Chris Kemp White

Inspired, not Envious

Once upon a time, when seeing a really good new band, I might have been jealous or depressed, wondering why I bother to make music at all. Granted, I was a lot more sullen in my younger years. These days, I get really excited to see/hear good music, often getting ideas for how to improve my own songwriting or performances. I had the chance to encounter two new (to me) artists this weekend at the annual Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, Maine (one really should attend at least once in their life, if not every year).

 

The first were the Oshima Brothers from Whitefield, Maine. As we finally made our way onto the fairgrounds after a long walk through countless parked cars, we were immediately greeted by the sounds of live music. Just over a dirt mound littered with cardboard sheets for sliding down the hill (the kids loved this) there was a stage set up where brothers Sean and Jamie were sharing their sweet harmonies and textured arrangements—impressively made with two guitars and some tastefully minimal use of loops and (synth?) bass. If you don’t already know them, check them out while you can still see them in a small venue (I feel pretty confident about this). 

 

Later, while enjoying some wood fired pizza, we found another small stage, where Jenny Van West was playing with her trio of two guitars, two voices, and a violin. Distinctly country flavored, but in a Maine roots way, Jenny and her band make deceptively simple songs into rich works—mellow, but lively. I have long heard Jenny’s name, and I still wonder how this is the first time I have managed to see her perform! 

 

Where I would have moaned and groaned so many years ago, my instinct today is to share. With so much great local music, there is plenty to keep us busy, moving and inspired. 

 

I’ll feel blessed to invoke similar reactions in listeners when I play two consecutive weeks at Elements Books Coffee Beer in Biddeford, September 28 and October 6 and at Broadway Gardens Harvest Festival in South Portland the afternoon of October 6.

 

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