It’s fall, so it’s only logical that I conduct a phone interview with one of my favorite performers here in Maine: Jason Spooner — and, as in years past, he’s going to be performing at one of the finest venues for exceptional music: Slates in Hallowell. Born in Washington, Connecticut, he’s been living in Maine since 1991 and currently resides in Portland, and his band is made up of Dan Boyden (drums and percussion), Adam Frederick (bass and vocals), Warren McPherson (keyboards and vocals) and, of course, Spooner on lead vocals, guitar and harmonica. He’s been recently endorsed by none other than the Gretsch guitar company, an honor of which he’s rightfully proud. I recently chatted with him from his Portland digs over the phone.

Q: Where shall we begin? How about this: you’re having a new album coming out soon and a show at Slates, correct?
Spooner: Yes, it’s one of the two album-release events that we’re coordinating. The first one’s going to be at Stone Mountain (Arts Center in Brownfield, Maine) earlier in the month and then the timing worked out really well when Katie (Daggett) reached out to me and I said, “Yeah, let’s do a scaled-back album release at Slates!” So people can expect to hear the new record in its entirety on the 14th of October. It should be really fun, we’re looking forward to it … the record has a lot of cool peaks and valleys and a lot of variety, so I think it’ll be an entertaining full show, for sure.

Q: What number record is this for you?
Spooner: This is our fifth studio album and the sixth was a live EP we did many years back now.

Q: When will this CD be coming out?
Spooner: The street date is officially Oct. 4, at least that’s what we’re promoting. I might put out the digital stuff a little bit later just to coordinate it with a few things that we’re doing with Spotify playlists and things like that, but Oct. 4 is the date I’ve been telling radio.

Q: You’ve been doing Slates for quite a while, if I remember correctly.
Spooner: We have, yeah. It’s become this kind of tradition. It’s a great way for us to transition to the fall and it’s just such a cozy environment — we always really enjoy it. We’ve got a few festivals this fall and fummer is usually full of outdoor gigs — noisy gigs, lots of rock and roll, and this Hallowell show is an opportunity to scale back and do some kind of a listening room environment. We don’t get to do those quite as often as I used to when I used to just perform solo. I still perform solo and I get to do listening rooms a little bit more on my own, but with the band it’s really cool to play in an environment like that where it can be pin-drop silence or people can be tapping there, too, depending on the vibe. So, yeah, we’ve certainly done it for the last five years, I want to say, maybe more. We haven’t had a new record in a while, so hopefully it’ll be a cool opportunity to kind of present some new music in the context of a show.

Q: I haven’t been to the new Slates’ location, so I’m curious as to what it’s like performing there.
Spooner: It’s a slightly different setup — it’s a little cozier the way they’ve got it laid out — but it’s got that great, down-home sort of intimate vibe. … You sort of feel like you’re playing in a living room or somebody’s dining room where people are having a good time. It’s really casual, it feels like you’re playing to friends and family. We love it, it’s been a lot of fun.

Q: What can folks expect at the gig, seeing you’re a regular performer there?
Spooner: I think the biggest sort of new element with this show is they’re going to hear a brand-new record played in its entirety for the first time at the venue, and for the second time anywhere — the first time prior to that Slates show will be 10 days earlier at Stone Mountain, so they’ll at least get a more refined version … that is about as unique a show as we’ve ever done. And we’re really excited about the energy that’s around this record.

Q: How so?
Spooner: The way we recorded it, for one — having our own studio was really just a complete new direction for us artistically. We were immediately comfortable there and we have recorded every single rehearsal we’ve done since we’ve had the space. We’ve never done that before and we were able to just capture a really organic, natural feel to what we were doing. The best way I can describe it is the idea of “slow roasted”: we didn’t have any kind of set deadline, we just let the songs take shape, to marinate until they were ready. To use a kind of seasonal reference: You sow the seeds and this is the harvest time — it’s kind of ironic that it’s coming out in the fall — it’s an exciting time when you’re getting the word out and people are reacting to it.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Spooner: Just that they can expect a whole new batch of brand-new songs and that we’re really excited to bring it to one of our favorite venues in the country.

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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