SONGWRITER'S CHOICE Songs by ELLEN GRIFFITH Band: The Demonstrators This album is a rootsy slice of Americana from a maverick songwriter with an attitude. The result is: Close-to-the-roots sounds, but up-to-the-minute topics. Like road rage, hard times and corporate greed. Yes, there are love songs. A love song to the city of New Orleans set to a strutting second-line beat, and a love song to the old steam locomotives called "Come Back Casey Jones" in a careening bluegrass groove. There's even a tribute to the hokum blues of the 1930's that makes an Olympic event out of innuendo: "You can dock your dinghy in my harbor any old day." It's historical and hysterical. THE Demonstrators are a songwriter's-choice studio band featuring internationally-known roots music artists led by Marty Rifkin (Bruce Springsteen's go-to guy for pedal steel and dobro) with Teresa James, Bob Malone, Roy Zimmerman, James Intveld and John "Juke" Logan. This gang was hand-picked to kick rambunctious, rootsy grooves into these contemporary original songs. THE SONGWRITER I grew up in a conservative neighborhood in West Los Angeles. I thought of it as a Maximum conformity suburb, and I was serving 16 to life. A guitar was my weapon to break out of there, and I made my getaway by joining a raggedy, down-at-the-heels, all-girl bar band playing Hank Williams tunes. Sometimes we didn't get paid. Sometimes we got stranded. It didn't matter. It was what I had to do. But I had a wandering ear for all forms of roots music, and I subsequently strayed into blues, folk music, and bluegrass - to me it was all related. Then when I heard a bunch of guys noodling around with a Dixieland sound, I took a crash course in piano and joined the Costa del Oro Jazz Band which made some music history along with the rest of the 50's West Coast traditional jazz revival. But I kept wandering back to the blues. And to roots rock, and honky tonk country music, where there's a heart-beat rhythm that feels like it came from the lives of real folks. I guess it's organic. I started at the bottom as an itinerant musician, and ended up . . . at the bottom as a starving songwriter. So I've earned my underdog status the hard way, and I really think the world needs to know what it looks like to me. Ellen Griffith.