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Playing Around: Darryl Purpose 

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At the age of 16, his mother gave him a book called Beat the Dealer, one which is still regarded by many as the most authoritative text on blackjack strategy and theory. At 19, Darryl left home and headed to Vegas. At the age of 25, he was being called the best blackjack player in the world. He's won as much as $150,000 in an hour, lost as much as $80,000 in five hours, been hounded by the Russian Mafia and been thrown out of casinos in almost every major city on the globe. Those ain't exactly the typical, humble beginnings of your average folk singer. But then Darryl Purpose is not your average folk singer.

In fact, if you saw Darryl Purpose walking down the street, folk singer would probably not be the first words to come to mind. A tall, burly guy, usually dressed in black with a trademark dark hat upon his head, he can be an imposing figure -- sort of Johnny Cash meets Josey Wales. For the same reason, you probably would not peg him for a peace activist either. But the man can tell a story and sing a song, and has done both in the name of global nuclear disarmament. And it was the Great Peace March of 1986 that actually launched his career.

These days, Purpose is a full-time folkie, with a little activism on the side. His silky baritone voice, smooth and proficient finger-style technique and three lifetimes worth of sometimes lurid but always captivating stories, have made him a favorite at coffeehouses and large festivals alike. Drawing on stories from his days as a professional gambler, a peace activist and now, a troubadour, Purpose's performances are entertaining, thought provoking and charismatic. Spend an evening with Darryl and his adventures Friday at the Acoustic Coffee Lounge. Who knows, he might even offer some good card counting tips.

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