Back in the early ’90s, the late Herb Ludwig introduced me to “a young, up-and-coming singer-songwriter” that was going to open for his band, Devonsquare, at the U.U. Church in Portland. That gentle man was Don Campbell, and I was so taken by his distinctive vocals, wonderful lyrics and fine acoustic guitar skills that I made it a point to interview him that very evening.

Since then, I’ve stayed in touch with this talented performer and chatted with him at every opportunity, so when I learned that he would be a part of the Concerts at Jewett season on Nov. 6 at the University of Maine at Augusta, I just had to touch bases with him once more. I called him at his Scarborough home recently to find out more about the concert and what’s been happening in his life since last we spoke, in 2014.

Q: How are things with you, Don?

Campbell: Great and busy, but good.

Q: Well, busy is good, isn’t it?

Campbell: Yeah, it is. I do over 300 gigs a year now.

Q: Good grief!

Campbell: Yeah, I change my strings a lot.

Q: I just bet you do. Now, the last time we talked was for another concert at Jewett, back in 2014, when you brought the “Kites To Fly: Celebrating the Music of Dan Fogelberg” show to that excellent venue. You’re coming back there coming up in early November, correct?

Campbell: Yes, I’m coming back to Jewett to do a veterans appreciation concert. It’s a nonpolitical, family-friendly show where we perform songs from across the wartime eras. It’s usually just to thank veterans and help build appreciation for them and their families. Every CD that I’ve recorded, and I have 14 out now, I write a special song for veterans, so the show is a mixture of some songs I’ve written and other songs from different wartime eras.

Q: Is this a solo performance?

Campbell: No, this is a full-band performance.

Q: Could you run through the members of your group?

Campbell: Sure. Tonya Shevenell plays bass, Tom Yoder plays fiddle and mandolin, I play acoustic guitar and piano, Marty Joyce plays drums, and sometimes we have an electric guitar player, but not for this Augusta show; they wanted a four-piece.

Q: Are you, perchance, working on a new album?

Campbell: Presently, I’m writing new stuff, but I’m spending a lot of time doing those Dan Fogelberg shows. That concert has taken me around the country and is a really fun thing to do. And we’re bringing more awareness to prostate cancer and trying to raise money to help fight that whenever we can. It was a shock to me when he died at such a young age of 58 in 2007.

Q: Is there any target date for the new studio album?

Campbell: I don’t have any plans for a new studio recording. I could conceivably have something done by next fall, but I’m so busy performing live that I’m right out straight; writing time, sitting down with my guitar and writing, is really a luxury right now. But I feel at home behind the microphone and behind my guitar — every opportunity to do that, (regardless of) whether it’s a large gig. We’ve played Gillette Stadium and the Grand Ole Opry before, or at small coffeehouses or clubs. Every place that I play helps me hone my edge. I love playing for people, the intimacy of an old opera house or places like the Stone Mountain Arts Center lets me talk about the songs and their history. That’s why I love the Dan Fogelberg shows and the veterans appreciation concerts because there are so many back stories, and I’m a person that loves back stories. I love music, but I also love the origins of songs.

Q: Well, speaking of intimate venues, Jewett Hall, in my opinion, is definitely one of them.

Campbell: Yeah, Jewett is a great room. It can be a little bit of a challenge, because it’s a brick room; but you have to be a chameleon and you have to be able to play many different kinds of rooms. You really try to befriend the room that you’re playing in, and I’ve played that room many times and I love it. I think it’s very intimate, a great place to talk to the audience and to perform for the people.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article?

Campbell: I look forward to seeing familiar faces in the audience, but I also look forward to seeing faces I’ve never seen before. I really consider it a privilege to be able to take the listener for a ride and go some places they may not have gone before and that’s something I look forward to doing. Now can I ask you a question?

Q: Of course.

Campbell: Will your article really be about the Jewett Hall show?

Q: Absolutely.

Campbell: I guess if there’s something to say, it would be that I look forward to meeting all the veterans that can come to the show and their families; but I would encourage folks to bring young kids, because this is really kind of an educational show to help young people understand what a veteran is and the kind of sacrifices that their families have made. That’s really what this show is about, and that’s really the message I want to get across. I’d just like to bring more awareness to the sacrifices the families of veterans have made.

Lucky Clark has spent 47 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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