Metro

Scene Stealer:
Jason Spooner, Local Musician
March 2005 - Dana Slone


   
Portland-based, singer-songwriter Jason Spoonerís funky mix of blues-folk-rock-soul-jazz-flamenco tinged music has drawn much attention and accolade since he started playing in the late 90ís. From clubs and streets in Spain to penning tunes at a little lake house in the Midcoast to a national appearance on a much watched Food Network TV show, Spooner and his band, the Jason Spooner Band (with alternate drummers Reed Chambers and John May, and stand-up bass player Andy Rice) continue to grow a hefty fan base Ė and Ė as musicians.

Though youíre known as Ďsoloí artist, you play out with trio. How has that affected your musical direction?
I am branded as singer-songwriter and I did that solo thing for long time. Itís really expanded my musical outlook tremendously (being in a band.) Iíve just been blessed with the whole situation. Where itís evolved from, and to, itís not anything I could have predicted but Iím really happy with it. Watching a solo artistÖitís like would you rather watch a juggler juggle three balls, or ten balls and a couple chainsaws? The ensemble can bring that spontaneity in song structure and subtleties. The solo thing is still there, but I donít seek it out as much. Iím just having such a good time with the band.

Letís switch to your songwriting. Youíre one of four finalists in the John Lennon songwriting competition, out of thousands and thousands of song submissions.
It (Big Black Hole) was one of the tracks that was kind of an afterthought, kind of a folky tune, kind of quirky. The song reached the finalist in the folk category. In any type of creative field, entering a competition, itís such a bizarre arbitrary thing. In the past, I thought it was a way to make money off of starving artists who have to submit $30 a pop to get into one of things. I willingly joined this time. That must give you a real sense of validation. Maybe not the general public, but certainly other songwriters check out the winner. Maybe a little bit of notoriety and itís kind of a nice, mid-winter boost for the band. And like you said, validation in broader scheme. You can play on your home court and please roughly the same 300 people but when you get some validation from people who are hearing thousands of songs, it gives you a little shot in the arm.

Do you have broader hopes for the band, and yourself?
Iíve always looked at things incrementally. I donít fancy myself a destination junkie. Youíre never truly going to be happy because youíre always looking for that next thing. You can go to an LA or New York but potentially lose your creativity. Maine for me is such a component of all that Ė the quality of life. There is some soul up here; youíre not in the fray or the rat race as much, and then it really benefits creatively. Thatís why Portland specifically is such an artist-centric town. Thereís a lot of artists, musicians, or visual artists, writers, itís a cool little city that breeds that Ė and I like that.