Lisa Redfernby Will Gottlieb
Coastal Journal staff
BRUNSWICK — The season premiere of Frontier’s “Songwriters In The Round” series, hosted by singer-songwriter Lisa Redfern, is slated for Wednesday, September 5, and will feature Martin Swinger, Lara Herscovitch, Ed DesJardins – and, of course, Lisa Redfern.
“The cool thing about it is to have an evening of music where, yes, it’s a gig for me,” says Redfern, “but mostly it’s just so fun, the mystery of not knowing what anyone’s going to play, or what the chemistry is going to be like. It’s just a magical surprise every time.”
Redfern is a recent import from the west coast, in one sense, and an old Mainer in another.
“This is my fifth time moving back to Maine,” she says. “I moved here when I was 11, moved away, moved back after college, moved away, and moved back when I was taking care of my mom when she was dying. I moved away again and lived in Florida, moved back for a while, and said, “I’m out of here,’ and moved to California, and moved back here three years ago.”
The format for Songwriters In The Round – two women, two men, one stage, no sound system – is not entirely new to Redfern either. She’d been doing exactly that in St. Anselmo, California, before she moved back here two years ago.
“I booked another woman and two men every month,” she said, “and that allowed me to get to know the musicians, particularly in Marin [County]. In the Bay Area, you’ve got gigs in San Francisco, North Bay, South Bay, East Bay, Berkeley and Oakland. And there’s just so many musicians. It was just such a blast to live out there for 14 years. I’m still recovering.”
In addition to Songwriters In The Round, Redfern is playing gigs hither and yon, while teaching guitar and just generally doing what it takes to keep body and soul together in 21st Century Maine. Redfern will tell you (should you need to be told) that this isn’t always easy, but this is where her family is.
“My brother and his wife live here,” she says. “They bought a house, had a kid. My sister lived here this summer, which I knew was going to be happening. So she ended up here with her husband and their child. Our parents are gone. The three of us are very, very, very close. So to me it was more important to come home and be near them.
“What I want to do is have my base in Maine, and be gone half the time touring – maybe a third of the time touring – but to just be here, so that I’m near my family.”
Redfern is not new to the Maine music scene, either, having played some shows and programmed songwriter showcases up the coast a ways.
“When I lived in Maine [before],” she says, “I was involved with the whole Gordon Bok, Anne Dodson, Cindy Kallet crowd up in the Camden-Rockport area, and had a good time up there. But having moved to the Bath-Brunswick area, I didn’t know what was going on anymore. So I went to Gil [Michael Gilroy] at the Frontier – and I loved that venue – and I said, ‘This is the perfect venue for this kind of concert. Are you willing to give it a try?’ And he said, ‘Okay, but I really want good people.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, me too.’ So he let me do it as a trial thing, and now it will be three years in February that it’s been going on. It’s been really fun. It’s been a good way for me to have a monthly gig in a venue that I love, and for me to get to know Maine musicians that I didn’t know. I think there’s a lot of talent in Maine.”
Here’s Redfern’s descriptions of the talent assembled for Wednesday’s show:
“Martin Swinger: As a performing songwriter Martin Swinger is recognized for his astounding body of award-winning original songs, invariably winning accolades and awards from songwriters, competitions and music educators. Astounding voice and songs that GRAB you! He is co-founder of the improvisational a cappella group, ImproVox and leads improvisational singing workshops for teens and adults. Martin Swinger sings Songs Worth Listening To.
“Lara Herscovitch: ‘Pure musical poetry’ (The Courier), Herscovitch is a singer-songwriter on the rise blending modern acoustic/folk, blues, jazz, and pop influences. With her voice ‘clear and smooth like expensive liquor,” she stands “above and beyond the pack’ (Northeast Performer). Herscovitch is ‘a remarkable performer’ (WSHU Public Radio), also with rich experience as a policy social worker focused on juvenile justice, education, and community development. Echoes of these themes resonate throughout her music.
“Ed DesJardins: The last of six children born into a musical family, Ed DesJardins fell into a well established artistic bed and sites his earliest memory as sitting in his crib at the age of two hearing the low bass sounds of his brothers’ band resonating from the attic above. Ed is a multi instrumentalist, producer, recordist, and songwriter. His first solo CD ‘Innerspace’ was released in June of 2010. A collection of 10 honest and poignant songs, Innerspace is a rich sonic tapestry woven from DesJardins’ many and diverse musical influences.”
Redfern herself is a great talent. She has a strong, resonant voice, and writes a very nice line. If you’d like a sample, look her up on YouTube. I’d recommend giving “Make the Time” or “Steve Martin” a listen.
Redfern’s upcoming shows are listed on her web site, www.LisaRedfern.com, and if you’re interested in learning guitar, you can always email her at
. More information on Songwriters In The Round can be found on the Frontier site, www.ExploreFrontier.com.