Jonathan Edwards Quartet Coming to Chandler

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Arts / Apr. 22, 2010 1:49pm EDT


Veteran folk-rocker Jonathan Edwards will perform at Chandler Friday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. (Provided)Veteran folk-rocker Jonathan Edwards will perform at Chandler Friday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m. (Provided)

Veteran folk/rocker Jonathan Edwards brings his legendary talent to Chandler Friday April 30 at 7:30 p.m. Joining him in his performance in Randolph will be Stuart Schulman on piano, fiddle, bass and vocals, Troy Armerding on mandolin and vocals, and Charlie Rose on bass, pedal steel and banjo.

Four decades into a career of uncompromising musical integrity, Edwards still delivers songs of passion, insight and humor, all rendered in his powerful tenor. While a veteran performer, Edwards remains a vital and relevant artist on today’s folk and Americana scenes, and continues to look forward rather than back.

Edwards’ musical career began informally, singing in church and playing by ear on the family piano. Structured lessons with the lady next door didn’t suit his learning style; he found that he was inclined to do his best learning on his own. In the decades to come, this would prove to be true not only with regard to music, but also to life in general.

Like many of his contemporaries in the 1960s, Edwards progressed from the piano to the guitar, eschewing the music ingrained in his military school upbringing for his own tunes.

“I started on a $29 guitar and immediately started putting a band together, writing songs and learning all the contemporary folk songs of the time,” he recalls. “I just loved it, loved everything about it, loved being in front of people playing music.”

Despite the allure of music, Edwards made the expected move to college, studying painting and art in college in Ohio. However music was not a force to be denied and remained a constant companion.

“I started getting electric about the time Dylan did, doing electric folk music,” he said, noting that he joined bands playing whatever instrument was needed. He still enjoys playing different instruments. “It helps me understand production techniques and performance capabilities.”

Even the siren call of music was stronger than establishment expectations, and he left college in 1968 to pursue the dream. Selling the car his father had loaned him for school, he bought a van to accommodate his band and headed east to Boston and its emerging folk scene.

After years of a grueling touring schedule, playing cover tunes and original country blues, Edwards felt himself more drawn to the clean, simple sound of an acoustic guitar and started touring on his own, setting up in lobbies of dormitories all over New England. His initiative and dedication soon paid off and he found himself opening for national acts, including the Allman Brothers Band and B.B. King.

A serendipitous recording error on his first record resulted in its being replaced by ”Sunshine.” A fierce proclamation of protest and independence set to deceptively upbeat music, the song resonated with thousands of frustrated young men and women. It quickly made its way to the top five on the national charts and earned him a gold record in 1971.

“Sunshine” ushered in a sea change in Edwards’ life and career. He was determined not to let overnight success change who he was. His musical journey has been a winding one, including several hiatuses from its demands, work with the Americana bluegrass group Seldom Scene, an award-winning recording for children, work in Nashville, original film scores, documentary work, and the launch of his own label, Rising Records.

Audience members at Edward’s concert in Randolph will get a glimpse of the scope of work well underway as part of Chandler’s ambitious renovation and expansion, which will secure its future as a fully-accessible facility for many years to come.

Reserved tickets for the performance may be ordered online at www.chandler-arts.org or by calling the Chandler box office at 728-6464 weekdays between 3-6 p.m. The performance has sponsorship support from The Three Stallion Inn and The Point. Chandler is wheelchair accessible.

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