I was alerted about today’s artist by my editor who saw a press release about a New England-based singer/songwriter who was to play the center stage at this year’s Harvest Ball, which will begin at noon on Sunday, Oct. 7, at Harry Brown’s Farm, 45 Abijah Hill Road in Starks. Her name is Phoebe Legere and when I called her recently to chat, she was very excited — apparently she had just found two four-leaf clovers and considered that to be a good sign about the upcoming interview. I began by asking the Vassar graduate and Julliard-trained musician to talk a little bit about the show in Starks.

Legere: I will be performing with Doug Trotsik. He’s the executive director of the Maine Fiddlers Camp and he loves music as much as I do. He plays, I believe, as many instruments as me — seven — and we are both very deeply interested in keeping the traditions of Maine music alive.

Q: And in this day and age that’s needed more than at any other time.

Legere: It sure is and yet there seems to be a bigger interest than ever in Americana and bluegrass and country flavors and blues, people do seem to be returning to the real stuff.

Q: It’s about time, too.

Legere: It is about time!

Q: Have you done this Starks’ gathering before?

Legere: I have not, but it sure sounds like fun.

Q: I understand that you have a Maine connection, correct?

Legere: I have land between Weld and East Wilton, which is a town called Perkin’s Plantation; it’s a township. There’s six of us in the town when I am there; ordinarily there are five. I live under a waterfall.

Q: Neat! Are you doing any other Maine shows in addition to this Harvest Ball? Oh, and where am I calling you? Perkin’s Plantation, perchance?

Legere: I’m speaking to you from Quebec, outside of Montreal, sitting by a beautiful river which has a Micmac name. You’re supposed to say ‘Micmaw’ now but we’ve always said ‘Micmac.’ I’m Acadian and part Micmac and, in fact, part of my show is I do some Micmac tunes and I show how early jazz grew out of a mixture of Micmac and Acadian tonalities and rhythms … there’s a very strong taproot that goes right down into our Northeast part of Turtle Island that has not really been acknowledged.

Q: Are you up there touring and performing?

Legere: I’m up here in Quebec where I have a record contract. I’m making an all-French record with a very famous kind of rock-star producer — it’s exciting, it’s just wonderful. To be in music it’s been like a magic carpet for me. I have a deep connection to Maine. So many in my family were French and Abenaki speakers and I’m descended from Maine whalers, Abenakis, Micmacs, Maine ministers, French pioneers and I’m a Mayflower descendant. As Plymouth got overcrowded and overrun by Puritans, kind of like the extreme right, they went up to Maine where they could be free. It must have been some life. Hundreds of members of my family are buried there in Maine and I just can’t get enough of it.

Q: I can understand that. Now, back to the concert in Starks, is it just going to be the two of you: Doug and yourself?

Legere: Well, I’ve invited other people. Let’s see who shows up, but it’s definitely going to be the two of us and that’s going to be plenty of music. It’s a little hard to get the New York City players to understand that Maine is exactly where you want to be on Oct. 7, but Doug is going to be there and I think that’s going to be enough.

Q: You mentioned earlier that you play seven instruments. I know about the piano and the accordion, but what other ones are included?

Legere: My main instrument is piano, but I play plenty of guitar, cello, a number of native American instruments. I’ll play pretty much anything I can carry, and the spoons, of course.

Q: Oh, you just have to play them.

Legere: And not the fake kind. I play the real kind. That’s proof of a real Acadian: you don’t have to take the drugstore DNA test, just hand them spoons.

Q: It sounds like you enjoy what you do.

Legere: I just love it. I love it so much. Music has just been so good to me and it’s never let me down. The music business is a rough place to grow up. I was signed to Epic/Sony Records when I was 15 and was on that label when Michael Jackson had already had his big moment and Bruce Springsteen was there. I was right in the belly of the beast and it has not been easy being a pioneer woman who wanted to be a leader and wanted to be a composer and wanted to be treated like an equal in the entertainment business — everything they say about it is true. It was a very unhealthy atmosphere for an adolescent, but it made me strong.

Q: I was going to say, you not only survived, you conquered.

Legere: I don’t know if I’ve conquered, Lucky, but I did find two four-leaf clovers and that’s a very good sign for the future, as well, don’t you think? I’m just so lucky to have a record contract and also I think that I was spared a lot of torture by not becoming a household name, which they wanted to do to me. In America we live in a celebratocracy, of course, but celebrity can also be a kind of abuse for sensitive people. But we’ll see what happens next.

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

Legere: If you Google me and read all the stuff that’s been written, you’ll know more about me. I have also worked with some of the most creative light-bringers of our time: Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, and I spent a lot of time with Hunter Thompson and collaborated with him. I’ve climbed the Himalayas in Tibet and done all these amazing things, but there’s no place like home, there’s no place like Maine. It’s the most beautiful, precious place in the world. Every day is precious in Maine; it’s true, it really is. And the thing is, you don’t have to tell people in Maine that. They know it, we all know what we have.

Lucky Clark, winner of a 2018 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award, has spent 49 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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