It’s always a pleasure to introduce new (as the case this week) as I bring to you a band from the Fryeburg area called Junco. I became aware of them back in 2015 when a former art student of mine from Pittsfield, currently living and teaching at Fryeburg Academy, gave me an EP CD of his son’s group and asked for my opinion on them. I was blown away by the musicianship and quality of lyricism and melody displayed by the quintet of students and when, two years later, he sent a copy of their full-length album I have been hoping that I could chat with a member of Junco.

Well, I learned, again from Mike Ouellette, that Junco was heading up to central Maine for a gig as part of the Johnson Hall Waterfront Concert Series on Aug. 9. I was able to get an interview with Bobby Sheehan (lead vocalist and principle songwriter).

Q: Now, this will be Junco’s first performance in the central Maine area, correct?
Sheehan: Yes, it is.

Q: Are you familiar with the Johnson Hall Waterfront Concert Series?
Sheehan: No, but we’ve heard good things about it. A band that we’ve played a couple of shows with in the past played there last summer, so that’s kind of how we heard about it. And I also met the director of the series through an event at the Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield.

Q: Well, I for one am glad that you guys are finally able to get up in that area so folks can hear your music.
Sheehan: Yeah, we’re looking forward to getting up there, as well.

Q: What is the lineup for Junco nowadays?
Sheehan: We are a five-piece band. We’re made up of drums, bass, electric guitar, acoustic guitar and then we have a wind player that plays oboe, saxophone and then he also has something he’s been playing recently called an EWI, which is an electronic wind instrument, and it plays a bunch of sampled sounds from a Hammond B3 organ to a flute. So that has been a pretty fun addition.

Q: Now Alex Ouellette is still the drummer, right?
Sheehan: Yes, he is.

Q: His dad is a former student of mine from Warsaw Middle School in Pittsfield.
Sheehan: Yeah, that’s right … it’s pretty cool.

Q: So, is Jeremy Holden still a member?
Sheehan: Yes, Jeremy is our lead guitar player.

Q: You’re lead vocals and acoustic guitar, I would imagine.
Sheehan: Yup.

Q: Does Alex do backing vocals?
Sheehan: Yes.

Q: Is your sister, Kelsey, still on bass and vocals?
Sheehan: She no longer plays with us. She’s all wrapped up with school, but Anthony Branca has been playing bass for us now for almost two years.

Q: Does he do backing vocals?
Sheehan: No, he just plays bass. He’s actually a guitar player by trade and he plays in a bunch of groups but he plays bass for us.

Q: Is Dan Stackhouse your wind player? He played oboe on your first two CDs, right?
Sheehan: Yes to both questions.

Q: Seeing you’ve never performed up in Gardiner before, how would you describe what Junco does musically?
Sheehan: Well, we usually describe our style of music as rock, which is such a general term, with a heavy folk and funk influence. We’ve been called a jam band at times because we like to expand on a lot of our original music. When we play live there’s quite a bit of improvisation that takes place. All of the musicians, except for myself, have been trained in the jazz setting so they’re all very comfortable with improvisation. We build that into our live shows just because it keeps things fun and exciting for us. A lot of my music is upbeat, feel-good kind of music, but we also mix in covers.

Q: Like what, just out of curiosity?
Sheehan: We play a lot of classic rock music covering bands like the Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin, The Doors — groups like that. We like to try to keep that music alive, as well.

Q: About your original material — your latest CD, “The Night The Lake Stood Still,” came out in 2017 and your EP, “Waking The Sleeping Giant,” came out in 2015. If you are indeed on a two-year cycle of releasing recordings, that would make this year the time of your third release?
Sheehan: Yeah, we’ve actually been working on a new record. Most of the recording has been done to this point,I still need to do my part of guitar and vocals, and we’re aiming for late summer. That’s the hope—we’re hoping to have it all done by late summer, and that’ll be another full-length of probably 10 songs.

Q: Will folks up at your Waterfront gig get a chance to hear some of that new material?
Sheehan: Yes, definitely! We’ve been trying out a lot of it at some of our recent gigs, just getting more familiar with it, so yeah we’ll definitely be playing some of the new stuff.

Q: Is there anything you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article—especially seeing Junco’s never been to Central Maine before?
Sheehan: Just that we’re all really excited to come to Gardiner and play there, and share some music with them.

Lucky Clark has spent 50 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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