Back in 1971 a young singer-songwriter released a self-titled album containing the anthem called “Sunshine (Go Away Today)” that resonated with the youth of the day. That song was followed by a string of hits including “Shanty,” “Honky Tonk Stardust Cowboy,” “Emma,” “Everybody Knows Her,” “Athens County” and many, many more — 16 albums’ worth, to be exact.

Jonathan Edwards has performed repeatedly here in Maine and will return to Johnson Hall on Sunday, Oct. 14, for an evening performance and to that end, I sought out another opportunity to chat with this affable, soft-spoken man. In a recent telephone interview, I began by asking him how often he’s played in Gardiner at this venerable venue, having played there last December.

Edwards: This is probably the third or fourth time, I imagine.

Q: Do you try to get there once a year or so?

Edwards: Yeah, as often as they’ll have me. I mean, pretty often at the places I play lately the promoter will say, “We’ll have you back in a couple of years.” A couple of years? You’ve gotta be kidding me!

Q: Are you still spending a lot of time on the road?


Edwards: I do 50 or 60 shows a year, which is plenty.

Q: Do I remember correctly that you live in Maine now?

Edwards: Yeah, we spend a lot of time in Maine. We’re in Maine as often as we can, especially in the warm months.

Q: Where are you now, where am I calling, just out of curiosity?

Edwards: I’m on the west coast of Florida.

Q: Any problems with tropical storms or hurricanes lately down where you are located?


Edwards: No, it’s remarkably resilient down here on the west coast. For whatever reason, we’ve been really, really lucky.

Q: Now, your latest album is “Tomorrow’s Child”?

Edwards: Correct.

Q: Are you working on something new?

Edwards: Always. I’m always writing songs and trying to conceptualize the next collections of tunes, you know, seeing if I want a producer or just forge ahead by myself, all those decisions — what kind of musicians will I have or will it just be a guy-with-a-guitar album?

Q: Well, that’s the way you perform anyhow, right? The solo guitar and voice, for the most part?


Edwards: Yeah, but lately I’ve been blessed by having Tom Snow join me on piano for whatever shows we can arrange that for; that has been such a gift. He’s been with me now for eight-going-on-nine years.

Q: Wow. Will he be with you at the Johnson Hall gig this Sunday?

Edwards: He will. He will be there with bells on — that’s how you’ll be able to recognize him!

Q: Do you find that age gives you a perspective when you’re writing your songs that you didn’t have back when you first started out?

Edwards: Sure, I’ve been chasing some of these songs around for 50 years, literally, and it does give you a different context and it does give you more perspective. And, having done those songs for so long, people love that first album, it still has that special sauce, so I often include four or five songs from that album just because people love it and I love doing them. Every night is different, every night is a new crowd and every night I try to do something different with the songs but still make (them) recognizable. It’s a bit of a challenge in that respect. But do I love doing them still? You bet. I happily look forward to their arrival on the set list.

Q: Now will you have anything new that you’ve worked up when you get to Johnson Hall?


Edwards: Oh, yeah — ohh, yeah!

Q: He says with great delight.

Edwards: Oh, yeah, I kick off the show with one of them, so don’t be late, folks. It’s a song I wrote about gratitude and thankfulness at the audiences being able and generous enough to give me these 50 years to do what I love to do — it’s called “Fifty Years.”

Q: Is it hard to put together a set list seeing you have so much material to draw upon?

Edwards: It is a bit challenging to find songs you feel like doing and that are pertinent to the day and the hour, and also ones that people want to hear, and also songs that I just have to do that night because I feel like doing them. There’s a Dylan song that I’ve been doing lately called “Copper Kettle”— (singing) “Get you a copper kettle/Get you a copper coil” — and it’s kind of about the moonshiners that I used to actually visit back in military school — it’s a long story. Oh, God, it was crazy: marching to class, marching to breakfast — you know, weird. But apparently it was decided that I was in need of that kind of discipline in my life!

Q: Is there anything, Jonathan, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Edwards: Yeah, you’ve gotta get out and vote. You must be a participant, you can’t be a spectator anymore. We have to know, we have to be informed and we have to get out there and participate. But I guess more pertinent to the show is that I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be the third night of our October tour and we’re so excited to be back at Johnson Hall. We have some new songs and lots of new energy and vibe.

Lucky Clark has spent 49 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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