New Roots

July/August 2003
David Tyler
Jason Spooner grew up in a rural town in northwestern Connecticut. So after he graduated from Colby College in 1995, it made sense to stay in Maine. "I feel a lot more at home up here," he said. "A lot of my creative energy is rooted in Maine."

Spooner, 29, is feeling even more at home after the release of his first album, "Lost Houses," which came out last November. It has received glowing praise from the state's rock writers. Spooner's husky, soulful voice, his superb melodies and a talented line-up of local musicians gives "Lost Houses," a polished, professional sound that one might not expect from a debut album. But Spooner, who lives in Portland, saved up every penny of the money he's made performing for the past four years so he could produce an album "that didn't sound like I did it in my basement."

After he graduated, Spooner snagged a job working for a blues record label in Waterville called Deluge Entertainment. During those two years, he got to listen in on sessions with some of the giants of blues, including Luther Johnson and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith.

He lived in Camden and Union and wrote music. In 1998, he moved to Portland and began solo gigs in bars, clubs and coffee shops, playing guitar and accompanying himself on harmonica.

Then he met drummer Reed Chambers (who was also a drummer in Relish) and they played as a duo for a while. It's an unusual combination. "After every gig, he'd say we really have to get a bass player," Spooner said. So Spooner snagged Adam Chilenski to play bass on the album. Now Andy Rice plays bass for the trio.

Like many musicians, Spooner struggles with the labeling that goes on in the music business. The term "singer-songwriter" conjures up images of earnest folksingers for many, but Spooner doesn't want to be pigeonholed. He said his music has a blues edge to it, as well as a pop and folk sound. "I like to think of what I'm doing as more of a melting pot of influences."