Arts and Entertainment Editor
JAMAICA -- There are few places in Vermont as cool in the summer as Jamaica, in both weather and entertainment activities, and part of that is the Jamaica Community Arts annual Summer Music Series. This year the series kicks off with the Spencer Lewis’ songs -- a blend of classical, new-age, folk and country -- on Saturday, June 23, at 7 p.m., at the town hall.
Lewis was slated to perform at the Jamaica series last September, but that show was canceled to allow everyone to focus on Irene recovery.
Spencer has recently released two new CDs, "Unbounded," selected songs of Eric Andersen, and "Vermont Resurrection, Spencer’s reaction to Hurricane Irene -- a project that includes a book released last fall called "Cabin Stories."
"From the start, I could see this form of music was not outside of one’s self, but inside; in other words, it was a lifestyle as much as a discipline," Spencer says of the beginnings of his musical journey, on his website. "On the technical side I began with basic classical guitar, then learned the Carter Family’s simple ‘church lick’ that Woody Guthrie perfected, a finger style method called ‘Travis picking’ and eventually cross-flat-picking where you alternate between the treble and bass strings, almost simultaneously. Somewhere ... I found the songbooks and LP’s of Woody Guthrie and the
A title inspired by Hurricane Irene and Vermont’s collective soul, "Vermont Resurrection" is a folk-rock work that fits within the framework of Lewis’ signature guitar/violin sound, Jeff Berlin’s instinctive drumming and Scott Paulson’s lyrical electric bass. Guest artists include Bow Thayer on banjo and electric guitar, Kristina Stykos on mandola, keyboardist Chas Eller on Hammond B-3 organ.
"Unbounded" is a tribute to Andersen, who, according to Spencer’s website, was a folk-poet singer-songwriter who began his career in the ‘60’s recording on major labels, performing at clubs and festivals yet remaining just under the radar of the mainstream. His romantic ballads and poignant essays on life and relationships span the full emotional landscape of the human spirit. Lewis set out to honor and faithfully recreate the original production heard on Andersen’s seminal folk-rock masterpiece "’Bout Changes & Things, Take 2" which featured bass, drums, piano, steel-stringed acoustic guitar and the Hammond B-3 organ.
Spencer is known for his acoustic steel-stringed guitar, his trademark layered violin sound and his uncomplicated style of musical composition. According to supplied material, his cross-flat-picked guitar combines the Carter Family’s "church lick," Mississippi John Hurts fluid finger-picking, and Jack Elliott’s interpretive style.
The New England Organics Catalog wrote "Spencer’s music is enjoyed by all, no matter the age, gender, or musical preference. This music seems to strike a chord in all who listen, bringing a peaceful and tranquil energy."
Other concerts in the Summer Music Series are Hungrytown, with West Townshend residents Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson, July 21; John and daughter Ida Mae’s fabulous fiddling, on Aug. 18; and blues guitarist and historian Scott Ainslie, on Sept. 15. Concerts at 7 p.m.
Jamaica’s historic Town Hall is located on Route 30. Admission is $10. For information call 802-896-6810.