From the first time you heard her, there was something vaguely familiar about Juice Newton. You felt like you knew her, casually -- like the girl who went to London with her mom in the summer between her junior and senior year of high school.

It was the name, mostly: Juice -- something exotic.

"Just an old family nickname," she said, "Not any story to that."

But you didn't know that then. Your fictional back story had her as the one who spent senior year smoking English cigarettes and smiled knowingly when someone mentioned George Harrison.

Or she was the girl who studied in France for one semester in college. Perhaps she went on the road in a VW microbes and spent a few months toting her guitar and seeing America. That was the impression she gave, anyway, through her songs, "It's a Heartache" and "Angel of the Morning" -- friendly, familiar, enigmatic -- maybe a few pages ahead in the novel everyone sees their life becoming.

Jeez, you were young

And Juice, she's still cookin' and singing -- Judy Kay "Juice" Newton, now 61, will do a one-nighter May 31 at Pleasanton's Firehouse Arts Center, performing her songs as part of an acoustic trio. She's been a frequent part of Billboard's Country, Adult Contemporary and Hot 100 charts. She's charted more than a dozen Top-10 hits, a half-dozen No. 1 tunes, a number of gold and platinum records and some 25 albums, counting the compilations.

She headed out on the road, sometimes as a soloist, sometimes with a band, which usually included her longtime collaborator, the late Otha Young, who brought their 37-year collaboration to an end in 2007, when he died of lymphoma. Always, her music crossed genre lines, something she was comfortable with.

"If you're careful with the material, you can open up to a wider audience. With the acoustic trio show, we do unique arrangements," she says. "There are some singers who find a particular type of genre and stick to it. I like a variety, but I have to make sure what I write and pick to sing, I can deliver."

Her albums cover more than 30 years, mostly featuring rock-solid tunes, including two "American Girl" albums.

"I wanted the title 'American Girl' because, like America, this project offers a lot to choose from," Newton says, "and like the changing role of American women in business and society, I wanted to redefine the term. The American girl isn't so predictable anymore."

Newton has also done an album of duets that included songs performed with Willie Nelson, Frankie Valli, Glen Campbell, Dan Seals and Melissa Manchester. She took some time off in the '90s to raise her now-adult kids, Jessica and Tyler. She spends a lot of time on the road, but she is also an active equestrian and broker of European horses.

Newton's Pleasanton Firehouse appearance, in the venue at 4444 Railroad Ave., will include a trio of musicians. Tickets to the show, at $40 to $50 can be reserved at 925-931-4848 or at www.firehousearts.org.

MOONLIGHT MOVIES: Danville begins its summer free outdoor movie season June 14 with "Puss in Boots," shown on the Town Green at 400 Front St.

"Puss in Boots," as well as all the scheduled movies, will start at dusk. But festivities will begin about 6:30 p.m. with crafts and other activities for children. The movies have been selected to appeal to everyone in the family.

Movies scheduled for this summer include, "Harry and the Hendersons," June 28; "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," July 12; "Up," July 26; and "The Avengers," Aug. 9.

No registration is required for the shows, but families are asked to bring blankets and lawn chairs. More information is available by calling 925-314-3400 or logging on to www.danville.ca.gov.

Contact Pat Craig at pjcraig495@yahoo.com.