Jesse Terry Neilson Hubbard 2016 photo

I first became aware of Jesse Terry almost a year ago when he was releasing his seventh album, “When We Wander,” it was during the pandemic when touring was impossible and he and his family were in Prosperity, S.C. working on a couple of musical projects. Little did I know then that one of those projects — a double-CD set titled “Forget-Me-Nots: Volumes 1 & 2” — would arrive in my mail box in March of this year. Made up of 22 songs by artists like Joni Mitchell (“A Case of You”), Bob Dylan (“My Back Pages”), The Bee Gees (“Immortality”), Eric Clapton (“Let It Grow”), Elton John (“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”), George and Ira Gershwin (“Someone to Watch Over Me”), and many more. This collection of covers was refreshing in its simplicity and the fact that Terry made each one his own with his arrangements and oh-so-easy-to-take vocal stylings … in short, it is not to be missed. Upon hearing it, I immediately arranged a phone interview with him from his home in Pawcatuck, Connecticut, to let him know my feelings about this delightful release.

Q: Under normal circumstances I prefer original material over covers but what you’ve done with this new 2-CD set is take 22 popular songs and made them your own — that’s no small task, if you know what I mean.
Terry: Thank you, that means a lot.

Q: And the variety of styles and genres really makes it a special project.
Terry: When I first started thinking about it, I was like, “Maybe I’ll do a certain era or maybe I’ll have a real theme.” I quickly abandoned that, though, because I started making a list of songs and realized that they were all over the map — and I can’t bear to lose this one from Crowded House but yet I didn’t want to lose “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific. So I decided that I was just going to do whatever I wanted to do and somehow try to bring it all together.

Q: Another aspect of this set is the visual element. With the first album I covered of yours, “When We Wander,” it was the handbook that came in the packaging that grabbed my attention; the artistic presentation, not only musically but visually, was wonderful, and this one is just as good if not better.
Terry: I had this wonderful designer and he found these beautiful, vintage seed and flower illustrations and that’s where it was inspired from, and I just love that. We definitely invest in packaging and presentation because a lot of times these days people buy a CD and don’t have a CD player, so you want them to have a keepsake. These albums are such labors of love and if you don’t have something really beautiful to commemorate it with, it doesn’t feel complete to me.

Q: When we first chatted, about a year ago, one of the reoccurring themes was your desire to connect to your listeners through your music, and this new album just reinforces that, I believe.
Terry: I remember that interview well and loved it, and we were recording “Forget-Me-Nots” at that time. We were at the lake house in Prosperity, South Carolina, my wife and my daughter, and it was just a really special time in my life. I can’t wait to go back to that place sometime because that six weeks there recording this album were so intense and so wonderful, I’ll remember it forever and I think that comes through in the music, as well.

Q: It certainly does, for sure. Have you gotten any feedback from folks who have heard it?
Terry: Yeah, we’ve had some really lovely reviews and the coolest thing for me, of course, is getting to play live again and to play some of these songs off the album that people weren’t expecting.

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Q: Now, the last time we talked you were working on a project, this very collection, in fact, so I have to ask: are you working on something new or are you taking a well-deserved break?
Terry: No, I never take a break nor do I ever want to (chuckle). It’s wild but it’s been over two years since I’ve really written songs and I’ve never had that kind of (pause), I don’t want to call it a drought because I was doing other things intentionally. First I was just surviving and figuring out if we were going to be able to make it through the pandemic, which we did thanks to the support of my fans, and then I had the ability to make these two pandemic albums: “Forget-Me-Nots” and my Christmas album, “Peace.” So now I finally have a chance to sit down with all my guitars and start writing again … for me now, it’s just about how I can push myself to be a better songwriter, a better guitarist and singer, and how I can stretch myself. For me, that’s very exciting.

Q: Now that you’re able to perform live again, what does your gigging schedule look like in the months to come?
Terry: I’m looking forward to so many shows and tours this year overseas that are the biggest tours I’ve ever had. I think it’s up to 30 shows in the U.K. in October, it’s almost every day now, so I have to stay really focused and take stock of life. Over the past two years I’ve learned how to prepare, I’ve learned how to meditate, I’ve learned out to take care of my voice a little better, and think of the performances better, and hopefully I can connect with people better because that’s what this is all about. I’m grateful for the time we had and now I’m ready to get back out there now.

Q: Is there anything, Jesse, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Terry: Umm, as always, I just love being able to connect with people. I love it when they get in touch with me because that’s what it’s all about. jesseterrymusic.com

Lucky Clark, a 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent more than 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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