ("I do a really weird arrangement of it...not like Tom Jones's version, and I wouldn't want to cover one of Tom's songs 'cause I don't want panties thrown at me.")

3. U2, "Trip Through Your Wires" ("We're just learning that -- I'm into its energy.")

EVER FORGET THE WORDS TO YOUR OWN SONG IN CONCERT?

"Yes, 'Texas Sky.' My band and I had been drinking a lot of tequila...I started singing these random words that make no sense at all. Nobody could really tell -- you can do anything with conviction!"

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