From last week’s column on newcomer singer-songwriter Sarah Crosby, this time around it’s another Mainer, Slaid Cleaves. Born and raised in Maine, Cleaves has been honing his singer-songwriter chops for more than two-and-a-half decades, and his career has been chronicled by almost a dozen albums.

In 1991, he packed up and moved to the Austin, Texas, area to pursue his love of music, and it was there where I recently contacted him via the phone to chat about his musical life and a new album that’s soon to be released, called “Ghost on the Car Radio.” He’ll make the trek from Texas back to Maine for a gig at Johnson Hall on May 6.

Q: I’ve been really enjoying the new album. Your wife sent a link so I could listen to it online. When will it come out?

Cleaves: The release date is June 23.

Q: Will folks in Gardiner get to hear some of the songs from that album?

Cleaves: I’ll definitely be playing some of the tracks, for sure.

Q: You hail from South Berwick, correct?

Cleaves: Yup.

Q: Are you out on the road right now?

Cleaves: No, we’re home working on getting the new record ready for release — all that behind-the-scenes stuff.

Q: Did you ever think, back when you first started out, that you’d have such a long-running career?

Cleaves: Well, I never knew for sure. I kind of hoped it would be, but when you’re just starting out, it takes a certain amount of delusion to keep going despite all the signals telling you that you’re not going to make it, but I got lucky.

Q: That you did. But a lot of its skill, too. I mean, your lyrics have such power and the melodies stay with you as well.

Cleaves: It takes a lot of persistence, that’s for sure.

Q: Is there anything you haven’t done yet that you’d like to, careerwise, that is?

Cleaves: Not really. I’ve carved out a nice little niche for myself and make a decent living. The main goal is just to hold on to my little scrap of land here and try to keep my fans interested enough to hang on with me. I used to dream about getting on “Austin City Limits” or driving a tour bus instead of a minivan, but those dreams have pretty much all receded. I feel like I’ve kind of reached the audience I deserve.

Q: Is that enough for you?

Cleaves: It is. I see that the little niche that I’ve carved out is such a tiny, little part of American culture. It doesn’t have any effect on the American culture the way the heroes that I grew up listening to had an effect. It just feels a little bit like I failed to make a dent on the national scene overall. But then, on the other hand, I don’t really have that much interest in the national culture as a whole, anyway. I’m not into mass-market activities, so it makes sense that I’ve found a tiny, little niche of audience to work with.

Q: Who are the people you looked up to?

Cleaves: Growing up, you mean?

Q: Yeah.

Cleaves: Well, people like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty and Tom Waites and Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie — you know, the pillars of American folk and singer-songwriter music. They were my heroes and the guideposts coming up as a guy trying to learn how to do this, a guy inspired to make music because music has such an effect on me. And that’s where I’m deeply satisfied. It’s through fan interaction I know there are a handful of people out there that have been deeply moved by the music that I put out. That was really the primary goal when I set forth on this journey to recreate that connection with people, so that’s very gratifying, and I can make a living, so I’m not complaining at all.

Q: Making a living doing something that you love. what’s better than that?

Cleaves: You got it.

Q: What are your thoughts about performing at Johnson Hall?

Cleaves: We just played there once and it was fantastic. We had a great crowd; it’s a great facility and friendly staff. Yeah, when we played the show last year, we immediately booked two shows for a year hence, and those are the show that are coming up in May.

Q: Oh, so there are two shows there.

Cleaves: Yeah, I think we’re doing a Sunday matinee.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 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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